VIDA Voices & Views Interview with Don Share (Part II)

 

I’m thrilled to announce the release of the second video of a two-part interview featuring poet and editor Don Share. Recorded in late 2015, in this episode of VIDA Voices and Views I interview Share, who reads his poems “Food for Thought,” “Eclipse,” “die Welt is so verkehrt,” “Another Long Poem,” “Hwæt!” and “Looking over My Shoulder,” as well as offering a generous, in-depth discussion of the poems. Other topics discussed are comedy and seriousness in poetry, the good faith of editors, Poetry’s diverse readership, and more.

About Don Share:

Beloved poet and Poetry magazine editor, Don Share, was a 2015 recipient of VIDA’s “VIDO” Award for his contributions to American literature and literary community. In addition to being the author and editor of over a dozen books, including WishboneUnion,Bunting’s Persia, Seneca in English, Squandermania and The Open Door: 100 Poems, 100 Years of POETRY Magazine, which he co-edited with Christian Wiman, Share is an accomplished translator, whose renditions of Miguel Hernández were awarded the Times Literary Supplement Translation Prize and the Premio Valle Inclán. As well, Share’s work at Poetry has been recognized with three National Magazine Awards for editorial excellence from the American Society of Magazine Editors, and a CLMP “Firecracker” Award for Best Poetry Magazine. Share is celebrated in the literary community for his generosity, innovativeness, and warm wit.

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Don Share Quotes from This Episode of VIDA Voices & Views:

“If you look all over the world, at the images in the most troubled places, you see women having to pay the price for the violence that occurs. Whether it’s domestic violence or warfare or poverty, it’s women who have to convert all kinds of emotion and disadvantages into a world that makes it possible for somebody else to survive.”

“The images we see, which are real, of the world and the bloody violence and horrors of it, start with a cut. We’re done to death by many cuts.”

“Every time somebody holds a child or another person in their arms . . . that’s the level on which our work in the world needs to be imagined and reimagined continually.”

“In my experience, editors are always reading work with good will and good faith and good intentions. And those good intentions don’t just pave the road to hell. People are reading the work when they could be doing something else, perhaps to benefit their own careers. And they do so willingly. It’s not a sacrifice. We all do it because we choose to do it. And we’re lucky to do so. What I hope is that the good faith is communicable.”

“If I like a poet’s work, I buy their books because it means so much, not just to the poets but to the presses that try so hard to put the work out there. I buy books because I believe in that. If we aren’t buying each other’s books then the whole system falls apart.”

“I try to pay attention to all kinds of language, as we all do—not just literature, but the language that engages us 90% of the rest of our time. It’s there. It’s ours.”

“If a poem has five good words in it, that’s a considerable achievement.”

Poetry did some surveys to understand our own audience better, and more than half of our readers have no advanced degree past high school. They are general readers, sophisticated people who want to read challenging contemporary poetry every month . . . and they are there for us, and we should never neglect our understanding that our audience is what we would wish it to be and we just need to say something to them in the best way we can.”

About VIDA Voices & Views:

VIDA Voices & Views is a video interview program designed to call attention to a plurality of voices by interviewing writers, editors, publishers, series curators, anthologists, awards committee members, and other dedicated members of the literary community about their own work, vision, and concerns, as well as topics at the forefront of literary activism. The program seeks to contribute to a better understanding of the literary landscape and the issues facing artists of all genders, as well as to foster nuanced conversation about gender parity, race, disability, LGBTQ, economic, and other crucial issues impacting writers today. The host and executive producer of VIDA Voices & Views is Melissa Studdard. Other members of the team are Lauren Rachel Berman, producer; Samuel Caterisano, editor; and Eamon Stewart, graphics designer. To learn more about VIDA Voices & Views and to listen to our other interviews please visit: http://www.vidaweb.org/about-vida-voices-views/

* To be notified of upcoming releases, please be sure to subscribe to VIDA’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCunPGWDkx4k-SiQDWaAWrfA

Resistance Poetry Publications

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I’m happy to have had three new poems published this past week, two in The Guardian for an article curated by Amy King and Jane Spencer, and one in Rise Up Review, published by Sonia Greenfield.

The two in The Guardian, “I Lift My Lamp” and “Mother of Exile,” were written in response to Trump’s support of a “merit”-based immigration policy and Jim Acosta’s question regarding whether or not the plan violated the spirit of the Emma Lazarus poem “The New Colossus,” inscribed at the base of the Statue of Liberty.

