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Friday, June 10, 2016

At LitHub, I'm among 11 poets being featured

in a group interview conducted by Maggie Millner, Why Are So Many Poets Also Artists? Her intro:

The more poetry I read, the more I find that an improbable number of good poets are in fact multidisciplinary artists. I say improbable because poetry is a difficult enough vocation in itself; its tenuous relationship to both capital and readership means that poets often supplement their writing with editorial or teaching jobs, leaving relatively little room for other pursuits. Yet for many poets, writing is just one of multiple creative praxes, proving right one of the most-quoted poetic lines of all time: Horace’s ut pictura poesis, “as is painting so is poetry.”

Perhaps this shouldn’t come as a surprise. Ultimately, the experience of poetry is inextricable from the material dimensions of the poem: how it sounds, how it appears in print, and the ways its imagery commandeers the perceptive organs of its readers. If it’s true that poets are especially attuned to the gamut of sensory experiences, it follows that many of them work in media that appeal to the senses differently, or appeal to different senses altogether. Rather than distractions or incidental pastimes, their other artistic disciplines may be precisely what makes these poets’ work so consistently inventive.

To better understand the ways their artistic disciplines inform each other, I corresponded with several poets at a variety of stages in their careers who also work in a range of musical, visual, and tactile media. I wanted to know how they resisted the pressure to specialize, if different stories called for different representational modes, and whether creative code-switching was a cultivated or an automatic skill. What follows is a selection of highlights from these correspondences, which, like good poetry, challenged me to revise my conception of what exactly writers do when we write.



1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dreadfully silly, on more than one point.

For one: we should abstain from reckoning with quotes we can't understand, be them by Horace on anyone else.


About Me

Born in Vietnam in 1963, I came to the US in 1975, and have also lived in Italy, England and Germany. I'm the author of two books of stories, Fake House (2000) and Blood and Soap (2004), five of poems, All Around What Empties Out (2003), American Tatts (2005), Borderless Bodies (2006), Jam Alerts (2007) and Some Kind of Cheese Orgy (2009), and a novel, Love Like Hate (2010). I've been anthologized in Best American Poetry 2000, 2004, 2007, Great American Prose Poems from Poe to the Present, Postmodern American Poetry: a Norton Anthology (vol. 2) and Flash Fiction International: Very Short Stories From Around the World, etc. I'm also editor of Night, Again: Contemporary Fiction from Vietnam (1996) and The Deluge: New Vietnamese Poetry (2013). Blood and Soap was chosen by Village Voice as one of the best books of 2004. My writing has been translated into Italian, Spanish, French, Dutch, German, Portuguese, Japanese, Korean, Arabic, Icelandic and Finnish, and I've been invited to read in London, Cambridge, Brighton, Paris, Berlin, Leipzig, Halle, Reykjavik, Toronto, Singapore and all over the US. I've also published widely in Vietnamese.