I’ve known Dawn Tefft for about a decade, first as my student in the doctoral Creative Writing Program at the University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee. After she graduated, she returned for a while to UWM as a professional organizer with the American Federation of Teachers. We did organizing visits on campus to discuss labor issues and unionization during one of the most difficult periods in the history of the University of Wisconsin System. Under the banner of austerity and reform, Governor Scott Walker and the Republican-led legislature were dismantling a century of progressive gains for public and private sector workers. The assault continues. Funny thing happened, however: my former student became my sister and good friend in the long struggle for equity and social justice. Our conversation focuses on Dawn’s new chapbook, FIST (dancing girl press). There are five questions or prompts. They represent the digits of the human hand, curling in on itself, in resistance and solidarity. —Mauricio Kilwein Guevara
In the final installation of Pop & Poetics featuring Lisa Robertson and Grimes, Christy Davids and Crossley Simmons continue to delight in the unexpected intersectionality of poetry and pop music.This time, they consider the practice of obsolescence, which enables Grimes and Robertson to escape the confines of the expected. Ghosting or phantoming expectation, and emphasizing what Robertson calls “a sensed present,” not only enables one to elude systemic control (misogyny, capitalism, & even genre), but spurs political transformation. This, according to Lisa Robertson, is what utopia really is, and Grimes is a fellow practitioner.
After publishing my Sixty Morning Talks interview collection, I have begun work on a more focused, single-press interview series, offering a comprehensive oral history (a cinéma vérité, in prose) of Nightboat Books’ diverse and ambitious output over its first decade of publication. For this newer project, it particularly interests me to track interpersonal and intertextual constellations that have helped to shape the work done by Nightboat’s authors, publishers and designers. Nightboat will publish this interview collection late next year. This interview focuses on John Keene’s translation of Letters from a Seducer, by Hilda Hilst.–Andy Fitch
Thom Donovan: From the very first text of SITE CITE CITY, you offer an investigation of time as a category and as a kind of material with which the artist/writer can work in the interest of activating revolutionary change. To perform this investigation, you explore and sometimes invent novel verb tenses and grammars, such as those you deploy in “Buried Treasure Island” in order to invoke a temporality of the “pre-enactment,” that which you would rehearse in anticipation of an era in which it “will have been.” There is something very sci-fi about this book, perhaps in the way Robert Smithson, Samuel Delaney, Octavia Butler, and Frederick Jameson have all shown duration to be a key battle ground for the reappropriation—the liberation, I should say—of bodies and landscapes captured by the forces of modernity. Perhaps we could start by talking a bit about the time-senses of this book, and if you also wish to, any connections you may wish to draw between the Left historically and sci fi as a genre.
Regarding Adam Clay’s newest collection Stranger (Milkweed Editions, 2016), Ada Limón notes the collection is “dedicated to the unsung suspension of time that occurs when life suddenly goes awry.” Stranger is a collection that is also ever-approaching “a new and sudden way of being,” particularly concerning the ideas of family, home and forgiveness. Clay is also co-editor of TYPO Magazine, a Book Review Editor for Kenyon Review, and teaches at the University of Illinois Springfield. In this conversation, Adam Clay and I talk about all things poetry, the “space between remembering and forgetting, between presence and absence,” his influences and the many excavations of that picturesque house in a bottle which not only graces the cover but also serves as equal points of departure and arrival.—Rosebud Ben-Oni
Best American Experimental Writing is an anthology series focused on dynamic literature from both emerging and established writers. The most recent edition, BAX 2015, was released in January of this year by Wesleyan University Press and included work by poets Andrew Durbin (from “You Are My Ducati”) and Cecilia Corrigan (from Titanic). They (virtually) sat down with BAX managing editor Michael Martin Shea to talk about “fantasyscapes,” collective thinking, and the power of communities.
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. This interview features a conversation between Omnidawn managing editor Gillian Olivia Blythe Hamel and Angela Hume on Middle Time. –Rusty Morrison