The other poets of the New Colossus project are: Bob Hicok, Amy King, Rita Dove, Jane Hirshfield, Shane McCrae, Lynn Melnick, Stephanie (Stephen) Burt, Bhanu Kapil, Srikanth Reddy, John Yau, Patricia Smith, Craig Santos Perez, Cornelius Eady, Muriel Leung, Kaveh Akbar, Paul Guest, Matthew Zapruder, Joan Naviyuk Kane, Carmen Gimenez Smith, and Hanif Abdurraqib.

The Guardian also invites their readers to submit poems on the topic and will publish a selection of their favorite reader-submitted poems. You can read more about how to enter here.

The poem in Rise Up Review, “Bell” was written for the “#Writers Resist / Houston: ‘We Too Sing America’” reading sponsored by PEN America, Calypso Editions, and Librotraficante, and hosted by then Houston Poet Laureate Robin Davidson. I was happy to see it find a home on the net with Rise Up Review.

More Fairness AWP 2017 Reading

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Usually I’m afraid to watch myself on film, but because these two clips my friend and former student, Jeremy Birkline, posted after AWP 2017 are short, I watched them. And I didn’t die from it! So, I’m taking the next bravery step and posting them here.

Feminist Lists

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I like being put on a feminist list. I like it even more when my list mates are awesome.

Here’s “8 Feminist Poems To Inspire You When The World Is Just Too Much,” with Trace Peterson, Cecilia Llompart, Judy Grahn, Lillian-Yvonne Bertram, Monica McClure, Rebecca Seiferle, & Morgan Parker. By .

https://www.bustle.com/p/8-feminist-poems-to-inspire-you-when-the-world-is-just-too-much-44521

 

Melissa Studdard’s I Ate the Cosmos for Breakfast Review w/Interview – Jasper Kerkau

This is a wonderful review by Jasper Kerkau at Sudden Denouement!

“I am not a poet. Occasionally, I write poetry and find myself feeling defeated, throwing the words back into the void, resigning myself to writing short, personal narratives. I have, no doubt, come to terms with my shortcomings as a poet, which perhaps informs my deep respect for those who have earned the sacred title. There is something inherently special about a person who possesses a power over words, bending them to their will, plucking beauty out of the dust of time, creating concise explanations of their relationship to the universe with ease and grace. Some poets, the special ones, are privy to the secret language, part of a sacred tribe whose words contain clues to the mystery of life. These are the ones who inspire me. My life has been altered by poets from a young age, and I continue to seek new voices, finding myself stunned and mesmerized as I find new writers who meet the criteria of tapping into an emotional place reserved for those with the sanctified tongue. This is the context in which I find the work of Melissa Studdard.

For my second Sudden Denouement book review, I sought out a book of poetry, preferably written by a Houston writer. Several writers suggested Melissa Studdard and her first book of poetry I Ate the Cosmos for Breakfast [Saint Julian Press 2014]. I quickly discovered that the connotation of a Houston poet was not appropriate when addressing the work of Studdard. She had previously established herself as a fiction writer with her book, Six Weeks to Yehidah, which earned her awards and acclaim. The depth of the poetry in Cosmos solidifies her place as much more than a regional poet.”

Read the rest of the review and an interview: Melissa Studdard’s I Ate the Cosmos for Breakfast Review w/Interview – Jasper Kerkau

Interview by Jonathan Taylor at Everybody’s Reviewing

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JT: Melissa, I hugely enjoyed your poetry collection I Ate the Cosmos for Breakfast, which seemed to me original, strange and often sublime. At the same time, your neo-Romanticism is also accompanied by an eye for the beauty of the everyday – so that the sublime mixes with the mundane (“Washing clothes … is an act of prayer,” you say in one poem, and another is entitled “Starry Night, with Socks”). For me, I would say this was one of the hallmarks of your style – but do tell me if I’m wrong. How would you describe your style?

