Thursday, February 27, 2020

TtD supplement #154 : seven questions for Asher Ghaffar

While researching his Ph.D. in Social and Political Thought, Asher Ghaffar worked as a Writing Instructor at York University and in multiple writing centres at the University of Toronto. He is the editor of the Routledge anthology History, Imperialism, Critique: New Essays in World Literature (2018). His research monograph, Muslims in World Literature: Political Philosophy and Continental Thought, appeared with Routledge in 2019.  His most recent published essay on Zulfikar Ghose and Hanif Kureishi will appear in The Routledge Anthology to Pakistani Anglophone Writing: Origins, Contestations, New Horizons, edited by Aroosa Kanwal and Saiyma Masood. His first book of poetry was published with ECW Press, and a second collection, is forthcoming. Asher’s work has appeared in numerous publications, including Literary Review of Canada and The New Quarterly.

His two poems “Transmission” and “The Airport” from the work-in-progress “SS Komagata Maru” appear in the twenty-fourth issue of Touch the Donkey.

Q: Tell me about the “Transmission” and “The Airport.”

A: I composed “Transmission” at the Banff Centre during an artist residency in 2010. “Transmission” was the only poem written during the residency that was striking enough in terms of its imagery and lyricism to warrant a new poetry manuscript.  The poem itself was a doorway, a kind of invitation into another book, but it was also clearly a continuation of my first book of poetry, Wasps in a Golden Dream Hum a Strange Music (ECW, 2009).  There are riffs to political theorists whom the persona deliberately misreads, but he insists on a bodily poetic that is also abstract enough to speak through identity to something other, which he/I are not interested in naming or knowing.  The book then began composing itself around that initial poem and the interest in not knowing what the lyric is after.  Can the lyric strive for philosophy—arising out of sensuous matter to reach toward concepts?  One of course searches for a point, a theme, and comes up organizational strategies for a work-in-progress, but I abandoned these. “The Airport” emerged from a dream in which I was trying to catch a plane, but was stuck.  The airport is a kind of psychic space with allegorical significance—a node through which our time can be understood.  There are riffs to Lacan, but the main point is that the narrator is thinking through the meaning of the dream (being stuck at an airport) and that opens up a hallway into the book's rooms.  That is, it provides more justification for me to continuing exploring this world.  When I think of the poets who fascinate me, they are all fundamentally interested in the lyric because in that form one might perhaps document history as it speaks both into and through the body to concepts that are not identical with the subject, but that document something that is elusive and beyond it.

Q: How do these pieces compare to some of the other work you’ve been doing lately?

A: Those poems are not significantly different from what I am currently writing, but when I further develop this manuscript, I will spend some time archives in Vancouver looking at documents related to The SS Komagata Maru incident of 1914.  I am hoping that archival work will serve to further develop the conceptual significance of those lyrical pieces. The poetry I write tends to guide my scholarly questions.  I am working on a scholarly monograph entitled Muslims in World Literature: Political Philosophy and Continental Thought (Routledge, 2020) in which I develop an approach to reading that draws on aesthetics; the poetry that I am more and more interested in draws its insights and influences from writers and thinkers in that forthcoming work. 

Q: I’m curious at the suggestion that your poetry tends to guide your scholarly questions. What is it that moves you beyond the form of poetry into purely scholarly works? Do you see a limitation in the poetry form, or are you simply moving your thoughts beyond a singular form?

A: The American experimental poet, Bhanu Kapil writes “What are your questions?” by which I think she means what are you here to ask with an intense urgency that is both physical and intellectual.  As I understand it, lyrical writing connects those two necessities.  When I am thinking about works as a scholar, I am thinking with those works and putting them within a conceptual form; I immerse myself in those works and follow their conceptual form with knowledge about the author, the work, the time and place. This critical immersion is similar to what I do as a poet—as such, I do not see a rigid boundary between writing as a scholar and a poet.  As a scholar, I also acknowledge my own experience when interpreting works of art, and seek to grasp my experience artwork historically. Thus, through the mimesis of other works, I can preserve what is creative about the work in the form of the essay.  Through historical understanding of the conceptual form of art, I gain a knowledge that can then be put into practice when writing.  I know what I am striving in poetry when I can philosophically justify works that dislocate me from my routine self.  The essay as a form can be singular and not only explain a work of art, but move us through a work of art in a manner that the work of art often cannot. To edit well then means to enter back into the experience often more effectively than the initial attempt.  The essay helps me to put that experience into a conceptual form, which then provides more clarity and direction to my poetic aims.

