My statement involves integrating narrative, emotion, and sexuality into experimental poetry. I feel that I arrived at a moment in which things had reached a peak of extreme dryness— I was taught that open affectivity and eroticism were crimes. It’s been my pleasure to rebel against these conventions (though I respect the work my predecessors have done) in my own little way. I also have very avidly sought to include a biographical element in my work. Chimes, that Blazevox put out this year, is an autobiography, beginning with my birth and continuing into my teenage years. I was inspired, of course, by Lyn Hejinian, but I wanted even more direct sense and perceptible narrative then she included in My Life. With my blog Stoning the Devil, the idea has been to demonstrate the ways in which poetry might be integrated into a larger art community or context. Poets (the ones I know, at least), have fallen out of touch with what painters, sculptors, film-makers, and musicians are doing, and it has negatively affected poetry as an art-form, both in terms of the quality of works of art being produced by poets and the limited amount of circulation available to these works. I would like to reach a wide audience of artists working in a broad range of mediums, and I feel that I may succeed yet.
List up to five bullet points any major historical events which changed or moved your writing experience.
• Working with Anne Waldman in the Spring of 2005
• Having my first piece published in Jacket (28), also Spring 2005
• Making the “Hejinian decision” to write about my own life in 2008
• The four times I visited/read in Chicago from 2006 to 2008
• Consciously withdrawing from the Philly scene in 2006
Please tell our readers what projects you are currently working on.
I am currently working on a book-length manuscript of the Apparition Poems that have appeared in Jacket, Dusie, and in the &Now Anthology from Lake Forest College Press; keeping Stoning the Devil as interesting and fresh as possible, looking for ways to refurbish PFS Post, while writing my dissertation and finishing my PhD. What was your biggest triumph in the last 10 years? Learning how to write, not merely poems but books, how to sustain a narrative tone over the course of an entire project. I really never knew I could pull it off until I finished Chimes.
Do you have any regrets and if so what would you have done different?
I’ve regretted that I’ve had such a difficult relationship with certain poets in Philly. There’s no use playing the blame game, but if I had it to do over again there are situations in which I could’ve been more forbearing.
Which publication had the biggest impact on your work and why?
Without a doubt, my inclusion in several issues of Jacket, on a bunch of different fronts (as critic, poet, subject of review, and essay writer) has given me the sense that my work has made a difference and does count. John Tranter is an incredible poet and Jacket is likely to be one of the literary monuments of this age.
Provide advice for someone that is just starting to write poetry and submitting their work.
Work your ass off all the time.
Please share one poem of yours which you feel best represents your work in the past 10 years.
Merely brilliant is no match
for being intimate. When you catch
a wave that breaks, you can only
half-determine its’ course. Lonely
is the determined man, whether
it’s he who decides his fate or fetters
the world lays on him. This
I learned from a young man’s kiss.
Thus, I’ve learned, said nothing.
To be silent is something
for the wise to practice. Words
go too far. How much have we heard
worth holding onto? How much said
that can placate what we dread?
(first published in Kevin Killian and Dodie Bellamy’s Mirage)