Anatomy of A Dress explores messages sent and interpreted regarding how women have historically been encouraged to dress, mainly for the pleasure and subjugation of the patriarchy. Folded into these pieces are my own experiences and internal conflicts with these issues. Sometimes encouragements or rules are handed down by those of our own gender (i.e. grandmothers, mothers) and reinforced by a male-led society that has a vested interest in the disenfranchisement of women. This poetry is speaks of the struggles women go through when making a decision most men would consider simple– What should I wear today?
Here is her SoundCloud account, which will give you an idea of her style of performance: https://soundcloud.com/user-663873042/deep
1.When and where do you prefer to write?
I love having a quiet place to reflect and write. My favourite place to write is in my studio in North Wales. From the first moment I visited Wales, I felt something deeply magical and connective. There’s an energy steeped with voices from the past and a lush history of the land. My studio looks out onto a small garden that makes me feel tucked away from the world there and in a sort of creative cocoon. As far as when I like to write, I’m a bit of a lark. I do my best work in the early mornings with a cup of tea or coffee by my side.
2. Do you have a certain ritual?
My ritual involves a little bit of procrastination, or maybe I’m just feathering my nest before I start. That sounds better. I do a bit of poking around before I settle into writing. Sometimes this means checking in on social media to see what my other writer friends are doing. Sometimes it means reading a few poems from whatever book I’m into at the moment. I can’t seem to take the plunge direct. Often my poems start with a bit of word association, which never makes it into the poem but sort of kicks off my brain and sets me off on the path for the day.
3. Who did you get your love of poetry from?
I get my love of words and reading from my grandmother. Before I was old enough to read she bought me books for every birthday and holiday (sometimes even for no reason at all). She always lovingly inscribed these books and had such a sense of joy in sharing them. My earliest memories of love are of sitting on her lap and listening to her read nursery rhymes. She taught me that language can be a lush adventure and was my guide into this imaginary land that I’ve never wanted to leave.
4. Why did you choose to write poetry?
I wasn’t a poet until much later in life, but I was always told that my prose was ‘poetic’. I started writing some micro flash pieces that were limited in word count and it really kicked off the desire to write poetry. I think I’ve wanted to do it forever, but I didn’t consider myself fit for it. I always saw poetry as something inaccessible or too difficult to understand. I’ve come to find that writing poetry really connects to my soul and my authentic self in a way no other writing can match.
5. Do you consider writing a different genre in the future?
I’m interested in seeing where poetry takes me. A lot of my poetry has been confessional so far and although I do like that, I’m finding that I want to branch out. I like writing about social issues, especially as they pertain to feminism. I’m starting to go back to my storytelling/prose roots and dig into how I can tell stories and a narrative through poetry collections. So far, this has led me down the path of history. I’m researching into people and events in the past and creating some collections based on true stories that are in the vein of historical fiction. I will be continuing to explore that, but I like to keep myself open to inspiration. It’s hard to say what I will write next!
6. Who would you like/have liked to interview?
I would have loved to interview Adrienne Rich. Her poetry and essays move me so deeply. I also think she really understood what it meant to be raised in a traditional canon and find her own way. I respect how deeply intersectional she was and how she showed it in her support of all women. I would be fascinated to know what she thinks of the women’s movement today.
7. Where can I find you when you are not writing?
If I’m not huddled up somewhere with a book at home, you’ll find me just about anywhere. I love traveling and exploring other cultures. When closer to home I like to be near the ocean, there is just something about the power of the sea and the pull of the moon and tides that speaks to me.
8. What are you most proud of?
I suppose I’m proud of my resilience. I’ve made it through some pretty tough times and have made a deep commitment to self-care. That’s been a difficult thing to do without feeling selfish, but it’s been necessary. Loving myself has made me a more compassionate person and I hope that I’m able to pass some of that along to the people I come into contact with throughout my life.
9. If you have to choose one of your poems, which one would it be and would you like to share it with us?
I would choose “My Hem” from my upcoming collection Anatomy of A Dress. I love this poem because it’s really all of the things I’ve wanted to say for years not just to men, but to other women who judge and make comments about the length of skirts and dresses. It’s amazing to me that one small thing can throw out such bold conjectures about a person’s personality, desires and morals.
my hem is not
of marked desire
it is just
edge that falls
it is not
to send hands
it is not up
10. What goes through your mind when you hold your new book in your hands for the first time?
Is it really real? There’s this sort of reverent moment where I want to check it like a newborn. Are all of the poems included? Are the pages numbered? Does it have the coveted ISBN? It’s really a moment of awe. When I hold my new book in my hands it’s a representation of so much hard work and of so many people supporting that work. I feel love when I hold a book of my very own. I feel accomplishment and a quiet sense of pride. I can pat the cover and say to myself “See, I told you so. You did it and it is beautiful.” It’s a truly satisfying moment that propels me forward into my creativity.
Thank you, Juliette van der Molen and Isabelle Kenyon.
About the author
Juliette van der Molen is a writer and poet living in the Greater NYC area. She is an intersectional feminist and a member of the LGBTQIA community.
She is a contributing editor for Mookychick Magazine and author of Death Library: The Exquisite Corpse Collection (Moonchild Magazine, August 2018).
Her poem Mother, May I? is a nominee for the Pushcart Prize.
Her work has also appeared in Burning House Press, Memoir Mixtapes, Collective Unrest and several other publications.
Forthcoming books include: Mother, May I? (Animal Heart Press, May 2019) and Anatomy of A Dress (The Hedgehog Poetry Press, November 2019).
Social Media Links
Juliette van be contacted through her website at
http://www.JulietteWrites.com or by email at:
You can also connect with her on social media via
Twitter: @j_vandermolen.or Instagram: @juliette.writes