I returned to honolulu last night after a crazy weekend in California for the Los Angeles Times Book Festival. My second book of poems, from unincorporated territory [saina], was a finalist for the LA Times Book Prize, along with the formidable Ed Roberson, Maxine Kumin, Henri Cole, and debut poet Yehoshua November. I've been looking forward to the awards ceremony this past weekend since the finalists were announced in February. The only sad thing about the whole trip is that I missed the Waikiki Spam Jam!
Just being nominated for the prize has been a blessing....
On my beachshelf for 2011 is Chad Sweeney's Parable of Hide and Seek (Alice James, 2010). Being a kind and generous poet, Chad agreed to answer a few questions about his work. I'm happy to share his very poetic answers with you.
Chad Sweeney is a poet and translator. He is the author of three books of poetry: Parable of Hide and Seek (Alice James, 2010), Arranging the Blaze (Anhinga, 2009), and An Architecture (BlazeVox, 2007); translator (from the Persian, with Mojdeh Marashi) of The Selected Poems of H.E. Sayeh:The Art of Stepping Through Time (White Pine, 2011); and editor of the anthology Days I Moved Through Ordinary Sounds: the Teachers of WritersCorps in Poetry and Prose (CityLights, 2009). His fourth book of poems, the bilingual (English/Spanish) Wolf Milk: Lost Poems of Juan Sweeney will be published next year by Forklift Books. He taught poetry and literature for fifteen years in San Francisco, while earning an MFA from San Francisco State University, before moving to Kalamazoo, Michigan to pursue a Ph.D. at Western Michigan University where he teaches poetry and serves as assistant editor of New Issues Press. In the fall, Chad will join the faculty as assistant professor in the new MFA program at California State University, San Bernardino.
They could not Stop from their Ethos of Oppression.
Then I saw America, dressing in all White,
Settling through the West with a Blinding Light.
[end with a philosophic pause]
Harriet Monroe, in her Introduction to Vachel Lindsay's 1915 volume The Congo and Other Poems wrote: "They are destined to a wider and higher influence; in fact, the development of that influence, the return to primitive sympathies between artist and audience, which may make possible once more the assertion of primitive creative power, is recognized as the immediate movement in modern art."
The "They" in my revision of the chorus of Lindsay's "The Congo" (a poem that you need to listen to to fully experience) and in the above passage from Monroe, refers to the White Poets Society, a not so secret multi-national society of white poets who aim to assert primitive and occult creative powers.