[The excerpt below is from a collection of Federman’s writings, Carcasses, published by BlazeVOX Books shortly before his death in October 2009. It was first posted on Poems and Poetics, blogger version, on February 28th of that year.]
Yesterday I bought a new tape recorder – and today I recorded a story on my new recorder – this is the story – I call it –
At that moment, an explosion occurs. At that moment the sumo wrestler dives; he enters the water and makes no splash. The prisoner’s strike is on. Often I wonder whether my teeth are rotting. On Tuesday I had my hair cut. In the bathroom I kill a cockroach as it tries to run past me. My breasts hurt I am pregnant perhaps. This prepares the manifold, earlier, immaterial representations, the mounting system centralized, happily groomed as yoga for planets. The earlier bonobos touched it and squirrels did their math to empower the mergers and exchange.
[To describe John Martone as our greatest living miniaturist, as I have in the past, is to go back for me to a time many years ago when Ian Hamilton Finlay & I corresponded about a poetry of small increments (one-word poems & other such concerns). For Finlay, I believe, some form of minimalism was at the heart of the concrete poetry he was then exploring & developing, & for myself it entered into aspects of ethnopoetics & appeared most clearly in the numerically based poems (gematria) that I was beginning to write. It’s with someone like John Martone, however
[The full interview will appear as a foreword to David Antin’s How Long Is the Present: Selected Talk Poems, edited by Stephen Fredman and scheduled for publication by the University of New Mexico Press in 2014.]
Q. 1 When you began delivering talk poems in the mid-1970s, they seemed quite confrontational. There was a remarkable resistance to the work even among so-called "avant-garde" poets on the West Coast, who seemed, as I recall, to take your questioning of the function and techniques of poetry as a direct affront. What specifically were you doing that was so provocative?
A. 1 I think I was born under the star of controversy.