Monday, 24 June 2019

G. E. Schwartz : part ten

When you require renewal, is there a particular poem or book that you return to? A particular author?

There are three: Herman Melville's Pierre or, The Ambiguities, as it always reminds me how an authentic dramatic expression of profound anxieties and obsessions reveals us as a species on a path to discovery; Melville's Clarel, which, while mocking Christian allegory, addresses the deeply pastoral with virtuosity and purpose, and ALL of Margaret Avison's work, as she brings home for me at least that the elusive--and the elliptical--can stalk me with its river-deep slow whisperings.

Joshua Weiner : part three

What poets have changed the way you thought about writing? 

Too many to name.  I think I'm a little changed by every poet I read seriously, by which I mean continually and intentionally for a period of time.  Mina Loy, whose work I was immersed in for years, helped me better understand the relationship of verbal density to expansive consciousness; she became one of my few courage teachers, you could say.  And Wallace Stevens did something of the same though entirely differently, by connecting, very powerfully, the sensual world to actions of mind, and with such strong physical sensation in the language. I notice that when I read him for a spell, and I look up from the book, the world around me looks perceptively changed, my brain feels like it's suddenly doing something unusual that's separate from reading.  Reading Stevens for me is a little like taking LSD, but easier to be with other people.  It didn't change the way I thought about writing as much as it made me hyper aware of how, at the granular level of the syllable, the interaction of those language-sounds affects me. 

Sunday, 23 June 2019

Carlie Blume : part two

How did you first engage with poetry?

In elementary school my grade five teacher gave us the assignment that we had to memorize a poem and recite it in front of the class. I wasn’t familiar with much poetry growing up so my mom took me to the library where we checked out a few poetry anthologies. When I discovered Trees by Joyce Kilmer I was immediately drawn to poem’s beautifully simple anthropomorphic portrait of a tree as well as it’s musicality. It completely delighted me.

Saturday, 22 June 2019

Shannon Mastromonico : part three

What do you find most difficult about writing poetry?

The beginning is the most difficult for me, when the page is blank. The first ideas that I write down are what sparks the process, what gets everything going and they come unexpectedly. Before that moment, it's a waiting game.

Friday, 21 June 2019

Lennart Lundh : coda

I like to close readings at new venues by quoting from Carl Sandburg's "Notes for a Preface," found in his Collected Poems: "I should like to think that as I go on writing there will be sentences truly alive, with verbs quivering, with nouns giving color and echoes. It could be, in the grace of God, I shall live to be eighty-nine, as did Hokusai, and speaking my farewell to earthly scenes, I might paraphrase: 'If God had let me live five years longer I should have been a writer.'"

Steve Venright : part two

When you require renewal, is there a particular poem or book that you return to? A particular author?

One of the books I return to when needing to get my bearings is Baudelaire’s Paris Spleen. My poems were almost all in prose even before I first encountered it, but my love of that collection—and formally related works such as Lautréamont’s Les Chants de Maldoror—secured my inclination. Beyond any technical allure, of course, is the haunting and transporting charge of being addressed by the mind of Baudelaire travelling without decay or distortion through time and space. Literature is indeed, to paraphrase Nicky Drumbolis, a wonderful form of time travel! (When I’ve got a craving for rhyme, humour, and absurd mythic adventure, I can be found within the pages of Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark.)

Thursday, 20 June 2019

Jessica Mehta : part four

What other poetry books have you been reading lately? 

I’m on a self-prescribed diet of “research-only” books, but fortunately most of them are poetry. I’m neck-deep in the works of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Christina Rossetti, Marianne Moore, Anne Sexton, and Sylvia Plath.