Emmy Marucci Talks Nostalgia, Grief, and the Beauty of Storytelling
“The past has everything to do with the future. Even if you leave it in the past, it becomes you. You become it.”
Poet Emmy Marucci’s new collection Tell Me Another Story was inspired by the persistent question of children: “Will you tell me a story?” Celebrating the beauty of everyday life, while also dissecting complicated emotions like grief and fear, Tell Me Another Story explores what it means to be human with tender interest. Photographs are scattered throughout this gorgeous collection that pair with Marucci’s poems—poems that touch on family, nostalgia, and love.
In our interview, Emmy discusses how storytelling connects us to one another, how there is no “right” way to grieve, how nostalgia is dreamy and beautiful, and how writing about family can help us grieve.
Kailey Brennan: I love that your collection Tell Me Another Story was inspired by your love of hearing stories as a child. Storytelling is so important to the human experience, which you speak about in your work. Why do you think our stories connect us to one another? What do you hope readers take away from your poetry?
Emmy Marruci: Sharing stories often results in compassion. In understanding. In not feeling so alone. It connects us to our humanity. To me, it’s like the highest education in humanity. It links us to our past. It gives us a glimpse into the future. It connects us to each other.
I hope people feel a little bit heard. I hope they know that there are people out there that want to hear them. I hope they feel a little bit freer to tell their story.
KB: You examine the lives of your family in your life throughout these poems. It seems as though they have made a great and positive impact on you. Did you find it easy or difficult to write about them?
EM: It’s hard to write about family. My mom has always said, “everyone has troubles.” But not everyone wants to share those troubles. But it’s so fucking important. There are so many people that relate to experiences that you feel are solely yours.
It was especially hard to talk about my Uncle Jimmy in the book. I knew it would be hard for the people in my family to read anything about him. And it was. I walked in on my grandmother reading it. A story about her son. She was crying. I had secretly hoped that she would never see the poem—that she’d skip through those pages. He was a complicated person. He was an addict. An artist. He was gay and he was made fun of for it growing up. The poem is about people making fun of the way he walked. I always thought he was just a little too different for the world he lived in. He was too beautiful in a way. People couldn’t accept him because he was sort of exceptional—even in all his troubles.
KB: The tone of your work is very nostalgic and dreamy. Do you consider yourself a nostalgic person?
EM: Yes. Nostalgic. 100%. People might get bored with that—the dreamy stuff and the nostalgia and the reflection of childhood. But it does something for me. The past has everything to do with the future. Even if you leave it in the past, it becomes you. You become it. There’s something about growing into yourself that has always interested me.
KB: You speak a lot about grief throughout this collection. You even compare it to the moon, having different phases (I loved this poem). Has poetry been healing for you? Has it helped you through the loss and grief you have felt?
EM: A lot of the book is about grieving my grandfather’s passing. For the weeks after he passed I realized more than ever how weird grieving is. You’re going through this thing and then you’re going to work and you’re doing your everyday things. We pretend to be okay. We eat. We get dressed. We do what we’re supposed to do. We’re supposed to get through it. We feel the need to keep it together. Button it up. Zipper it all inside. Don’t let it come out of the walls of our hearts.
Well, the book is about being able to grieve however the fuck you want. Go on and grieve. Whatever feels right. Nothing should be expected of you. Ever. You do what you have to do. Let it out and leave it there. All over the place. For everyone to see. It’s my hope that when you grieve you do it the way you want to.
My hope is that the reader replaces my grandfather with whoever you have to replace him with. Your friend. Your dog. The house you grew up in. Your mom. Your dad. Your brother. Your sister. A friendship. A dream that never happened. A career you never had. An illness you’ve been prescribed. The love that got away. The love that was never found. My hope is that they go on and grieve.
KB: How long have you been a photographer? What inspired you to add your own photographs to your poetry collection? What did your process look like for selecting the photos that made it into the book?
EM: I wouldn’t really say that I’m a photographer. I grew up surrounded by the medium. My father. My brother. My brother Casey is really the photographer of the family. If you put a ton of photos in a room, you’d be able to pick his out, because they are so distinct. Because they’re so good. Part of me taking photographs probably has to do with me wanting to be a little like him. To share in that passion.
For me, photography helps with the writing. Sometimes a poem is born from a photograph. Sometimes a photograph is born from a poem. The photos were just pictures I had taken on film. No planning. If I am honest, I wish that there was more of a process, that I did it with more intention. It’d seem a little more curated then. A little more perfect. The Virgo in me would love that. But the truth is, they weren’t planned. They were just little moments in my life. They bring a little something to the poems, a little visual. It makes it a little easier on the brain to picture what the poems are about.
KB: What advice would you give to someone who is afraid of sharing their own story?
EM: Sometimes you might feel like you don’t have the words. That’s okay. Try anyway.