Saturday, February 5, 2011
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
Monday, January 31, 2011
Friday, January 28, 2011
Thursday, January 27, 2011
The Black Telephone has five fast questions for poet Jose Gouveia.
BT: The word magnolia, I think, is a very poetic word— it could almost be a one word poem. Is there a word you would consider to be very poetic— poetic enough, say, to be a one word poem?
JOSE: I think that sometimes we tend to put too much emphasis on the power of the word as opposed to the power of the word in a particular situation. Sure, magnolia is a poetic-sounding word, even a nature image of beautiful flowers budding, and there are other words with a poetic ring to it such as whiz, or buzz, active verbs that sound like the word itself, or onomatopoeia, which is another poetic-sounding word in and of itself. When I was a teenager, I started drinking whiskey because, initially, I just loved the poetic sound of that word! But I don’t believe that any word can be a one word poem unless circumstances allow: this is what we as artists call attaching our art to the outside world. Look at the word revolution. I think it is a very poetic word, has rhythm, many other words rhyme with it, it has multiple syllables so you can stress each differently to get a different sound out of the word. Rev-ooooooo-luuuuuuu-shun! Revo!-lu-shuuuuuuuuuun! See, many ways to sound poetic in Revolution! But go outside these days and keep screaming revolution and the neighbors will call the police or psyche ward on you. Scream revolution at any open mic and you'll’be the most cliché poet reading that night. Ah, but in 1776 Colonial America, Revolution truly was a one word poem, because we were at war for independence and the word revolution had a special meaning to that particular time period in our history. Just as some poems may have a short shelf life, so do most one word poems.
BT: Did you work on a poem today?
JOSE: That’s a relative question. If you mean did I actually sit at my desk and physically write poetry today, then the answer is no. But I am always working on poems. I have five or six ideas for poems in my head, and I always let them stew in my head for weeks before I finally write them down, sometimes months. I like to think my poems are fermenting up there, getting more toxic. Remember, a poem has to at least sound good to be a good poem, so I have to hear the poem in my head before I write it down. Other times I do compose more on paper, but have to write my poems while saying them out loud. Sometimes I say my poems out loud for weeks before writing them down—in the shower, while driving, etc. So whether I’ve actually sat at my desk to write today or not, in one way or another, the composing of poetry is always going on in my head.
BT: Is there a poet you're really diggin' at the moment?
JOSE: Franz Wright. I’ve recently gotten into his work and it is amazing. He is a poet full of compassion and with a very large heart. I’m also big on the poetry of Martin Espada and Marge Piercy, two of whom I feel are America’s pre-eminent political voices in poetry. For the first time ever I’ve began reading Jim Carrol, and so far I’m enjoying it. But there is also a younger poet out there named John Murillo whose poetry is simply incredible. John can make ya laugh, then cry, then be mad at the same situation all in the same poem. His polemic style works mostly in part to his keen sense of humor and the type of jargon he uses in creating the tone of his poems. All these poets I highly suggest.
BT: A starving artist appears on your doorstep: hungry for inspiration, thirsty for poetry— what do you feed him/her?
JOSE: Honestly? I’d probably feed him a good swift kick in the teeth. Then I’d tell him to give up all his material possessions and go join a band of gypsies, bringing disgrace to your family name and disowned from the family. Now that you don’t know where your next meal or money might come from, go work a dozen nickel-and-dime jobs over two decades and in that time fall in love, marry, have children, become an alcoholic, lose everything— you get the idea. Point is, nothing can feed a hungry artist if he/she is a true artist at heart. Only the experiences life gives you can inspire one to write, or at least to write well. They say write what you know. And pain is always a great motivator. So no, I’m not saying that everyone has to live up to this false romantic notion of life as the struggling artist, but I do believe that pain is the proverbial breakfast of champions for poets. Without something your readers/audience can also relate to, the writing itself will always fall short.
