Q & A: American Poetry

Q & A American Poetry: Dara Wier

Are there essential ways in which you consider yourself an American poet?

Yes. Though only when asked.

When you consider your own "tradition," do you think primarily of American poets?

No, not primarily but with gratitude and affection and frequently, awe.

Do you believe there is anything specifically American about past and contemporary American poetry? Is there American poetry in the sense that there is said to be American painting or American film? Do you wish to distinguish American poetry from British or other English language poetry?

There is bound to be. I think they distinguish themselves.

Which historic poets do you consider most responsible for generating distinctly American poetics?

Whitman, Dickinson, Poe, Stein, Stevens, Williams, Roethke.

What import does regional poetry occupy in your sense of American poetry?

Is regional poetry a derogatory category? I can picture re-defining it.

What significance does popular culture possess in your sense of American poetry?

It's part of life.

What about the American poets who lived primarily in Europe (Eliot, Pound, Stein)? What about the European poets who have recently lived or worked in America (Heaney, Walcott, Milosz)?

More power to them.

Are you interested in poetry written in America but not in English?


Are you more likely to read a contemporary non-American poet who writes in English or a contemporary non-American poet translated into English?

Not one more than another.

Do other aspects of your life (for instance, gender, sexual preference, ethnicity) figure more prominently than nationality in your self-identity as a poet?

I don't think so.

Do you believe you could readily distinguish a poem by an American poet from a poem by other poets writing in English?

I think I'd be foolish to say yes to that.

What do you see as the consequences of "political correctness" for American poetry?

As applied in the arenas of politics and public policy consequences of immediate funding & curriculum are at stake.

What are your predictions for American poetry in the next century?

"Other horrible workers will come; they will begin from the horizons where you collapsed." Well, I prefer to take an optimistic attitude--and look forward to reading what's to come

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