Interview with Barbara Costas-Biggs
by Amanda Page
by Amanda Page
The opening poem in Barbara Costas-Biggs’s debut poetry collection, Broken on the Wheel, tells the story of a woman watching a deer that has tangled itself in a barbed-wire fence. The woman watches, speaking to the doe, who is upside down and watching her. The speaker is a “farmer without a gun” who does “not welcome the fox to the chicken yard / though I defend her. Her kits are hungry.”
The image of the trapped, upside-down doe stayed with me while I read the manuscript, and continues to stay with me much later, as did the feeling of understanding a nuisance. I carried that image of the doe and the sentiment of defending an unwelcome creature through every poem I read. That image created the mood of the book for me, the atmosphere in which we learn what it means to be “broken on the wheel” as we make our way through our unpredictable lives, sometimes delighted and sometimes despondent at the metaphors we encounter that reflect our choices back to us.
I had questions for the author, so I emailed them to her. Her responses here have been lightly edited for clarity.
Barbara Costas-Biggs is a poet and librarian from Southern Ohio. Her work has appeared in Appalachian Review, Northern Appalachian Review, 8Poems, Lost Balloon, Glass, and others. Her chapbook, The Other Shore, was a finalist for The Washburn Prize from Harbor Review. She holds an MFA from Queens University of Charlotte and an MLIS from Kent State University. Broken On the Wheel, is her first book. About Broken On the Wheel:
“Drawing on the beauty of the Southern Ohio hills and Northern Appalachia, Barbara Costas-Biggs's debut poetry collection weaves together marriage, motherhood, and memory into a tapestry of creation and reclamation. With bold strokes and striking detail, Biggs mines the messiness of modern life, the reawakenings we strive to experience, and the faith that comes with trying to fix what appears unfixable.” American Poet Maggie Smith said “this collection is packed with epiphanies and memories and crapshoots—'That in-between stuff./ What we, I hope, are mostly made of.’ Broken On the Wheel is a perceptive, masterful debut.”
Why the hell are we conditioned into the smooth strawberry-and-cream
Mother-Goose-world, Alice-in-Wonderland fable, only to be broken on the wheel
as we grow older and become aware of ourselves as individuals with a
dull responsibility in life? -Sylvia Plath
I think of Eric” by Barbara Costas-Biggs appears in Broken On the Wheel (Cornerstone Press, 2021) and is used with permission of the press and the author.