Double Ds: Douglas Kearney

Douglas Kearney joins the Double Ds.

Douglas Kearney’s first full-length collection of poems, Fear, Some, was published in 2006 by Red Hen Press. His second manuscript, The Black Automaton, was chosen by Catherine Wagner for the National Poetry Series and published by Fence Books in 2009. It was also a finalist for the Pen Center USA Award in 2010. His chapbook-as-broadsides-as-LP, Quantum Spit, was released by Corollary Press in 2010. His newest chapbook, SkinMag (A5/Deadly Chaps) is now available.

 


Denise Asks:
Who is your favorite trickster and why?

Douglas Answers:
Ananse the man-spider, man/spider eats by his lines so what he spits is silk-smooth but sticky too as in two, for to make the shit he drops fly.  Thus his gut, as in intuition, is plussed with intellect and imagination (belly theory aka shit-talk). A story is a lie and/or is a history two as in too and Ananse played tricks to bag all the stories so all the stories been in his trick-bag since but since that’s a story (as in) maybe since Ananse told it and as such maybe told us a story (too) playing us in a sense and that would make sense since that’s a play out his bag of tricks.  Ananse is always the hero except when he isn’t, and then he’s a  what-not-to-get-caught doing. He stays on Web Street so he stay on the edge of getting caught, which is to say to stay where-one-ain’t-want-to for staying some place where one-ain’t-wanted-to. Fugitive. With all those legs he looks like he’s running even when he’s just looking to run, making his presence presently absented: “Look at me because I’m gone!” Most wanted. Mine, too.

Dustin Asks:
“OH / no homo no homo no homo” … What’s going on “at the end of this rainbow?”

Douglas Answers:
A pot of gall.

Double Ds: Jericho Brown

Jericho Brown joins the Double Ds

Jericho Brown worked as the speechwriter for the Mayor of New Orleans before receiving his PhD in Creative Writing and Literature from the University of Houston. He also holds an MFA from the University of New Orleans and a BA from Dillard University. The recipient of the Whiting Writers Award and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard University, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and the Krakow Poetry Seminar in Poland, Brown is an Assistant Professor at the University of San Diego. His poems have appeared in journals and anthologies including, The American Poetry Review, jubilat, Oxford American, Ploughshares, A Public Space, and 100 Best African American Poems.  His first book, PLEASE (New Issues), won the American Book Award.

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Denise Asks:
Why the scarecrow and not Dorothy? (Nicely played, sir.)

Jericho Answers:

  1. Is this a two-part question?
  2. Is it rude to answer a question with a question?
  3. If so, I apologize.
  4. I felt ugly.
  5. Dorothy is pretty.
  6. Persona means mask.
  7. A poem in the voice of Diana Ross had already been written.
  8. Poems in the voices of Diana Ross and Dorothy by a black gay man is too much camp for even a girl scout.
  9. Also, Eliot’s “Hollow Men.”
  10. I love Eliot’s “Hollow Men.
  11. When I said ugly, I meant broken…I mean barely put together.
  12.  I mean that I could see other people see ugly when they looked at me, when they put me together, and I believed them enough to need a vehicle that could properly carry all the ugly I was.
  13. And of course, “Keeping Things Whole.”
  14. What else might be in Mark Strand’s field where he is the absence of field?
  15. I love “Keeping Things Whole” almost as much as I love my love-hate relationship to Mark Strand.
  16. Leviticus 19:32.
  17. Eliot and Strand.
  18. And a Southern Black Baptist Church.
  19. And now that I’ve used the word “black” twice…

Dustin asks:
What was the last movie you watched? Do you recommend it?

Jericho answers:
Pariahhttp://focusfeatures.com/pariah

Yes.  I recommend to anyone who has ever sneezed.

Double Ds: Nin Andrews

Nin Andrews joins the Double Ds.

Nin received her BA from Hamilton College and her MFA from Vermont College. The recipient of two Ohio Arts Council grants, she is the author of several books including The Book of Orgasms, Spontaneous Breasts, Why They Grow Wings, Midlife Crisis with Dick and Jane, Sleeping with Houdini, and Dear Professor, Do You Live in a Vacuum. She also edited Someone Wants to Steal My Name, a book of translations of the French poet, Henri Michaux. Her book, Southern Comfort, is forthcoming from CavanKerry Press.

