5.30.2005

brined brisket going in as soon as smoker reaches 200 degrees

mayhew's questions:

1. What is your sense of the poetic tradition? How far back does your particular historical sense range? What defines your tradition? Nationality, language, aesthetic posture? What aspect of your poetic idiolect or tradition most distinguishes you from your closest poetic collaborators?

I just took the romantic poet test, but I think I was Keats by default. I mean, I chose lots of answers, but Keats is a very modern type of poet, because he had many very practical concerns. I just took it again and changed all my answers and I am still Keats. I took it a third time -- still Keats. Third time -- choosing Blake's job -- alright. Finally Coleridge.

S. T. Coleridge
You are Samuel Taylor Coleridge! The infamous
"archangel a little damaged!" You
took drugs and talked for hours, it's true, but
you also made a conscious choice to cultivate
the image of the deranged poet in a frenzy of
genius. You claimed you wrote "Kubla
Khan" in an afternoon after a laudanum,
when you pretty manifestly did no such thing.
You and your flashing eyes and floating hair.
And your brilliant scholarship and obvious
genius.


Which Major Romantic Poet Would You Be (if You Were a Major Romantic Poet)?
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My sense of the tradition is probably shaped by Jerome Rothenberg anthologies as much as most. I am keenly aware how English-specific my sense of poetries and history is. I don't know what in this reading distinguishes me from the poets who write most like me; the most obvious difference is non-poetry stuff (religion and belief, computer stuff, work). I suppose I have made an attempt at bringing in the stuff of middle class life into an innovative poetry, as well as an attempt to be less English-centric than a poet who has not other language that can be considered a second...

2. How would you define contemporary poetic practice? (Say, the typical poem that would be published alonside one of your in a magazine where you are published.) How does this practice relate to the tradition defined above?

Does poetry of the "past" (however you define the past for these purposes) occupy a different corner of your mind?

Than that of the present? Yes, it is different. Well, how about this -- poetry by certain well-established poets being written now -- I tend to treat that differently than poetry written by "peers" -- poets under 40 with mostly one or two books out.

I feel that a lot of the poetry written by we young poets is a second hand domestic surrealism with great effects but no real meaning, or vague experiment, and so the poets I really love have established this meaning that is not about "boring poetry concerns" like voice or originality, but "exciting poetry / critical concerns" and ideas and experiences which are typical of people in our time.

3. Whom, among poets you most admire, do you understand least? What is hindering a greater understanding of this poet?

4. Are we over-invested in poetic "hero worship"? Is it necessary to have a poetic "pantheon"? How does the poetic pantheon relate to the notion of an academic "canon"? Are they mirror opposites, rivals?

I think in therms of pantheon and canon, but when it gets down to reading and writing I think of usefulness. Which poets are useful to me at a given time, which poets might prove useful to a student at a given time.

5. Is "total absorption in poetry" benign? How about "poetry as a way of life"?

It is not benign, and I'm getting tired of it -- I get most tired of it when I have something else in my life to do that is interesting to me -- I like it most when I have something else in my life that is completely dull.

6. Do you see poetry as a part of a larger "literature," or is poetry itself the more capacious category?

I think both. I think it is good that there is a currently-developing blur between fiction, non-fiction, and poetry, and, in the work of a few writers, between plays and poetry. The MFA is so common now. The writing MFA has moved away from the other MFAs in fine arts and theatre and film. Schools are hiring phds to teach comp, lit survey, and writing. And all of this is moving poetry away from art and from translation and toward literature in english.

7. Are humor, irony, and wit (in whatever combination) a sine qua non? Or conversely, is humor a defense mechanism that more often than not protects us from what we really want to say?

Too much poetry is too serious. It ends up being dull (not as in boring, but as "not sharp") by not having enough humor and wit.

8. Is the poem the thing, or the larger poetic project?

To me, that's like asking about the line versus the stanza. Kind of silly. They are both important.

9. What is the single most significant thing anyone has ever said about poetry?

10. Which of these questions asks you to define yourself along lines of division not of your own making, in the most irksome way?

2. and 3.

How close do these questions come to the way in which you habitually think about poetry?

4., 6. Not think about poetry, but those concerns to which talk about poetry in my circle is unfortunately most often limited.

What other question would you add to this list?

what are you working on now and how does it fit in to these q&a and why is it important

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