Concerns traditionally central to poetics (pity and fear; to delight and to teach; truth, beauty; etc.) also matter in other domains of inquiry. This is the first installment of a series of interviews that pursue such “poetic” concerns with practitioners of other domains of inquiry, such as science and philosophy. When they were paired in a recent collaborative project involving scientists and artists, hosted by the Ucross Foundation, H. L. Hix took the opportunity to interview microbiologist Naomi Ward about her recent work, with particular focus on her recent paper disclosing a discovery about the bacterium Gemmata obscuriglobus, just published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences U.S.A.
On the afternoon of June 12, Cathy Wagner and I sat down together (remotely) to watch The Walking Dead: Season 1, Episode 1. I’m a fan of the show, but Cathy had never seen this rendition of the aftermath of zombie apocalypse. To prepare, we’d both watched Night of the Living Dead and read parts of Zora Neale Hurston’s Tell My Horse (about Haitian zombies), as well as Matt Mogk’s Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Zombies. We g-chatted during and after the show, mulling over zombies and gender roles and the paleolithic diet and zombies and new motherhood and personal hygiene and race relations and the wars of the future and murderers and books and anarchist thinkers and zombies.*
This interview series, “Conversations after the Fall: Interviews with Contemporary Russian Poets,” began as part of my Thomas J. Watson Fellowship year (1992-1993), and has been revived, 20 years later, compiling new interviews with Russian and Russian-American poets. The complete archive will be published in book-form.
I met with Zhdanov in Moscow in 1996 and interviewed him about his life and poetry. In the text that follows, I have interpolated my translations of selected Zhdanov poems. Special thanks to Anna Kurt for her transcription of the original recording. —Philip Metres
This is a series of ongoing interviews with women actively engaged with small-press publishing between the 1950s and 1980s. It comes from a desire not only to preserve their accounts but also to draw wider attention to the vital role of women editors and publishers in the mimeograph revolution and beyond. In these decades “poems were bouncing off the sidewalk” (Maureen Owen), and this series traces some of those madcap trajectories. This conversation was conducted from December 2013 to May 2014 via email, while Joanne Kyger was in Oaxaca and away from the Hearsay archives
Andrew Wessels: As I attempt to begin this conversation, I am looking at, reading 85 in front of me. I am touching, holding 85 in front of me. I am doing both, and at the same time I fear that I am doing neither. This thing in front of me that simultaneously exerts itself fully as both a thing of language and a thing of paper. So I want to begin with what I fear might seem a dumb question: What is this thing before me?
Claire Huot/Robert Majzels: In your hand is a machine for the permutation of letters. A book. By definition, a book must contain a minimum of 85 letters, and these letters must be perpetually in motion. Meaning in a book is continually in motion. The writer/reader works the machine like a chariot passing through the the two hundred and thirty-one gates to paradise. Don’t forget to breathe.
October is Violence Against Women awareness month. This October we bring together six poets from and the editor of the anthology Women Writing Resistance: Poets Resist Gender Violence (Hyacinth Girl Press, 2013) to discuss research, invention, and resistance poetry. Women Write Resistance views poetry as a transformative art. By deploying techniques to challenge narratives about violence against women and making alternatives to that violence visible, poetry of resistance distinguishes itself by a persuasive rhetoric that asks readers to act. Leslie Adrienne Miller, Jennifer Perrine, Sara Henning, Sarah A. Chavez, and Laura Madeline Wiseman explore poetry of resistance in this roundtable discussion. These poets will be featured at the Omaha Lit Fest this fall. This year’s festival theme is warped: historical in/accuracy.
This interview focuses on Nathan Hoks’s book, The Narrow Circle.
Elaine Bleakney: What a pleasure getting into Cabin Fever/Fossil Record. You’ve said elsewhere that the form of these poems take their inspiration from the painting of Eugene Leroy. Would you tell me about how your attraction to Leroy’s work relates to this choice?
Dan Brady: I was first attracted to the physical depth of Leroy’s paintings. If you look closely at most paintings, you can see individual brushstrokes, but with Leroy you don’t even have to try, the paint rises from the canvas toward the viewer. There is a tactile element to them. I imagine if you ran your fingers over the canvas, it’d feel something like running your fingers over a keyboard — similar depths and ridges. Underneath all that paint, somewhere, is a figure, a representation of a clear subject. That obscuring of the figure through depth was interesting to me. Almost like the subject was drowned in the very media which gave it life.
In American Songbook (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2013), Michael Ruby’s fifth full-length collection, Ruby responds to recordings of 75 American vocalists, each an homage of sorts. Many musical traditions inform the poems, including blues, jazz, gospel, country, folk, bluegrass, electric blues, R&B, rock, disco and hip hop. This interview took place both in person and by email.
For this April issue, with its focus on audio pieces, we happily begin with a conversation from two of our favorite sound performers, Christine Hume and Gregory Whitehead. Hume and Whitehead have work in the current issue of Evening Will Come.
Christine Hume: When walking you are doing and doing-nothing; you are making the road you walk while questioning it; you are seeking ironic distance from your fellow pedestrians (if you are a flâneur); you are avoiding human chatter (if you are a Romantic poet); you are engaging a mode of resistant agency, a tactic that could forge new somatic/neurological pathways; you are experiencing space, time and embodiment as interpenetrated; you are reconfiguring your relation to social or natural life; your body is susceptible, open; you are being carried by the carnality of rhythm. What can you say about your practice as a long-distance walker in relation to your practice as a radio artist?
Small-press publishers have the lucky opportunity to talk candidly with authors about the downturns and updrafts of the creative process which brought them to the moment of completion that we call a book. As Omnidawn’s co-publisher and senior poetry editor, I’ve had that great good fortune. It finally occurred to me that the readers and reviewers of these books might enjoy hearing some of this talk, too. Of course, a book of poetry needs no introduction or liner notes. But I’m always interested in any stories about how and where authors’ intentions and the actual creative work tangle together. So I started asking each of our authors a few questions in writing, and then enclosing these “interviews” with our advance/review copies. When the book is published, I post the interview on the book’s web page. The Conversant’s editors have asked if they might select some of those interviews to publish. It is my pleasure to say yes! –Rusty Morrison
This interview focuses on Conoley’s book Peace.
Rusty Morrison: The word “peace” has so many connotations and suggests so many interpretations. It risks so much. Can you speak about how the title came to the work, and why? In answering this you might also answer: how did this book begin? Which were the first poems you wrote? When did the project begin to cohere for you?