Denise asks:
What is your favorite dessert and why?

Nin Andrews:
For the Love of Ginger . . .

1. Yes, I love ginger.
Nothing else will do.
I love any desserts with ginger in them.
Ginger.
The the name, the taste, the word on my tongue.

Ginger.

The g’s like gold, like yellow, like brown, like orange,
like a burn on my lips, my mouth,
like a sunset inside.

As a girl, I liked to think about the flavors and flow of letters,
like the letter g.
I could taste it when it was hard
and when it melted and grew soft,
softer, softest…
into a j.

I wished I had a name that began with G or J.

Ginny, Julie, Jacqueline.

(Did you ever hear Jacqueline Kennedy speak?  That lilt, like her words and
thoughts were written in perfect cursive . . .  Like her figure, like her hair,
like every bit of her was manicured, pressed, folded.  But I digress.)

I remember reading The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.
What is Turkish Delight?  I asked.
(Turkish Delight was that seductive sweet the Queen of Narnia fed to
Edmund. I wanted to try it myself.)
My mother said it was a special candy, flavored with ginger and cinnamon,
eaten only by white queens.

She lied.

But for years I was certain that Turkish Delight was akin to the ginger cake
my mother made.  She almost never cooked desserts, but when she did, she
made a ginger cake that tasted like magic.

It was a recipe she knew by heart.

2.
There was a girl in my ballet school called Ginger.
She was the girl I’ve always wanted to be.
Ginger was all ginger.
Ginger had long ginger-colored hair.
Even her freckles were ginger-colored.
I wondered if she was named after her hair.  Or her freckles.
Her hair swung all the way down to her buttocks.
(I was not allowed to grow my hair.
I had short cropped hair until I was twelve
and allowed to grow my bangs
and buy Goody barrettes in every color.)

Ginger was long and thin like a blade of meadow grass,
like a tree in the wind,
and her head rose high above the other children’s.
Ginger was in the dance-class before mine.
I would watch her through the tinted glass,
dancing on point, her long arms extended,
her fingers dangling, her every movement a liquid song.
Ginger won all the parts in the recitals.
Every year a mother would ask,
Who will dance the solo?
Who will be our Clara?
The answer we already knew.
Ginger.   No one else would do.

Dustin Asks:
Plath or Sexton– Why?

Nin Andrews:
Sylvia or Ann?

The two ladies of darkness?  Which do I prefer?

I am afraid of both of them.

If I had to pick, I would pick Sylvia.

But I would read her only in small doses, only if I had to.

I come from a family tree where suicide is a legacy.  It’s a curse, passed down through the generations.  Last year my beautiful young cousin stepped in front of train.  In my parents’ generation, a few decades ago, my cousin Billy did the same.

With Plath and Sexton, it seems to me that their deaths were their last poems.  In my family, suicide is only an open confession that we do not belong in this world.

When I think of my cousins, when I think of Plath, I picture that famous painting by Edvard Munch, “The Scream.” And I feel a scream opening like wings inside me.
Poetry, I believe, is a spell, an enchantment, a drug.  I want to be careful who and what I am enchanted by.

There was a time when I read all of Plath’s books. I was a teenager.  I was miserable.  The more I read Plath, the more miserable I became.  I even had a recording of Plath reading the “Ariel” poems. I listened to it many times.

I admired Plath then because she was, I believed, a bitch.  I liked the bitch in women.  I liked the not-so-nice, not-so-quiet, smart-assed, mean-mouthed bitch-women.  I liked Plath’s angry letters and poems and journal entries.  It was as if she were writing back to the world that never wrote to her.

I was grateful for that.

As a woman, I never liked being the weaker sex, the scared sex, the silent sex. The gender that was supposed to be pretty and stupid and nice.

The gender that was supposed to lie flat on her back in a missionary position and just take it, whatever it was, if her husband or culture said so.

When I was a girl, my mother, a Greek scholar, read me many myths.  I remember, even then, being creeped out by the role the women played. Persephone, for example.  The King of Darkness just swept her away. And then there was Daphne, Helen of Troy,

Leda . .  The women were mere pawns in the men’s stories.

I liked Circe. She could turn the men into pigs.  If Plath had lived, if she had directed her rage outward instead of inward, she could have done the same.  There is that power in her.  I feel it sometimes, like an electricity, when I revisit her words.

