1. What is you personal/aesthetic relationship to the poetic line? That is, how do you understand it, use it, etc.
2. Do you find a relationship between words and writing and the human body? Or between your writing and your body?
3. Is there anything you dislike about being a poet?
Yves–I’ll add a 4th question to my usual 3
4. Your new book has an unusual look–it includes drafts, drawings, handwriting. What inspired this unique approach?
1. Wow, that’s a wide and deep question. From my understanding of it, the line can contain the history and elements of poetry: meter, stresses, types, metaphors…etc. Whenever I come across works that adhere to strict codes (like a trochaic octameter) you get a sense that the style was written for memory’s sake (mnemonic in nature to facilitate transmission) and you can see how Rap has continued that tradition — “street sonnets”? You get a sense that poetry wanted to be music but didn’t have the money or connections to get into Ivy League.
The line is the space between craft and reportage.
The line can be a monofilament cast from my mental fly-rod into a river of words. What will I catch today? A shoe? A beer can? A worn tire? I’m actually trying to hook your ear!
The line seems to be endless when spoken, but circumscribed on the page. I guess the line to me has more topography — like a Climax Shape that is everywhere around us: earthquakes, relationships, structures of movies…I like how Laurence Gonzales described it: “Drama has the same shape as an emotional response, because it must elicit one to be effective: Inciting Event » Rising Action » Climax » Resolution”.
Of course, is anything really resolved?
2. Well yeah! I’m always trying to use words to get into bodies. I’ve had an unusual experience recently. I’ve been going to GCCC to exercise and I find myself composing on the rowing machine, while doing sit-ups or lifting weights. I’ve had to bring a small pad and pen so as not to lose the idea because there is nothing worse than a lost idea! I think Descartes hinted about the Poetry/Body problem (an erroneous dichotomy by the way!) in his little known work titled: “Je Workout, Donc Je Suis”.
I think “La Guitarra” (pg. 64) comes close to the relationship between words and body.
…and like a child – my head upon your breast –
I listen for an ancient heartbeat…
…the spine that guides a gliding hand,
extrapolating the drama
from the crafty minds of fingers…
…Your belly echoes the primal atom
where wave and particle are irrevocable…
3. I guess my dislike is that I have no choice. It’s like coming to terms with my androgenic alopecia… my sciatica…It’s a part of my anatomy that cannot be excised. I think Cristopher Hitchens said it best when he said “Writing is not what I do, it’s who I am.”
4. The idea of the book came from an event. I had just finished another poem and was placing it in a plastic bin where I keep creative endeavors. I started to rummage through and I found this 25 year process of creativity. It was a ride to experience all the versions of myself, and how I changed and didn’t change! Then I thought about evolution and Richard Dawkins’ book “The Ancestor’s Tale”, and the book emerged from these converging threads. It’s quite remarkable how the mind organizes and parses. Et voila!
The Preface expounds on this a little more.
And look! You get a Bio and a New Poem (First Draft) written in aforementioned gym this morning…all in one!
When We Were Scientists
When we were kid chemists
We mixed uric acid in
Put Pop Rocks in cat’s
Mouths, meows of crackle,
fizz and foam.
When we were kid physicists
We launched water balloons
In sublime parabolic arcs
Onto passing windshields
Or unsuspecting bodies…
The joy of fluid dynamics.
When we were kid experts
In demoliton and anatomy
We took rocks to bullets,
Stunned ourselves dumb.
Match to fuse to marvel
At body parts of lizards.
Never an exact science…
when we were scientists.
(May 9th, 2011)