Category: November 2012 Issue

Love as Such: Michael Hardt with Leonard Schwartz

photo of Michael Hardt
Michael Hardt

This is the second of three interviews Leonard Schwartz conducted with Michael Hardt. You can read the first interview, “Empire,” here; the third interview will be published in the December issue.

Cross Cultural Poetics Episode #134: Love as Such. March 18, 2007. This interview was transcribed by Holly Melgard and was also published in Interval(le)s II.2-III.1 (Fall 2008/Winter 2009).

LS: You’ve said that you’re interested currently in love as a political concept. I wondered if you could say a little bit about that, especially since in Multitude (your last book), it does come up. I was speaking with the political theorist Steve Niva who pointed out that it is very clearly there in your piece—in the beginning of the book about the golem. And then, toward the end of Multitude, a passage which reads as follows:

People today seem unable to understand love as a political concept, but a concept of love is just what we need to grasp the constituent power of the multitude. The modern concept of love is almost exclusively limited to the bourgeois couple and the claustrophobic confines of the nuclear family. Love has become a strictly private affair. We need a more generous and more unrestrained conception of love.

Could you comment on that passage and on the direction your thinking has gone since then?

MH: In part it starts with a recognition that in certain political actions, in certain political demonstrations—the really good ones—you do have a feeling of something really like love. And so, it’s partly a way of trying to theorize that recognition of this feeling of…let’s call it a “collective transformation” that one experiences in certain kinds of political action. And therefore, to think about love, love which I do understand to be precisely a transformative power, something in which we come out different. And to try to think of it as a political concept. There are ways in which love has functioned as a political concept, more than it does today. Continue reading

Young Jean Lee with Nature Theater of Oklahoma

photo of Young Jean Lee
Young Jean Lee visits the Nature Theater of Oklahoma
[Flash 9 is required to listen to audio.]

Nature Theater of Oklahoma talks to writer/director Young Jean Lee about longevity, mortality, ambition, endurance, and resilience. To download this podcast or subscribe to OK Radio podcasts on iTunes, click here.

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Ronaldo Wilson’s Inside

Ronaldo Wilson

The following triptych, “Inside,” provides the second of three monthly selections from a larger project, Off the Dome: Rants, Raps, and Meditations, for which I have been making live sound recordings as Solo-Dialogues since May 2010, entering into a streaming, internal conversation that vocalizes questions around, race, representation, selfhood and place. Using my iPhone, I perform and document impromptu audio recordings in a variety of dynamic environments. The three separate monthly installments will get grouped by landscape, occasion, and experience. These “Inside” pieces were recorded in three places: sitting in a restaurant in Los Gatos, CA, driving in my car in Northern California, and running in a park in Long Island, NY—exploring my immediate surroundings and the fluid realm of memory within these spaces.  —Ronaldo Wilson

      1. Steamers Quiet - 1 Min. 16 Sec.
      2. Dad’s Garage - 9 Min. 15 Sec.
      3. Port Jefferson Park Run - 12 Min. 11 Sec.

Hoa Nguyen with Andy Fitch

photo for Hoa Nguyen
Hoa Nguyen

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 Nguyen’s book,  As Long as Trees Last (Waves Books). Recorded May 29th. Transcribed by Maia Spotts.

Andy Fitch: Can we start with the title? As Long As Trees Last perhaps once signified a spacious, secure span of time. Now it suggests something more conditional, as if it could be so long as trees last.

Hoa Nguyen: Yeah sure. The title can impart an open, hopeful sense, but also could provide more of a warning. That line comes from a poem. I like its monosyllabic percussiveness. I tend toward monosyllabic rhythms for their sense of pulse and urgency. Multisyllabic words tend to be more Latinate and more the language of administration. And there are a lot of trees in this manuscript, returning tree characters, not really—but as though they were. Continue reading

Dale Smith with Andy Fitch

dale smith photo
Dale Smith

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 Smith’s book Poets Beyond the Barricade: Rhetoric, Citizenship, and Dissent after 1960 (University of Alabama Press). Recorded May 30th. Transcribed by Maia Spotts.

Andy Fitch: For people who know you best as a poet or advocate of poets, can you first reintroduce yourself as a critic, talk a bit about your rhetoric background, when you started and how it generally informs your life and work?

Dale Smith: I did an MA at New College, a funky school. I went to study with poets and deepen my study of poetry. Then in the mid-90’s Hoa and I moved from California to Austin. We published magazines and books, and hosted readings at our house. I delivered flowers, worked as a security guard, that kind of thing. As we had kids and needed more and more money I found myself teaching at a community college, but soon realized I could make as much in a Ph.D. program as I could as an adjunct. Continue reading

Hoa Nguyen and Dale Smith

Hoa Nguyen and Dale Smith

Over the next year, Andy Fitch will be asking participants from his Ugly Duckling Presse interview project to pair up and interview each other. By placing parallel interviews alongside his own, Fitch hopes to demonstrate that no one talk is definitive, that there are an infinitude of possible trajectories for such a discussion to take. In this discussion, Hoa Nguyen and Dale Smith interview each other about their recent books.

