Kay Henderson "Cascade, Decay"

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Cascade, Decay is a poem sequence whose title derives from “cascade particles,” a family of subatomic particles which decay into other lighter particles. I was enamored of the sound of the phrase—which, itself, metrically falls—stressed syllable to unstressed syllable.

In group meetings, I listened for such sonorous phrases. I asked Professor Ayres Freitas what those phrases meant in an attempt to understand (somewhat) the concept behind them; then researched the etymology of those words and tried to bridge the gap. In meetings, I also tried “verbal erasure,” writing snippets of what I heard to reveal the poem already within the physics graduate student’s presentation. The result is a kind of stitching: between sound, between diverted denotations. Throughout this project, I struggle with the question: how can I let language lead me without getting lost in lack of “meaning”? What are the poems “about”? The result is a linked lyric exploration through two forms: rhyme royal and erasure.

K. Henderson is an antidisciplinary writer and musician whose performances have been featured in venues across the U.S. K. is the composer and librettist of an operetta, [CELLOPHANE], and their poems can be found online in the Iowa Review’s poetry month blog, 1001 Journal, and elsewhere.  A Cave Canem fellow, K. holds a BA from Bennington College. They are a first year MFA candidate in Poetry at the University of Pittsburgh.