The two ladies of darkness?  Which do I prefer?

I am afraid of both of them.

If I had to pick, I would pick Sylvia.

But I would read her only in small doses, only if I had to.

I come from a family tree where suicide is a legacy.  It’s a curse, passed down through the generations.  Last year my beautiful young cousin stepped in front of train.  In my parents’ generation, a few decades ago, my cousin Billy did the same.

With Plath and Sexton, it seems to me that their deaths were their last poems.  In my family, suicide is only an open confession that we do not belong in this world.

When I think of my cousins, when I think of Plath, I picture that famous painting by Edvard Munch, “The Scream.” And I feel a scream opening like wings inside me.
Poetry, I believe, is a spell, an enchantment, a drug.  I want to be careful who and what I am enchanted by.

There was a time when I read all of Plath’s books. I was a teenager.  I was miserable.  The more I read Plath, the more miserable I became.  I even had a recording of Plath reading the “Ariel” poems. I listened to it many times.

I admired Plath then because she was, I believed, a bitch.  I liked the bitch in women.  I liked the not-so-nice, not-so-quiet, smart-assed, mean-mouthed bitch-women.  I liked Plath’s angry letters and poems and journal entries.  It was as if she were writing back to the world that never wrote to her.

I was grateful for that.

As a woman, I never liked being the weaker sex, the scared sex, the silent sex. The gender that was supposed to be pretty and stupid and nice.

The gender that was supposed to lie flat on her back in a missionary position and just take it, whatever it was, if her husband or culture said so.

When I was a girl, my mother, a Greek scholar, read me many myths.  I remember, even then, being creeped out by the role the women played. Persephone, for example.  The King of Darkness just swept her away. And then there was Daphne, Helen of Troy,

Leda . .  The women were mere pawns in the men’s stories.

I liked Circe. She could turn the men into pigs.  If Plath had lived, if she had directed her rage outward instead of inward, she could have done the same.  There is that power in her.  I feel it sometimes, like an electricity, when I revisit her words.

Double Ds: Bruce Covey

Bruce Covey joins the Double Ds!

Bruce Covey is the author of The Greek Gods as Telephone Wires, Elapsing Speedway Organism, and Ten Pins, Ten Frames.  His recent poems also appear or are forthcoming in Aufgabe, Verse, LIT, Columbia Poetry Review, and other journals.  He edits the web-based poetry magazine Coconut.

Denise Asks:
How does your expertise in technology serve your poems?

Bruce Covey:
Once I had a concept for a poem that was particularly technologically challenging—I wanted to fill a page with texts about circles from three sources in variations of threes (1 sentence from the 1st, 2 from the 2nd, 3 from the 3rd; then 2 from the 1st, 3 from the 2nd, 1 from the 3rd, & so on), then essentially delete everything other than the content contained in six circular holes of diameters 1, 1, 1, 2, 2, & 3 inches.  I had no idea how to do this on the computer, so my friend Jen helped me to a construct a mask or “layer” to achieve this electronically.  Since then I’ve used photoshop quite a bit, plus html for my web-based magazine, Coconut.  But I also like to entertain the parallels between poems & things like lines of code or mathematical proofs, i.e., the possibilities of the poem as tautological construct, or as a vector from Point A to Point G with B through F in between.  & the actual rhetoric of the electronic world & physics & math is so infectious I often find it creeping its way into my poems.  Sometimes too I love to work with a concept or notion in physics or math or computers as a structural device for a poem, rather than relying solely on syllabic patterns.  & yet even traditional forms like pantoums have a kind of mathematics; & what could be more expressive of physics than a sonnet, with—in the Petrarchan example—the revolutions & gravitation between two bodies (the octet & sestet) at its heart?

Dustin Asks:
What’s your pick to receive the Oscar for Best Picture?

Bruce Covey:
Gosh, I’m clueless when it comes to films & the Oscars, so I just googled the nominations.  Mostly I only go to see children’s movies with my daughters, but I did see Avatar, which I didn’t really like.  I mean, the special effects were beautiful, but the plot was problematic.  I loved Up—a simple, but genuinely moving story—but I don’t think they would give the prize to a predominately kid’s film.  & I’ve heard of several of the others, but don’t really know them, so I’ll say the prize will go to Precious, because when I closed my eyes & pointed to my computer screen, that’s the one I pointed to.