Q: Do you consider, then, your scholarly work and your poetry as two separate threads in a singular field of study?

A: Yes, the books are parallel threads in a field of study.  Both books revolve around the question: How does one speak and write about identity without speaking about it? We live in a time when the non-identical has to be brought back into criticism and art—we need to move through ourselves to get to that point. What form could the latter take in poetry and even to some extent in the essay as a form?  In my essays, I am seeking to circle around the works I am interested in rather than grasping them as objects of analysis.  Of course, my ideas about the essay revolve around similar questions in interwar German philosophy, but the literary and poetic traditions that interest me are non-Western, peripheral, and often experimental.   

Q: You mention Bhanu Kapil, but I’m wondering what other poets or works brought you to this point in your writing. What is it that began you on a path to poetry as a critical form, or a form in which to work at all?

A: I can think of my beginnings in my study and practice of religious traditions to conversations with other poets such as yourself. My thinking about an object only makes sense through relations with other poets, and other objects; this mode of thinking puts into question certain kinds of rationalism such as scientism. Without conflating dialectical thinking and poetry, I would argue that both are marginal modes of thinking that give me a much more nuanced understanding of the social and historical dimension of the world I live in and are distinct from other forms of analysis that proceed let’s say (because I spent the last 10 years of my life working in university writing centres) by working out a thesis and then gathering evidence to support one’s principle argument. I ask myself whether we are teaching students to think by teaching the essay in this form. Adorno and others are right to point to such transcendental forms of thinking as not being able to describe objective reality because they are so focused on their own claim to authority rather understanding material objects as accretions of reality that we can only learn about by a kind of critical immersion into their particulars, which allows for an understanding of why we feel what we feel and why we might value certain artworks over others. The poetry that interests me imbibes a critical historical relationship with its form--which is not the same as saying it is traditional. Contrary to Adorno’s famous critique of the lyric, I would argue that the lyric’s drive for unity of subject, experience, history when it encounters fragmented and discontinuous world creates a negative light. In the Canadian context, I would argue that Daphne Marlatt writes a kind of negative lyric. The lyric’s focus on sound is, of course, contrary to all forms of abstraction.

Q: With a debut collection and forthcoming follow-up, alongside your critical work, how do you feel your work has developed? Where do you see your work headed?

A: Hopefully, after I finish this monograph, I will have the time to refocus on poetry and develop my craft. I would like to experiment with more traditional forms. My first edited scholarly collection came out with Routledge last year, and I would like to work on other collective projects, particularly projects that consider race and poetics but in the manner I suggested before...that invite a conversation rather than mark a territory. I see my work becoming more traditional where the experimental thrust is contained within defined forms. That might sound limiting, but I consider such constraints to be enabling. I commute weekly from Saskatoon and Calgary and run a rideshare in which I have some of the most intriguing conversations with strangers through the prairies.  I am hoping to use those experiences to also begin to write experimental creative nonfiction.

Q: Finally, who do you read to reenergize your own work? What particular works can’t you help but return to?

A: Gwendolyn Brooks, Daphne Marlatt, Muhammad Iqbal, the Quran, Faiz, Fanon, Zulfikar Ghose, Adorno, Bloch, Vico, Edward Said, Timothy Brennan.

Monday, February 17, 2020

TtD supplement #153 : seven questions for Ava Hofmann

Originally from Oxford, Ohio, Ava Hofmann is a writer currently living and working as an MFA student in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She has poems published in or forthcoming from Black Warrior Review, Fence, Anomaly, Best American Experimental Writing 2020, The Fanzine, Datableed, Peachmag, Petrichor, and Bomb Cyclone. Her poetry deals with trans/queer identity, Marxism, and the frustrated desire inherent to encounters with the archive. 

Her poems “from that i want,” “in a fight” and “at the doctor’s office” appear in the twenty-fourth issue of Touch the Donkey.

Q: Tell me about “from that i want,” “in a fight” and “at the doctor’s office.”

A: As implied by the title, the poem “from that i want” is from a longer chapbook project of mine titled, yes, that i want. that i want is collection of visual poems in a similar form dealing with the impermeability and revisability of language, gender, and the body – creating the sorts of spaces I have encountered in my own transition, where multiple meanings, multiple voices, exist simultaneously, growing from the same processes. Those poems are about unlearning and relearning my relationship to my own body and its desires.

