1. What is your personal/aesthetic relationship to the poetic line? That is, how do you understand it, use it, etc.
The simplest answer I can give to this question is that it comes and it goes like the tides.
There are times when I know exactly what a poem is doing, what the line should be, and am able to gather my sensibility around that feeling. Then there are times where I keep on writing but the feeling for the line recedes, I am left with the rocks and debris of the feeling pulling away.
Line, for me, is a mix of intuition and nerve.
Intuition in that I write from myself past myself, into a space where something is being said (as opposed to my trying to say something). On a good day I end up with something that I can’t trace the origin of. Nerve comes into play right alongside intuition – it is the nerve to make choices, to push further, to cross out a whole page (I write longhand) and start over with a handful of words. Constant experimentation keeps both intuition and nerve healthy.
2. Do you find a relationship between words and writing and the human body? Or between your
writing and your body?
Writing has always been a very physical thing for me. The lyric is musical at heart. As a child, my aunt would get after me for humming and singing to myself as we went grocery shopping. Couldn’t tell you what the music was, I just liked the motion and emotion possible.
This feel for motion and emotion settled into an obsession which I eke a little more out of each day. The sounds of words, the turns of phrases in conversation, everything feeds it. The eye may sleep, but the ear stays awake. Ultimately, it boils down to writing that is clear like music. And what is music but noise set apart, sounds put into their own context?
When I read a new poet, I keep this in mind. What is their music? What is mine?
3. Is there anything you dislike about being a poet?
No. Everything that makes writing difficult tends to be peripheral and irrelevant: bills, career(s), envy, ambition, etc. In terms of being a poet – and I am only most a poet during those moments tangled in intuition and nerve described above – there is only the work. The work at hand, the work to come. Poetry is work that works itself out. We’re just along for the ride.
The short prose poem below came to mind as I answered the question regarding writing and the body. For me, the revelation in the writing of the poem comes towards the end. The image the poem centers on is taken up and the sense of being engulfed is evoked in just a sentence. Writing to that end was something physical and real.
On a clear night, the moon looks down and finds itself reflected, all of its light cast in the shape of the world, a radiance that surrounds and cups as if hands, as if praying, as if drinking.
Jose Angel Araguz has had work most recently in Slipstream, Gulf Coast, and Apple Valley Review. He runs the poetry blog, The Friday Influence.