Stay tuned all month for poet interviews in honor of National Poetry Month.
1) Why poetry?
The multitude of scale that one encounters as a reader of poetry is something that always engages me, intrigues me. It really seems infinite. I love when I start reading a book of poetry and then undergo the period of adjustment, however long it lasts, to the scale of the work, the scale of its language, its tone, its experience, or whatever its concerns are, and then living within that scale, and its echoes, resonances, reverberations, for however long it lasts. For me, this is a very valuable space that poetry uniquely opens and from which I learn a lot.
2) Do you feel like poetry is more or less important & relevant today?
Since the election, I have been thinking a lot about poetry communities and their relevance. Right after the election I felt a lot of ambivalence about attending poetry readings, circulating among my usual poetry communities. Was I wasting valuable time and energy that could be more usefully and relevantly expended elsewhere? Then when I attended my first post-election reading, two days after the election, I felt extremely grateful for the opportunity to be sharing space with the people who were there, grateful for the work I was hearing. So it was good to be reminded, even under such awful circumstances, that, yes, this was and is an important and relevant space and that what happens here is something that also needs to be maintained and defended.
3) Tell us about one poet who has greatly influenced you as a writer and a thinker.
An impossible question to answer! There are so many! I love Harryette Mullen’s work, and her books would definitely be in my desert island poetry bag. I am thinking about the language and thought in her book of tanka, Urban Tumbleweed: Notes from a Tanka Diary, where linguistically everything feels very straightforward and present, but then like breath, if one stops to consider it, focus on it, the poetry becomes so profound, omnipresent, continues to unfold and unpack so much – it sort of is everything, and so mysterious too!
4) Tell us about one lesser-known contemporary poet who you’d like more people to know about.
Another impossible question! I don’t know about “lesser known,” but I think everyone who cares about poetry should know about the work of Dolores Dorantes. She is a great poet whose work is fiercely intelligent and intense and, for me, transformative.
5) Share with us one of your recent poems and tell us a little bit about its context.
I have a book written in collaboration with the great writer Amanda Ackerman coming out this spring entitled, MAN’S WARS &WICKEDNESS: A Book of Proposed Remedies & Extreme Formulations for Curing Hostility, Rivalry And Ill-Will. The book utilizes a number of poetic and prose forms, including limerick! So we actually wrote some real limericks for the book! Here is one…
There once was a
man with disease.
His gout, his dropsy,
He said, Where’s the cure?
Why is life so im-
Dr. Honorable, prescribe me my poi-
son now, please!
Harold Abramowitz is from Los Angeles. His books include Blind Spot, Not Blessed, Dear Dearly Departed, and the forthcoming Man’s Wars And Wickedness: A Book of Proposed Remedies & Extreme Formulations for Curing Hostility, Rivalry, & Ill-Will (with Amanda Ackerman). Harold co-edits the short-form literary press eohippus labs, and writes and edits as part of the collaborative projects, SAM OR SAMANTHA YAMS and UNFO.