Friday, 23 October 2020

Bruno Neiva : part five

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

I always return to Charles Bernstein’s poems and Donald Barthelme’s short stories. I always find something new in their work that triggers new ideas.


Thursday, 22 October 2020

Ashley Hynd : part four

What do you find most difficult about writing poetry?

What I find most difficult is more about my creative process … I am a percolator … So for me a fundamental part of my process is this period of time between existing in the world gathering the poems in my body and when they have steeped and are pouring out. It’s kind of like how when you first wake and are not awake enough to notice the absence of coffee, you get out of bed, load the coffee machine, fill it with water and then suddenly YOU NEED COFFEE, only you still have to wait for it to finish slowly dripping into the pot … the difficult phase is like that, knowing I need to write, feeling it in my body, but not being able to write just yet … once that phase has passed the poems come easy ... 

Wednesday, 21 October 2020

Kristine Snodgrass : part four

 What do you find most difficult about writing poetry?

I was in class today “teaching” a poem; I teach in a university and this is a Freshman course. After spending some time on the poem, at the end of the poem I said, “this is exhausting” and they heartily agreed shaking their heads. Then I was like, “this is our work”. The whole shebang is difficult. I have been so driven to create in the past years that I am exhausted yet exhilarated. In a lot of ways, I find it difficult to stop myself—to tend to normal life and to “rest”. I am reminded that there are a lot of artists out there like me, obsessed, and I am doing what I am supposed to be doing. That is all I can say. 


Tuesday, 20 October 2020

Regan Good : part two

How does a poem begin:  

As Madame Moore said, “Ecstasy affords the occasion and expediency determines the form.”  I know when something is happening, time gets sticky and I feel both small and large at once.  A dead rose on a bush can offer entry.  It’s a textural thing.  The small thing leads to the big space that I understand as freedom; I let my mind sort of fan out until I feel like there’s a hinge or a hatch, a feeling of another world behind whatever image or bit of music afforded the poem.  This is not symbol making.  Despite the feeling of space and freedom, I do impose a lot of strictures on myself.  Poetry is a special kind of thinking, poetry is thinking that is bound to feeling, not tiny personal feelings, but to the larger archetypal feelings of human kind—love, confusion, anger, grief, horror of death, joy—whatever river the poet is in.  I’m fascinated by prehistoric Man and I try to imagine what their connection to the world was like which is impossible to know; they are our first poets.  The work they did—making sense of the world through stars, rocks, vegetation, animals, water and forging rituals and ceremonies—that is the poet’s work writ large.  I am very careful to keep myself in the Cloud of Unknowing for as long as possible when writing, every line needs to flow from the feeling of wanting to know but not knowing.  As Frost wrote, “way leads on to way.”  I keep poems “open” for years because I love the feeling of potential, or re-entering the mess of words and being in that place of suspended time.  I am always asking myself, is this room big enough?  Can I see all the corners?  If I can see the corners then I need to open a window or find a tunnel out of there, or I need to build another floor.  I wait for a feeling of overlays.  I believe that poetry is “the best words in the best order,” but I also absolutely don’t believe in perfection of any kind whatsoever, at least in regard to anything produced by Man.  I love imperfections, ruin and all examples of Wabi-Sabi in the world.  

Monday, 19 October 2020

Vik Shirley : part two

What other poetry books have you been reading lately?

Two fairly recent obsessions have been Tom Jenks's A Long and Hard Night Troubled by Visions, published by if p then q and Colin Herd's You Name it, on Dostoyevsky Wannabe. Both these books are incredibly funny and clever, and fill me with delight. Jenks does so much in one short piece. You never know where he's going to lead you. The situations are so absurd and surreal, often containing references from the 1980s, or popular culture. Each word does so much. There's strong use of irony and deadpan humour, but not in a snidey way. There's a faux innocence and sincerity  to it, which I find hilarious and irresistible. Herd also plays with popular culture, and everyday language. His poetry is fun, sexy and deliciously stylish. I bought my friend this book, he was saying how he loved the 'non-endings'. I would add non-titles to that too, or 'anti-titles'. 'And I haven't even thought about a garnish' being a favourite end line and 'Definitely wear trainers!' being a favourite title. Adore.

Sunday, 18 October 2020

Rachel Eliza Griffiths : part one

Rachel Eliza Griffiths is a poet, artist, and novelist. Her. most recent collection is Seeing the Body (W.W. Norton 2020). Griffiths' work has widely appeared, including The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Los Angeles Review of Books, Guernica, and many others. She lives in New York City. 

How did you first engage with poetry?

Probably in the music my parents played when I was very young. My mother read books to me. She encouraged me to read aloud to myself while she cooked dinner for our large family, which is why maybe sometimes books and reading feel like such a feast to me! Another thing that is a bit hard to describe was that I was always listening to how people described themselves, their lives, other people, and shared stories. Sometimes it was more about the textures, or slang, or the way that they said something simply with their voice or eyes. I felt like I was overhearing secrets about how to live in the world. But it also engaged my growing appetite for observation and attention. Details about the world everywhere I went accumulated in me. I think that Lorca’s articulation of Duende is the closest and clearest to what I’m trying to say.  I don’t think I have a consciousness that doesn’t begin with poetry being right there in my first memories. It’s always been there even if, as a child, I didn’t know how to call it anything else but the simplest of feelings – tree, rain, blue, sun, mother, father, heart, sleep, fire, face. 

Dennis Cooley : part one

For decades Dennis Cooley has been active as poet, editor, teacher, critic, mentor, publisher in Winnipeg. He has published thirty books, including Bloody Jack, Irene, The Bentleys, seeing red, and The Home Place (a book on Robert Kroetsch’s poetry). the muse sings, cold-press moon, and the bestiary have appeared in 2020. 

Photo credit: Diane Cooley

What are you working on?

I have been working with the photographer, Michael Matthews, on the gibbous moon, a collaboration that is nearly reader for the press. Michael has produced a large number of stunning abstracts and I have provided the poems. Another collection, body works, which plays with ideas of the body and human mortality, is in submission with another press. I intend soon to return to one manuscript, 1931, concerned with the Estevan miner’s strike, which has been lying in wait for many years. I have on the go half a dozen journals that I have kept and edited over the years, and a collection of travel poems related to the journals. The most ambitious project, love in a dry land, has been on-going since 1989 and has grown into a comically large ms, which I am starting to shape for submission.