Tuesday 30 November 2021

Meg Kearney : part five

How does a poem begin?

Every poem has its own origin story. Some begin with a title, some with an image, others with a phrase or even a whole line. Some begin in response to a poem that has come before, or they are born of dreams. I often compare a poem with a trap. The trick, I think, is to lure readers into the trap with the title; then the first line has to capture their attention and lock the door behind them. The poem’s trap needs to be so well constructed that the reader stays “in” it until the last word—if the poem has a weak spot, that’s a potential hole through which a reader might slip out and turn the page or go make a sandwich. And if the trap is good enough, readers—even if they’re not exactly sure what the poem was about—will want to go back to the top and enter the poem again. And again.

Elena Bentley : part three

What other poetry books have you been reading lately?

Infinite Citizen of the Shaking Tent by Liz Howard; Girl running by Diana Hope Tegenkamp;  Phantompains by Therese Estacion; The Untranslatable I by Roxanna Bennett; and Side Effects May Include Strangers by Dominik Parisien. 

Monday 29 November 2021

Magpie Ulysses : part two

How did you first engage with poetry?

I had to write terrible rhyming poems in school. My parents both love to read and we grew up memorizing Shel Silverstein and Dennis Lee. There were always poems around and we had a very large library in a closet in our house. When I was 13 my dad gifted me a Rumi book and then the Leonard Cohen anthology Stranger Music. After that I spent hours upon hours alone in the library poetry section sitting on the floor reading. Between my parents and the library I found my biggest first influences, Yeats, Lillian Allen, Keats, Rumi, Brautigan, Rilke, Lorca, Gibran and on and on it went. When I was in grade 11 I put together an entire show, for a project in Drama class, of poems from the holocaust. I failed English 5 times in High School. I moved to an Alternative High school in grade 12 and my teacher there encouraged me to make a book of poems to be read out loud. I started performing them at school fundraisers and at 17 I fell into a really great group of weirdo poets at a reading series at a local coffee shop.  Somewhere in there, I fell hard into a spoken tradition in my own work.

Michael Lee Rattigan : part five

What do you feel poetry can accomplish that other forms can’t?

By pushing at the limits and finding a language worthy of yearning, poetry can do much. It needs to stay keen, nimble. A salutary reminder of the multi-directionality required can be gleaned from a reading of Heller Levinson and Will Alexander’s ‘Dialogics’.

Sunday 28 November 2021

Charlie Petch : part four

Why is poetry important? 

As a spoken word artist, I know our strength is in telling the truth. In creating something bite sized that can illuminate the listener. As so many of us fall into a kind of social media hypnosis, I find poetry is thriving because it doesn’t demand a long attention span and so much of it has become instrumental in bringing forward the idea that we need to really decolonize our minds and embrace our shortfalls as starting points for learning. Once we really move away from the more academic parameters of poetry, it really becomes a tool of the people. They don’t call them three minute power poems for nothing. 

One of my favourite spoken word pieces, “Whitey on the Moon” by Gil Scott Heron, recently got a lot more airplay after Elon Musk started taking fellow billionaires to space. I’m a huge lover of the power of satire, and that poem is just devastating in it’s effectiveness. I’m big on horrifying and funny as a political tool.

The act of writing has helped me to process so much of my long indoors of the past few years. Writing keeps me from stagnancy, keeps me from silencing myself, and being able to produce during this time has really helped with my mental health. Here I can imagine myself an earthworm, a multiheaded alien, a person who can just be free to wander, at least in my mind. It is dreaming while awake, and when the landscape is bleak, it can really fill it with emotion and resilience. 

Neil Flowers : part five

How important is music to your poetry?

''The idea that music and poetry can be separated,'' Ezra Pound wrote, ''is an idea current in ages of degradation and decadence when both arts are in the hands of lazy imbeciles.'' I play blues piano and I know the history of African American music pretty well. In addition, I grew up with jazz and classical music. My father loved the former; my mother was a Wagnerian soprano; my brother, Bruce, plays some of the standard piano repertoire. 

These musics find their way into my poetry, sometimes literally, as in “Skag Line Blues” and another, “Slow Drag Funky Butt,” the verses of the latter poem built on a straight ahead twelve-bar blues structure though more complex verbally than most blues and structured in stanzas rather than call-response. I generally ground my poems in quotidian reality like the contexts of the blues or old English/French/Scots ballads or WCW’s poetry. No music is more grounded than early blues and it speaks in the vernacular. I abjure overly academic or oppressively intellectual poetry, though as I say this I confess to a lifelong addiction to Ezra Pound’s work, and, as much as I am circumspect about T.S. Eliot himself, The Waste Land, which I read when I was pretty young, provided a first model for how poems could incorporate disparate voices, snatches of song, change directions, be non-linear, be structured mosaically. Blues, jazz, classical: Their examples exist as possibilities, swirling in my head, when I’m working on rhythm or development. The example of dissonant music is important to me. Poems can squawk, bleat, dance around crazy, spill this way and that, dash off to somewhere else honking and horny.

Saturday 27 November 2021

Robert Hogg : part four

What poets changed the way you thought about writing?

Luckily, I’ve already partially answered this question in the course of answering questions above. And of course one goes on reading, admiring, and learning throughout one’s life. If I had to narrow this answer down to a few poets, I’d probably say: Yeats; Williams; Pound; Olson; Duncan and Creeley. There are of course dozens of others, maybe most particularly Beat poets like Ginsberg, Corso and in his prose, primarily, Jack Kerouac. All of the above have freed me from previous constraints and ideas of what poetry could or could not do. Pound and Olson had the greatest effect on my notion of theory in writing, while Williams and Duncan had the strongest effect on the way I would write, and in the case of Duncan, the ways I would have to force myself not to write. I fell for Duncan’s melodious verse from the moment I first heard him read in December 1959 when Warren and Ellen Tallman had him up to Vancouver to read to a few interested poets and lovers of poetry in their home. Frank Davey famously dragged me in from my family in Langley, where I was in my final year of high school, saying something like, you don’t have a choice, you’re just coming! Duncan read from his yet unpublished The Opening of the Field and his poem “Often I am Permitted to Return to a Meadow” was the piece that sealed for me the need to listen, read, write and become a poet. What I heard during that reading I could not then have put into words, but it set me afire inside, and I’ve been burning ever since. 

Ae Hee Lee : part five

How does a poem begin?

