Stay tuned all month for poet interviews in honor of National Poetry Month.
1) Why poetry?
Because sound is the shape I live and give in: one better than a hovel, it’s repast: best vegetable being how vowels meld and glint and interlace and surface fishwise. And it’s the currency called the chance to frame in those everyday commonplace miraculous twitches: just today I heard a woodpecker slamming away while Rodney the finest dog in North America did a little back scratch wriggle roll in among the blackberry vines whose phantomy flowers are lights out. I expect the Rodney roll and woodpecker slam to surface from my mindloam in poemform sometime around 2027.
2) Do you feel like poetry is more or less important & relevant today?
MORE! My paraphrase for Frye’s thoughts on Blake’s prophetic stance: it’s the capacity or bravery to see sense and say the difference between moral sheepishness and moral higher ground. It’s our duty to keep on with the spelunking in the wounds. See something say something: the salves and joists and unmaskings in tension attention.
3) Tell us about one poet who has greatly influenced you as a writer and a thinker.
An ear is more of a flower than a shell or the @ between your name and your email provider. One important seeder and sculptor or corroborator of my ears was Roethke: when I first read him in grad school, pedaling nowhere on an exercise bike at the Rec Center, I had that salmony feeling; that I was slaloming upstream with ultimate ease towards my unknown, felt, real home whirl:
4) Tell us about one lesser-known contemporary poet who you’d like more people to know about.
Hard to single it so I’ll quadruple it. Some readings pretty well stay stippled and stapled to my lobes: one old one and two new ones were by Robyn Schiff and Valerie Hsiung and Bailey Hutchinson. And while he’s very well-known, still I’d say there should be billboards and flags and his poems piping in while folks browse the aisles: http://writing.upenn.
5) Share with us one of your recent poems and tell us a little bit about its context.
I am writing poems and poems and poems about cranes because I prefer cranes to lamps these days. Here’s one wherein I purloin a phrase from hero Emily Bronte.
SHELL LIFE THE SECOND
through the tight white curve veil
narrow self new beat yum
bum comes right out
hatch man that’s some excellent reckless
prep for the seed kill days
and nights days and nights
the self throw throe
the wanton craps dice
them bones-ing that riot curve wall
dead same as
most people want hammered at
to peek or rear
the self set
aside a spell
one minute’s year
often gravely misunderstood
for my inveterate gentleness
one such suckling leveret me
burnt opal crushed gold
sometimes now mother
crane she’ll eat
deadly fly twist
wonder while mother angles on up
the spent shell rattling inside her
how she sounds to herself
you in shambles up there? you
rat slapdancin plastic riding
over fetid insulation
you ladder handmade by
deep time each rung one filament
exposed tooth root seaplant wild
seek a plastic plant for shade?
dog turned on the big red plastic bat
when the antler
proof that lightning prays
to stone for a walker on
all fours gut green with clover
when the antler was antler
all the way to the center
wish glass held fast same
corks not cool to stoop for
the echoes of resolutions
mobbing that gob
no no time no money
to deal and the weather careless
laughing from the west
the broke patch the broke car window
with plastic bags
juiciest pleasure ever probably
is fucking with halfassed expediency
blats black heavy waters fire
given any speed
save the milkblood school zone one
the sound of yr sometimes father
when you were young
and begging for gum says
oh why don’t you just chew
on your tongue pulled harder
than any fish
you’re kidding me
god’s eyelid fluttering
wanting to hold you
in its high hole
heaven did or sky
Abraham Smith is the author of four poetry collections: Ashagalomancy (