Double Ds: Beth Gylys

Beth Gylys joins the Double Ds!

Gylys has two award-winning collections of poems: Bodies that Hum won the Gerald Cable First Book Award and was published by Silverfish Review Press; Spot in the Dark won the Journal Award and was published by Ohio State University Press.  She has two chapbooks; Balloon Heart, which won the Quentin R. Howard Award, and Matchbook.  Her poems have appeared in the Paris Review, The Southern Review, The Kenyon Review, The New Republic, Antioch Review, Columbia Review, Limp Wrist and other journals.

Denise asks:
Why the villanelle?

Beth Gylys:
I don’t remember specifically why I tried to write my first and very bad villanelle.  After that, I think I just wanted to write one good one.  It felt like a challenge.  I was in grad school and had been playing around a bit with form because Andrew Hudgins (my then teacher) had assigned a sonnet and because he was so gifted formally–I wanted to learn more about how to write in form.  I think after I’d written a couple of villanelles, I showed one to my friend Dina Ben-Lev, and she said, you should write a whole bunch of villanelles about sex.  So I just started writing one after another.  I wrote something like thirty in about a month and a half.

The other side of this is that I was in the throes of all kinds of emotional upheaval: I was moving rapidly toward divorce, I’d fallen deeply in love with a married man….The villanelle had the kind of obsessive repetitive quality that allowed me to work through some of that emotional mire.  I was  trying (obsessively, repetitively) to come to terms with who I was and what I was about, and the villanelles suited that intensity.

Dustin asks:
Cat or dog? Why?

Beth Gylys:
I should disclose from the outset, that i have two cats.  At one point in 2008, I had five cats living in my house.  I love dogs.  I adore dogs.  I had an Irish setter growing up, and she was MY dog.  She slept with me, taking up the lion share of my double bed.  After we adopted her, when I went away for the first time on a week-long trip, I came back, and she trembled like I had beaten her, looked down at the floor until I cried and hugged her.

I loved that dog.  But the answer is probably cat.  I can play hard to get. I am not an easy person to get close to because I am so fiercely independent (like a cat).  I love the beauty and grace and dexterity of cats, their curiosity, their weirdness.  Sophie and Sammy, the two cats who currently live with me, simply came to me.  My fifteen year old cat Cleo died about a year before Sophie (who is a gorgeous and very sweet part Siamese) took up residence in my crawl space and gave birth to her three kittens. This would have been about a year and a half ago.  My other cat Alexis was (at 16) dying of kidney failure.  So I had a dying cat inside and four flea bitten half feral other ones living underneath my house.  I (of course, being the softie I am) ended up feeding Sophie and her kittens (and two or three other feral neighborhood cats) and finally taking the four of them (mama and three boy kitties) into my house.  It was a wild time, but I was thankfully able to find a home for two of the kittens.  Sammy is still part feral, though he’s lived inside with me since about 12 weeks old.  He’s freaked when strangers come over, and he’ll hide under the comforter asleep or just crouched for hours and hours and hours.  I had housesitters in December, and he hid for days in the bottom of my closet.  A poet appreciates that kind of intensity.  Dogs are great.  Dogs are sweet and slavish and fantastically devoted, but I love the unpredictability of cats, their quirkiness, their insouciance.  The best poems take us to unexpected places. The best poems don’t give anything away.  Sometimes they purr and purr and then slash you in the face with a sharp claw.  Yes, cat.  No question.

Double Ds: Patricia Smith

Patricia Smith joins the Double Ds!

Smith’s fifth book of poetry, Blood Dazzler (Coffee House Press) was a 2008 National Book Award Finalist.  She is also the author of Teahouse of the Almighty (Coffee House Press), a National Poetry Series winner, the Best Poetry Book of 2006 on About.com, and a 2007 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award and Paterson Poetry Prize winner; Close to Death (Zoland Books), Big Towns, Big Talk(Zoland) and Life According to Motown (Tia Chucha). Her poems have appeared in Poetry, The Paris Review, poemmemoirstory, Harvard Divinity Bulletin, the Chautauqua Literary Journal, TriQuarterly, and other journals.

Denise Asks:
What is your favorite song?

