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Music and Memory in Hedge Coke’s Art

Friday from the Archives: “music is the bearing” an interview with Allison Adelle Hedge Coke by Amber Flora Thomas in NCLR 2020

“Write what you know” is often used as an early platitude to inspire creative writing students. Hedge Coke took what she knew from her young formative days in North Carolina and turned it into magical poetry, prose, and more, including a nomination in 2022 for the National Book Award for Look at this Blue, her latest poetry.

Hedge Coke’s first artistic love is music and she finds it resonates throughout all her work. In addition, she writes that “It is a poet’s place to bring truth and to question injustice, to be troubadour and truth-teller while calling for deeper witnessing and realizing what is here, now. It is our duty.” Whether that is family lineage to mental health to field worker to young wife and mother, Hedge Coke uses it all.

Thomas probes the poet about all the varying aspects of personal history that go into the artistic work, and also–since it is the Expat issue–how leaving North Carolina changed Hedge Coke and her work. Her response:

“Just as the places relevant to my being filter into the work or hold the authority within the work and my job is simply recording, translating those impressions into something rhythmic, songlike, with lingual flexibility and persuasion. Poetry and literary prose rely on our musterings and meanderings and what we can offer the line while immersed within a moment, era, or the movements between temporal spaces. Keeping time. There is no concerted effort; it is what it is.”

Hedge Coke, wearing long brunette hair, black shirt and jacket, with glasses on
Alllison Adele Hedge Coke.

Also included with the interview are three of Hedge Coke’s poems. We don’t often get to read an artist’s context with their art, so it is noteworthy to be able to do so here.

Read the rest of Thomas’s interview or all of the 2020 issue through your library’s Proquest service or order the back issue online at our store.