How do you feel about solitary vs. collaborative writing?
For the most part, I’ve been a lone wolf in the writing world, but this is mainly circumstantial. I’ve seen some powerful collaborative projects recently—for example, I’m thinking of Two-Headed Boy (Organic Weapon Arts, 2017) by Anders Carlson-Wee & Kai Carlson-Wee.
What does it mean to collaborate, especially in the poetic sense? What does it mean to link your associative, strange mind and process to someone else’s? Really, it is a rare act of intimacy. A lot of things have to align—trust, commitment, a nice blend of challenge and support. I think I’m still looking for the right person.
What does the term “poetic process” mean to you?
Early morning light in any season. Sound of street sweepers, dump trucks, or snow plows outside my apartment. Coffee—no cream, no sugar. A hard-won silence.
Do you feel it still is (or ever has) been important to memorize poems?
Memorization is important because it distills sound. Someone once told me that the body is the medium of poetry. I took a storytelling and performance workshop with Arthur Flowers (check out his blog) last summer and it really shifted my perspective on this. As poets, we are responsible for engaging our audience. I have little patience for unpracticed/droning/meek readers. Step up your game; this is part of the craft that you’ve dedicated yourself to. Not that I don’t have room to grow as well, I’m working on this. I am going on tour in the fall and I want to be able to perform my poems, as opposed to read them (there really is a difference).
Do you ever get sick of poetry?
Yes. Poetry has its limitations. The conventions of poetry, the pretensions of poets, the gaps between (page) poetry and culture, how poetry is taught, etc—all of these things can be tiring. There is a reason so many people say, “I just don’t get poetry.” As poets, we have to bring it closer to the bone of culture. We have to show how poetry can be relevant, political in complex ways, and engaged with human struggles. Or, we at least have to try.
Do you have any advice to veterans of poetry?
I have advice for novices and veterans. You can use what you want.
To the novices of poetry: Live it. Write each day if you can, even if just for twenty minutes. Even if you’re hungover. When things seem especially dire in your life, return to writing. Do the work. It will almost always show you a path through.
To the veterans: Make room. You will not be made obsolete by making space and platforms for new voices, especially voices that challenge you, or voices that have been unrepresented in the past.
In your mind, are technology and poetry in bed together or still in an awkward flirting phase?
Technology is neither good nor bad. Its value will depend on what we do with it. I think writers haven’t yet realized the full, strange potential that exists here.
Who are five poets, local and non local, dead or alive, that you admire?
I'm going to give shoutouts to the living here...
Heather Warren—a poet pal of mine from Fairbanks, Alaska who is also a great musician.
Freesia McKee—Milwaukee activist and poet.
Chiwan Choi—LA based poet. His new book is fantastic.
I love Sam Sax's work.
And Joan Kane, also an Alaskan poet, is publishing really powerful stuff.