MS: I love that assessment, Jonathan – especially that you called I Ate the Cosmos for Breakfast “strange.” In pointing out the commingling of the mundane and sublime, you nailed not only my style, but also how I experience the world. I grew up in a secular home. My father is agnostic, and my mother is spiritual with a deep curiosity about supernatural mysteries. We didn’t go to church, but I would sit at the top of the jungle gym in my back yard and talk to god. I believed and still believe that god is in my backyard. That’s part of it. Also, there’s something a monk said to me years ago when I was learning Buddhist meditation. He said, “When you learn to relax inside your mind, you can be on permanent vacation, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.” You don’t need to go anywhere or seek anything. The beach, the flower, the mountain – they are all inside you. So, yes, I carry them with me when I vacuum and put on socks. Then I realize that vacuum cleaners and socks are sublime too. So, I think I would describe my style as you have, except to also possibly add that I think figuratively. I’m sure I have driven people crazy with my constant metaphors and analogies in everyday conversation, but if I want to understand or explain something, my mind almost always reaches for a comparison.

JT: Clearly, there’s a lot of cosmic and creation imagery in the collection.  What themes and ideas were you exploring in this respect?

MS: I was exploring a feminine, cyclical conception of god, time, and the universe. Rather than fashioning my poetic god in man’s image, I fashioned her in woman’s image. It was important to me that she be god and not the diminutive or adjunct “goddess.” I wanted to convey her as the origin and the all powerful, but I also wanted her to be present in the whole of everything. So, in I Ate the Cosmos for Breakfast, most everything is pretty much a microcosm of the divine and the all. That’s why a pancake is creation flattened out. It’s all interconnected, all divine. As well, I Ate the Cosmos for Breakfast plays with ideas of reincarnation, god birthing the universe, and god attempting to parent the world.

To read the rest of the interview, please visit Everybody’s Reviewing.

 

Gregory Pardlo Interview– VIDA Voices & Views

About This Episode:

In this episode of VIDA Voices and Views, Melissa Studdard interviews poet and memoirist, Gregory Pardlo, who reads from his Pulitzer-winning poetry collection, Digest, and discusses topics ranging from adapting the slave narrative form for his celebrated poem “Written by Himself” to his family fining him for missed meals.

About Gregory Pardlo:

Known for his intellectual rigor, gorgeous musicality, and socially and politically engaged writing, Gregory Pardlo is the author of the poetry collection, Digest, winner of the 2015 Pulitzer Prize. Digest was also shortlisted for the 2015 NAACP Image Award and was a finalist for the Hurston-Wright Legacy Award. As poet Campbell McGrath says, “These are poems that delight the ear, encourage the heart, and nourish the brain.” Pardlo’s other honors include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York Foundation for the Arts. As well, his first poetry collection, Totem, was selected by Brenda Hillman for the APR/Honickman Prize in 2007. Pardlo is also the author of Air Traffic, a memoir in essays forthcoming from Knopf, and he is a faculty member of the M.F.A. program in creative writing at Rutgers University-Camden.

To learn more about Gregory Pardlo, please visit: http://pardlo.com

 Photograph by Rachel Eliza Griffiths

Gregory Pardlo Quotes from This Episode of VIDA Voices & Views:

“When the Pulitzer came along, I thought, well this is a clear mandate if ever there was one—this is a call to open doors for women and people of color and to campaign for a broader sense of aesthetics.”

“I do hear lines, but they aren’t necessarily the lines I open with. I use those musical inspirations as stakes—ways to stake down the poem—so I can have a sense of where it is spatially and how it’s operating. By the end of the drafting process, those lines are very rarely still present in the poem.”

“It’s only since I got sober that I even was able to write this book, Digest, and the whole idea of service then became something that I saw not as an obligation or onerous responsibility, but I saw it as something that is thrilling and an honor and a privilege.”

“So many problems in the world and in history can be boiled down to the simple—no, not simple at all—to the singular—idea of paternalism, of patriarchy, and how deeply that is rooted throughout so many isms and ills.”

“In the back of MAD Magazine, they had these fold over images. There’s an image that looks like one thing; you fold it over and it becomes something completely different. At some point in the last year, I was talking about my work, and I realized that is precisely the way I imagine the poems.”

“So, I get this text message saying, ‘Congratulations on your Pulitzer,’ and it’s from a former student, so I say, ‘this person is terribly confused.’”

“I don’t expect other writers to be activists or to approach their work in an activist way, but I do advocate for a kind of self-awareness . . . be aware of what you’re putting on the page. Be aware of the narratives that you’re playing into, and if those are the narratives you genuinely want to explore, do it responsibly.”

“I was thinking about sex work as the struggle over who owns labor and the kinds of labor that men profess to own and how that influences my understanding of myself as a father—and trying to struggle against that in a culture where that is the central kind of operating system.”