      1. Listen to the Conversation - -- Hoa Nguyen and Dale Smith

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Khadijah Queen with H.L. Hix

Khadija Queen photo
Khadijah Queen

This interview by H.L. Hix is one of a series, many of which will be collected in Alter Nation: America in Recent Poetry, Recent Poetry in America, from Ugly Duckling Presse (fall 2012). Hix loves the interview form as a way of thinking together (itself a condition of democracy, justice, philosophy, and other ideals and practices he values), and as one element in a community poetics. The subject of this interview is Khadijah Queen’s Conduit (Black Goat, 2008).

H. L. Hix: The first poem in the book appears to me to be structured by its first and last lines: “You could drift off” (15) … but … “The whole point is to sink…. To know what runs through” (24). Is this premise/metaphor — that sinking grants the stability to know the transitory (or something like that) — one that informs the whole book, or only this first poem?

Khadijah Queen: I do feel that I was exploring the nature of experience/experiencing – in reference to relationships, self-awareness, and living/reality in general – and finding incredibly poignant contradictions that I didn’t want to alienate from each other. Yes, then, that premise does inform the entire book, which is part of why I chose it to be the first poem – to set the tone, offer a clue into the ones to follow. Continue reading

Jed Rasula with H.L. Hix

Jed Rasula photo
Jed Rasula
This interview by H.L. Hix is one of a series, many of which will be collected in Alter Nation: America in Recent Poetry, Recent Poetry in America, from Ugly Duckling Presse (fall 2012). Hix loves the interview form as a way of thinking together (itself a condition of democracy, justice, philosophy, and other ideals and practices he values), and as one element in a community poetics. The subject of this interview is Jed Rasula’s The American Poetry Wax Museum: Reality Effects, 1940-1990 (National Council of Teachers of English, 1996).

This interview by H.L. Hix is one of a series, many of which will be collected in Alter Nation: America in Recent Poetry, Recent Poetry in America, from Ugly Duckling Presse (fall 2012). Hix loves the interview form as a way of thinking together (itself a condition of democracy, justice, philosophy, and other ideals and practices he values), and as one element in a community poetics. The subject of this interview is Jed Rasula’s The American Poetry Wax Museum: Reality Effects, 1940-1990 (National Council of Teachers of English, 1996).

H. L. Hix: One important aspect of your book, insofar as I have grasped its project, is to record the shrinking of the dominant lyric mode in America for the past 50+ years from pursuit of “representational accountability” adequate to “mass reality” (407).  Can the outlines of representational accountability be made out now, or is such accountability the sort of thing that we will recognize when it happens?  In other words, is there a prescription for such accountability, of the sort that the critic can describe it to the poet, or is such accountability something that critics will note when a poet achieves, or some poets achieve, it?

Jed Rasula: My book was an unintended swan song for a then rapidly vanishing era of print literacy, documenting the way power struggles and reputations were stage managed in the venues specific to that cultural formation. In the fifteen years since I wrote it everything has changed, probably more dramatically than I’d have thought likely at the time. Continue reading

Ravi Shankar with H.L. Hix

Ravi Shankar photo
Poet Ravi Shankar

This interview by H.L. Hix is one of a series, many of which will be collected in Alter Nation: America in Recent Poetry, Recent Poetry in America, from Ugly Duckling Presse (fall 2012). Hix loves the interview form as a way of thinking together (itself a condition of democracy, justice, philosophy, and other ideals and practices he values), and as one element in a community poetics. The subject of this interview with Ravi Shankar is Language for a New Century: Contemporary Poetry from the Middle East, Asia, and Beyond. (Tina Chang, Nathalie Handal, and Ravi Shankar, eds., W. W. Norton, 2008).

H. L. Hix: In your introduction to the “Slips and Atmospherics” section of the anthology, you note that the poems “are about multiplicity and escape” (120). I assume that you are not suggesting that they are escapist, but how would you characterize the difference (between work about escape and escapist work)?