“in a fight” and “at the doctor’s office” are both poems from another chapbook of mine titled plastic flowers. the poems from plastic flowers are pseudo-comedic poems about the relationship between one’s own interiority and the current regime of biomedical capitalist production, and the ways in which this interiority and exteriority tumble into one another in disorienting and reflexive ways. They’re a miniature mix of dark comedies, journaling, and communist manifestos. 

Q: How do these pieces compare to some of the other work you’ve been doing lately?

A: All of these pieces engage in the larger interest of my poetic practice in uninterpretability/opacity and the reaching-towards potentiality (namely, a potentiality for a change in the structure of capital, in systems of power and control, in the rotting remains of the bioindustrial directing of desire). More and more, also, my poems have moved to language, the repetition of language, its difficulty, as a vector for creating interesting dynamics of power and collaborative readwriting with my audience. I would say lately the entirety of my poetic interests are in the ways in which poetry could be participatory and interactive, to open up my own author-authority to interrogation so that the reader might also confront themselves.

Q: What is it that prompted this type of direction, towards works that are “participatory and interactive,” and what might that look like?

A: My interest in participatory and interactive writing is, in some sense, both an extension and repudiation of the conceptualists’ critique of authorship. The conceptualists’ interest in effacing or challenging the idea of ‘the author’ in writing is, I think, ultimately a compelling goal for writing—a way to speak to a radical collectivity or cultural memory; however, in so doing, they effaced their own positionality as authors while, in actuality, cemented their own authorship and institutional power through their techniques of collage and re-appropriation. In short, under capitalism, to erase ‘the author’ entirely is to simply have literature turn into another mouthpiece for the present calamity of capitalist imperialism.

This is obviously not anywhere close to a new critique of that movement, but this means my work, vaguely experimental and picking through the crater of the (rightfully) exploded legitimacy of experimental work, has to contend with or salvage usable material, especially as I often find the conventional lyric and where it is right now to often be eaten out from the inside by institutions and tastes and (mis)recognitions which are somehow both too voyeuristic and not voyeuristic enough.

Interactivity, or more generally a writing practice which encourages an audience to become involved in a deeper or more complex method of readwriting, has been kind of my solution to this problem. It gives me a certain capacity to have a steadily unsteady hand on my identity—lacunae and instabilities as pathways and dramatizations of the productive frustrations and opacities within the poems and its operations of certain positions within it. But also, interactivity or nonlinearity is kind of a trap for the reader—they become implicated in the text, and their own position becomes open to confrontation or being implicated in a system of readwriting. Lately I’ve been doing it through the creation of gaps in readerly understanding or the nonlinear arrangement of texts, requiring greater interpretive and speculative effort on the part of the reader. I've even been working in / experimenting with twine, a tool for the creation of genuinely interactive hypertext works. More and more I want to view my readers as collaborators or co-participants; I expect at some point I’ll probably take the necessary plunge and make works directly with my audience (this is maybe what teaching is or should be).

This is a boundary the conceptualists never really crossed (according to my admittedly finite knowledge): instead of effacing authorship to speak culturally about the system of language, I find the value in effacing total authorship as part of my anarchist practice, a potential reduction of the hierarchy between myself and my reader. Maybe I’ve just been thinking about this lately, but for me there’s kind of a draw towards the intermedia writing and event scores of the fluxus movement, a space where something is genuinely asked of you as a reader, an artistic collaboration, a challenge for poetry to move outside the space of the page.

But also, if you want to de-theorize it, my interest in interactivity is in part because of the works which sustained me through the toughest years of my deluded first puberty: weird twine games written and distributed by trans people. But why were trans people writing so many wonderful twine games? We return back to the defending and weaponizing of identity inherent in the interactive exchange.

Q: Is it even possible to erase the author entirely? Any work with an author’s name attached can’t help but refuse complete erasure. And is not language, in its purest sense, a collaborative system? I get the sense that the work you are aiming for simply pushes to acknowledge that fact, and those collaborations; allowing space for the reader to explore. What do you feel are the challenges for attempting this kind of work?

A: Yeah, this is what I was kind of getting at before—I don’t have any illusions that I am somehow really erasing my authorship, my position within language. Pretending there is ‘no author’, even in a readymade, is to lose sight of yourself, your act of language. However, if I imagine space or room or possibility for an encounter with a reader, and I instead almost hypermark my authorship in the space of the writing, to lay bare and frustrate the mechanics of the illusion, then there’s kind of also a demand that someone also recognizes my identity as a trans person, not necessarily in a voyeuristic or confessional way, but one in which they have to do this essential work of untangling and understanding.