It begins in what ifs, whys, hows. In a word nestled in the ear or the kaleidoscopic flicker of an image. In possibility and desire. In a breadcrumb leading to another breadcrumb or a clearing. In what's overwhelming or scarce. I suspect a poem is and has been always beginning, and I am just catching up with it.

Friday 26 November 2021

Kevin Prufer : part two

Has your consideration of poetry changed since you began?

I began writing poetry before I knew much about it.  I wanted to write a kind of Romantic lyric because I had been reading Wordsworth and Keats and was attracted to their complex resolutions, their confidence in the existence of some complex truth that might be reached through nature and thought.  I still see the value in that, but I’ve lately become much more interested in the way a poem might tell a story, might invent characters and follow them, how the defining quality of a narrative poem is not that it offers the reader a series of events, but that it manipulates the speed and quality of the passage of time.   These days, poems have become a way that I can explore the world of the not-me, the world of other characters responding within time to unlikely circumstances.

Peter Vertacnik : part four

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

When this happens, I most often turn to the writings of William H. Gass, especially to his short stories, novellas, and essays. His work is filled with inventiveness, playfulness, and a keen music; spending time with it usually gets me excited about my own work again. I should add, however, that the most effective form of renewal for me is simply taking a long walk. When my legs are moving, when my eyes are scanning foreground and distance, my mind is more active as well. 

Thursday 25 November 2021

Kerry Ryan : part five

How does a poem begin?

Usually, a poem begins with trying to pin a single image. I don’t know why, but I think of this as a stump, even though it functions more like a seed or a sapling. From there, I build: more images, more layers. I follow those tendrils to find out what the poem is really about. Quite often, though, in the editing stages, I end up cutting that stump entirely. It’s like a rocket booster that falls away after launch; the poem has taken off and doesn’t need it anymore. 

Douglas Cole : part two

How do you know when a poem is finished?

I know when it’s finished if I can read through it and I don’t feel an urge to change it. I’ll take it from its roughest, handwritten form, type it, revise for line-breaks and pay attention to rhythm and the way the sounds play. I don’t want any log-jambs of sound, a clashing of dental fricatives or anything. Then I mess around a bit with the way it looks on the page. I read it. Put it away, come back after giving it a little time to become unfamiliar so that I can see it without my ego. Then, if I feel like I can read it and witness it and just enjoy it without the cringing feeling that something’s just not right here, I feel fairly sure it’s done, or at least that I am done with it. 

Wednesday 24 November 2021

Abigail Wender : part two

How did you first engage with poetry?

I’ve been writing since early childhood. I loved to read and reading became writing. Writing was a way of seeing what I thought and could not say, learning what I felt and didn’t understand, what it was I’d witnessed but couldn’t make sense of. Eventually I began to think about compression and poetry, and then about how language was my artistic medium. 

Angelo Mao : part four

What other poetry books have you been reading lately?

I recently read Jenny Qi’s Focal Point and Jackie Wang’s The Sunflower Cast A Spell To Save Us From The Void, both of which I enjoyed. I sought out Focal Point in particular because Qi, like me, comes from an immigrant background and has a postgraduate degree in a science field. I was curious how those influences would inform her work.

A wonderful piece of poetry criticism I read recently is Xiaofei Tian’s essay on the 6th century poet Yu Xin. She describes how he dealt with personal trauma and displacement coinciding with the end of empire. I’ve always felt that trauma and displacement underlies much of the classical Chinese lyric tradition—from Du Fu to Li Qingzhao and others. To me, Tian’s approach recalls Helen Vendler’s in Breaking of Style. It’s an approach I feel is missing from literary analyses of Chinese lyrics in English, so I’m grateful Tian paid this kind of attention in her essay.

Tuesday 23 November 2021

Meg Kearney : part four

Why is poetry important? 

The poet Stanley Kunitz used to say that “Poetry is ultimately mythology, the telling of stories of the soul.” He’d also talk about the fact that if you want to know what it was like to be a human being at any point in history, look to the poems of that time, not to the history books. This to me is one reason why poetry is essential—it’s speaking human truths. This is also why, when a country fall under a dictator, the poets are among the first to be imprisoned. Or shot. But I like to think, too, that poetry creates a path for world peace. It enables readers to realize that, no matter what our culture or background, we human beings have much more in common than not.

Elena Bentley : part two

What do you find most difficult about writing poetry?

The inner critics—there are many and they are loud. It takes an incredible amount of energy and focus to not allow their negative narratives to invade and sour all the creative space in my mind.

Monday 22 November 2021

Magpie Ulysses : part one

Writer, Rabble Rouser, fancy talker; Magpie Ulysses began performing at the age of 17 to save her life. She has performed across North America and is a veteran of the national poetry slam community in Canada where she was a member of two national champion Vancouver poetry slam teams. She was named a Poet of Honour at the Canadian festival Of Spoken Word in the Fall of 2012.

A bit of a witch, a nature freak and an activist at heart, Magpie is known for her visceral, often surrealist writings that extend from the everyday human experience into the depths of natural and inanimate worlds. Magpie has spent much of the past decade heavily involved in the arts while living in and around rural BC and Southern Ontario. Having spent the past few years raising a new human and past many years caring for her grandmother through Alzheimer’s disease, she has become increasingly interested in questions surrounding genetic memory, place, body, grief, aging and how we choose to tell our own stories. She currently lives on the west coast of Canada on the traditional lands of the Snuneymuxw.

What are you working on?

Creating in this pandemic time has been very difficult for me. I have been homeschooling a neurodivergent child and caregiving for my grandmother while my husband finished a professional degree in our basement in a city we didn’t want to be in. It’s hard to have a thought of one’s own in conditions like that. I grew a lot of food and saved a lot of seeds and focused on reigning in my power and energy for the future.

I have been working on a large project about caregiving for my grandmother who lives with Alzheimer’s disease. It has been years of research around memory, genetic memory, her own family history, settler histories, how I interact with the past, how we tell our own stories and understanding the kinetics of homesickness. Hours upon hours of sitting with things my grandma said or did. I have 100 pages of poems I don’t know what to do with now. And then I sat down the other day and just started writing poems with an outpouring of deep grief. The opioid crisis, the last ancient forests being cut down on the west coast in BC, my grandma’s house, endangered species, lost healing herbs, my childhood, my housing instability, other people’s lost children, free things that are no longer free, our inability to connect in meaningful ways, our obsession with categorizing humanity, it’s all in there. Sometimes you have to go back to where you began to be able to continue.

