Tagged: Jon Curley

Jon Curley with Paul Pines

Paul Pines
Paul Pines

This interview series poses one question over and over again to a slew of poets of various aesthetic modes. My intention is two-fold: to encourage these poets to examine and imagine whatever notions and natures they discern in their work, and to trace their thoughts about conceptual alternatives to the patterns and trajectories they perceive there. In thinking otherwise, against usual models or presiding instincts, they are free to delve into various realms of possibilities, creating fresh commentary on their current practice and procedures, and theoretical visions that might guide them ideally, provisionally, even counterintuitively. The prompt in some cases generates follow-up questions that the subject can agree to answer or just ignore, and keep silent (silence, too, is a kind of answer). After all, the free-play prospects my line of questioning wishes to pursue must also consider the poets’ freedom to take it on their terms, not my own.—Jon Curley

Jon Curley: Can you envision what kinds of poems, whether structurally or thematically, you might consider writing beyond the realm of your past practice? Are there elements of poems outside your usual patterns and activities you might try to integrate into your work?

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Jon Curley with Eric Hoffman

Eric Hoffman
Eric Hoffman

We at The Conversant delight in the prospect of spring and celebrating the end of winter. Winter brought its share of snow and Louis MacNeice’s poem “Snow” reminds us that the poetry world is “incorrigibly various” and that “the drunkenness of things being various” is a sublime intoxication. In this spirit, Eric Hoffman has brought forth two very different volumes, By the Hours: Selected Poems, Early and Uncollected, and a critical biography of George Oppen, Oppen: A Narrative. This interview focuses on these two recent publications. –Jon Curley

Jon Curley: Your most recent poetry collection, By the Hours: Selected Poems Early & Uncollected, carries an epigram from Emerson beginning: “Our life is an apprenticeship to the truth…” I was struck by how that affirmation also underscores a distance, the seeking of, the remoteness from perfection and the need, in life as in poetry, to use vocation as a testing device. Would this interpretation gibe with your sense of your poetic exploration? Continue reading

Jon Curley with Derek Coyle

Derek Coyle
Derek Coyle

This interview series poses one question over and over again to a slew of poets of various aesthetic modes. My intention is two-fold: to encourage these poets to examine and imagine whatever notions and natures they discern in their work, and to trace their thoughts about conceptual alternatives to the patterns and trajectories they perceive there. In thinking otherwise, against usual models or presiding instincts, they are free to delve into various realms of possibilities, creating fresh commentary on their current practice and procedures, and theoretical visions which might guide them ideally, provisionally, even counterintuitively. The prompt in some cases generates follow-up questions which the subject can agree to answer or just ignore, and keep silent (silence, too, is a kind of answer). After all, the free-play prospects my line of questioning wishes to pursue must also consider the poets’ freedom to take it on their terms, not my own.

Jon Curley: Can you envision what kinds of poems, whether structurally or thematically, you might consider writing beyond the realm of your past practice? Are there elements of poems outside your usual patterns and activities you might try to integrate into your work?

Continue reading

Jon Curley on Jon Curley

Jon Curley

I have stealthily curated this series since the September issue of The Conversant, not announcing it, nor rationalizing my approach, nor discussing my intentions for undertaking it in the first place. As we glide into or collide with 2014 (depending on your seasonal or existential condition), the New Year deserves some answers, and I figured the optimal way of simultaneously re-introducing the series and illuminating its inspiration would be in the form of a self-interview. Many of you perhaps cringe, as I do, at the often pretentious, self-delighting whimsy or seeming neurological dysfunction such a format seems to underwrite. That is not my intention, and the Q&A below will really be a back-and-forth of necessary echoes and refrains. I hope that this reflective self-exchange does not uphold the mirror, but breaks it into many pieces (at least for myself). More importantly, I hope it establishes for you readers and fellow poets some discussion and perhaps even an exchange with me here on this site. I would like to some of you send us your own self-interviews or else volunteer to undertake this series’ line of inquiry. Continue reading

Jon Curley with Rachel Hadas

Rachel Hadas
Rachel Hadas

Jon Curley: Can you envision what kinds of poems, whether structurally or thematically, you might consider writing beyond the realm of your past practice? Are there elements of poems outside your usual patterns and activities you might try to integrate into your work?

Rachel Hadas: I find myself in close, ongoing collaboration with a video artist, Shalom Gorewitz. His “Yemaya,” (made under the pseudonym of Solace Salentino) a video rendering of a new poem of mine, can be found here. Due to my illness this summer, I became interested in making an offering to the ocean mother divinity, Yemaya, and this video depicts that. We plan more videos going forward. Continue reading

Michael Heller and Jon Curley

Michael Heller
Michael Heller

This interview focuses on Heller’s book This Constellation Is A Name: Collected Poems 1965-2010.

Jon Curley: This Constellation Is a Name: Collected Poems 1965-2010 is a behemoth of a book, a chronicle of work that arcs and darts between thematic concerns, representational styles, and historical considerations across almost a half century. In your retrospective view, what consistencies do you perceive? What abrupt or gradual erosions, erasures, disavowals, or disruptions in content and form do you find?

Michael Heller: I date my serious commitment to writing poetry from the mid-nineteen-sixties when, after winning a prize at the New School, I decided, in the vernacular of those times, to “give poetry a shot.” My first wife and I accumulated some money, and we quit our jobs and went to live in Spain where I wrote and began to publish. After a year and a half abroad, we returned to New York, and it is there that disavowals and erosions began in earnest, most specifically, with nearly abandoning poetry and then realizing that my path back into writing poems was not to see myself as an avant-garde or “experimental” writer, a label I had already been tagged with by Richard Kostelanetz when he included me in his anthology The Young American Writers. I had suffered a tremendous disaffection with the work I had done in Spain—to put it bluntly, it had stopped speaking back to me, which is why I nearly quit despite the fact that I was, as they say, on my way to a real career as a poet. So my first disavowal was nearly total, an “erosion” of my belief in my own poetry. Continue reading