In terms of the poets of the past, there have been so many who only later I discovered they were queer; that information had been hidden from me. Authorship is itself a kind of authority, but ultimately the reader has a kind of authority, too, to participate in the words, to imagine and misrepresent that there is some kind of inner life behind the words that is not their own, to suck out the marrow of identity for entertainment.

There’s kind of a way I imagine my interactive work as intensely realist, in that sense—I’m depicting the collaborative matrix of interactions inherent to language, its frustrations, its oppositions, its potential for love and recognition. I think in that sense your assessment of my work is correct—an allowing of space, a depiction of the space that reading is.

I think the challenge for that kind of work is that you have to trust that the reader won’t hate you for the frustration you’re causing them. I think about how some people imagine that there’s a contract between the writer and the reader—I don’t believe such a contract, but if there was one, I think my work is breaking it. I think also, when you have a nonlinear text, the reader might come up with a way of reading that you didn’t think of, and if you’re really committed to this kind of practice, there’s a need to accept that possibility of the unplanned. You have to come to terms with the fact that reading and writing already comes with it the possibility of vengeful counterreadings, critiques, refusals to engage with your identity, rejection.

Q: You’ve been publishing work for some time now, although you’ve yet to release a chapbook or full-length collection. What do you feel your work has accomplished? Where do you see your work headed?

A: I don’t know if two years is all that much time in terms of publishing, but I will say that I do have a chapbook in the works which will be released probably soonish. I’ve only been really sending out the manuscript for my full-length collection for a month now—I finished writing it in October. Publishing can be very slow. I edit and change my poems and projects a lot, even while I’m sending them out. If you look at the poems from my full-length manuscript that got published two years ago, they look nothing like how they do now—that’s why maybe it feels like there’s been a long lead-up in terms of individual poems being published even while there have been no books.

I don’t really have any illusions about my work accomplishing anything. A poem cannot really be the revolutionary vanguard or anything. What my poems have accomplished have been what they have done for me: my writing was the pathway out of my conservative and deeply religious upbringing, out of the confines of the gender I was forcibly assigned. My poems are places where I store what I’ve been thinking about—bad jokes, reflections on my progress as a person, things I like making. The value of the poem is its idiosyncratic particularities, the act of finding possibility within a culture and language of death.

Relatedly, I think my work is headed towards a certain kind of idiosyncratic exploration of syntax, and also the representation of syntax (like sentence diagramming). I’ve been playing around with this concept where one could take a phrase to be a part of speech indexing itself, if that makes sense. You can turn any phrase or any part of speech into another part of speech with quotations and meta-reference. For example, you could take a phrase like “to write this way” and use it as an adjective, verb, or noun:

            I am feeling a “to write this way” emotion.
            This “to write this way” grows into a mossy ecosystem.
            Language is “to write this way”-ing the word.

I’m interested in seeing how far one could take this (maybe kind of banal) concept and see how unreadable and bad language might become with multiple deployments and nesting of this technique:

            “To write this way” “to write this way”-s “to write this ‘to write this way’.”

I want to fold this language in half. I want to break it. I want to see what kind of stupid and perspective-shifting things I can get myself and my friends to think about. Books and something like a legacy might be nice, but neither of those things will really matter to me when I’m dead. When I was closeted and hated myself, I cared a whole lot more about what people thought about me when I was dead. These days, I’m a whole lot more interested in the capacity for pleasure now, while I’m still alive, in this short and rare time I get to actually be me.

Q: I like the idea of folding language in half and/or breaking language. Have you had any models for this type of writing? Are there any particular writers or works in the back of your head as you work?

A: I think when I’m thinking about that kind of deforming of language, I’m thinking about quite a few projects by poets about the impossible violence of language, a wish for the pain it causes (and for language itself) to disappear, or be made anew. I think the most recent prominent example I can think of is the work being done in Jos Charles’s feeld (whose language-twisting work is in large part inspired by Paul Celan), the way it is trying to allow for the kinds of spaces of untranslatability that I’ve found my trans identity needs. There is also the way in which M. NourbeSe Philip’s Zong! twists the actual legal language and slavery outward into a polyvocal inhabitation with the specific violent event of the Zong massacre and its occurrence within the larger genocide of enslavement. Or perhaps I can be cheeky and talk about some of the literal ways in which poets fold language—constructing a mobius strip out of a page in Tyehimba Jess’s Olio, the visual folding and arrangement in most Douglas Kearney’s poetic practice, or the ways in which actual historical poems live their lives within physical objects and manuscripts, the losses and gaps within Sappho’s oeuvre which in themselves language-usurping encounters with non-closure.

