We’re continuing with our National Poetry Month interviews, and excited about our next featured poet, the wonderful: Kathryn L. Pringle! Stay tuned for more featured poets all month long.
1) Do you think poetry is still important, relevant, and vibrant in today’s culture?
In U.S. culture, which is the only one I feel comfortable speaking on, I think it is relevant and important but I don’t think I can say it is “vibrant.” Then again, it is hard to see a thing from inside it. So I can’t be sure. I know that when I meet new people out in the world they often seem surprised that poets still exist. Not poetry, mind you… but poets. Just yesterday a woman came to look at my apartment as a potential subletter & when I told her that I am a poet she looked at me with disdain mixed with “how quaint.”
How’s that for an answer? I would like for poets to be more important, relevant, & vibrant. Maybe we are. Something about poetry being more important than the poet appeals to me, though.
Like I said, it is very hard to know.
2) What makes you want to write poetry?
This is just always who I am. Since I could talk and think about words I have been a poet. Words are like amino acids. They are incredible building blocks. Poetry gets at the words whereas I think prose works more with concepts. (Not that there aren’t instances of both happening all over the place). I tend toward words & I like to build new places with them. Or maybe not new. Maybe just places.
Writing poetry appeals to my mad scientist personality.
3) Tell us about one poet who has greatly influenced you as a writer and thinker.
Lord. I think it has to be Stacy Doris, above all. There was a definitive and permanent shift in me & the work that comes through me when Stacy entered my life. She taught me about arcs & knots & tangles. She taught me about breath & the body. She taught me how to sew the word units together in a way that makes room for the reader & gives them some autonomy.
Maybe this already existed in me and she drew it out. I think that is likely. Stacy had a way of seeing people and helping them become more who they are. She also gave me permission to change. To let work stand as a record. To think about the book as a thing in itself.
Yeah. Stacy Doris. I feel like I won’t ever be able to convey how crucial she was to me as a human and a poet. I know her other students & friends get it, though. And maybe they can be more eloquent about it than I am here. She’s a big deal to me. I miss her every day.
4) Tell us about one poet whom you’d like more people to know about.
I’m sensitive to the term “lesser-known poet.” I can’t say for sure I know who is known or not known… but I can say that I think people should be paying attention to Rebecca Stoddard. She is able to access language from many times and places, and the architecture of her works is stunning. She leaves room for the reader. Her work is ambitious & selfless. She appeals to my word/concept/architecture side greatly.
Also, I suspect she’s a mad scientist, too.
links to Rebecca Stoddard:
5) How do you feel about poetry in the age of social media?
I feel fine with it.
That’s probably an unsatisfying answer, I know. I am just thinking of poems here. If you mean scenes/coterie then my answer depends on the day. I like for poetry to be about the work. I try to see it that way as much as possible.
6) Share with us one of your recent poems and tell us a little bit about its context.
This is from a new poetry manuscript I’m working on, called the survivalist. when I say new, I mean NEW. It is about 10 pages right now. I think the title suffices to explain the excerpt, but… there’s been a catastrophe & you is trying to make do.
nothing is moving except by air & so there is an illusion of stillness. it is not peaceful. you feel trepidation but you already know the worst is behind you. or you hope. the birds seem fine. they have food. and trees. and each other. the wind is fine. it still moves what it should. the leaves. the dust. the hairs on yr body. you close yr eyes. i can make what i wish of this time. you open them again. a bird has crapped on the canvas. somehow this makes you feel one of them.
kathryn l. pringle is the author of Temper & Felicity are Lovers (forthcoming 2014). fault tree (Omnidawn, 2011), RIGHT NEW BIOLOGY (Factory School, 2009) & The Stills (Duration Press, 2006). A new book is forthcoming from Omnidawn in 2017. in 2013, she was a Lambda Award finalist & the grateful recipient of a gift from the Fund for Poetry. she lives in Durham, NC.