Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Harvey Hix's 20 questions about poetry

Harvey Hix sent these questions along when my class interviewed him. My last question stands--why this odd mix of seriousness and tabloid imaginings? Then again, why not?

What poet should be in Obama's cabinet, and in what role?
–Rather than offer names (like Charles Bernstein for Sec. Of Defence of Poetry), I'd simply suggest that he have poets in his administration; I don't care what kind or even if they're especially good. I don't even care if they're poets, just so long as they think like poets (playful/earnest/unanchored in ideology).

If you could send O one poem or book of poems (not your own), what would it be and why?
--I did send Obama a copy of Tinfish 18.5: The Book, an anthology of five youngish Hawai`i poets who write about issues of the economy, militarization, domestic violence, and other non-paradisical matters in Obama's home state. I have no idea if he got the book, which I sent to his brother-in-law here in Hawai`i.

What other poetry-related blog or website should I check out?
--Penn Sound is a wonderful resource for teaching, especially. I bet you know that already.

Who is the most exciting young/new poet I've never heard of, but whose work I ought to find and read?
--All the poets in Tinfish 18.5. Try Jill Yamasawa, who has a book coming out from Kahuaomanoa Press: Aftermath.
Others are Kai Gaspar, Ryan Oishi, Sage Takehiro, Tiare Picard.
Then there's Craig Santos Perez, author of from unincorporated territory (Tinfish). Notice the tendency to plug?

Funniest poem? Poem that made you cry?
--Funniest poem lately is Ryan Oishi's “Walmart: A Love Poem.” Joseph Lowery's inaugural invocation was very funny at the end, too. Sad poem? C.D. Wright's One Big Self about prisoners in Louisiana. Didn't make me cry, but close.

Either/or poets (e.g. Moore or Bishop? Dunbar or Cullen?)
--All of them. At once. Synthesis of opposites is always a good thing to try. That's why I like Charles Mingus (Armstrong or Coltrane? Both!)

What supposedly immortal poem puts you to sleep?
--The Waste Land.

What poetry book should be made into a movie; who should star and direct it?
--Probably Ashbery's Girls on the Run, even though it's one of my least favorite JA books. But the visual possibilities are staggering. It should star the poet himself and be directed by Buster Keaton.

Lines from a poem that haunt you now?
--Many lines from late Stevens, “one must have a mind of winter,” especially, strange to think now that I've lived in a tropical climate for nearly two decades.

What poem do you love, love, love, but don't understand?
--Most of the poems I love are poems I don't understand. This is a hard sell in a college classroom, believe you me.

If the AWP Chronicle were the Enquirer, what headlines?
--Oh I do not want to go there!

Poetry scandal rag headlines?
--Encore une fois. Though I do love Brad and Angelina. If it were an even more shoddy tabloid, I might go for Dana Gioia runs away with space alien.

Best non-American poetry you've read lately?
--There's a lot of terrific poetry coming out of Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific these days. I put some of it together for a feature in how2 a couple of years ago.

Where would you like to encounter your next poem?
--I like the found poems in my classrooms, like “No / food or / drink.” No one obeys them. What else is new in poetry?

What poem would you like to hear the main character bust out singing in a Bollywood film?
--What a great question. I just got some sound poems from my undergrads, some of which look susceptible to Bollywoodization. And there's always George Oppen, Lorine Niedecker, Susan Howe, the other quiet ones. I'd have them sing the white spaces.

Do you have a (clean) joke involving poetry you'd like to share?
--I have a great semi-unclean story about Allen Ginsberg. Won't tell you.

Is it poetry you keep in the john, or some other genre (john-re)?
--I don't read on the john.

Can you name every teacher you had in elementary school? Did any of them make you memorize a poem?
--No, and no. I did very much like Ms. Antoinette Zeier, though, in second grade.

Next Poet Laureate (ourselves excluded)? Of former Laureates, who should get a second term? What poet should run for President next time? Why?
--Probably Adrienne Rich. She's a conventional poet, a political poet, and she's a lesbian (they have seemed to steer clear of gay poets for laureate). Maybe Rachel Loden, because she could speak to us as Richard Nixon. Didn't Pinsky already take his second term? I liked his favorite poem project. As for poet for president, I'd pick Obama, both for his juvenilia (Punahou poems) and because he's the best writer/president we've got.

Your own question here.
--Why did you ask these particular questions?


Anonymous said...

Wait, have you read his Punahou poems?

Anonymous said...

PS In order to post that last post the security word was "dowar."

susan said...

They float around; just google them. Not many, not so good, but still better than most. There's one about his grandfather that's pretty good.

susan said...

Here's the pop poem. I guess it must have come out of his college years, though:


susan said...

Here's a high school offering:


ah, the crooked road!