I guess I’m talking about a revolt against language generally, which is not an unusual emotion in poets, who obviously have to live with how deeply adversarial language can really be. And I think there’s a certain anarchistic tradition, there, in this idea of a revolt against language. In his Dada manifesto, Hugo Ball asks why he cannot create his own language, and name things in the ways he wishes—the result was his noise poems, and the irrational revolt of Dada in general. I can’t really tell if such a tendency is utopian or nihilistic; in Neon Haze, a piece of interactive fiction written by Porpentine Charity Heartscape, she writes, “I dream of clouds frying and servers crashing and paper burning and language being undone until I can just be a nameless animal.” It is, of course, kind of an impossible dream fulfillable only in, of course, the return-to-material-from-material of death. The character in Neon Haze, Jwlain Seweta, says that line in a way I read as very bitter. Maybe in the utterance it’s an indwelling of bitterness and hope simultaneously. I’m doubtless leaving out tons of people whose writing I love & who influence my kinda-edgy anti-language language stance and who are influencing my practice at one stage or another.

Q: Finally, who do you read to reenergize your work? What writers or writing can’t you help but return to?

A: I tend to find myself returning to Hannah Weiner’s work—its relationship with the page, with the thought, of language as a process in one’s body, language being a container for the liquid of one’s thoughts.

Armand Schwerner’s “The Tablets,” too, feels like an important precursor to my interest in the archival gaps, although I fret over that book’s relationship to the colonial museum system, whether it’s doing enough to undo or undermine a certain troubling attitude in relationship with the past. But his work, the capacity it allows for silence, its use of pictorial poetics, its documentation of gradations of silence, is still important to me.

I cannot help also but have a soft spot in me for Gerard Manley Hopkins and his work with language and form. Maybe it’s the ex-Christian in me.

And in general there’s a lot of overlap between the people I mentioned in the previous question and this one. I’d also want to mention the work of Never Angeline Nørth, Caroline Bergvall, Juliana Spahr, Diana Khoi Nguyen, Chelsey Minnis, Sean Bonney, essa may ranapiri, and kari edwards. There is also so much crucial writing from outside the poetry space—alt-comix and interactive art—that they can’t be mentioned here for the sake of time & space.

I would also be lying if I didn’t admit that I often return to the poetic practices of friends. I find that the best lessons about writing have been from people I cared about directly and personally, rather than abstract artists from a nebulous personal canon of authors. What reenergizes my work is not really reading, but remembering how lucky I am to be alive and be me and to have friends and to love. It’s corny, but true!!!

Thursday, February 6, 2020

TtD supplement #152 : seven questions for Lydia Unsworth

Lydia Unsworth is the author of two collections of poetry: Certain Manoeuvres (Knives Forks & Spoons, 2018) and Nostalgia for Bodies (Winner, 2018 Erbacce Poetry Prize), and two chapbooks: My Body in a Country (Ghost City Press, 2019) and I Have Not Led a Serious Life (above / ground press, 2019). Recent work can be found in Ambit, para.text, Tears in the Fence, Banshee, Litro and others. Manchester / Amsterdam. Twitter @lydiowanie 

Her poems “On Not Having Anything to Shatter,” “Plein to see,” “The Absolute Limit,” “Akron” and “Swimming in the Water” appear in the twenty-fourth issue of Touch the Donkey.

Q: Tell me about the poems “On Not Having Anything to Shatter,” “Plein to see,” “The Absolute Limit,” “Akron” and “Swimming in the Water.”

A: At the time of writing those poems, I was very focused on doubt and authority; two forces which often sit on a sort of seesaw from one another, one going up as the other goes down. I like to focus on very specific scenes and images, and associate from there, often with detailed movements of the body (realistic or otherwise) contained within the text. How the body negotiates the environment and the power-struggles of the environment it finds itself in. This then allows me a way to explore the worries of the consciousness proper – somewhat let loose from those events surrounding it – it frees up that voice, those solipsistic concerns, to better understand and, well, have fun with themselves. And to reach outward, bridging the gap. I like to think my poems are playful beasts, rollicking around in their own anxiety – if you’ve got it, flaunt it! so to speak.

Q: How do these pieces compare to some of the other work you’ve been doing lately?