Michael Lee Rattigan : part four

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

As a kind of tremor like a shark-fin circling, but aurally. A phrase, a certain rhythm, unexpected coherence if only for the duration of a line. There’s usually a hook, a narrative through which various impacts can take place and fruitfully deflect a piece, carry it forward. One starts with one’s own fixations and if you’re fortunate to have one or two friends, along with a highly attuned editor, then this certainly helps. I’ve been fortunate on both counts. 

Sunday 21 November 2021

Charlie Petch : part three

How important is music to your poetry?

For me, poetry and music will always exist together. When I published Why I Was Late, I made sure to notate what sounds the reader should be hearing for each poem that has musical accompaniment. It’s funny to publish just words when you’re used to being able to create the atmosphere you’d like to perform the poem in. For my 4 part long form poem/dance/music collaboration “Daughter of Geppetto” I listened to Chopin’s nocturnes non-stop, since they were a real hit in the 1880’s, when the original Pinocchio was published. When I finished the opening poem, I tried reading it out along with Chopin’s Opus 9 no.2 and it fit so perfectly, I had to keep it in the show. 

Right now I am looking for the perfect strained relationship poem to go along with Chris Isaac’s “Wicked Game” to be played with ukulele and singing saw on a loop pedal. I might already have it, but we’ll see how it all blends. Poetry really is one of the best collaborative mediums, I’m so lucky it found me. 

Neil Flowers : part four

What other poetry books have you been reading lately?

Selected poems of Apollinaire. Christopher Logue’s translations of Homer’s Iliad, i.e., Kings and All Day Permanent Red. Bob Hogg’s Cariboo poems. I want to read George Bowering’s Kerrisdale Elegies but I can’t find a copy to borrow in Los Angeles, where I currently live.

Saturday 20 November 2021

Robert Hogg : part three

What do you feel poetry can accomplish that other forms can’t?

Poetry is unique. It has an incisiveness that prose seldom attains. I have never abandoned the lyric, despite the battering it has had over the past several decades. I have written numerous narrative poems as well, but in essence, the lyric underpins even these poems, and hopefully gives them their immediacy. And that, perhaps, immediacy, is the second thing poetry can accomplish. We owe much to Pound and his Imagist accomplices for their recognition of this great value in poetry, and particularly the short, imagistic poem. It is no accident, I don’t think, that Imagism had its heyday not long after the invention of photography, and the two, along with motion pictures, rose to prominence coincidentally. When Pound ‘invented’ what he called the Ideogrammic method of composition, he set the stage for a poetics which would try to capture not just a vivid picture of life, but the leaps and bounds of activity which we might now, since Whitehead, subsume under the term Event. Olson, of course, sought to take this processual approach to nature a step further with his Projective Verse, a perspective which placed the poet not outside, but smack in the middle of the physical world, participant, player, and recorder all at once. When poetry is that engaged in the moment—however long a duration that may span—then there is an urgency to find a language commensurate with that world in flux. We can of course revert to more comfortable modalities. But there is now and forever that pressure of reality, to steal a phrase from Wallace Stevens, which demands our recognition. By adhering to that the poet can, as Olson says, be “contained within his nature as he is participant in the larger force, he will be able to listen, and his hearing through himself will give him secrets objects share.” To me, that is the most profound statement in Olson’s Projective Verse essay, and points unequivocally to what poetry alone can achieve. 

Ae Hee Lee : part four

Why is poetry important?

What drew me to poetry was the value it placed in each individual word. Poetry reminds me that every tiny thing matters. In a world so vast and often cause of much loneliness, this thought is of great consolation to me.

Friday 19 November 2021

Sara Moore Wagner : part five

How does a poem begin?

A poem begins with time. I am a mother of three. For me it’s always time. I have so many ideas that never reach the page. I try very hard to make space for my writing life, but the day gets away a lot of times. If I have time I can force a poem to begin. 

I used to say I needed a spark, but now a poem begins when I tell it to. I try to collect images in my mind and when I sit down to write (when I have a small space to write), I will start with one of those. If I hit a wall, I will read until it generates a unique thought or image.  This is true especially for my work on Annie Oakley. I will listen to “Annie Get Your Gun” or read about her or look at pictures of her until an idea forms. 

Kevin Prufer : part one

Kevin Prufer’s seventh book How He Loved Them (Four Way Books, 2018) received the Julie Suk Award and was long-listed for the 2019 Pulitzer Prize.  His eighth book, The Art of Fiction, was published this year by Four Way Books.  He teaches in the graduate Creative Writing Program at the University of Houston where he also curates the Unsung Master Series, a book series devoted to bringing great, forgotten authors to new generations of readers.

Photo credit: Emy Johnston

How did you first engage with poetry?

I went to a classy boarding school—ivy-covered red brick, wealthy kids, grave faculty masters who doled out punishments for dress code violations and other misbehaviors.  We ate dinner in our green school ties beneath ancient portraits of faculty masters of the past.  I had one teacher who required that we memorize a poem each week.  Every Saturday, we sat in class and wrote the poem out longhand.  For each error—a missed comma, a forgotten word—we lost a grade.  And every poem he gave us was longer than the previous one.   I’m not sure what the objective of all this was.  Perhaps we were meant to learn comma rules this way, because no one could memorize the placement of every comma in “My Last Duchess”; one had to know the rules.  I don’t think these assignments awakened any interest in the other students, most of whom seemed to me to be destined to go on to great jobs in banking, medicine, or law.  And I complained like everyone else, though the poems took root inside me and grew there.  The rhythms, the odd rhymes, the wonderful pair of ragged claws scuttling across the silent sea floor.

Peter Vertacnik : part three

What other poetry books have you been reading lately?

Three very new books (all published in 2021) by poets whose previous work I enjoyed immensely: Popular Longing, by Natalie Shapero; Prometeo, by C. Dale Young; and Caki Wilkinson’s The Survival Expo.

