The Conversant recently has published conversations featuringAaron KuninandAndrew Maxwell. Here these two friends and fellow poets talk to each other.
Andrew Maxwell: I’m stumbling toward a definition, or that’s how I’m going to start. In reading your book, I want to call these collected items remarks, or “remarks on problems.” And what’s astounding (and I’ll say this from experience too) is how very many problems there are.
We can eventually steer toward a discussion of the epigrammatic, although I don’t need a definition of that. I’m immediately interested in the character of these remarks—how many of them describe for me a sense of impedance. As if you’ve said, wait, slow up, something may be going wrong here and perhaps this is correctable. We should take notice of it.
There’s a sense of counsel and instruction, but also a sense of task-making and taking-to-task. The reader (and perhaps this is first you) is being given a problem set and being taken to task.
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.