Many of the poems in this issue seem to coalesce around themes of
darkness and light. In what ratio of shade or illumination do your
poems thrive? Does a dark poem need light, and vice versa?
Blanchot speaks of “une telle intimité déchirée”: “The work is this
torn intimacy inasmuch as it is ‘unfurling’ of that which nevertheless
hides and remains closed—a light shining on the dark, a light bright
from the clarity darkness [makes possible]…” Hopefully the poems thrive
in a balanced, if not equal, ratio, like dark humor, like a Giant
Swallowtail’s turquoise on black pattern. Even the best or smoothest of
lives is difficult, declines, and has lots of messes. When writing
avoids those complexities or prettifies them, it feels disingenuous or
naïve, and un-engaging. Beckett, Cathy Wagner, Genet, Darcie Dennigan,
Joyce, Fred Moten, Krasznahorkai, Diana Hamilton, Albee, Phil Levine,
Flann O’Brien, Jakov Lind, Danielle Pafunda, Paul Beatty, Sabrina Orah
Mark – these are all writers who embrace the visceral, messy,
complicated realities of being a living being, and their work means
much to me for that reason.
The Roman numerals you use for these poems’ titles are unconventional.
What message should the reader take from the proliferation of Xs that
mark these poems?
I wanted the reader to be un-distracted by the meaning of titles,
and/or meanings they might inflict upon the poems. So, the Xs, I
suppose, say, ‘Ignore us.’
We’ve noticed an interesting telescoping effect in these poems.
Children’s cries move away from us, as a man and woman move forward;
towels fold and unfold; and the grass is both undrowned and fully
drowning. Does every poem’s landscape contain its opposite?
That’s something I hadn’t myself noticed before. Once I’ve written and
revised and revised, &c. a poem, I tend to not see it again until
it floats up due to a reading or publication. I think probably that
telescoping, that ‘thing and its opposite’ is related to what I
mentioned above about attempting to address nuance and complexity. We
all know that nothing is all one way or the other, but we often move in
the world as though things were in fact all one way. I can’t really
abide a work of art that aims for revelation, catharsis or lesson
teaching, but I do think these poems involve the writer trying to think
through what the world looks like when he can try, and fail, and
succeed, and fail—by way of analysis and observation, rather than by
way of declaration, instruction, or epiphany—to see the manifold nature