Wednesday, 3 March 2021

Elias Baez : part one

Elias Baez is a poet, programmer, and pop journalist living in Baltimore with his husband Alex. His website’s, and so is his Instagram handle. Twitter’s baez_us. All he wants is a friend.

What poets changed the way you thought about writing?

My first poetry workshop, when I was nineteen, was taught by Richard Wilbur and David Sofield, when both were soon to retire. Sofield insisted that poems should have wit, and snap in places like a rolled-up towel. He also used the phrase “by my lights” a lot, which I stole remorselessly. Wilbur showed me that accomplishment and humility are not mutually exclusive. He also liked a funny line. Most of all, I learned from him that language is all hyperlink, and anything can be sampled or referenced if you place it rightly. Later, James Arthur taught me how to make my references actually make sense. And how not to hide, or strip the humanity from my writing. Of poets I never had as a teacher, Djuna Barnes taught me a poem could build my own personal God. Amanda Berenguer performed immaculate geometry on fruit. Hilda Mundy split the atom of metaphor, and proved that it is the strongest bond. Jericho Brown taught me I’m not excluded from the traditions I was raised to know and love and work and carry.

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