Patricia Smith:
My favorite song is Smokey Robinson & the Miracles’ “Ooh, Baby Baby.” Since I’m a Motown baby, I grew up hearing men beg in rhythm, and this is the ultimate on-his-knees entreaty, all served up in Smoke’s creamy falsetto. Also, the song never fails to whiz me back in time, right to those confounding and crystalline days of my youth.

Dustin Asks:
Can you share the story of how a few poems turned into Blood Dazzler?

Patricia Smith:
During Katrina, the story that touched me most—the one I couldn’t, refused to, file among the litany of what my husband and I began to call the “awful anecdotes,” was the story of the 34 nursing home residents left to die in St. Bernard’s Parish. I write often in persona, and I became obsessed with resurrecting the voices of those lost men and women. I decided to write a poem in 34 stanzas, intending each stanza to say, very simply, “I was. I still am.”

Son don’t rise,
daughter don’t know enough to dial a phone.
Gets harder to remember
how my womb folded because of them,
how all of me lumbered with their foolish weight.
See what they have done, how hard and sweet they done dropped me here?

During the crafting of “34,” I wrote in a kind of fever, as if I was being urged forward by strangers. I was driven by a restless and agonizing visual, the sight of bodies floating in the darkness, bumping lazily against doors, beds, wheelchairs and walls—a languid and lumbering dance.

No more of us,
stunned and silent on the skin of this sea,
this thunderous wet.
We bob and bounce and spin slow,
draped in an odd sparkle.

“34” was the manuscript’s very first breath, although I didn’t know it at the time. I fully intended it to be a single poem, a tribute I felt was necessary if I was to remain fully invested in the possibilities of my work. “34” would probably have become an important part of my next manuscript, but I certainly didn’t see it as the heartbeat of a work revolving solely around Katrina.

Then something happened.

First I was scheduled for a reading at the Palm Beach Poetry Festival in the winter of 2007. Jeffrey McDaniel and I were the two “Café Night” readers, chosen primarily for our ability to perform poetry with some semblance of enthusiasm. The registrants at the conference were there to study with Thomas Lux, Ellen Bryant Voigt, Mark Doty, Heather McHugh and other notable, well-known poets. Although I’d taught at the conference previously, my role that year was to provide late-night entertainment to students weary from workshopping all day.

“34” was a relatively new poem, but I’d gotten some very interesting responses whenever I included it in a reading. Since I feel that every poetry reading is essentially a conversation, I would often approach audience members afterward to discuss their thoughts about and reactions to particular poems.

During the Palm Beach reading, I had reached the tenth or eleventh stanza of “34” when I noticed a distinct restlessness in the crowd. A few people were averting their eyes, staring off into the distance and shifting uncomfortably in their seats. I’ve always been starkly aware of my audience, and invested in presenting work at is—at the very least—engaging, so I was troubled by what I saw. I decided that I’d mingle with the crowd once the reading was over, try and find out why “34” was having such an adverse effect on this group of listeners.

One woman, decked out in the Palm Beach uniform of pink silk tracksuit and glaringly white sneakers, seemed particularly uneasy. In fact, as I approached her to chat, I got the distinct impression that she was considering making a run for it.

And this is what she said, verbatim, when I asked (after a few introductory and, on her part, stiff pleasantries) what had troubled her about hearing poems set in post-Katrina New Orleans :

“Well….uh…they just had Mardi Gras, didn’t they? Things are better now. I mean, saw some pictures on CNN.”

It was at that moment that I realized that not everyone had felt it necessary to process the horrors of Hurricane Katrina. For some it remained a pesky, persistent scar, wrecking the sleek American landscape. Time had passed. This story was best filed away.

Since New Orleans and surrounding devastated regions were seldom in the news anymore, people who felt that way were no longer forced to look closely at what had happened,

at what was still happening. They refused to hear poor people, tossed out of cramped trailers, begging their country to notice. They no longer chose to notice to anything outside of the sad, manufactured gaiety of the French Quarter. They didn’t want to be reminded of our country’s gross ineptitude, or listen again to the mumbled apologies of a clueless leader. There were those who refused to acknowledge a stark reality—an era, indeed an entire culture, had been sacrificed to the water.

It was then I vowed to continue writing, open my mind to other voices affected by the hurricane. Katrina is a story that should ever be far from the public consciousness, no matter how uncomfortable its continued, tortured existence makes us. I want it to stay in our minds, insisting to be reckoned with, to remind us of what nature, and human beings, are capable of.

