Here is something exciting, three poems by Shana Bulhan Haydock recoded and available on SoundCloud. These poems first appeared in the Spring issue of BlazeVOX13. Enjoy
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Teach Me To Dance
INTERVIEW WITH SUSAN LEWIS
INTERVIEW BY KRISTINA MARIE DARLING
Kristina Marie Darling: Your newest collection, This Visit, was recently released byBlazeVOX Books. What would you like readers to know before they dive in?
Susan Lewis: This Visit is a four-part investigation in couplets into subjectivity, ephemerality, and above all mortality (as the title suggests). The sections are intended to bounce off of, as well asecho, one another. The first offers a series of poems titled “My Life in . . .” (Dogs, Sheets, etc.) which play with plasticity and porosity of identity/identification. Section two contains another series of what I think of as abstract epistolary poems (Dear Tomorrow, Dear Subjectivity, etc.). The poems in the third section are the most lyric of the lot, written in orderly, left-aligned couplets. The fourth offers meditative experimentswhose leaps and non-linear connections are evoked by the space (and breath) incorporated into their more open and irregulartextures.
KMD: I admire the ways your poems use sound to forge connections between ideas and images within the text. In many ways, you make the reader question their fixation on the semantic meaning of words, and ask them to hear instead the music inherent in everyday speech. What does sound make possible for you within a poem, and within a narrative?
SL: You are quite right about my interest in challenging readers’ expectation of transparency from verbal artifacts – a function, no doubt, of language’s ubiquity and utility. Forefronting the sound of words – in conjunction and counterpoint with their meaning – is one way to bring them to the reader’s attention as the aesthetic material of this art form. The music of language is also a way to awaken the reader’s attention to unexpected, hopefully resonant connections. The dance between sensual effects and “meaning”can generate a lot of energy.
KMD: Your new collection, This Visit, is formally distinct from your previous books, State of the Union and How To Be Another. You've shifted gracefully from prose forms to lineated verse. What unique opportunities does lineated verse offer for the writer?
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SL: Well, I still love the prose poem – with regard to the line, I am definitely polyamorous! Where I see the prose poem as solid, compressed, and powerful, like an atom to be split, or a fist– I view lineated verse (in the writing as well as the reading) as lithe, sinuous, and (potentially) lacy, like a tendril or a fingertip. One opportunity lineation offers is the integration of breath/white space (depending upon whether one is considering the aural or the visual experience of the poem) into the fabric of the poem. Just as the absence of breath/white space gives prose poems a certain power and concentration, its presence in lineated poems offers an extra material to work with. To the extent space and breath invite the reader to stand back, contemplate, and muse, lineation can be conducive to a lighter, more suggestive touch. Even in more blocky presentations, lineated verse declares to the reader, in no uncertain terms, that this is a poem! – a piece of art rather than ‘simply’communication. Not to mention lineation’s visual dimension – whether it involves periodicity or unpredictability, stability or disruption. And then there’s the vast plasticity of the line (and break)! (Hence the inherent defiance of the prose poem, whose prose blocs seduce the reader to “relax” into reading, only todemand that they interact with the work on poetic terms).
Mary Kasimor's THE LANDFILL DANCERS (BlazeVox)
POET AS RADIO is a weekly program on KUSF In Exile, airing Sundays from 11:30am to 12:30pm at www.savekusf.org. Jack Spicer said that the poet is not a creator, but a conduit, getting messages from an undefinable source to form the poem. He thought of a poet as a radio, broadcasting words. We like to think of POET AS RADIO as an opportunity for writers to broadcast their words as well.
November 2, 2014 Stephen Vincent Live!
Today Stephen Vincent joined us in the studio to talk about his book After Language / Letters to Jack Spicer (Blaze VOX Books, 2011). The book includes letters to Spicer interspersed with poems, which were created when Stephen took Spicer's language and reversed the words. Stephen encountered Spicer's book Language, while serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in Nigeria in the 60s just prior to their civil war. He found Spicer's language 'solid' and he kept this book with him while going through this tumultuous time. He addresses Spicer in the book about also encountering him in Ireland, Scotland and San Francisco. Place plays a prominent role in this work. Stephen critiques Spicer but also speaks to him from a place of love and sadness that Spicer was not able to endure his own life and continue sharing his words with the world.
After the break we talked about Stephen's 'poetry without words,' Haptic art. He finds himself 'pushing my pen around' while listening to poetry or experiencing a place. He is interested in 'how you get inside space.' This art takes the form of singular pieces or accordion folded books (one of which appears in the After Language / Letters to Jack Spicer). As he is in a place, inhabiting it, listening to it, an 'inner solo ' takes over. While we may be channeling outside material when we create art, we also 'bring out own ingredients.' This is 'all about partnering with the world.'