BT: I’m trying to start a chain, a chain of poets, sort of like a chain gang of poets. Can you please suggest a poet I should ask five fast questions to next?
JOSE: Bobby Miller, a great poet out of Provincetown and a great photographer as well. Tell him I sent you. He’s originally from NYC, but has been in Provincetown about 15 years now. He’d be great for something like this!
José Gouveia, a.k.a. Joe Go, Editor of RUBBER SIDE DOWN: the biker poet anthology (2008); author of three chapbooks: WHAT WE DO (1997), GINSBERG IS DEAD (2000) and THE SLAUGHTER OF THE SACRED COW (2008). Author of THE METER MAN poetry column, The Barnstable Patriot; Host of THE POETS CORNER, WOMR-FM Provincetown; Poetry Curator, The Cultural Center of Cape Cod. 1999 Poet Laureate of Cape Cod and Poet-In-Residence Cape Cod Community College; Massachusetts Poet of the Year, 2001; M.F.A. in Poetry from New England College.
Sunday, September 26, 2010
Thursday, September 23, 2010
The Black Telephone has five fast questions for poet Kelsea Habecker.
BT: The poem or the title— which came first?
KELSEA: I love titles. I keep running lists of titles that I might want to use someday, for something— a poem or a story or a piece of art. I title emails that I send to friends, I title my to-do lists, I title everything. So, betting that the title generally came before the poem is a safe bet, but not a sure bet. I'm a firm believer in writing poems with a focus on process rather than a focus on product. I don't usually sit down knowing what I want to write about. I don't like to predetermine my poems in that way. So, quite often the title arrives long after I've been working on a poem. It's not an either/or scenario for me but a both/and.
BT: I love writing, but I love baking just as much. To me, there is something poetic about the preparation of food and the heat involved. I say this because I see, on your blog, that you enjoy welding. Is there something you would consider poetic about welding?
KELSEA: I find welding meditative. When I’m welding, wearing the heavy, dark faceplate and mask, the only thing I can see is the tiny puddle of orange, molten metal pooling at the tip of my welding torch. The only thing I can attend to is the exact now. I can’t see behind to what I’ve done or look ahead to what’s coming, except in the narrowest margins. In welding, as in my writing and in life, I put on my protective mask, stand in utter darkness, pull the trigger, and then find the flame. Also, welding is classified as a hot-work process, a name given to any process that can cause ignition. What is the dream of any poem if not to cause ignition?
I love writing. It's perhaps my strongest instinct— but it's so cerebral. I long for something more visceral. I'm envious of my friends who are painters and sculptors because they get to physically wrestle with their materials— taste them, feel them, smell them. With my materials – words – I just get to think about them. As relief from that, I'm drawn to physical processes – like welding or baking – that allow me to use my whole body. Those, then, become objective correlatives for my writing work.
BT: I consider myself a logophile (which is a lover of words). Do you have a favorite word at the moment?
KELSEA: I'm writing a memoir and a series of prose poems right now about living in an Inupiaq village in the Arctic region of Alaska, so I've got a lot of Inupiaq words in my ether right now. With these words, the draw isn't their meaning. I'm drawn to the sounds of them— very different, sonically, than English words. I feel like a different person when I say them, like I'm putting on a costume. Nibiuktuk, ugruk, and uvlaakunluu are three I like right now. (They mean hope, bearded seal, and good-bye.)
BT: What poetry book are you currently reading?
BT: I'm trying to start a chain, a chain of poets, sort of like a chain gang of poets. Can you please suggest one poet I should ask five fast questions to next?
KELSEA: Sally Ashton*, Betsy Johnson Miller, or Norbert Krapf.
Kelsea Habecker's book of poetry, Hollow Out, was published by New Rivers Press. She received her MFA in poetry from Bennington Writing Seminars and her BA from Randolph-Macon Woman’s College. When she's not living elsewhere, she lives in Indianapolis, where she teaches graduate creative writing seminars, undergraduate art courses, and community art workshops.