Andrew Levy with Thomas Fink

Andrew Levy

The following exchange is on Andrew Levy’s Nothing Is In Here (EOAGH, 2011).

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.

Christopher Schmidt with Andy Fitch

Christopher Schmidt (left) reads with help from Stephen Paul Miller

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 Schmidt’s chapbook Thermae (EOAGH, 2012) and was recorded on May 1, 2012. Transcribed by Maia Spotts.

Andy Fitch: Could we start with waste, the focus of your current scholarly project and a subject that first appears in Thermae’s Baudelarian epigraph? Is Thermae an outlet—that’s a pun in some ways—for your critical study? Did one emerge from the ruins of the other? Does one evolve out of the other? Do they both take on this role?

Christopher Schmidt: They are related. One emerges from the cloaca of the other. [Laughs.] Writing Thermae, which came after starting the critical text, helped explain to me why I’d landed on this topic of waste, what my transference to it was.