In The Space of Uncertainty

Author Interview
N.N. Nelson Author Interview

Corpse Beneath the Crocus is a collection of poetry written about everyday moments of life, portraying what it means to be human and experience grief and loss. What was the inspiration for your poetry?

The inspiration for my poetry was love. I loved my husband with the fullness of my being, mind, body, heart and soul. There were no half measures for me; I plunged in feet first and decided, with no regrets, to keep loving him every single day. It wasn’t perfect. Baggage is something we all carry around with us and we had a lot of trauma to process between the two of us. But I chose him and I chose us and he did the same.

I’ve never had a person so wholly feel like home before, until him. So comfortable his mere presence in a room settled my anxiety, a brush of a fingertip to his slumbering form dispelled the fear of a nightmare, his wide smile full of mischief and the promise of fun a magnet pulling me from my shell and the warmth of his large calloused hand in mine assuring me everything would be okay because we were together.

The moment he died, the color drained from the world slowly until all that remained was the dull gray of pain and an aching sense of absence, like a limb freshly severed. I was stuck, frozen in the long green flat line of his stopped heart. Grief was a void; a black hole closing over my head like a body bag. A part of me never left that hospital room. It’s still there curled up against his cooling skin, wishing like hell the agony would stop.  

But it doesn’t stop. Nothing stopped except me. Minutes passed in whirling clock hands and the outside world didn’t miss a step. The cars still flew by on the freeway, people carried on as if a great tragedy hadn’t occurred and I was left feeling abandoned with rioting emotions I had no idea what to do with.

Days turned to weeks, weeks to months, months to years. Muddling through, I cried, raged and fought like a wild thing to wake the frozen pieces of myself back up again. This collection is the meandering traumatized roadmap of those years. It was inspired by love and the empty space a loved one leaves behind in your heart when they die. It was inspired by hope: hope the bitter tunnel of agony leads to somewhere bright with passion and peace. It was inspired by survival and the chaotic, messy, painful, and yet brilliantly beautiful journey we embark upon when we choose to rise and take another step, wake up another day, launch ourselves into another experience. We are at our most powerful when we don’t know what comes next or where we will land, because in the space of uncertainty, we are capable of everything.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this collection of poetry?

Grief is a complex emotion difficult to understand unless you have lived with it. The people around me didn’t know how to respond to my loss; they weren’t sure what to say. I felt as though I were slowly thinning to transparency, winking into invisibility. I withdrew from social activity, preferring to be alone. Avoiding the unbearable pain of watching other couples and families live in wholeness while my reality imploded, shattering my fragile being into splinter-sized pieces.

The myriad facets to my grief, experienced over the course of years, became the themes for this collection. One of the first ongoing themes was growth. And by growth I mean the expansion of my ability to adjust to a reality without my husband as well as the strength to face each gut-wrenching moment I reached for my phone to tell him something significant only to realize a split second later he wasn’t at the other end of the line. I’m referring to the slow dissipation of fog as my brain took slow steps to ease out of shock of his absence. A hazy confusion accompanies a majority of the memories I have of the first year or two following his death and there are some time frames I struggle to recall at all. I grew my endurance as a result of getting up every day and attempting to make it through one at a time with as much sanity intact as I was capable of producing. None of the progress or growth I lived through was linear. There was no slow improvement to wholeness. This is the reason this collection bounces around from moment to moment because that is the reality of my journey. A good day filled with moments when I was deeply connected to my children and my life and then five days where I was wooden as a marionette, raging like a forest fire or depressed into immobility like a stone thrown in the water. Which brings us to the next theme.

Grief is a chaotic, diverse experience. I do not believe there are “right” or “wrong” ways to survive it. My feelings were deeply personal and I was possessive of them in the extreme, each excruciating moment proof of how well I loved my husband and how deeply I was capable of connecting to another human being. They were a testament of strength and I needed them to remind me I was still alive.

When I wrote this collection I wanted everyone who read it to find a part of themselves in the chaos. Connect themselves to the feelings I expressed: the rage, the numbing depression, the sudden death of safety, comfort and security in the future. I wanted readers to recognize fragments of their own journey in my writing; to realize whatever they were feeling was acceptable and find comfort in the fact they weren’t alone. I wanted readers to know they weren’t solitary survivors walking through the world trying to keep their smiles in place while their own reflections became almost unrecognizable. The only way to accomplish all of those things was to express them with vulnerability and authenticity. So Corpse Beneath the Crocus was born.       

How did you decide on the title of this novel?

The title was sort of a living, breathing thing that evolved over the course of my first edit. The “Corpse” in the title references the death of my old life, my old self, dead and buried in the ground. The moment my husband passed from this world to the next, the person I was while he lived, ceased to exist. It wasn’t a conscious choice or decision, just the reality. I had to transform myself into something and someone else to survive his absence. And that is where the “Crocus” came in. I read that the crocus is one of the first flowers to bloom in early spring, sometimes making an appearance while there is still snow on the ground. It felt symbolic to me. Winter is a time when nature sleeps and spring is when it wakes up. It was a way for me to acknowledge and come to terms with everything I had lost while at the same time look ahead to what was surely blooming out of my own healing.  

Will you be putting out another collection of poetry? If so, what will that collection focus on?

I am working on another collection. This collection focuses on coming of age and what it really means to find self-acceptance. No matter who we are, our experiences shape us and our worldview. Childhood can be magic and wonder, imaginary adventures and running around the neighborhood until dark. It can also be traumatic: outright rejection and exclusion by neighborhood kids, the loss of a beloved pet and a best friend who realizes they’ve outgrown you. Growing up can mean going to college and starting out on your own with big dreams and hope for a bright future. And it can also mean feeling trapped by circumstances you don’t know how to navigate and suffering abuse at the hands of someone you thought you could trust. Those moments, both traumatizing and magical, exist in the same mindscape like bubbles from the same breath. This next collection will walk readers through some of those significant moments; the ones that buoy us to creativity and passion and the ones that stab us with a knife and then twist. It is a vivid expression of the human experience, both beautiful and violent, full of love and pain, while the potential for transforming into something truly powerful that slumbers in our bones. 

Author Links: Amazon | GoodReads

The death of a loved one is a tragedy everybody experiences at least once in their lifetime. Grief is a heavy burden to carry alone.

But what if we’re not alone? What if it just so happens the right words fall into our ears at the right time, solidifying our experiences and connecting those of us who grieve outside of time and distance? What if we come to realize through a few lines of poetry just how natural and acceptable it is to rage like a firestorm, scream like a banshee and melt into a puddle of sadness?

Within the paper folds of N.N. Nelson’s Corpse Beneath the Crocus, we experience the vibrant journey of grief as a poetic expression of transformation. The bitter agony of heartache and the exultation of growth gleaned from it are splattered on the pages in a winding roadmap of acceptance.

About Literary Titan

The Literary Titan is an organization of professional editors, writers, and professors that have a passion for the written word. We review fiction and non-fiction books in many different genres, as well as conduct author interviews, and recognize talented authors with our Literary Book Award. We are privileged to work with so many creative authors around the globe.

Posted on March 2, 2023, in Interviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.


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