Andy Fitch with Anselm Berrigan

Anselm Berrigan
Anselm Berrigan

Along with Cristiana Baik, Andy Fitch is assembling the Letter Machine Editions Book of Interviews, which also includes interviews conducted by Noah Eli Gordon and Joshua Marie Wilkinson. This talk will be published in that collection, due for late 2014 release.

Andy Fitch: Can we start with the Free Cell acknowledgments page? Here this 2009 City Lights collection goes out of its way to present Edge Books as your “primary publisher,” and even offers a brief timeline of Rod Smith’s founding of the press. What type of gesture did you wish to make with this acknowledgement? Why align oneself as a writer in this way? Did you want to demonstrate ongoing loyalty to a hardworking small-press publisher who gave you crucial early support? Do you appreciate the art-world model of a gallery cultivating/representing its selected “stable”? Can the symbiotic models of family-hood, of civic citizenship (both of which I hope we’ll discuss in detail later) extend to the relation between poet and publisher?

Rusty Morrison with Endi Bogue Hartigan

Endi Bogue Hartigan
Endi Bogue Hartigan

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 Bogue Harti­­­gan’s forthcoming Omnidawn book Pool [5 choruses].

Rusty Morrison: Can you speak to the title and how it resonates through the poems in this collection?

Jasmine Dreame Wagner with Iris Cushing

Iris Cushing

This interview focuses on Cushing’s book, Wyoming.

Jasmine Dreame Wagner: Tell me a little bit about “Wyoming”—both state and verb—in your poem “State Report.” I love how I feel both the pleasure of play and of conceptual shift when the state’s proper noun is used as gerund. A proper noun of a state names both a region of land and an organized political entity, as a gerund names an action of a verb. Can you talk a little about this kind of naming and how you came to title your collection “Wyoming”?

Tony Trigilio with Susan M. Schultz

Susan M. Schultz
Susan M. Schultz

In his monthly poetry podcast, Radio Free Albion, Tony Trigilio interviews poets about their recently released or forthcoming books. Always informal, each interview is a conversation—two poets talking about the work and play of the creative process and showcasing some of the most innovative new work in contemporary poetry.

[sc_embed_player fileurl=”http://theconversant.org/staging/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/schultz.mp3″]

 


Susan M. Schultz has lived and taught in Hawai’i since 1990. She is author, most recently, of Dementia Blog, Memory Cards: 2010-2011 Series and She’s Welcome to Her Disease”: Dementia Blog, Volume 2, all from Singing Horse Press. She edits Tinfish Press and blogs here. Trigilio and Schultz continued their conversation several months later, talking about baseball and matters of the spirit at tinfisheditor.blogspot.com, search term “baseball.”

Andy Fitch with Aaron Kunin

Aaron Kunin
Aaron Kunin

Along with Cristiana Baik, Andy Fitch is assembling the Letter Machine Editions Book of Interviews, which also includes interviews conducted by Noah Eli Gordon and Joshua Marie Wilkinson. This talk will be published in that collection, due for late 2014 release.

Andy Fitch: Could we start by contextualizing Grace Period amid your broader literary output? Some readers may assume that an author’s notebooks only could supplement his/her “serious” work. Some aphorists, some masters of the portrait or miniature or serial poem, may consider the notebook a genre like any other—with its own literary pedigree, rhetorical conventions, inherited formal or interpretive or theoretical problems. And especially since your first two poetry collections offer a circumscribed idiom, a quasi-conceptual resonance not extractable within any straightforward confessional or lyric utterance, I wonder if you see Grace Period as a real-time complement and/or extension of these poetic projects, as a fellow traveler, as a willed divergence or desecration.

Jon Curley with Derek Coyle

Derek Coyle
Derek Coyle

This interview series poses one question over and over again to a slew of poets of various aesthetic modes. My intention is two-fold: to encourage these poets to examine and imagine whatever notions and natures they discern in their work, and to trace their thoughts about conceptual alternatives to the patterns and trajectories they perceive there. In thinking otherwise, against usual models or presiding instincts, they are free to delve into various realms of possibilities, creating fresh commentary on their current practice and procedures, and theoretical visions which might guide them ideally, provisionally, even counterintuitively. The prompt in some cases generates follow-up questions which the subject can agree to answer or just ignore, and keep silent (silence, too, is a kind of answer). After all, the free-play prospects my line of questioning wishes to pursue must also consider the poets’ freedom to take it on their terms, not my own.

Jon Curley: Can you envision what kinds of poems, whether structurally or thematically, you might consider writing beyond the realm of your past practice? Are there elements of poems outside your usual patterns and activities you might try to integrate into your work?

Philip Metres with Tatyana Rizdvenko

Tatyana Risdvenko
Tatyana Rizdvenko

This interview series, “Conversations after the Fall: Interviews with Contemporary Russian Poets,” began as part of my Thomas J. Watson Fellowship year (1992-1993). The following interview with the poet Tatyana Rizdvenko took place in 1996.

Tatyana Rizdvenko was born in Moscow in 1969 and graduated from the Moscow Pedagogical Institute. She has published two volumes of poetry and works in advertising. 

Philip Metres: Let’s begin with your poetic life. How long have you written poems?

Jim Goar with Meirion Jordan

Meirion Jordan
Meirion Jordan

This transatlantic interview series, “The Slow Boat,” provides a setting for poets to engage in occasional conversation over the course of two months. It strives to be an invitation to further inquiry into the methods and complexities of a particular composition. The aim is not to be conclusive, but, in tandem, to further explore what it is to make a poem. 

Jim Goar: Although we’ve completed our interview, and this is the final question that I will ask, I think it might be a good place for the reader to begin. For the reader starting out, could you talk about the structure of King Harold and of Regeneration? A brief overview of the history you are working through, I think, will help to open this interview.

Waaseyaa’sin Christine Sy with Giles Benaway

Giles Benaway and Lemon Hound
Giles Benaway and Lemon Hound

The Conversant long has admired Lemon Hound’s lively, multifarious engagement with contemporary literature. In partnership with Lemon Hound, and in the hopes of encouraging further dialog between Canadian- and U.S.-based poetics, we have decided to re-publish a monthly excerpt from the Lemon Hound archive. The subject of this particular interview is Giles Benaway’s Ceremonies for the Dead.

Waaseyaa’sin Christine Sy: I want to share my thanks and appreciation Giles, for you allowing your first published collection of poems to be a dwelling place for the Dead. How did the Dead manage to get such space, and why is this space ceremonial? 

Susan Scarlata with Jessica Baran

Jessica Baran
Jessica Baran

Jessica Baran won the first annual Besmilr Brigham Award for Women Writers for her book, Equivalents. As Editor at Lost Roads Press, I chose Baran’s book collaboratively with Danielle Pafunda and Prageeta Sharma, who generously donated their time as guest judges for this first contest.

Susan Scarlata: Over the past year we’ve gotten to know each other from coast to coast (Boston, San Francisco) and a few places in between (Denver, Laramie). It has been amazing to know you first through your book, Equivalents (which I love and chose to publish as the first new Lost Roads’ title in quite some time), and then to find equal compatibility in-person in these varied places. Throughout, I’ve picked up on various things in our conversations I’d love to ask you more about.