Double Ds: Kurt Brown

Kurt Brown joins the Double Ds!

Brown is the founder of the Aspen Writers’ Conference and edited the Aspen Anthology.  His poems have appeared in the Ontario Review, Massachusetts Review, Crazyhorse, Southern Poetry Review, Harvard Review, and many more. His books include Sincerest Flatteries: A Little Book of Imitations, Return of the ProdigalsFables from the Ark, Future Ship, and More Things in Heaven and Earth.  No Other Paradise, Brown’s latest collection, is forthcoming from Red Hen Press. Click here for more information on Kurt Brown.

Denise Asks:
Who is your favorite actor and why?

Kurt Brown:
This is a hard one —  I want to say anyone who makes me forget who they really are and convinces me that they are really the character they are playing. But that’s way too general. I could list a number of actors who always convince me — Richard Burton, Meryl Streep, Anthony Hopkins, Cate Blanchett, Laura Linney, early Jack Nicholson, much of Brando, Helen Mirren, Tom Hanks in one scene from “Punchline,” Jeremy Irons, John Hurt, Vanessa Redgrave, among others  (actors who have never convinced me of anything: Keith Carradine, Tom Cruise, Dennis Hopper, Elizabeth Taylor, Robert Redford, Kathy Bates, Sylvester Stallone, all clunky and painfully self-conscious). But these are all English speaking, contemporary actors. Sometimes (often) totally unknown actors will sweep me away with their performances, and the best actors in any film are frequently not the stars but those in supporting roles. What about actors from other countries and other cultures? And what about the great actors of the past, even silent film actors? I love everything about Chaplin but his sentimentality. Kurosawa’s actors are stylized, but great. Sometimes, in some films, Gerard Depardieu; and the new French sensation, Audrey Tatu.  I think Claire Danes has great tragic potential. Dustin Hoffman has entertained me for years, but only as a comic actor. Some Australian actors whose names escape me at the moment. The brilliance of Antonio Mastroianni. But I’m only running on. I haven’t answered your question, only circled it. I hope that’s sufficient.

Dustin asks:
What book(s) had the most influence on you as you started to write poetry?

Kurt Brown:
This is easy: Edith Hamilton’s book about Greek mythology, “Timeless Tales…” etc. I read this book in high school on my own (one of the first books I read that wasn’t assigned) and it blew my mind. What thrilled me was the drama, violence, sudden metamorphosis, and surprisingly human character of the gods. But what really happened, without my knowing it at the time, was that the book opened me to the power of imagination. Film, television, and radio hadn’t done this, at least not as well. But readingabout the gods expanded the possibilities, for me, of what imagination can do. Text was far more powerful for me than objectified art because I had to create a world myself, not just observe someone else’s version of one. Somewhere in his work Thoreau boldly asserts that no great poetry has been written since the Greek myths. This shocked me: what about Shakespeare, Milton, The Romantics, and so on. But I can see now where he was coming from: the primal, uncivilized imagination untouched by culture and Tradition. Later, in college, Dante’s “Inferno” took me even farther, deeper into the possibilities of the imagination. I was stricken with the power of it, and I’ve never recovered.

Double Ds: David Trinidad

trinidad

David Trinidad joins the Double Ds!

Trinidad is a member of the Core Poetry Faculty at Columbia College Chicago. His most recent book of poems is The Late Show, published by Turtle Point Press in 2007.  His other books include Phoebe 2002: An Essay in Verse (Turtle Point, 2003), Plasticville (Turtle Point, 2000, finalist for the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize of the Academy of American Poets), Answer Song (High Risk/Serpent’s Tail, 1994), Hand Over Heart: Poems 1981-1988 (Amethyst Press, 1991), and Pavane (Sherwood Press, 1981). Trinidad has been called “a master of the postmodern pop-culture sublime.” His work is also associated with the innovative formalism of the New York School. Alice Notley has written, “There is an unwavering light in all of Trinidad’s work that turns individual words into objects, new facts.”

 

Denise asks:
While your poetry is formal, I think you are a Reform School poet, meaning that you use form in truly unexpected ways.  Of all the “received” forms, which are you most comfortable writing?

