Thursday, August 30, 2012

Ignorance and Wonder

The One Pause Poetry mp3 Project is a national digital resource for teachers, students, readers, and listeners. Each poet is asked to record and submit three mp3 files to the site: one poem of his or her own, one by another poet, and one poem for kids.

If you're not familiar with One Pause Poetry, you should check out the website. You'll find excellent recordings of Charles Jensen, Malena Morling, Alfred Corn, Mark Cox, Keetje Kuipers, and many others. They're spreading and celebrating poetry in some truly wonderful ways. The link above takes you to my recording, which includes my poem "After the Ark," A.R. Ammons' wild and whirling "Coon Song," and Shel Silverstein's extra-sticky "Peanut Butter Sandwich."

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What I was getting at was the most important thing: originality, which might also be construed as character. We can't judge Rilke by the standards of Neruda. The greatest poets write from a necessity that forms style and carries from book to book, but their new poems fail to be the old poems. The poems that I'm writing now are to a large degree fictive and in third person, so I am working out of ignorance and wonder, and I hope to always do that.

-An interview with Rodney Jones at Poetry Daily

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In the ongoing process of becoming a writer, I read and reread the authors I most loved. I read for pleasure, first, but also more analytically, conscious of style, of diction, of how sentences were formed and information was being conveyed, how the writer was structuring a plot, creating characters, employing detail and dialogue. And as I wrote, I discovered that writing, like reading, was done one word at a time, one punctuation mark at a time. It required what a friend calls “putting every word on trial for its life”: changing an adjective, cutting a phrase, removing a comma and putting the comma back in.

-Francince Prose at The Atlantic

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Sometimes, when I am feeling high-strung or cross-eyed about something, I call Jess Walter. Forget, for a moment, that he drives a sports car and shops at the GAP: I like to think of him as a literary Gandalf, holed up in a cave in Spokane, wearing ragged gray robes and leaning on a warped staff. I trust him. Because he’s good-hearted. Because he works hard and writes enviously well. Because we grew up in similar circumstances. Because he has carved out a life for himself as a full-time writer. And because, over the past few years, he’s become a pal who knows how to share a whiskey and tell filthy stories and give good wizardly advice. On almost every occasion I have asked Jess what he thinks, his response has been, “Don’t be in such a rush.”

-Benjamin Percy at The Rumpus

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