Over the summer, Andy Fitch has interviewed 60 poets about their latest books. Ugly Duckling Presse will publish these collected interviews in 2013. This interview focuses on Gander and Kinsella’s book Redstart: An Ecological Poetics(University of Iowa Press, 2012). Recorded on June 18th. Transcribed by Maia Spotts.
Andy Fitch: I’m not much interested in classifications of genre or discipline, but given Redstart’s early consideration of the efficacy of ecopoetics, I would be curious to hear you two describe this book’s primary functions, specifically its positioning of authorial agency. In an early essay Forrest outlines the possibility for a mediated, interactive, relational practice to construct an ongoing textual environment, one that might promote ecological-minded orientations among its audiences. John later provides a thornbill-inspired poetics of the passerine—a process which allows for cross-movement and cross-reference, even as the group internally migrates from place to place, thereby contesting categorical identities without abdicating collective agency. That all makes sense as a theory of this book. But I’m curious of the extent to which you wish for Redstart, in Forrest’s words, to “make something happen.” What would that something be? How does it depart from prevailing conventions in ecopoetics?
This is the first of three interviews Leonard Schwartz conducted with Michael Hardt. The second and third interviews will be published in the November and December issues.
From CCP Episode #112: Empire. September 21, 2006. This interview was transcribed by Holly Melgard and originally published in Rain Taxi Review of Books.
Leonard Schwartz: Your books Empire and Multitude have provided a rich humus for all kinds of other projects that have been created in their wake. Can you say a bit about the nature of your collaboration with the Italian philosopher Antonio Negri? The whole notion of a theoretical work of philosophy that is written by two people is intriguing.
Michael Hardt: I love the collaborative process. It is really quite liberating and obviously productive too.
This interview by H.L. Hix is one of a series, many of which will be collected in Alter Nation: America in Recent Poetry, Recent Poetry in America, from Ugly Duckling Presse (fall 2012). Hix loves the interview form as a way of thinking together (itself a condition of democracy, justice, philosophy, and other ideals and practices he values), and as one element in a community poetics. The subject of this interview is Jericho Brown’s Please (New Issues, 2008).
H.L. Hix: When I reach the end of “Pause” I can’t help but hear the slang usage of “the man” resonating, which leads me to variant readings of the sentence that composes the last three and a half lines of the poem. For instance, reading the last clause as “if I hide [, then] inside the man I must be cold” is different from reading it as “if I hide / Inside the man [, then] I must be cold.” And so on. How important are such ambiguities (those created by echoes “external” to the poem, and those created “within” the poem itself) to the aims of your poetry?
Jericho Brown: Ambiguity seems to me the ultimate aim of any line of poetry.
This interview by H.L. Hix is one of a series, many of which will be collected in Alter Nation: America in Recent Poetry, Recent Poetry in America, from Ugly Duckling Presse (fall 2012). Hix loves the interview form as a way of thinking together (itself a condition of democracy, justice, philosophy, and other ideals and practices he values), and as one element in a community poetics. The subject of this interview with Johannes Göransson is his translation of Aase Berg’sRemainland(Action Books, 2005).
H.L. Hix: Would it be in the spirit of your concluding observation in the “Translator’s Note” (that Berg “shows how every language may be foreign, even to its native speakers” [ix]) to take as one example of such a made-foreign language the ending of “In Dovre Slate Mill” when the speaker’s “stiff hands cupped around the surface of your black cranium” (21), a kind of translation of a gesture of love into a foreign language?
Johannes Göransson: What I mean in a very general sense is the way Berg amplifies certain features of the Swedish language—the brutal consonants, the awkward sentence structures, the neologisms, the violent and physical phrases—to a degree that makes me feel the way a foreigner might feel trying to learn Swedish.
This interview by H.L. Hix is one of a series, many of which will be collected in Alter Nation: America in Recent Poetry, Recent Poetry in America, from Ugly Duckling Presse (fall 2012). Hix loves the interview form as a way of thinking together (itself a condition of democracy, justice, philosophy, and other ideals and practices he values), and as one element in a community poetics. The subject of this interview is Stephanie Strickland’s Zone : Zero (Ahsahta Press, 2008).
H.L. Hix: I get a lot of signals about the book’s interest in digital media before it begins, in the jacket copy, in the fact of its having an accompanying CD, etc. If I were to start with the creaky false distinction between what is “inside” and “outside” the text, I would note the double entendre of “beam” on p. 5 — beam of steel or wood, beam of light — as the point at which I begin to understand from “within” the text that these poems will worry over our placement historically/culturally in the industrial age or the information age. From your position as the writer “outside” the text, how do you experience the process of inviting slower readers such as myself, who came to poetry strictly through books, into the contemporary aesthetic/political issues raised for and about poetry by digital media?
Stephanie Strickland: I came to poetry orally, through nursery rhymes, lullabies, jump rope, and hopscotch; but I grew up with books in the industrial age, my father an engineer and my grandmothers both great, idiosyncratic readers. Even then, however, in the fifties of the last century, there were oscilloscopes in my basement.
Over the summer, Andy Fitch has interviewed 60 poets about their latest books. Ugly Duckling Presse will publish these collected interviews in 2013. This interview focuses on Wayne Koestenbaum’s book The Anatomy of Harpo Marx (University of California Press). Recorded July 7. Transcribed by Maia Spotts.