I’ve also been revisiting older books that I’ve only ever read as part of a poet’s collected poems, except now (with the help of an excellent university library system) I’m encountering these books as they were first published, in individual collections. Some recent examples would be Elizabeth Bishop’s Questions of Travel, Theodore Roethke’s The Lost Son, Louise Bogan’s Dark Summer and Robert Francis’ Like Ghosts of Eagles. Seeing these poems surrounded by more space (aren’t collecteds and selecteds always filled with crowded pages?) often helps me see them differently, more fully. There’s also surprises, such as realizing Bishop included her story, “In the Village” at the beginning of the ‘Elsewhere’ section in QoT.

And, of course, I’m always dipping into old favorites, one poem or sequence at time: Auden, Brooks, Frost, Hardy, Hecht, Merrill.

Thursday 18 November 2021

Kerry Ryan : part four

How important is music to your poetry?

I’m tone deaf and have zero musical ability, but I love listening to music, especially singer-songwriters who really work their lyrics. Listening to music, especially live, makes me itch to write, but I can’t actually write while there’s music playing. I get too caught up in listening and can’t hear what’s on the page. My work doesn’t have a particularly musical sensibility, but I like to work with sound, especially consonance and assonance, subtly repeating and recombining sounds. 

Douglas Cole : part one

Douglas Cole has published six collections of poetry and The White Field, winner of the American Fiction Award. His work has appeared in several anthologies as well as journals such as The Chicago Quarterly Review, Poetry International, The Galway Review, Bitter Oleander, Chiron, Louisiana Literature, Slipstream, as well Spanish translations of work (translated by Maria Del Castillo Sucerquia) in La Cabra Montes. He is a regular contributor to Mythaixs, an online journal, where in addition to his fiction and essays, his interviews with notable writers, artists and musicians such as Daniel Wallace (Big Fish), Darcy Steinke (Suicide Blond, Flash Count Diary) and Tim Reynolds (T3 and The Dave Matthews Band) have been popular contributions https://mythaxis.com/?s=douglas+Cole. He has been nominated twice for a Pushcart and Best of the Net, received the Leslie Hunt Memorial Prize in Poetry and recently won the Editors’ Choice Award in Prose from RiverSedge literary journal. He lives and teaches in Seattle, Washington. His website is https://douglastcole.com/.

What are you working on?

I’m working on a collection called The Cabin at the End of the World that is made up of mostly prose poems. It’s a fun way to approach the poem, formally. I’ve always felt that there really is not a big difference between writing poetry and prose. I love them both: the challenge of working with language, the music of language, the play of meanings and the creation of a visual as much as an intellectual experience are essentially the same. Certainly “narrative” poetry has a prose quality in the sense that it has a sort of story in it. And I love the way the line of a poem can be a poem, as Theodore Roethke says. So the fun of working on pieces as prose poems has been a new freedom in terms of the line, but I’ve also been secretly trying to play with the line yet still have the appearance of a paragraph, the prose poem, this block of language.

Wednesday 17 November 2021

Abigail Wender : part one

Abigail Wender’s poetry collection, Reliquary, was published in February 2021 (Four Way Books). Her translation from the German of The Bureau of Past Management, Iris Hanika’s award-winning novel, was published in October 2021 (V & Q Books). Poetry and translations were published or are forthcoming in Asymptote, Bodega, The Cortland Review, Disquieting Muses Quarterly, Epiphany, Kenyon Review Online, Massachusetts Review, New Orleans Review, No Man’s Land, SWIMM, Tupelo Quarterly, among others. She lives in New York City.

Photo credit: Rachel Eliza Griffiths

What are you working on?

I’m working on a translation of a new German novel by Iris Hanika called Echo’s Chambers. Our first effort, The Bureau of Past Management, was published in the Germany and the UK in October 2021. Hanika is a poetic fiction writer, and there is a lot of poetry in her work. This book begins, for example, with a 1937 poem by Daniil Charms. It floored me—I’ll be looking for more of his work. The poem begins:

“Is there anything in the world that has meaning and might even change the course of events, not only on Earth but also in other worlds?” I asked my teacher.
“Yes,” answered my teacher.
“And what is it?” I asked.
“It is…” began my teacher and suddenly fell silent.

Angelo Mao : part three

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

I love the energy from reading young, contemporary poets. To somehow respond to each other, whether stylistically or in terms of poetic subject, is, I think, a healthy and energizing challenge.

Partly because I was in her workshop for many years, I revisit Jorie Graham’s poems, if only to remind myself of her voice—not just the voice in her poems, but her “real life” voice reminding us in workshop to attempt what really matters. The challenge is never: write a poem. Instead, try to create a document of being human. I feel it’s a liberating and democratic attitude to take, and opens the space of what texts and shapes of texts to consider.

I also derive a strong sense of renewal from Yeats’s poems, especially those from the second half of his career. I probably have a lot of sympathy with his sensibility, and—although certainly the situations were different—his poems of the Irish Civil War were helpful to me during the Trump presidency.

Tuesday 16 November 2021

Meg Kearney : part three

How important is music to your poetry?

As I draft a poem, I read it aloud. So my first listener, besides myself, is my dog—he’s nonjudgmental and quietly attentive! But I’m mostly crafting with sound and music in mind, so hearing the words as I write them is essential. My mentor, William Matthews, said that the poetic line is like the bar in music, and “one composes by the phrase.” This is often in my thoughts as I work, as is Stanley Kunitz’s complaint that many contemporary poets aren’t “testing” their poems with their ears. “They’re writing for the page,” he said, “and the page, let me tell you, is a cold bed.”

Elena Bentley : part one

Elena Bentley is a disabled, bi, Métis/settler poet, writer, editor, and book reviewer who lives near Saskatoon. She is a Citizen of Métis Nation-Saskatchewan. She holds an MA in English from the University of Toronto. Her poetry has appeared in the anthology apart: a year of pandemic poetry and prose; in untethered, Arc Poetry, spring, and Kiiyaanaan Aykwaa: Us Now magazines, The Malahat Review, and antilang; and is forthcoming in Room Magazine and PRISM international. Most recently, she was a finalist for the People’s Choice Award in CV2 Magazine’s 2-Day Poem Contest. Elena is the poetry editor for untethered magazine. @_elenabentley_

What are you working on?

I’ve got a few projects on the go right now: two poetry collections (one that examines disability and the other that explores Métis/settler identity); a YA murder mystery novel (set in Toronto); and a children’s book (about a pickle named Dilbert). 

