How do you feel about solitary vs. collaborative writing?
It never occurred to me that people might write in a non-solitary way until I worked as an intern with Lake Effect on 89.7 WUWM. Staff would walk over to one another and ask for suggestions or brainstorm collaboratively. Obviously they're not working on poems, but for someone who wrote poems by himself since 8th grade, it was startling. Now, a lot of the writing I do for work is collaborative, whereas most of my poetry is pretty solitary. Different animals, different goals. Both usually feel like a welcome reprieve from the other.
What does the term “poetic process” mean to you?
For me it just means working at it. I think of writing as a craft, an ongoing apprenticeship that can only be furthered by writing - "letting your hands go," as boxers say. As ideas or stories come to me, I deal with them as they present. Sometimes it takes a couple of years to tussle with something but that's really rare - the dealing with trauma type stuff. Usually it's a matter of minutes or days to get something down, and practice makes one more efficient. I edit it again before sending something for publishing consideration. Then I edit it all a few more times before it goes into a book. When the ideas come to you deal with them. When there are no ideas do other things and ideas are inevitable.
If most poets imagine themselves as artists, I'd probably align myself more with plumbers or carpenters, because I'm always trying to go at it with the goal to communicate foremost. And, often, those trades make our daily lives much more functionally and intimately possible than a poem ever will. I admire that, maybe aspire to offer that kind of everyday familiarity.
Do you feel it still is (or ever has) been important to memorize poems?
I make a point to not memorize poems as I'd rather use that mental space to write more new ones. That's my default, not a judgment on whatever anyone else does.
Do you ever get sick of poetry?
For the most part it's just something I deal with as it arrives. Grass too long? Cut it. Snowfall? Shovel it before leaving for work. Words won't go away? Write them. Sometimes I go on these runs where I'll write two or three poems a day for like a week and it gets tiring. It's like, "Dammit, can I just ride this motorcycle to work without three poems presenting and volleying for my attention while I'm leaning and shifting? I feel dutiful about writing. When ideas come to me I'm never sure why, but feel like it's a responsibility that was given to me to make live. The times I forget something or don't make good on what was given to me I feel like I've disrespected or wasted what was offered to me, and should have been offered to someone who wasn't a poor custodian.
I suppose that sounds pompous, but that's not my intention. I guess I have just come to an understanding with words. If I make getting them out a priority, they leave my head and don't continue to interrupt and cloud whatever is going on in there.
Do you have any advice to veterans of poetry?
No. But I would also probably tend toward asking instead of offering.
In your mind, are technology and poetry in bed together or still in an awkward flirting phase?
Technology is always in bed with everything. And everything, if smart, is always racing to fit into the latest technology, else it gets left behind. Like the railroads, so convinced they were in the railroad business, not the transportation business. Poetry is always a step behind, otherwise it would just be called a well-timed comeback or quote said in the moment. Instead we deal with it as a poem later on, after time to think.
Who are five poets, local and non local, dead or alive, that you admire?
I must admit I'm a little out of the loop on being down with O.P.P. (y'know, other people's poetry). I'm in school full-time, have a nine-year-old, and work three jobs. So I'm pretty excited when I have the time to write my own thoughts but don't always have extra for everyone else's. But here is a bit about who I've come to admire over the years.
William Carlos Willams - the guy was the town doctor and a game changing poet. Some people just do life really well.
Maya Angelou is pretty great.
Larry Eigner. Imagine having to work that hard just to write a poem.
Dasha Kelly performs like she's tap dancing across a typhoon.