Ravi Shankar: That section of Language for a New Century: Contemporary Poetry from Asia, the Middle East and Beyond (W.W. Norton and Co.) is one of my personal favorite sections because it encompasses the work of Asian and Middle Eastern writers (including those from the Diaspora) who are pushing against the boundaries of form and received meanings. The kind of language and conceptual experiments that we might assume to be the exclusive purview of Western writers who’ve taken classes on post-structuralism and deconstruction is proved spectacularly false by poets like Rukimini Bhaya Nair who integrates the graphemic style of Sanskrit into English-language poetry, Yang Lian who appropriates characters from the 2,000 year old Seal script and combines it with characters that he has invented, and Filipino modernist giant José Garcia Villa, who punctuates his poem with commas the same way a pointillist painter would use dots of color on the canvas. Continue reading

Catherine Taylor with Andy Fitch

Catherine Taylor

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 Taylor’s book, Apart (Ugly Duckling Presse). Recorded May 6th. Transcribed by Maia Spotts.

Andy Fitch: In case the term seems fraught or unfamiliar to some readers, can you give a working definition of “reportage”? Your definition of reportage sounds more exciting than most. How does reportage relate to, or differ from, description, witness, testimony? Do you feel broadly invested in this mode of discourse? Did this particular project call it forth?

Catherine Taylor: For me, reportage first signifies some connection to histories of journalism. It suggests that the author has made a concerted effort to conduct research in a number of different modes, which might involve observation, archival investigations, interviews. This puts the investigator on equal terms with the writer—even if the end product, the finished piece, looks radically different from what you often find in a magazine or newspaper. Even if the writing seems experimental, it makes certain assumptions about documenting experience or facts or data. Of course the final written piece might manipulate those findings in a variety of ways, not necessarily fictionalizing facts, but using language that traditional journalistic forms reject. Continue reading

Heather Christle with Andy Fitch

Heather Christle

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 Christle’s book What is Amazing (Wesleyan University Press). Recorded July 7, 2012. Transcribed by Maia Spotts.

Andy Fitch: Can we discuss the history of how this book came together, and how that history gets traced in the three separate sections? Some early pieces seem familiar, from The Seaside! Do all poems from the first section come from that same period of writing? Does that phase now feel far from you? I ask because this reads like a collected “Early Works.”

Heather Christle: I didn’t mean to arrange the book in chronological order, but that’s what ended up happening. I wrote all sections fairly close together in time. The first section comes mostly from The Seaside!. I do feel quite far from that chapbook now, probably because I haven’t written in that form for a while. From writing the poems of my first book, The Difficult Farm, to writing my second book, to this, I think form has propelled me to a certain extent. Other concerns do as well. But I’ll invent some formal problem to investigate then write poems until I’ve reached, for myself, some kind of answer. I won’t ever decide to stop writing in a particular way. Though once I’ve figured out how to do it, then I’ll need to set up a new problem.

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Roundtable: On the Origins, State, and Future Perspectives of Finno-Saxon

photo of Charles Bernstein and Levi Lehto
Charles Bernstein and Leevi Lehto. Photo courtesy of Kirsi Poikolainen, Manhattan, New York 1994.
A roundtable with Charles Bernstein, Frederik Hertzberg, Teemu Ikonen, Karri Kokko, Hasso Krull, Leevi Lehto, Olli Sinivaara, and Miia Toivio at the Kiasma Art Museum, Helsinki, August 24, 2004.

Leevi Lehto: … since maybe Charles and I are the ones most responsible for this thing to happen, and since we’ve had chances to talk about some of the subjects which I think will come up in this discussion … now for two days already, we thought it might be a good idea to start this discussion where we left it last evening … last night …

Charles Bernstein: This morning actually.

LL: … this morning, yes, and there were others involved in this discussion … I don’t quite remember who actually came up with this concept of Finno-Saxon … But last night was the beginning of the Finno-Saxon literature, I hope …

CB: It’s really more of a movement, don’t you think …

LL: It’s more of a movement, yes, and of course the term is also a homophonic translation for “Finnish accent,” which I hope will be heard a lot in this discussion, but just to get this started, Charles, would you like to elaborate a little on this concept of Finno-Saxon?
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Thomas Fink in Conversation with Ari Mason and Maya Mason

Maya Mason, Ari Mason, and Thomas Fink. Paintings by Maya Mason.

In this conversation, Thomas Fink and his daughters, Ari Mason and Maya Mason, interview each other about their creative practices.

Ari Mason: Where does the inspiration for your work come from: friends, family, mentors?

Thomas Fink: As we know, in my books Gossip (Marsh Hawk Press, 2001) and After Taxes (Marsh Hawk, 2004), you and Maya elicited the poems beginning with “And Called It Milk,” and your great-grandmother Ethel is the linguistically compelling source for “The Ethel Landsman Poems,” which led me to the “Yinglish Strophes,” a series that started in 2004 and continues. Your grandfather’s speech (& parts of letters to you) are the basis for “In Memoriam” (After Taxes). Continue reading