Jon Curley with Joseph Donahue

Joseph Donahue
Joseph Donahue

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?

Joseph Donahue: For a while now I have been writing essentially two kinds of poetry, the lyrics that comprise the ongoing cycle called Terra Lucida, and then some other thing. That other thing I characterize to myself in various ways, as associative flights, digressive amble, spirit walkabout, oneric ode, phenomenological epic fail, breakfast with the dead. These can be found in the works that are not a part of the Terra Lucida cycle, gathered in books such as Before Creation, Monitions of the Approach, World Well Broken, Incidental Eclipse, and the forthcoming Red Flash on a Black Field. These two kinds of poetry exist in an antithetical relationship, with the contrasting poles variously understood as, say, song and speech, vertical and horizontal, static and moving, sacred and profane, uttered and overheard.