Monday 15 November 2021

Joel Robert Ferguson : part five

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

Oddly enough, when I’m feeling burnt out on poetry my go-to reads are the prose works of poets, be they essays and fiction. Especially the short stories and critical writing of Roberto Bolaño, his prose writing is consistently playful, snarky and inventive in ways that usually get me writing poetry again.

Michael Lee Rattigan : part three

Has your consideration of poetry changed since you began?

My understanding of what it can do, as opposed to other forms of verbal attack, certainly has. Poetry isn’t merely prose with aspirations, but a foray on the ineffable, a leap in the Kierkegaardian sense of not resting on the pre-determined or pre-determinable. It isn’t just born, in Yeats’ phrase, from “the shock of new material”, but from the propulsive shock of entanglement. There is an imaginative collapsing that inevitably takes place, from Blake’s well-known “world in a grain of sand” to Will Alexander’s “galvanic shock of the cosmos”. Interesting that I’ve used the same word – in considering poetry – three times here, telling. I’m also aware that my “consideration of poetry” simultaneously is and isn’t everything that it is capable of being up to this point.    

Sunday 14 November 2021

Charlie Petch : part two

What other poetry books have you been reading lately?

I recently read Tenille K. Campbell’s nedi nezu (good medicine), Arsesnal Pulp Press, so hot and steamy, and honest and funny, it paired well with Molly-Cross Blanchard’s Exhibitionist which is also raw, real and erotic and published by Coach House Press. Also the legendary Lillian Allen’s Make The World New, a selection of her poetry from Laurier Poetry Series, a real masterclass of spoken word and Jamaican Dub. So happy for this much overdue collection of her iconic poems and some new ones. I’m pretty intentional on whose work I read with whose, I always have a few books on the go, because of my distracted mind, but you want the right ingredients in that cocktail. 

Neil Flowers : part three

What poets changed the way you thought about writing?

WCW. Ezra Pound. WWE Ross. Raymond Knister. Shakespeare. Camus. Browning. Blake. Melville. Robert Creeley. Keats. Olson. Coleridge. Daphne Marlatt. Villon. Rimbaud. Bob Dylan. Sharon Dubiago. Chaucer. Powwow singers. James Agee. Wallace Stevens. Robert Johnson. Memphis Minnie. Phyllis Webb. John Newlove. Lorca. Basil Bunting. Lao-Tzu. Frank Davey. Michael Ondaatje. DH Lawrence. Ron Hansen. Pessoa. ee cummings.

A couple like Camus and Hansen are not per se poets, but still. Ron Hansen’s novel about Jesse James is a prose epic, with poetic style. Bob Hogg was my most important mentor. I mention him here, above, in the first question. He introduced me to the work of WCW, EP, the Black Mountain poets, Daphne Marlatt, the TISH poets, and Basil. In fact, Bob introduced me to Basil himself when he came to Ottawa for a reading. We went to dinner later, an unforgettable evening. Basil told me, to the effect: “When you write a poem, put it in a drawer for a year, if you can still read it then without wincing, go ahead and publish it.” Every poem in my new book, Polyphonic Lyre, has been in the drawer for at least a year, some for several. George Bowering taught a class at SFU in Vancouver in which we read modern and contemporary Canadian poets in depth. No one in Canada should receive a degree in English without having taken Bob and George’s classes. Those seminars were utterly invaluable to me as a writer. What they taught, and their own examples, and their unabashed Canadian perspective without being rah-rah nationalistic, pointed the way. 

Saturday 13 November 2021

Robert Hogg : part two

Has your consideration of poetry changed since you began?

One’s consideration of poetry comes as much from reading as from the practice of writing. Perhaps I should have said, “as much from the practice of reading…” since it is how we read, and why we read, that largely determines how we will compose our own poems. From very early on I had some inkling that I was a poet, and that I could learn to write expertly. But to do this, I had to pay close attention to what I was reading—how it was written, how it sounded to my ear, how it forced me to pay close attention—or if not, why not? That critical sense of reading is germane to any qualitative ability to write well. Of course, one is always limited, and thus it is useful to have teachers in one’s life who themselves show a deep consideration of the written word. Some of these may be friends, or they may be university professors with a keen ear for the music of poetry and subtleties in composition and effect. I was lucky to encounter Warren Tallman at UBC who was all of the above for myself and many poets of my generation who studied with him, however briefly. Warren made a habit of reading the poems under discussion in his classes out loud. So whether he read a sonnet by Wyatt, passages from Pope, Lapis Lazuli by Yeats, or a contemporary poem by Robert Creeley or Robert Duncan, poets he personally knew, he inevitably read the poetry as he personally heard it, and articulated every sound and syllable present. It was that attention to what was on the page that made one consider what had been written, what was being said. That was decades ago, now. But in some way that ‘learning to hear’ has stayed with me and remained forefront in my current reading and in my own composition. And of course I chose along with my contemporaries to write in free verse and to experiment with form without the constraints of our forebears in the practice. And yet…, and yet…, in my own case, and again in that of many others, I’ve chosen to apply constraints on my style for most of my career. I am more at ease writing quatrains, probably, than any other particular stanzaic pattern. But just as often, I will begin a poem in couplets or as a single narration, and then later, when I come back to it, break it down into one or another specific pattern. In my earlier writing, I often experimented with line breaks and stanza structures, breaking them up and seldom following through with a single pattern. Recently, I’ve tended to maintain a discrete series of quatrains or tercets, particularly in longer poems. 

Ae Hee Lee : part three

Has your consideration of poetry changed since you began?

When I started out, I thought it was all about mastery. We live in a culture that values control and power. However, I gradually allowed myself to be led by the poem and be surprised by it. I love the broken corners, the colossal murals and dead-ends, the long way home— the views I would have not stopped for if by myself. Sometimes it can be exhausting, as it is a path filled with uncertainty. But I believe it also leaves more room for wonder.

Friday 12 November 2021

Sara Moore Wagner : part four

Why is poetry important? 

This is a hard one to explain, and there was a recent Twitter discourse about this very subject (whether it is or is not important)—for me, poetry is important. It speaks past a silence and allows others to inhabit and experience something.  Poetry is better at exploring the intricacies of a single moment, and at explaining the unexplainable, as Carl Sandburg said. Only can poetry can speak through those times you can’t speak what’s happening. It breaks the walls other forms have. It also does this sonically, and with interconnected images.

