Thursday, January 17, 2013

Interviews at The Conversant

The following are links to two interviews at The Conversant, the first with Andy Fitch, the second with Matvei Yankelevich, regarding his book Alpha Donuts and my book, The Hole.

AF: After everything we’ve discussed about The Hole’s constructivist, cybernetic, participatory nature, I feel we haven’t given an adequate account of the lyric sections. I find it interesting, given what you’ve said, that you capitalize each line, that you provide neat and tidy quatrains, that you’ll outline something like a sentence structure then close serialized sections with definitive periods. What draws you to this orderly local architecture? How has the significance of these lyric passages changed once placed amid the book’s broader discontinuities? How would you describe the lyric’s enduring status amid post-Language poetics or contemporary poetics? Here I can quote some lines if that helps: “What voice of lyric what / Voices would resist the doing / Should syntax still be a sacrifice / Like cutting off one’s limbs / While still alive isn’t that / How Mallarm√© put it of Rimbaud’s / Becoming an arms trader?”
TD: The term “lyric” seems inadequate. I tend to use it as a place holder. But often people will use this term as a foil—a negative way to define a retrograde poetics, an outmoded contrast to emergent constellations of writing. To me this all becomes quite problematic. I maintain a more or less daily practice of writing poems that look lineated, that often deploy quatrains, that retain formal characteristics people associate with poetry. I value staying faithful to this practice, to its rhythmic possibilities, to certain compositional principles. But in terms of the dynamic you’ve drawn, between localized lyric details and globalized experimental structures, I’ll sense how a literary form inflected with lyric potential can become much more interesting when you direct it someplace else, when you juxtapose more discursive elements, when you rethink design features. For example, I have a manuscript I’ve worked on for some time, with about 160 pages of mostly lineated poems. But I’ll wonder what it would mean to distribute this manuscript, collect responses to it, then remove the poems, or make new projects out of those responses. What if those withdrawn poems just served as the vehicle for inviting something else? Still I remain committed to poets working through prosodies based on constraint and procedure. One book I love that just came out (tragically, because published posthumously) is Stacy Doris’ Fledge. Its intense prosody works through some of Celan’s grammar. Much still can happen within inherited and imposed forms.

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