Thanks to a spat of web-wandering in which Letitia is somehow implicated (I forget exactly how, though -- sorry, dear), I've stumbled across this lovely blog featuring nothing but the same ten-question interview with scores of contemporary poets (including T.R. Hummer, a fellow Mississippian and, from what I hear, a damn fine saxophonist to boot). Loiter a while; you might be pleasantly surprised.
I've not much else to report from the weekend except that 1) 'Batman Begins' wasn't half bad until the dialogue took a train wreck in the last five minutes (sorry -- you know it's true), 2) to the surprise of everyone involved, it is possible to get sunburned in Scotland if you just sit still long enough, and 3) the last few episodes of Arrested Development are some of the shining jewels in the series. Example:
Lindsay: "I've got the whole afternoon off!"
Lucille: "Oh, did nothing cancel?"
Before I shuffle off this wakeful coil, I'll leave you with some extracts from Robert Creeley's Paris Review interview, conducted almost 40 years ago but not a day old in tone or relevance. Tomorrow afternoon is the Man Booker International Prize ceremony; I'll be there with bells on, so check back here for a report tomorrow evening. (I reckon that most of what will be said has been said already, but you never know what kind of flecks will appear in the sieve.)
Emphases are mine; the best quote, hands-down, is already singled out.
On the relationship of place to poetry:
This [New Mexico] is a very basic place to live. the dimensions are of such size and of such curious eternity that they embarrass any assumption that man is the totality of all that is significant in life. The area offers a measure of persons that I find very relieving and much more securing to my nature than would be, let's say, the accumulations of men's intentions and exertions in New York City.
On 'the grid of initial experience and proposal':
John [Ashbery] was obviously coming to it by way of the French surrealists, where he found, not only playfulness, but a very active admission of the world as it's felt and confronted. It came from other places, too. I was finding it in jazz, for example. And that's why Charlie Parker and Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk and those people were extraordinarily interesting to me. Simply that they seemed to have only the nature of the activity as limit. Possibly they couldn't change water into stone. But then again, maybe they could. That's what was intriguing.
Interviewer: You have said that poetry is 'the basic act of speech, of utterance.' Are you implying that self-expression is the poet's motivation, or is there more to be said about his desire to communicate, his interest in possible readers?
I don't think that 'possible readers' are really the context in which poetry is written. For myself it's never been the case. If one plays to the gallery in that way, I think it's extraordinarily distracting. The whole performance of writing then becomes some sort of odd entertainment of persons one never meets and probably would be embarrassed to meet in any case. So I'm only interested in what I can articulate with the things given me as confrontation. I can't worry about what it costs me. I don't think any man writing can worry about what the act of writing costs him, even though at time he is very aware of it.
Interviewer: Do you have the sense of continually progressing -- is there a sense in each successive poem of a new adventure?
Creeley (emphases his): A 'new adventure' possibly -- that is, like Melville's sense, 'Be true to the dreams of thy youth,' which [Charles] Olson told me Melville had on the wall over his worktable. I don't want to be unromantic about it. But I have never felt I was going anywhere, in writing -- not like, 'Every day, in every way, I am getting better and better.' What I've really loved is the fact that at times I can take place in this activity, just be there with whatever comes of that fact. I live in this house, or with my wife, in just the same way. It's not 'getting somewhere' that is the point of it all.