This is particularly important when it comes from marginalized or underrepresented individuals. Poetry shaped the whole world, it connects us to the past, to the present, to voices we might never experience otherwise. It’s also such a solitary and individual art form. It’s one voice crying across a void—and I think it’s natural and instinctive for us, to desire and to create poetry. For me, poetry has always been instinct, but it’s so important to my sense of identity and connection to the world. As a stay-at-home mom in Ohio, poetry gives me my solitary purpose and helps me to stay in conversation with the universe.

Peter Vertacnik : part two

How do you know when a poem is finished?

I don’t. I know when I’m finished though: when I’ve exhausted the components essential to the continuing composition of the poem—ideas, rhymes, metaphors, time, the suggestions of others etc. Once those resources are consumed, I have the best version of the poem I can currently muster, and I either accept what’s there and try to get it published or I shake my head and keep it to myself. I don’t throw it away; I just store it with my other odds and ends and see what’s next. 

Thursday 11 November 2021

Kerry Ryan : part three

What do you feel poetry can accomplish that other forms can’t?

For the writer and reader, poetry is often very personal, very human; it can create common ground. It also feels more immediate and more intense than longer forms of writing. I notice this particularly when I’m reading to an audience or attending a reading – there’s a very visceral sense of connection between reader and listener.

Morgan Harlow : part five

What do you feel poetry can accomplish that other forms can’t?

The inaugural poet is an example. Elegies are another. Poetry brings people together, a community. A few semesters ago I brought to my students a book of poems by a poet I’d assigned to the class and each read a few lines aloud, then passed the book to the next until all had read by turns to the end of the poem. A moment of shared solemnity, wonder and delight in poetry.

Wednesday 10 November 2021

Angelo Mao : part two

How important is music to your poetry?

“It is not enough to have a beautiful voice. You must take that voice and break it up into a thousand pieces so it can be made to serve the needs of music, of expression.” This is a quote by Maria Meneghini Callas, and it’s fascinated me. We poets often strive to find our “voice” and develop it. But what is a voice for? What is a beautiful voice, and what is it for?

I used to review operas for Opera News before the pandemic. The ecstasy and drama of opera, as well as the flowing, continuous nature of the Italian style, have influenced me. I also love classical and baroque music. I know there are echoes of the sonata, fugue, theme and variation, etc. in what I write.

Tuesday 9 November 2021

Meg Kearney : part two

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

We all need community, right? I have two first readers with whom I share poems when they feel ready; one is a poetry lover but not a writer, and the other is a poet I respect very much. Both perspectives are vastly different and invaluable. But I think it’s also vitally important to have a safe space in which to read new work, as there’s nothing like hearing yourself read a poem in public to know if it’s really “finished” yet. For years that audience was at the Frost Place in Franconia, New Hampshire; and now it’s among the students, alumni, and faculty of the Solstice MFA Program, which I direct. 

Monday 8 November 2021

Joel Robert Ferguson : part four

What other poetry books have you been reading lately?

I’m currently taking a class that’s all about the relationship between English Romanticism and medical science, so I’ve been getting to read lots of Keats and Coleridge (never a bad thing). Whenever I have a minute to spare, I’m also chipping away at/dipping into Paterson by William Carlos Williams and “A” by Louis Zukofsky. I’ve been worried that my style has becoming a bit staid lately, so coming back to these experimentative modernist writers has been helpful.

Michael Lee Rattigan : part two

How do you know when a poem is finished?  

The poem should let you know. One doesn’t “abandon” a poem, it abandons the poet from the outset.  

Sunday 7 November 2021

Charlie Petch : part one

Charlie Petch (they/them, he/him) is a disabled/queer/transmasculine multidisciplinary artist who resides in Tkaronto/Toronto. A poet, playwright, librettist, musician, lighting designer, and host, Petch was the 2017 Poet of Honour for SpeakNorth national festival, winner of the Golden Beret lifetime achievement in spoken word with The League of Canadian Poets (2020), and founder of Hot Damn it's a Queer Slam. Petch is a touring performer, as well as a mentor and workshop facilitator. In 2021, they are launching "Daughter of Geppetto", a multimedia/dance/music/performance poetry piece with Wind in the Leaves (TBA), their first full length poetry collection Why I Was Late with Brick Books, and their libretto "Medusa's Children" with Opera QTO.  

What are you working on?  

I’m working on my next manuscript, loosely titled “Poetic Monologues”. I’m both revamping some spoken word theatre pieces, and creating new works that exist somewhere between monologue and poetry. Like most larger works, I started it with a mapping, a kind of installation art piece thinking about where I am already, where I could go, and how it can be presented both on the page, and off, in accessible ways. I recently had to take the wall installation down and am now putting it together from the little nest of papers, feathers, bits of cloth and laminated pigeons (by Emmie Tsumura). I’ve been using the pidgeons to indicate the more “bouffon clown” poems. Comedic placement and timing is everything in a manuscript. It’s been very fun to go through my old plays and find those gems that are monologue/poetry.   

I’m also refining my new spoken word play “no one’s special at the hot dog cart” which is part poetry/storytelling/music and de-escalation workshop with the premise “Everything I needed to know about emergency response, I learned as a teenage hot dog vendor in downtown Toronto”. I’ll be doing a development workshop with Theatre Passe Muraille in March for their “The Buzz” series for new works. I’m very honoured to have DM St Bernard and Adam Lazarus signed on for this process. 

Neil Flowers : part two

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

A line will come to me unbidden. Like Spicer with his Martian radio. Maybe I’ll hear something someone says in a crowd, or on the literal radio when I am driving, and it sparks a poem about swans and a Sibelius symphony. Something nags from the inside or outside. I consider that a first entrance into the world, like WCW in the poem about spring where the scrappy little pieces of vegetation begin to emerge. I carry a writing book if I am away from my laptop. I’ll scratch down in the book whatever I can grab. Lines/words/phrases come and go fast. Sometimes, like a few days back, this will turn into an extended improv writing session. This one was maybe twenty minutes. I sat on the grass of a low hillock beside a street and let the writing go wherever within the parameters of two characters I am developing for a novel. It was surprising and satisfying. I get home. I type it into the MS, working on it as I do. I think I have a whole scene. I’ll get back to it in a couple of days.

