I recently Skyped-in to chat with some students at the University of Minnesota (Minneapolis), for a course called “Nature & Society in the Anthropocene,” co-taught by Kate Derickson and Kiley Kost. The class had read Wysihicken [sic] and posed some questions for me. I recorded the audio, and am posting it here: 

These are some of the questions they asked:

1.  How do you pronounce Wysihicken?
2. How do you see the role of poetry today, especially in terms of environmental change? How has this role changed over time?
3. What is the significance of the author’s note/why did you include the author’s note? How does that impact the reader’s impression of your poem?
4. Why did you choose to create neologisms to express yourself and what effect do you think they have on the reader?
5. What is implied by the “new soil” at the end of the poem?
6. Why did you choose to arrange the poems on the page as you did and what does that convey to the readers?
7. Why did you select to write in free verse in order to illustrate your theme of changing historical human development?
8. Why/how did you choose to include the erasure poem? Could you elaborate on the butchers and their wives part?
9. In this class we’ve been talking a lot about slow violence. How would you characterize the type of violence portrayed throughout the poem?
10. What did you want your reader to think about while reading the poem? What have been some reactions from your readers?
11. What did you hope to accomplish by making this a long poem instead of many shorter poems?
12. The lines with the descriptions of moss and lichen/this certain Ecosystem seem to come late in the poem instead of in the beginning where the land is the focus. Why did you include it so late in the poem?
13. What was your research process before writing the poem?
14. Have you written any poetry that is placed outside of the US? How has American colonial history influenced your poetry in general?
15. How does your poem speak for/speak on behalf of nature?

A few weeks ago I committed a mimicry of John Berryman. He’s dead, but was born one hundred years ago a few weeks ago. He’s dead, so he can’t hold this ditty against me.

It is Henry does what it wants
doesn’t it little dirty bones? But it
feels bad too so bad for becoming
so bad and boney. Or isn’t it true?

That then when Hen sees it makes
a poor performance of himself
with his hair parted elsewise and crooked
goes his smile, rerouted and a ripple
that keeps sprouting from the center
of a collision between a flattened stone
and a flattening water. Where are many
women dancing the maypole have Henry

come a-time to sea to loose his charm
and dalliance-ly sways.

This morning, as I do every couple months, I was going through my list of “outstanding” submissions, determining whether or not I should send follow-up notes to presses and journals. One of the manuscripts I’ve got out there is a collection of prose poems, seeking blank slate: postcards out of eudaimonia. There are a number of individual poems from this manuscript already out there, and I wanted to make an accurate accounting of where and when these poems were published. So I did a quick search online, which, more than to my poems, lead me to a series of articles about the concept of “eudaimonia.” I don’t usually use this space to re-post material I find interesting, but given the connection to my own writing and thinking, and to the ideal of “the pursuit of happiness,” which is a critical focus in those postcard poems, I thought I’d link to a piece about the differences between “happiness” and “eudaimonia.”

After Furniture Press’ release of Wysihicken [sic], poet/critic Toby Altman interviewed me for Spoon River Poetry Review, asking questions about the politics of mimesis, the ostentatious absence of first-person pronouns, and links to, or legacies of, Wordsworth’s peripatetic lyric. Thanks, Toby!

My latest review, of Dodie Bellamy’s Cunt Norton, now up at Phantom Limb. On the shorter side of my reviewing gamut, but it’s got some dense moments:

The voices in these poems, with their unwavering devotion to the smashing of gorged pudenda and their seepages, is an unflinching affirmation of the roles of all bodies in the grasp of (mostly masculine) privilege, as asserted by that infamous gaze.


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