David Trinidad:
The haiku is the first form I played around with, in the eighties, and is the one I return to most often.  I like the tininess of it (haikus are the miniatures of received forms!) and the obsessiveness of counting syllables, having to compress everything into so little a space.  Yet a good haiku opens up, makes it seem bigger than it is.  I guess that’s the payoff.  And being able to use the form in an unexpected way.  At heart I think forms are pretty silly.  That puts me in Reform School for sure.  I’m currently working on a piece called “Peyton Place: A Haiku Soap Opera.”  I watch an episode of PEYTON PLACE (the TV series from the sixties) then write a haiku about it.  The only rules are: 1) I can’t watch the next episode until I finish the previous haiku, and 2) Every time Ryan O’Neal takes off his shirt, I have to mention it.  There are over 500 episodes of PEYTON PLACE.  Can’t you see it: a pop haiku epic!  Wonderful, but ridiculous too.

 

 

Dustin asks:
If you were in charge of selecting People’s Sexiest Man Alive, who would you pick?

David Trinidad:
If we’re talking pure testosterone, I’d have to say Jon Hamm of MAD MEN.  (If he can do a Yorkshire accent, don’t you think he’d make a perfect Ted Hughes?)  But if we’re talking about the whole package, I’d have to say that I always react quite favorably to Justin Bartha (of NATIONAL TREASURE fame).

Double Ds: Dara Wier

Dara WierDara Wier joins the Double Ds!

Wier is the author of Hat on a Pond , nominated for a Phi Beta Kappa Award; Voyages in English ; Our Master Plan ; Blue for the Plough ; The Book of Knowledge ; All You Have in Common ; The 8-Step Grapevine ; and Blood, Hook & Eye . Recent work has appeared in the Best American Poetry and The Pushcart Prize Anthology . Her awards include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the Massachusetts Cultural Council. She is also a recipient of the Jerome J. Shestack Prize from the American Poetry Review .  Wier’s most recent book, Selected Poems, was released today.  Click here to purchase a copy from Wave Books.

 

 

Denise asks:
What is your favorite dessert?

Dara Wier:
I favor Doberge cake from New Orleans Gambino’s for it’s been the cake for our family birthdays forever.

I favor homemade bread pudding, with pecans in it, apples, too, & a rum sauce, from pan perdu, lost bread, scraps of baguettes.

I favor plain vanilla crème brulee for the pleasure of cracking its crust.

I favor homemade peach ice cream.

I favor wild blackberries floating in a bowl on a pool or pond, crusted with sugar, ice cold.

 

Dara Wier Selected Poems

Dustin asks:
How did you pick the poems for your New Selected?  How long did it take you to pick them?

Dara Wier:
I stood at a copy machine up in my study at Jim’s house, with all my books in a stack nearby and I started copying, my plan was to be ruthless but not overly cruel, knowing this first pass through would be whittled down into something truly selected.  I hadn’t anticipated the sense of exhilaration I felt as I took the poems out of their original books, it was so exciting to feel them let loose, very much a surprising outcome.  Then the hard work began, several people read the first selections knowing I’d be cutting it down by almost half.  Emily Pettit, Jim Tate, Matthew Zapruder, these three each gave me different takes on the manuscript—-they were immensely helpful, kind, truthful, opinionated, varied, I’m grateful.  It took a couple of years—-but not exclusively working on it, I was working on new poems and other manuscripts as well. I think it was a good thing for it to be a slow process.  The book’s physically gorgeous.

 

I did become aware of how one could make so many different kinds of selections and turn oneself into several different kinds of poets; I tried not to think of that too much.  Too frightfully over-thought.  Poetry’s always given me a reason to live, a selected is a historical document that hints at why.  Imagination has always been central to everything I do, whether it’s daydreaming (or enjoying dreaming’s apparently passive imaginative presentations), writing, making up stories, listening to stories, having good conversations, reading, cooking, house-keeping, working outdoors, finding my way across a geography, thinking about time, thinking about words colliding, listening to music and sounds, watching light, keeping track of seasons, enjoying the company of friends and family, being in awe of our existence on a day to day basis, being frightened by our mortality and awed by love’s persistence, being eternally surprised by all that we are.  (e.g. for a good feel for these feelings, see Christopher Smart’s jubilate agno. It’s breath-takingly beautiful and heart-breakingly wild)