In Her Web: An Interview with Ambrielle Butler


I walked into a spiderweb in my backyard today, wispy tendrils spanning the landscape,
a fine coating like a silk-strand tightrope, the walls, the fence, the door, it must have
taken her days to build, the cobweb was gentle as it broke against my face, nature’s lace,
the sun hitting it and the webs looked striped— three short, three long, three short
again, the spider sat in the middle, a pin in the pincushion, a dart in the center,
a cyclops eye to the soul, her visitors didn’t look too pleased, the flies lazily
lounging in her creation, ungrateful bastards, I met a man who knew that pleasure,
the high of enjoying another’s handiwork, I needed more from him than fading
wordlessly into the background, more than an expert at excuses, more than wrapping
himself in the threads of my labor and pretending they weren’t the trappings of love,
stuck, a bag of marbles that remembered the feeling of skidding down the drive, a dimmed
bulb that reminisced on the time it was turned on, I was done with stuck, so like the sinister
weaver of my dreams, so like that darkened widow of the past, I plucked this man-child
from the strands, pitied him for what he was, let him fall.

Ambrielle Butler is a writer and poet from Texas. Her poetry can be found in publications like Valley Voices, On the Seawall, Plainsongs, Red Ogre Review, and others. You can find her on Instagram and Twitter @ajbutlerwriting. 

Daniel Gernant: Did you always plan on writing, or did you start out on another career path before you changed passions? Why did you decide to become a writer?
Ambrielle Butler: I’ve been writing stories and poems since I was seven, but I didn’t fully commit to writing until after I became a mother. While I originally was pursuing a career in the sciences, having a baby provided me with time to slow down and tap into my creativity as I sat with all these new emotions and experiences. I started writing again as a way of processing motherhood and I haven’t stopped since. 

DG: I really enjoyed your poem In Her Web, could you share what inspired you to write this poem? Why did you choose to employ imagery of spiders?
AB: We were given an assignment in a workshop to write a stream of consciousness poem. This piece started as an ode to the busy spider I saw creating her web outside my window. Watching her weave such elaborate handiwork, I couldn’t help but marvel at the lengths spiders go to meet their needs. From there, the poem evolved into a reflection on past relationships and the dynamics therein, the concept of being stuck in a mechanism of your own creation and the inevitable undoing of it. 

DG: What is your ideal environment for writing? Please tell us more about it.
AB: I have my best ideas at night. I’m less inhibited and can sit quietly with my thoughts. I’ve also always loved writing outdoors. Nature is so inspiring, which is probably why it shows up so often in my work, and helps me feel more connected to the world around me.

DG: If you had to choose a poem of yours that is your favorite, which would you say? Why is it the one you like the most?
AB: That’s a hard choice. Every poem is personal and reflects a part of myself, and so some poems have more meaning at different times in my life. I’d say at the moment I’m particularly drawn to the vivid memories that Aubade for the Edge of the Cliffs of Moher brings. It was one of the most stunning places I’ve ever been, and perched on the cliffs, you really feel like you’re dangling at the edge of the world. It’s terrifying and exhilarating, your sense of fear and wonder playing tug-of-war the entire time. I also love the playfulness of Lobster Roll. As a self-proclaimed “foodie”, I had a lot of fun flipping the script and poking at the absurdity of the fine dining experience.

DG: How do you find inspiration when you are having trouble? Tell us about your process.
AB: It sounds cliché, but I’ve learned that the best way to find inspiration is to simply start writing. I may sit down and feel like I have nothing to say, but if I can fill a blank page (or two) with words, I’ll usually unearth something worthwhile. I also always carry a notebook with me to jot down thoughts or phrases I may want to write about later. I’ve found inspiration from even the most seemingly mundane days. 

DG: What are your future plans for writing? Can you tell us about whatever you are working on next?
AB: I am continuing to publish poems and short stories in literary magazines, and hope to publish a chapbook in the near future. I also have a mystery novel I’m currently querying to agents and another one in the works. I’m very optimistic about what the future will bring and look forward to growing even more as a writer.