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Interviews

Conversations with poets, editors, and artists.

Publishing Into That Mystery: An Interview with Eileen Myles

A conversation with Eileen Myles, eminent poet, novelist, performer, art journalist, and artist, about their exhibition poems, on view at Bridget Donahue through January 13, 2019, concurrent with the publication of their new collection of poems Evolution (Grove Press, 2018).

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American Lit: An Interview with Jacob Minasian

In the case of this collection, it was very much about trying to process the complexities of our decisions as a society during and after the 2016 election. My first attempts at writing after the election felt obvious, overt, like I was yelling what everyone else was yelling in almost the exact same way. I knew I had to approach the situation with a more subtle, more effective tone.

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Unexpected Lines and Gradients: A Blue Dark, and interview with Fritz Horstman and Fiona Sze-Lorrain

This summer, the Gallery Upstairs at the Institute Library in New Haven, Connecticut presents the show A Blue Dark, which opens on June 1 and runs through September 7. In this exhibition, visual artist Fritz Horstman collaborates with poet, translator, and zheng harpist Fiona Sze-Lorrain to explore a cross-genre range of textual/non-textual responses to the presence of a luminous dark. Both meditate on its changing physicality, materiality, space, emotions, images, meanings, and music by dialoguing with each other's work—ink drawings, poetry, and translation—inspired by the complexity of black, gray, and white, as well as their fluid mysteries of being. A limited-edition book A Blue Dark, published by Vif Éditions, featuring the work of Horstman and Sze-Lorrain is also published on this occasion. A smaller installation is, too, on view at Berl's Poetry Shop in Brooklyn from now until October. Here, both artists talk about their ongoing collaborative process, and how poetry and the visual arts become mutually inclusive influences in their lives, art, and friendship.

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Talking About The Sonnet: Diane Mehta and Drew Pisarra

The sonnet may be the poetry world's answer to the waltz: a tried-and-true form that people tend to write off as stuffy until they realize that a song they love is actually written at least partly in 3/4 time. Think Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir" or Aretha Franklin's "I Never Loved a Man the Way I Loved You." Not so stodgy now, right? Making the sonnet dance again has become something of an American tradition, too, one that extends from Edna St. Vincent Millay to Terrance Hayes then beyond in both directions. Adding their own voices to the chorus are Diane Mehta (Forest with Castanets) and Drew Pisarra (Infinity Standing Up), two poets with debut collections that feature this reliable old form in surprisingly new ways. Below they discuss how they ended up working in a sonnet series and why it suited their material so well.

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Poems Argue with One Another: Interview with Natasha Sajé

Poet Natasha Sajé has been living in Salt Lake City since the late nineties. The author of three books of poetry, she has written numerous essays on a wide range of subjects including food, books, travels, and marriage. Her most recent collection is Vivarium (Tupelo, 2014). Also published in 2014 is her book of essays Windows and Doors: A Poet Reads Literary Theory from the University of Michigan Press. A professor of English at Westminster College, Sajé is one of the faculty members of the low-residency program at Vermont College of Fine Arts. In this interview, she discusses about her writing and passion for baking, as well as life in Utah and abroad.

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Heart Poems: An Interview with Ben Estes

My background is primarily in visual art. I'd taken drawing and painting classes since I was in elementary school, and I have masters degrees in both painting and art history. I forget that people often don't know that about me. About 9 years ago I went to the University of Massachusetts MFA in Poetry Program.

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A Conversation with Christopher Soto

Christopher Soto is a poet from Los Angeles, currently based in Brooklyn. He is the author of Sad Girl Poems (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2016) and editor of Nepantla: An Anthology of Queer Poets of Color (Nightboat Books, 2018). As a co-founder of The Undocupoets Campaign, he worked to make poetry publishing more accessible for undocumented poets, by challenging poetry book contest rules that once prohibited undocumented writers from applying. Soto's work is always political and unfailingly unapologetic. His first chapbook addresses the intersections of queerness, youth, domestic violence, and the concept of home. The manuscript he is currently working on discusses mass incarceration and the police state. Considering all of the work above, this interview will focus exclusively on the Nepantla anthology, which will soon be released in May 2018.

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The Song Is Always There: Maureen N. McLane

Based in New York, American poet and professor Maureen N. McLane has recently released a new book of poems, Some Say (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2017), just a year after the publication of what could be read as a "novel-in-verse"—a "poem-in-episodes," Mz N: the serial (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2016). In this interview conducted in December 2017 and January 2018, McLane discusses about her idea(s) of a lyrical self, music in poetry and musical influences, as well as the various ways in which she hopes to honor "both mystery and clarity" in her work.

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Seeing the Future: A Conversation with Alice Notley

Listening to recordings of poets reading is something I do every day. The recordings leave the voices in you, all their various textures in and next to this world, and then, hopefully, they crop up in dreams. It's such an intuitive way to study. Fonograf Editions, a vinyl record-only poetry press, has released recordings by Eileen Myles and Rae Armantrout, as well as Alice Notley's Live in Seattle. I spoke with Alice on the occasion of this new LP. Because she is an incredibly funny person, my only regret is that this transcript can't show the amount that we laughed during the conversation.

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