I don’t belong to any writer groups. I tried a couple but didn’t find them helpful. So many participants in these groups seem limited to the subjective, confessional voice, as if the only poets they ever read are Anne Sexton and Robert Lowell. I have two superb editors who are friends, Rod Bradley and Bob Hogg. Poets themselves, they talk fluently about rhythm, line breaks, enjambment, sounds, the mechanics, and so forth. Bob misses nothing. Not a syllable. Rod once told me to swap the places of the penultimate and ultimate stanzas of a poem about Leonard Cohen. I couldn’t believe he was telling me this. I almost felt insulted. But I did. He was 100% dead on about the change. 

I rely on those two guys. I’m so lucky to have them. Their insight and generosity never fails.

Saturday 6 November 2021

Robert Hogg : part one

Robert Hogg was born in Edmonton, Alberta, grew up in the Cariboo and Fraser Valley in British Columbia, and attended UBC during the early Sixties where he was associated with the Vancouver TISH poets, co-edited MOTION - a prose newsletter, and graduated with a BA in English and Creative Writing. In 1964 he hitchhiked east to Toronto, then visited Buffalo NY where Charles Olson was teaching. After spending a few months in NYC, Bob entered the graduate program at the State University of NY at Buffalo, completed a PhD on Olson under Robert Creeley, and took a job teaching American and Canadian Poetry at Carleton University in Ottawa for the next 38 years. His books include: The Connexions, Berkeley: Oyez, 1966; Standing Back, Toronto: Coach House, 1972; Of Light, Toronto: Coach House, 1978; Heat Lightning, Windsor: Black Moss, 1986; There Is No Falling, Toronto: ECW,1993; and as editor, An English Canadian Poetics, The Confederation Poets – Vol. 1, Vancouver: Talonbooks, 2009. He recently published five chapbooks: from LAMENTATIONS, Ottawa: above/ground, 2016; two Cariboo poems, Ranch Days – The McIntosh from hawk/weed press in Kemptville, ON; Ranch Days—for Ed Dorn from battleaxe press (Ottawa 2019) ; A Quiet Affair – Vancouver ’63 (Trainwreck 2021) and From Each Forthcoming (above/ground, 2021). In April 2019 Hogg edited a Canadian Poetry issue of The Café Review in Portland, ME. His poems have appeared in over seventy periodicals, most recently: Pamenar Online; Empty Mirror; The Café Review; Dispatches; Arc; SomeBlazeVox Online Journal, The Typescript, Caesura, Ottawater 16, Sulfur Surrealist Jungle, Touch the Donkey and forthcoming issues of Periodicities, Bandoneon, and Taint Taint Taint. Books currently in the works for publication include: Lamentations; The Cariboo Poems; Postcards, from America; Amber Alert; Not to Call It Chaos – The Vancouver Poems; Oh Yeah—More Poems; and The Offending Temple. In progress are Furtherings and Ill Parodies – O, a selection of satires on various Shibboleths and current affairs. In Spring 2021 new chapbook will be released form above/ground called From Each Forthcoming. Now retired, Hogg continues to write at his organic farm in Mountain thirty-five miles south of Ottawa.

Some years ago I wrote in a poem, “One listens. Poetry speaks--a recognizable language,  never predictable, but sometimes, a familiar voice.”  

How did you first engage with poetry?

I first engaged with poetry quite literally on my father’s knee. He was not the most attentive of fathers, but he did love poetry, particularly Victorian poetry, and Shakespeare, much of which he could recite. He enjoyed reading aloud to me when I was young and before I could read for myself, and so I heard poetry read, not by a poet, thankfully, nor by an actor, again thankfully, but by someone with an ear for the sound of beauty. As for writing poetry, I composed my first poem at the age of nine which, thankfully, has not survived. But I recall typing it up on my mother’s typewriter after having written, or perhaps printed, it out by hand. If I recall rightly, it was several rhyming quatrains, and spoke to a green landscape and a Romantic appreciation of nature. I don’t recall reading any poetry in grade school in Edmonton Alberta, nor later in BC. But by the time I was in High School, traditional poetry was part of the curriculum. In my final year I read a good deal in an anthology then current which covered writing from the Renaissance to the present. We actually read some poems by Earle Birney in that class, and that was the first I knew that there might be a famous local poet or poetry. By then I was also beginning to read the Beats which I discovered on my own, and with the help of Frank Davey who introduced me to Gregory Corso’s Gasoline, Robert Duncan’s Selected Poems, and Allen Ginsberg’s Howl—all from City Lights. So, by the time I arrived at UBC I was already crazy enough to want to both read and write more poetry. 

Ae Hee Lee : part two

How do you know when a poem is finished?

I tend to think poems resemble us (or is it that we resemble poems?) in that they are never really finished. They exist as versions of themselves at different points in time. However, there are specific moments when I realize I would be comfortable sending the poem out to a journal. For me, the revision process is sort of a dialogue I engage with the poem. We ask each other where we want to go and what do we want to say but couldn’t in a way that feels complete to us. After a while, the conversation comes to a natural pause. It’s then when I know I’m ready to let the poem go. However, there are times where the conversation resumes after the poem has been sent out or even after it has been published. I go back and revise the poem. I add more connections, questions, and sometimes, entirely new poems will come out from that practice.

Friday 5 November 2021

Sara Moore Wagner : part three

What poets changed the way you thought about writing?

Definitely HD, who I talked about earlier, Adrienne Rich, Sharon Olds, Nickole Brown, Harryette Mullen, there are for sure too many to list—every time I read a poet it changes something about the way I see poetry. Right now I am reading The Four-Legged Girl by Diane Suess, and after that will be W. Todd Kaneko’s This is How the Bone Sings, then Angelique Zobitz’s new chapbook Burn Down Your House. It takes me a while lately to get through books, though—because of the pandemic and mothering. I miss being able to just read EVERYTHING.

I love books that make me think “I wish I could do that,” and I also want to be doing something different from everyone else, which is a lofty goal, I know. 

Peter Vertacnik : part one

Peter Vertacnik's poems and translations have appeared in The Hopkins Review, Literary Matters, Poet Lore, Valparaiso Poetry Review, and Water~Stone Review, among others. A finalist for the 2021 Donald Justice Poetry Prize, he currently splits his time between Idaho and Florida.

Photo Credit: Yifan Zhang 

What are you working on?