Andy Fitch: If we could start with a quote from “Day by Day with Roland Barthes,” written in 1979 for Le Nouvel Observateur: “The form sought for is a brief one, or, if you prefer, a soft form: neither the solemnity of the maxim nor the harshness of the epigram; something which, at least in tendency, might suggest the Japanese haiku, the Joycean epiphany, the fragment of the journal intime: a deliberately minor form, in short—recalling, with Borges, that the minor is not a lessening, but a genre like any other.” Beside this Barthes quotes I’d like to place your own assertion (this is deep into Harpo) of an incremental poetics: “Incremental poetics involves never finishing a point, never knowing my destination, rushing through culture’s big store on sissy white roller skates, without a stunt double, and enjoying ‘generalized chromaticism’: every moment is an occasion to wave, point, bump, or stop, under the auspices of failing to speak properly. Why make such a big deal out of the ‘proper?’” I’m curious how Barthes’s soft style parallels your own compositional practice in a series of prose works, from The Queen’s Throat to Jackie to pieces in Cleavage to Hotel Theory to Harpo. Do the soft style and your incremental poetics align perfectly, overlap yet diverge, exist in blissful ignorance of each other and often of themselves?
Wayne Koestenbaum: That incremental poetics quote means a lot to me. When I gave a reading in L.A. recently that was one of three or four passages from Harpo I chose, and I’m grateful we are clairvoyant about incremental poetics. Barthes obviously remains in blissful ignorance of my existence, so that’s half the question right there. But I’d like to think that our styles, our soft styles, stand in perfect alignment minus obvious differentials imposed by decade, nationality, intellectual bent, the companies we keep, our forms of expertise and non-expertise.
Over the summer, Andy Fitch has interviewed 60 poets about their latest books. Ugly Duckling Presse will publish these collected interviews in 2013.This interview focuses on Richard’s book The Phonemes (Les Figues).Recorded July 8. Transcribed by Maia Spotts.
Andy Fitch: If we could start with the “sounds” that would be great. I read your project in manuscript form, on double-sided paper, so didn’t have before me the legend your printed book provides, with graphic symbols on one side and sound descriptions on the other. So for ^^º ^^º the sound, “Whir; small body in departure” et cetera—I didn’t make that connection. But do you prefer to imagine the text presenting a prescripted experience of these sound units, which you then can sculpt into longer sequences? Or do you like the idea of these sounds retaining a negative capability? Do the synesthsesiac descriptions you provide seek to preserve some of that negative capability anyway?
Frances Richard: Negative capability: perhaps if one becomes a poet that’s already an important concept. But it is a really important concept to me, so I’m happy you would choose those terms.
Over the next year, Andy Fitch will be asking participants from his Ugly Duckling Presse interview project to pair up and interview each other. By placing parallel interviews alongside his own, Fitch hopes to demonstrate that no one talk is definitive, that there are an infinitude of possible trajectories for such a discussion to take. In this discussion, Wayne Koestenbaum and Frances Richard interview each other about their recent books.
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The following triptych, “Street Songs,” provides the first of three monthly selections from a larger project, Off the Dome: Rants, Raps, and Meditations, for which I have been making live sound recordings as Solo-Dialogues since May 2010, entering into a streaming, internal conversation that vocalizes questions around, race, representation, selfhood and place. Using my iPhone, I perform and document impromptu audio recordings in a variety of dynamic environments. The three separate monthly installments will get grouped by landscape, occasion, and experience. In each place, I engage in various activities that find their way into my current thinking and play with various forms of totally improvised, “off the dome” poetry, rap-battles, meditations, and songs. —Ronaldo Wilson
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Thomas Fink: Among the various chunks of texts lifted from sources in Nothing Is In Here is House Resolution 847, aiming to recognize “the Christian faith as one of the great religions of the world” and to support “Christians in the United States and worldwide” (65), but including a section featuring very orthodox language about the behavior of believers that does not appear in the Congressional document online. Another fascinating passage is from a New York Times Business section article: “Some analysts are predicting that just as the Japanese popularized kanban (just in time) and kaizen (continuous improvement), Indians could export a kind of ‘Gandhian engineering,’ combining irreverence for conventional ways of thinking with a frugality born of scarcity” (68). Could you speak to the similarities and differences in what you’re doing with the collaging of found material and what various Language poets, Flarfists, and proponents of conceptual poetry have done?
Andrew Levy: Thomas, I’ve needed time to think on your question, and I admit to having felt a bit stumped by it. I hadn’t thought about what Language poets, Flarfists or conceptual poets / plagiarists had done or were doing when composing and assembling the materials in Nothing Is In Here.
Over the summer, Andy Fitch has interviewed 60 poets about their latest books. Ugly Duckling Presse will publish these collected interviews in 2013. This interview focuses on Nadelberg’s book Bright Brave Phenomena (Coffee House Press). Recorded June 8. Transcribed by Maia Spotts.
Andy Fitch: Could we first discuss the book-length structure? Certain poems seem to have sequels scattered throughout. “Me and the Bad Ass” gets followed, significantly later, by “Me and the Bad Ass, Part II,” and III. Travel/dream narratives get interspersed amid shorter lyrics. Thematics of circulation continue to circulate. Does that help to stitch together the overall structure? Can you delineate its guiding principles?
Amanda Nadelberg: When I started writing poems that eventually became the beginnings of this book, it seemed important to have no structure. My first book had been a project with very clear rules. I actually wrote a second manuscript between the first book and this one, based on yet another project. After that, a friend said, do the thing you’re not comfortable doing and don’t write a project. For a long time I interpreted that wonderful advice as don’t write anything cohesive.