Jim Goar with Andre Bagoo

Bagoo. Pic
Andre Bagoo

This transatlantic interview series, “The Slow Boat,” provides a setting for poets to engage in occasional conversation over the course of two months. It strives to be an invitation to further inquiry into the methods and complexities of a particular composition. The aim is not to be conclusive, but, in tandem, to further explore what it is to make a poem. 

Jim Goar: Your most recent book opens with the title poem, “Burn”. This poem, you explain in the notes, “was written in response to Al Brathwaite’s The Limes Installation.” The Limes consists of 286 charred limes, one for each of the men and women burned as heretics during the English Reformation. A label with one of their names is affixed to every fruit. Braithwaite states that “The troubling and potentially heroic idea of self-sacrifice runs through The Limes Installation, and finds traction in the metaphor of the way that a fruit might give its flesh for the dispersal of a seed.” Your poem ‘Auden in Iceland IV’ begins:

Jim Goar with Meirion Jordan

Meirion Jordan
Meirion Jordan

This transatlantic interview series, “The Slow Boat,” provides a setting for poets to engage in occasional conversation over the course of two months. It strives to be an invitation to further inquiry into the methods and complexities of a particular composition. The aim is not to be conclusive, but, in tandem, to further explore what it is to make a poem. 

Jim Goar: Although we’ve completed our interview, and this is the final question that I will ask, I think it might be a good place for the reader to begin. For the reader starting out, could you talk about the structure of King Harold and of Regeneration? A brief overview of the history you are working through, I think, will help to open this interview.

Jim Goar with Marcus Slease

Marcus Slease
Marcus Slease

This transatlantic interview series, “The Slow Boat,” provides a setting for poets to engage in occasional conversation over the course of two months. It strives to be an invitation to further inquiry into the methods and complexities of a particular composition. The aim is not to be conclusive, but, in tandem, to further explore what it is to make a poem. 

Jim Goar: The opening lines of The House of Zabka (“Carrie was born in the best of times and the worst of / times”) weave A Tale of Two Cities into its tapestry. When her father dumps pig blood on her head, Carrie is incorporated into Carrie. On the following page, Toto appears at the entrance of a forbidden zone amongst “ancient symbols and a mobile phone number.” The reader, at the border, is forced to grind pop and canonical material just as Carrie’s father rolls “up that pig meat into all kinds of kielbasa.” And, like the consumer of these mysterious meat products, I am not certain that I know what I am eating. After all, this is a land in which: “You could swap the dog for your boyfriend or girlfriend.” I am pulled to these trades. If we could swap the dog for your boyfriend or girlfriend, could we also swap a Dickens novel for another Dickens novel or a newspaper for a fish? Does it all taste the same or are the specifics of the trades important? Do you choose the transactional material or does it choose you? Did you have the source books open and the movies playing while you were writing The House of Zabka? Maybe we could start somewhere in the vicinity of these concerns.

Jim Goar with Johan de Wit

Johan de Wit
Johan de Wit

This transatlantic interview series, “The Slow Boat,” provides a setting for poets to engage in occasional conversation over the course of two months. It strives to be an invitation to further inquiry into the methods and complexities of a particular composition. The aim is not to be conclusive, but, in tandem, to further explore what it is to make a poem. 

Johan de Wit is a poet whose project is to create an absolute poetry of unalloyed language, acting as a rigorous detoxifier to the language centers of the brain. He is a truly avant-garde figure, a genuine explorer of language continents others don’t even know about. He has been published since the 1980s, with a large number of books and pamphlets to his name.

Our correspondence took place from late 2012 into early 2013.

Jim Goar: When I read Gero Nimo, I hear a multitude of voices vying to complete a shared sentence through a shared mouth. There are no lines at random, but in trying to talk about this book, I’d like to start with a sentence from the first piece:

The idea that time is an absent landlord more interested in lining his bed linen than pampering his bank manager is as absurd as sending your name ahead when preparing to meet your maker.

Time as an absent landlord is a “poetic” metaphor attacked by the sentence that surrounds it. While this image is static, that which follows makes apparent the passing of time. The eye cannot hold and needs to move through alliteration, assonance and haunted images. There are shadows behind the phrases. For example, what do we do with “more interested in lining his bed linen” besides roll around in it as the spectre of money in the mattress hovers nearby? And further, the hierarchy of authority from landlord (notice the “land,” the “lord”) to the bank manager and finally to “meet your maker” moves into and through some debris of eternal truth. Now to a question: Could you talk about your sentences in Gero Nimo?

Johan de Wit: Yeah, how do I write my sentences? It’s not so much that one image or metaphor (however mixed) leads to another one: My mind goes from phrase to phrase.