A: Well, I’ve been playing with line-breaking more lately and allowing the punctuation to fall away. Primarily I’m a prose poet, and that’s my favourite way to write – there’s a certain madness and intensity and clumsy noisy honesty to it – but I’m also writing some softer, more ephemeral pieces lately, words sort of fluttering about in a papery wind. Even my prose poetry seems lighter as a result. Although that could, of course, just be the weight of dragging something from memory and staring at it too long talking. Perhaps newer pieces always feel lighter by way of being fresh.

Q: What is it that originally brought you to the prose poem, and what do you feel the form allows that might not be possible otherwise?

A: Beckett and visual art. That love of a text that seems to explode out from a pure joy of itself. I never want much to happen in a novel, I just want to be swamped in language. I found that in art often, too, in video projections where one thought collides against another – a barricade. That's what prose poetry allows me; a momentum, rough edges, an immersive pool of experience. And it allows me to hide more than conventional poetry does – the words safe in the close huddle of all the others, shyly sticking their arms up and mumbling Here.

Q: With two full-length poetry books and two chapbooks under your belt so far, how do you feel your work has developed? Where do you see your work headed?

A: I would like my work to become more comfortable in its own skin – it is still learning how to dance with itself. I would like my work to spread its fingers, become brave.

Q: You mention you’ve been deliberately exploring the possibilities of the line-break. What prompted this shift, and what has the shift allowed you to see or do?

A: It happened as a response to a few individual poems, so I decided to pay attention to it. I sometimes wonder if I am bold enough to put one word on one line, for example – so I am perhaps playing with that exposure. It is also interesting to see how the voice changes depending on what shape – and therefore in a sense who – it is trying to be. And then to come back ‘home,’ as it were, to the prose poem and see what has become of me.

Q: You mention Beckett, but what other authors or works have prompted you to do the kinds of writing you’ve been exploring? There are lengthy, and wonderfully divergent, lineages of the prose poem throughout Canada, the United States and England, for example, so I’m curious to know what other threads you might have picked at as potential influence?

A: Well, I’m going to say that most of my early influences were not poetry. I was heavily influenced by Georges Perec’s Species of Spaces and Other Pieces, by the existentialists, by (of course) Kafka, by Milan Kundera, and later (and to a lesser extent) by books such as Dubravka Ugresic’s The Museum of Unconditional Surrender and this wonderful book called Log of the S. S. the Mrs Unguentine by Stanley Crawford. It was the fragmentary I was drawn to, the sentences and moments of experience rather than the whole. I expect I interpreted a lot of things in my own way due to naivety and ignorance, but I think something came out of that too, some way of understanding and writing that came out of my own half-lit path through the maze. I also spent a lot of time with the visual arts, with artists like Christian Boltanski, Sophie Calle, Ilya Kabakov, Louise Bourgeois, Roni Horn; and with films: Sans Soleil, Armacord, Synecdoche New York, ¡Vivan las antípodas!, The Forbidden Room, Distant Voices Still Lives to name a few whose resonance really stays; and lyrics from certain songs ... When you put it all together it becomes a kind of poetry – all that feedback and richness that bounces around and associates in surprising ways. Anyway, finally, I did find out poetry was what I was after, and what I was perhaps already doing; I started reading Tsering Wangmo Dhompa, thanks to a good friend of mine who was more knowledgeable than me in such matters at the time. And now it is also, finally, poetry that influences me. I’ve found some amazing recent collections and made wonderful friends and, with the internet and online literary journals, there is inspiration and influence (and community) everywhere. It is rather impossible (but enjoyably so) to keep up.

Q: Finally, who do you read to reenergize your own work? What particular works can’t you help but return to?

A: I’m currently going back to Vahni Capildeo and Karen McCarthy Woolf a lot. There’s this collection Nowhere Nearer by Alice Miller that is quiet and lonely and beautiful – like a drifting iceberg in the middle of an abandoned airfield in Berlin. And I’ve been enjoying Crispin Best’s work online for a number of years, and am pleased to hear he finally has a full collection (Hello) coming out in November with Partus Press. His stuff is playful and light and frivolous with just the most amazing profound surprises thrown in – like being punched in the gut by a lollypop. What else? Certain go-to online journals such as Train, Stride, Litter, Blackbox Manifold, Datableed. And prose poetry anthologies like the recent Valley Press Anthology of Prose Poetry and The Penguin Book of the Prose Poem – those two should keep me happy for a while.

And thank you for these questions. I always find it a useful and engaging way to think about my own processes and practice as well.