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INTERVIEW WITH SUSAN LEWIS INTERVIEW BY KRISTINA MARIE DARLING

 
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?


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).

Read the whole interview here

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