A few things. I’m revising what I hope, sooner or later, will be my first collection of poems, sending it out to contests and publishers. I’m also working, very slowly, on a complete translation of Rilke’s The Book of Pictures (Das Buch der Bilder)—a book that I think often gets neglected by readers, falling as it does between two of Rilke’s major early works, The Book of Hours (Das Studenbuch) and New Poems (Neue Gedichte). I’m also engaged in a co-translation project with a friend of mine, Yifan Zhang, which involves translating various essays and poems of the brilliant Taiwanese writer, Yu Kwang-chung (余光中), who died in 2017. All this is in addition to teaching and my work as a graduate student, which includes furiously composing and revising more poems towards a second manuscript.  

Thursday 4 November 2021

Kerry Ryan : part two

How do you know when a poem is finished?

I don’t always know. Every once in a while, I’ll write a poem in a big exorcism-style gush and afterwards kind of brush my hands together and think: “done and done.” Much more often, I’ll write a poem, redraft several times, continue to fiddle over a period of days or weeks until it feels if not finished, exactly, then as I far as I’m capable of taking it. Sometimes, that’s as good as it gets.

Morgan Harlow : part four

How did you first engage with poetry?

From the earliest of years the world itself seemed like poetry, everything new. Then childhood verse, playground rhymes. Later, songs of the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix.

Wednesday 3 November 2021

Elizabeth M Castillo : part five

What other poetry books have you been reading lately? 

I’ve been re-reading Manuel Iris’ The Parting Present / Lo Que Se Irá and finding a few more layers to it. Mary Ford Neal’s debut Dawning makes for delicious reading. I’ve also been tucking into the poetry and prose on offer in a number of anthologies- “Puentes” published by Revista Purgante, “Overcome” by Fevers of the Mind poetry blog. Robin McNamara’s debut Under a Mind’s Staircase out with Hedgehog Poetry is also brilliant, as is Nikki Dudley’s I’d better let you go, out with Beir Bua Press. And I always come back to Warsan Shire, Clifton, Neruda and Ada Limon. 

Angelo Mao : part one

Angelo Mao is a research scientist and writer. He received his PhD in bioengineering from Harvard University. His first book of poems is Abattoir (Burnside Review Press, 2021). His work has appeared or is forthcoming Lana Turner, The Georgia Review, Poetry Magazine, and elsewhere. He has also reviewed for Opera News and Boston Classical Review.

What are you working on?

My first book, Abattoir, comes out in November 2021 from Burnside Review Press. I wrote it during my PhD in bioengineering as an investigation of my experiences using live animal subjects for my scientific endeavors. It’s been great working with my editor Dan Kaplan, who has very kindly held my hand throughout the literary publishing process.

In addition to that, I’m working on a mass of poems focused on my Chinese-American heritage. The Black Lives Matter movement and the pandemic together inspired me to explore this side of my identity and experiences.

Tuesday 2 November 2021

Meg Kearney : part one

Meg Kearney is author of the poetry collections All Morning the Crows, winner of the 2020 Washington Prize, which appeared on Small Press Distribution’s poetry bestseller list from April through September 2021; The Ice Storm, a heroic crown of sonnets (2020), is now in its third printing; Home By Now, winner of the 2010 PEN New England LL Winship Award and a finalist for the Paterson Poetry Prize and Foreword Magazine’s Book of the Year; and An Unkindness of Ravens (2001). Meg has also published three novels in verse for teens. Her picture book, Trouper (2013), was illustrated by E.B. Lewis and received the Kentucky Bluegrass Award and the Missouri Show Me Reader’s Award. Her poetry has been featured on Poetry Daily, Ted Kooser’s “American Life in Poetry” column, and Garrison Keillor’s “A Writer’s Almanac.” Former Associate Director of the National Book Foundation in New York, Meg is founding director of the Solstice MFA in Creative Writing Program in Massachusetts. For more information: www.megkearney.com.

Has your consideration of poetry changed since you began?

Yes, in such that when I was writing poems in my early 20s, I wrote solely in free verse—formal poetry seemed old-fashioned, something only dead white men wrote. Then, when I was 25, I heard Molly Peacock give a lecture on the “freedom” of form, and how formal structures can provide a sort of safe space to explore difficult or otherwise slippery material. This was a revelation to me, which came at a time when I began reading more widely and my perspective evolved; I realized, for example, that the poets of the Harlem Renaissance employed sonnets as a form of resistance, and that many contemporary poets from various backgrounds were also writing formal verse when the poems called for that sort of structure. Then I went to grad school and took a course with William Matthews on prosody, and have been playing with form in my work on and off ever since.

Saba Pakdel : part five

How important is music to your poetry?

There are words in music. They may not be articulated by means of alphabets that appear in a dictionary per se, but they seamlessly formulate a conversation. The dialogic quality that exists in music does not necessarily realize itself in a listener / composer relationship, but among its own components as well. When you listen to a piece, you’d be reading a polyphonic poem or a play with multiple characters (voices) in multiple mise-en-scène (notes). Poetry, in the same vein, consists of different notes of music not only in the way it uses language patterns and metric systems, but also in the way it is recalled in memory. What poem comes to your mind when thinking of Beethoven’s “Sonata quasi una fantasia” which was actually nicknamed “Moonlight” sonata by German Romantic poet Ludwig Rellstab.  Music and poetry share qualities that make them essential components of a collaboration. I guess what kind of collaboration you’d think of is the way you’d expose yourself to the arts. 

Monday 1 November 2021

Joel Robert Ferguson : part three

What do you feel poetry can accomplish that other forms can’t?

I find that poetry lends itself well to a discursive way of thinking about language & life. It’s very freeing to be able to play around with poetic forms and ideas in ways that don’t have to lead to answers, just better questions.

Michael Lee Rattigan : part one

Michael Lee Rattigan (Caterham, UK) is a poet and translator who has lived and taught in Mexico and Spain. He translated the first complete collection of Fernando Pessoa's Alberto Caeiro poems (Rufus Books, 2007) and contributed to the Selected Writings of César Vallejo (Wesleyan Press, 2015). He is the author of two poetry collections, Liminal (Rufus Books, 2012) and Hiraeth (Black Herald Press, 2016).

What are you working on?

I’ve just fallen off the cliff-edge of a collection that encompasses poems written over the last eight years or so, straddling a shorter collection of mine, Hiraeth, published by The Black Herald Press in 2016. It’s called Metanoia and is an attempt to mine end-of-life experiences, inflected and deflected by the likes of Vallejo, Paz and Kierkegaard among others.