Hélène Cardona – “The Next Big Thing” Interview

Author: Hélène Cardona

I’ve been tagged! Thank you to the talented Hedy Sabbagh Habra for inviting me to talk about my recent book in this expanding interview series called The Next Big Thing. Hedy is the author of a recently published full-length poetry collection, Tea in Heliopolis (Press 53, February 2013).

Picture of Helene CardonaThe interview:
TNBT: What is the working title of the book?

Dreaming My Animal Selves.

TNBT: Where did the idea come from for the book?

I’ve worn many hats over the years: writer, actor, teacher, translator, dancer, shaman, dream analyst. The idea was to give voice to mutable selves through the prism of dreams, myth, legend and fantasy, inhabited by animals, who are a constant in my life.

TNBT: What genre does your book fall under?  


TNBT: What actors would you choose to play the characters in a movie rendition?

That’s an interesting question considering I’m an actor too. Many of the poems are like fairy tales and the possibilities are endless. Some could even be animations.

TNBT: What is the one-sentence synopsis of this book?

Dreaming My Animal Selves is an intriguingly surreal journey through myth, legend, fantasy, and more – all guided by a shape-shifting narrator searching far and wide for cosmic unity within the discontinuous landscape of dream and the dreamy, fragmented quality of the everyday world.

TNBT: Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I’m delighted that Dreaming My Animal Selves will be published by Salmon Poetry  in March 2013. Thank you Jessie Lendennie. I’m honored to join the amazing poets you’ve published.

TNBT: Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Mostly dreams. I love to remember my dreams. I have a strong relationship to them and keep a notebook by my bed and write them down. You always dream. The day is the waking dream. When I trained with Sandra Seacat at the Actors’ Studio in New York, she introduced me to a particular form of dream work. You could call it Jungian. I have kept doing this work for many years now. It’s very therapeutic, a holistic form of medicine. And it can also be used to develop a character in a play or movie. You dig deep within to find answers. In the dream you are connected to your Inner self and to the divine. I write as a form of self-expression, fulfillment, transcendence, healing, to transmute pain and experience into beauty.

TNBT: How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I started writing this book ten years ago! There were many many manifestations.

TNBT: What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

The fact that it’s written in both English and French. I first wrote the poems in English and then translated them into French to present them in a bilingual edition.

French is my first language and English my fifth, but English has been my language of choice for many years now. I find that going back and forth between English and French enriches the experience. I’m also influenced by other languages, including Spanish, German, Italian and Latin. I grew up in Switzerland, France, Monaco, England, Wales, Germany and Spain, absorbing different cultures and ideas. I’m currently translating the poetry of my father José Manuel Cardona from Spanish to English. It’s all very stimulating and enriching.

And the brilliant Brian Turner wrote a foreword to the book!



Paying it forward: My tagged writers who will post the week of Feb 20:

Louise Mathias

Bertha Rogers

Lee Upton

Cynthia Schwartzberg Edlow

Mariano Zaro