How do you feel about solitary vs. collaborative writing?
I do a lot of collaborative writing with Anja Notanja Sieger. Together, we are The Subtle Forces. It is rare to find a collaborator with whom it is so easy to work. When we collaborate and it’s really working, it is funny, political, smart, improvisational, free, and freeing.
For me, solitary writing is Hudson River School and collaborative writing is using a selfie stick. The downside is that solitary writing can get too dry and collaborative writing can get too wet. The upside is that they’re both worthy and important endeavors.
What does the term “poetic process” mean to you?
It seems like a way of describing a mystery. Sometimes the poem is the net, sometimes you dream a poem, sometimes a poem comes is carved and hard-won. It’s impossible to predict a poem’s route to the poet and the world.
Do you feel it still is (or ever has) been important to memorize poems?
Yes, because then they live inside of you. When you memorize poems, it can be easier to make edits and improve them because you, also, are living inside of them. You can march to them as you walk to work, sing them as you ride your bike. And when you memorize poems, it is much, much easier to perform them. If you memorize poetry, you can recite poems to someone on the bus or the train or the elevator.
A few years ago, a guy with a snowboard asked me on the train near Seattle if I could recite a poem from memory, and I couldn’t. So out of some strange stranger obligation, I made the pledge to myself to memorize my work.
There is some snobbery against performance. We need to remind ourselves over and over that poetry predates written language.
Do you ever get sick of poetry?
No, I actually don’t. But I do get sick of performing particular poems.
Do you have any advice to veterans of poetry?
If I could give advice to my younger self, I would suggest focusing on writing every day instead of creating grandiose publication goals (publish a chapbook by XYZ age! Publish a full-length collection just a couple years after that!). Yikes.
I’m not sure what advice I would give someone who is more experienced that me—my role as a younger poet is perhaps to do more listening.
In your mind, are technology and poetry in bed together or still in an awkward flirting phase?
Are you saying the awkward flirting stops once you’re in bed together? This has not been my experience… In all seriousness, I do know that technology helps poems find more readers. Poets need readers, so it seems like a good thing.