Our National Poetry Month interviews continue. We’re excited to present today’s featured poet: Carlos Richard Lara. Stay tuned for more featured poets all month long.
1) Do you think poetry is still important, relevant, and vibrant in today’s culture?
I don’t think so, and I don’t think it’s obligated to be any of those things. Or anything, for that matter. Sometimes poetry feels like a big joke. A dream. Or a game, a game that keeps beginning, “a game where learning the rules is the object,” to quote the poet Stephen Williams. I think a lot of poets forget that they can write whatever they want. I think you know more about poetry the closer you get to living it, but at the same time, to be fully overtaken by it, by its superabundance of manifestations and auras, is to vanish in the total comprehension of it, I would imagine. A little bit like dying. A little bit like the best sex you’ve ever had. The only thing is that no matter how much poetry you read and write, you’re primarily outside of it, but for glimpses inward. But I want always to get nearer to the vanishing. Nearer without even writing a word. And when I find myself speaking like this, I understand why poetry isn’t popular. It’s too much for the majority of people. They have other burdens already and don’t need to be distracted with the nothingness that is poetry. So, even if they venture into the realm, they usually go for the most accessible and life-affirming work. And then there’s this whole debate about poets and privilege… But where were we?
Basically, it’s hard to be alive and writing poetry right now. Which leads to another thing that I know: the insincerity of remaining alive and continuing to write. I mean, faced with the undeniable fact of your insincerity because you merely exist. Writing into time while being in time is not a struggle or an accomplishment. Sincerity and truth come after death, I believe, in absence. Poetry will be in its most important, relevant, and vibrant state when it ceases to exist.
2) What makes you want to write poetry?
My titanic ego. The ardent refusal of banality. Love of banality. The pleasure of unveiling. Endless humility. Hope. Anxiety. Isolation. The past. The future. Love in general. Hate in general. Ambivalence. Pain. Pens. Typewriters. Laptops. Gummy bears. Cigarettes. Orange juice. Sunglasses. (I’m just naming things in my immediate environment now.) Cocaine. Hot sauce. Remote controls. Marijuana. Flat screen TVs. Orange ottomans. Tums. Basketballs. Coffee tables. iPhones. Potato bread. Maker’s Mark. Paper towels. Black boots. Power cords. Red wax. Law & Order. Bacardi. Iodized salt. My imagination. This question.
3) Tell us about one poet who has greatly influenced you as a writer and thinker.
Robert Desnos. At Terezín. Read about it.
4) Tell us about one lesser-known poet who you’d like more people to know about.
Laurence Weisberg (1953-2003). I can’t tell you much about him. Biographical details are scant. Will Alexander knew him; Will was actually the first person to turn me on to his work. I also saw some of his poetry in Eshleman’s Caterpillar journal. His books are rare. Anon Edition, out of Canada, published something like a selected works in 2004. I believe that you can purchase it online. Sample poem (untitled):
The sun fans the wheel of the foot’s river
The choir of your spilled blood
rises into stairways of sugar
On my engraved dimensions of fire penetrating the sea
you return from a cove of goat-light
propelled by the fuel of gongs
Shadows ride the jewels of Medusa
where slain birds continue to sing
though I am clothed in human leaves
With a mallet of roots
you strike the broken wings of the bay
Impenetrable body of light I love your sleep
like the grassy liqueur of estranged voices loves the hand
that holds to its lips the marvelous cup–your imploding body
shackled to the glittering oars of the instant
5) How do you feel about poetry in the age of social media?
Who cares? I prefer to be in your face when the time is right. Drinking together. Smoking cigarettes. Talking closely. I do use social media, however, to act a fool.
And social media is good because you can stalk other poets and their work and keep tabs on what everyone is doing and writing at any given moment. And if you can process all of that data at a fast-enough rate with your intrinsic poetry life-style/aesthetic algorithm, then you can write and live how no one else is writing and living. And you will be unique.
6) Share with us one of your recent poems and tell us a little bit about its context.
