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Saturday, April 30, 2005

Interview Questions for Michael

Cindy at Quotidian Light posed the following questions to me -
So, Michael,

1. How did you "discover" poetry? At what age did the lightbulb come on for you, and what poem/poet flipped the switch?

This is indeed an interesting thing for me to contemplate because the discovery of poetry to me has been more an evolutionary process then flip of the switch. As a youngster - I'm thinking I must have been in the 8 to ten year-old range, I recall an awareness of the poet Robert Frost. What I remember most about this, is Frost did two things for me. He broke the "dead poet" barrier. I realized at this point that Frost was a "real man" and that he was living. That he spoke a language that did not seem foreign and so I now felt that it was not all about dusty dead people that were rotting somewhere beneath the earth.

The other significant factor to me in Frost was that I knew that he read a poem at Presidnet Kennedy's inauguration. By association, I thought he must have earned the right to be cool. Oh, the things we think in youth. I suppose I most remember Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening. I have always carried this burden about time and growing old. Perhaps it is the lines in this poem that even as a youngster impressed upon me that there is so much To do...

I did toy a bit with writing poems as a youngster, but the real nature of this calling would remain dormant for many years. It has only been within say the past ten years that it resurfaced and then the real passion and drive have actually developed perhaps over I would say the past four to five years.

2. Which poet and/or poem (or collection of poems) most accurately (or accutely) hits you where you live now and why?

This is not easy... I think it fluctuates greatly within short periods of time. Most frequently I suppose it would be Collected Poems by Sylvia Plath. It often returns to Plath. So many of these works embody a genuine voice of passion. That passion is one of great range. Love on one end and a passionate discourse of raw edgy emotion at other times. In some instances these two seem to twist and tumble together. Above all, her work is perhaps among the most genuine links between the mind and the ink that flows to the page that I have seen. Plath writes seemingly free of any fear of recrimination. I admire the ability to do that.

3. What is your biggest struggle with your writing?

Hard to focus on one thing. There are several and they seem to equally challenge me.
Consistency would be one. Fighting self doubt another. I think self-censorship is maybe the third. Of these, I suppose consistency is major struggle.

4. What is your favorite factor about the same?

I'm not sure about what you are asking here. If it is my favorite thing about my writing, then I would say of course the satisfaction with a finished product. Sadly, many get worked over and rewritten even after a so called final draft. I can be a pretty tough self-critic.

5. If you could have a conversation with any poet living or dead, who would it be, list three questions you'd ask them, and then tell us why that poet and those questions.

I've been asked this question before in the context of what dead poet would you most like to meet for lunch. At the time I was not even thinking about living poets. But for the sake of not dwelling on this question for days, I'd be inclined to stick with my original answer... Sylvia Plath.

My questions.... Gosh, I would stay away from all the tempting ones about her death...
Sylvia Plath embodied such tremendous artistic talent in her short life that I think the tragedy of her death often overshadows what she did achieve. And she seemed to be well ahead of the curve in many areas for her time. Three questions for Sylvia, here we go:

1. What did Robert Lowell posses that had such a profound impact on the poetics of students like yourself, Anne Sexton and George Starbuck?

2. What clicked with you that made the difference between the quality of your juvenile work and that which followed?

3. The Ariel series seemed to pour like ink from a bottle. With the completion of each poem in this series, was there some kind of rush or adrenalin apart from anything else that you've ever experienced to carried you on to the next and then the next building you higher each time?

Many thanks for volunteering! I very much look forward to reading your answers. - [her original post is here ]
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