This interview took place on a road trip from Woodstock, CT to Hartford, CT to visit activist and Holy Cross graduate, Chris Doucot, at the Catholic Worker house on Clark Street. The night before, Metres had given a poetry reading with poet William Wenthe in honor of poet Robert Cording, who was our mentor when we were students at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA. The topic of the conversation was focused on Metres’s 2015 book Sand Opera from Alice James Books.
E. J. McAdams: Last night, you were giving a reading at Holy Cross where you went to college and got started as a poet. When did you feel like you wrote your first poem and that you were a poet? Can you remember a poem or a verse that you felt like was the beginning?
The interview with E.J. McAdams took place between January and March of 2013. It focuses on McAdams’ chapbook TRANSECTs.
Philip Metres: E.J., I read your chapbook, TRANSECTs! What I want to propose is a poetry dialogue over them. Are you game? If you are, let me begin with this question:
As an urban environmentalist (someone who lives in the city yet advocates for nature—who sees the permeable connections between what we call the human and the natural, between built space and the organic planet), can you talk about what drew you to the acrostic procedure, and how you went about the composition of these poems? In other words, was your process of selection entirely chance-bound, or were you picking particularly juicy juxtapositions along the way?