Excerpt from THE GREEN RECORD
I think it would be an explicit arm polysemous with raincoats blending and making window
An impassioned monster of the wrist masking a sentimental parade and the conduit asking
sugar cubes how can you be
The February of miniscule depictions the unfurnished enigma of presence
The summer has been in St. Louis leaving a lot of work over the years for searing boots
unlike forgetting unexpectedly in menagerie
The disc of love the unpopular viridian waving of black never adds data to the train tracks
lost in buzzing blots in purposeless ocean walls
Ensconcement levitating in three hyperdense totalities of thought one being the blue willow
of penguins the second being damp amnesiac’s marble
The last existing arcane kilometric weariness in plastic wrap the last fear if a bullet in the
rain makes paper
My song as the flag of the song itself a triangular male quasi-Teutonic with a bonfire’s sense
And goodness never fades that way in exclamatory teal in silver yellow-wood enclosed
in blue teeth
The trickster-self positions its organized body to inosculate a general marsh a structure
How can you ascertain supposed painting on a dry doll or a protruding Old World orca whale
of X years
As ballast as occupying spirit in dilemma as Catholic varnish as the blast furnace of ethos
And later all the drowsy valves violate their privilege with a private retreat to the sanative
beast trees of alphabet
Two doublings later removing their Homer completely from the historical barge du monde
To adorn myself with the poison of the cards is like lacing Io with irregular traffic signals like precious long perfections
What do I see now but spilled moon people their upper longings regulated by the condition
and the quality of being lux
I have been gregarious and soluble when it comes to traveling alchemy such as spying on
chloride thrones in the female zone
Even the ink of the eyes is a lummox arriving in a manner like temporary Bisquick like
Algerian flea market floaties
Like ruined ornamentation the maverick cylinders of drinking drinking stare or leer at
To drowse with the whimsy of a tanker as an aircraft mailing its voice to unframe the cherry
tree with North African sun guns
To amuse Scandinavian liquid by transmitting the emotions of machinery before during or
after intoxication my drum roll
Embellished as a restaurant in the world of the universe producing others on the kind of
mountainside that conceals its placenta
This front yard will do this person’s name should be more electropositive with baskets
As the cancer of biography ensues as the act of palpable Chippewa eras awarded to the copies
of original Rothkos
Palo Verde perceived as malfunctioning feudal knife as chief face-making row and extreme
solar system of the hand
I’m uncomfortable because of the palladium and the vitality of its gliding letters its beatnik
cape and hood
June discographies and matters of ventriloquism at every level of the hotel staring
questionable self in situ with vagary
Every ensemble represents meat every sensitive quake unlasting like a terror ball at sea and
viral with jots
Every palace every distant pop crush and spirit piling tropical algebraic rests on your
A viscous index flowing deeply from a tree instrumental with suffixes and hexes and
information of the streetlight’s sleeves
There is the road and its Latin spilling a vastless money into the maw of an oceanic rawing
There are skies above those unavailable countermasses of things of that sort Jack Spicer
Their roses growing oblique to a miniscule attunement of acreage and release
At last one knows the final monopolis while it covets a human assertion or oven light
In the summer the wine imparts the worst of short heart attacks and surprises a nexus of
The nether guides have gone into a state of perpetual dew and befriend micronized listservs
and a warren of rodent subversals
I was talking about residual blindness daisies that chase groves with the lovers of lakes and
cold drinks coming for the world
The quail that rewinds bare heads walls off its unknocking guise apart from nonconditional
The pursuit the placement of pertinent hearing leads to high ghosts who draw wombs of boring
Using location like a dour magnetism and prioritizing tame sorts of light with warmongering
hairstyles and games of the facticity of worship
The new day presents its blade like a grocery store and raises its silken victims that flow from
the will of all Krylon dots
Mists of the last legs are blazing a forceful deduction a deductive hamburger hostel
We set our movements to an unmoving luminosity duende as sucrose and jasper are at once
Reminiscing of the proper fire makes November lisp and the first word as question
I don’t need to hear about anyone’s Cubism or hermeneutical needs or the one thing that
buries the jawbone of the ass
This position owes nothing to mathematics or the smoking of the fucking field times two
To sit and write out the painless silence the maple’s spine in tune with witchery a universal
lens and dew unmissed as royal halibut
Disguises of the right tear with a postoperative Indian scout or residual Moloch conversions misunderstood by the clocks and temples of any wave
I tried to recognize the keyholes and keystones as future gifts of self to swirl around
In a plume of pure beauty my choices were emptied of all the forms of white on white
violence leading to the one leading to planetary tones of grain
Notes on THE GREEN RECORD
- Written in a green Federal Supply Service notebook #7530-00-222-3525 with the word “RECORD” across the front cover. The only constraint being to fill up each page entirely with audiographic data via intentional mishearing. At all times, I remain listening for ephemeral coinage, for evolving spells. Similar to visual hallucinatory states, one only sees (hears) more closely that which is already present, NOT that which was never originally there. Metavocal English. An inextinguishable current of green light. Advancing energy in all directions.
- Based on post-surrealist hearing techniques developed with Michael Keenan while driving around Providence, Rhode Island (2007-2009) in a dark blue Volvo named Bullet.
Carlos Richard Lara‘s writing has appeared in Lana Turner, Caketrain, Paul Revere’s Horse, Caliban, BlazeVox, Aufgabe, Dusie, RealPoetik, NOÖ Weekly, and elsewhere. Other pieces forthcoming in other places. The Audiographic as Data, a book of automatic writing co-written with Will Alexander, is imminent. He currently lives, works, and imbibes in New York City.