Monday, 17 December 2018

Melissa Eleftherion : part four

What other poetry books have you been reading lately? 

Whereas by Layli Long Soldier; Calling a Wolf a Wolf by Kaveh Akbar; New & Selected Poems of Cecilia Vicuna; at sea by Melissa Benham.

Sunday, 16 December 2018

Eric Schmaltz : part one

Eric Schmaltz is a poet, artist, and critic who works across a variety of genres and media, including print, sound, performance, and video. His work has been published in Jacket2, The Capilano Review, The Berkeley Poetry Review, Poetry is Dead, Lemon Hound, and Trinity Review. His first book of poetry and text-art, Surfaces, is available from Invisible Publishing.

What are you working on?

At the moment, my new work is focused on the various ways material environments are written and how they also write themselves. I’m particularly interested in investigating the poetic potential afforded by “communication graphics” and the use of graphic signification as an extension of language.

Stephen Cain : part five

What other poetry books have you been reading lately?

John Clare: Selected Poetry and Prose (eds. Merryn & Raymond Williams); Voodoo Hypothesis (Canisia Lubrin); Drift (Caroline Bergvall); Full-Metal Indigiqueer (Joshua Whitehead).

Saturday, 15 December 2018

Elizabeth Robinson : part one

Elizabeth Robinson is the author of several volumes of poetry, including Apprehend, a winner of the Fence Modern Poets Prize, and Pure Descent, a winner of the National Poetry Series (and the late Sun & Moon book).  Her mixed genre meditation On Ghosts (Solid Objects) was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Award.  Ahsahta Press will publish Vulnerability Index in 2019.  With Jennifer Phelps, Robinson co-edited the critical anthology Quo Anima: spirituality and innovation in contemporary women’s poetry, forthcoming any day from University of Akron Press.

What are you working on?

For a long time, I felt I wasn’t writing very much, maybe not writing effectively.

I’ve been going through many life transitions and also working very hard at my day job with homeless individuals.   At a moment when things settled a bit, I found that I had actually been writing quite a lot and I suddenly have four complete manuscripts and a bunch of nonfiction.  So it is a time of taking stock: looking at what I’ve written to see who I’ve become and where that might be taking me.  One manuscript, Vulnerability Index (which will be published in the coming year by Ahsahta), is about my work with people who are living on the street and it feels very different from my previous writing—much more narrative and very often comprised of direct quotation.  I’m nervous that I might not be honoring my conversation partners fully enough, that I’m clumsy with this more direct kind of writing.  And I am trying to learn how to translate my way of thinking from poetry to prose in the nonfiction work, which is also about people experiencing homelessness.  Somewhere in there I’m also trying to get back to writing reviews, partly because reviewing feels like such a good mode of participation in community and also because I learn so much when I review a book.

Erin Bedford : part five

How does a poem begin?

With yearning.

Friday, 14 December 2018

Alina Pleskova : part four

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

Sometimes I do a sort of brain-jogging bibliomancy with Frank O'Hara or June Jordan or Jack Spicer's collected works. They're pretty hefty volumes, & because none of them were capable of writing a single bad line, let alone a bad poem, they’re revivifying. I also return to Anne Boyer, for proof of how the personal & the political are inextricably linked & how it's okay to write about crushes, too. Kathy Acker for fucking—not sex— in all its viscerality & corporeality. Hanif Abdurraqib for how to notice everything like, everything, & turn it into a song that no one can forget. Roberto Bolaño, for reminders of how to be both playful & deadly serious. CAConrad for how to write poetry with my entire body. Tommy Pico for a reminder of how internet slang & unadorned, everyday vernacular, when wielded just-so, can be incredibly powerful. Jenny Zhang for messy & precise immigrant feelings. Larissa Pham for gorgeous lyricism that cuts. Mary Ruefle for quite literally anything else. Okay, also, I've given away & replaced my copy of Anne Carson's Short Talks so often, it's comical. That'll do it.

Thursday, 13 December 2018

Sarah Nichols : part two

How does your work first enter the world? Do you have a social group or writers group that you share ideas with?  

I tend to be almost secretive about what I’m currently working on, but I have moments where I tell writer friends ideas, or scraps of ideas, about things. I’ve noticed since I started writing more essays, I am more open about the subjects of those than I am about poems. How does my work first enter the world ? I frequently ask myself what’s the one thing that I feel that I must work out of my system, even if it’s a painful subject that I might find hard to reveal. I write a lot of found poetry, and so I am frequently looking at books not just as a reader, but as material for poems. I should also say that I am always looking at other art, as well. Movies, music, other forms of visual art. My second chapbook, Edie (Whispering): Poems from Grey Gardens, came directly from watching the documentary Grey Gardens, and turning the transcripts from that into poems. I was obsessed, and I wrote the book very fast.

I would be remiss if I didn’t say that yes, I do have one friend, Cat Conway, who is a poet and a Plath scholar, that I regularly share my ideas and poems with. We read each other’s work; she’s designed two of my chapbook covers, we edited a journal together; we’ve written blurbs for each other’s books. I am so grateful to have her as a friend and colleague. Not everyone who works in this lonely business gets to have that one person (or several) to make it less lonely. While I write alone, it’s important to know that a community is there.