Interviews

Sustained and heightened

Laura Mullen on 'Complicated Grief'

Note: Laura Mullen’s Complicated Grief was published by Solid Objects in November 2015. Composed of eight sections, these lyrically unsettled and unsettling prose poems take the reader across multiple modalities of romantic/sexual love (or what passes in that guise), prying open the silence and shame of love’s aftermath, or its “complicated grief.”

'Awareness inside language'

On George Quasha's preverbs

Note: After reading several of George Quasha’s collections of “preverb” poems with great interest, I was intrigued by his development of this new poetic mode, the way it shaped the organization of his work over a substantial period of time and the persistent metapoetic (even metalinguistic) thrust of the poetry. George kindly consented to engage in an exchange, and we limited the discussion to four of his preverb books. The interview took place via email from January 8 to February 23, 2016.

Note: After reading several of George Quasha’s collections of “preverb” poems with great interest, I was intrigued by his development of this new poetic mode, the way it shaped the organization of his work over a substantial period of time and the persistent metapoetic (even metalinguistic) thrust of the poetry. George kindly consented to engage in an exchange, and we limited the discussion to four of his preverb books.

No form in mind

Paul Auster in conversation with George and Mary Oppen

Left: Paul Auster at the 2010 Brooklyn Book Festival. Photo by David Shankbone. Right: George and Mary Oppen in the 1970s, photographer unknown. Reproduced by permission of Linda Oppen.

When Paul Auster in 1980 asked to interview his friend George Oppen, the poet agreed, but with a warning. “What worries me,” wrote Oppen, “is the question of whether or not I can say anything that I have not already said.” Auster flew to San Francisco in February 1981 and spent several days with the Oppens. “There were times,” writes Auster, “when [George] had to grope for his words, but there were also moments of blazing wit.” These moments have indeed been captured in this memorable last interview with George Oppen.

Note: When Paul Auster in 1980 asked to interview his friend George Oppen, the poet agreed, but with a warning. “What worries me,” wrote Oppen, “is the question of whether or not I can say anything that I have not already said — And my own condition at this moment which is something alas, very like senility — I am not being very brilliant these days, and I have not written anything since Primitive.” Nevertheless, Auster flew to San Francisco in February 1981 and spent several days at the Oppens’ house on Polk Street recording George and Mary around their kitchen table.

Nearness with attitude

An interview with Andrew Maxwell

Photo of Andrew Maxwell (left) by Alan Bernheimer. Photo of Deborah Meadows (right) by Howard Stover.

I interviewed Andrew Maxwell by email at a thoughtful pace that extended from April to August 2015. As a frequenter of the Los Angeles–based Poetic Research Bureau, which he codirects, and as an avid reader of his work, I found the interview to illumine Andrew’s life and work: his philosophic dispositions, his recondite yet populist interests, and his consistent commitment to community through dissensus — a rare tolerance for disagreement.

Note: To celebrate the recent release of Andrew Maxwell’s Candor Is the Brightest Shield, I interviewed Andrew by email at a thoughtful pace that extended from April to August 2015. As a frequenter of the Los Angeles–based Poetic Research Bureau, which he codirects, and as an avid reader of his work, I found the interview to illumine Andrew’s life and work: his philosophic dispositions, his recondite yet populist interests, and his consistent commitment to community through dissensus — a rare tolerance for disagreement.

Poetic protocols

An interview with Craig Dworkin

Craig Dworkin (left) and James LaMarre (right).

Note: Craig Dworkin, author of Parse (Atelos, 2008), No Medium (MIT Press, 2013), and founding senior editor of Eclipse sat down with me on July 21, 2015 for a conversation in Salt Lake City as part of the one on one podcast series.