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February 11, 2015

Reading Book Release Pic

Interview with Creed J Shepard.  Part 1

UVD:  So how did your latest chapbook come about?  Give me a long and testing story, as we all know there’s no actual tidy anecdotal origin to the thing.

Creed:  Okay, well, like any narrative —narrative which is just one important component or tactic I employ in making poems— there are certain passions/emotions and values competing within me.  One was simply a desire to create new aesthetic objects.  But because I’m such a dilettante, relative to the output of most serious poets out there and due to the fact that I’m involved in so many non literary things, I couldn’t just build from that desire.  You really have to be prolific to make that work.  There was also a lot of anger, wishing I could insulate myself from all of the all of the narcissism, posturing, self-esteem-fluffing that comes out in the majority of media (to say nothing of the more egotistical romantic notions of the individual poet), or embrace it with irony or “new sincerity” like many in the poetry blogosphere that I admire.  But currently my audience is largely my non poet friends–plus, there really is a lot of suffering and abuse that folks endure, and it’s entirely plausible (understatement) that one may grow up with so little genuine positive feedback, that they could use a little fluffing.  If that last statement of fact in this sentence reads pedantic, it’s because I myself have been too often ignorant and insensitive to that fact until very recently.  But back to the consciousness of audience:the poems of this new chapbook are always aware of the diversity of that audience and acknowledging the inevitable failure to make themselves understood to all in it.  I found myself urgently needing to use a phrase as homely as “big words” to counter the anti-intellectualism that is rampant in this culture.  Living in a college town that meets most of the assumed criteria of urban sophistication, I wonder if that theme resonates at all with the artists and their friends of this community.  I suspect it’s easy to be insulated, especially if you belong to a community or an institution that supports your activities.

UVD: this anti-intellectualism is something you alluded to in the pompous preface of your first chapbook, Distraction Contra Diaspora.

Creed:  Are you wanting to ask if my first is connected connected to this?  Sorry I just want to be sure, I am a trained information specialist.

UVD:  yes.

Creed: There is of course the alienation that comes with dealing with that anti-intellectualism, and that wove itself throughout in that chapbook thematically.  This time, there was a bit more levity to the theme,  but the more consistently I wrote these poems in a self consciously constructed manner, the countering of anti-intellectualism is used more as a means, where often in the poems, it’s somebody else’s confrontation with it…there’s some other thematic importance that comes our of each of them.

UVD: You have expressed or written many times (in your unpublished journals) that you prefer to do away with the lyrical I.  Is that a commitment of yours still? I ask this because —and yes the I seems to be used somewhat sparingly— some of the Poems in Third Wheel play very much on the the narrating I.  For example at the end of the poem,  “Hierarchies/Disabled Love Letter”, there’s the start of the third to the last stanza:

When I was a little girl

For many years, I had believed that years before

like when my father was a young boy, that

the world was black n’ white literally

grey, that that is what we all saw

with our eyes but really we

belonged to or are thrown into those eyes

And no one has a problem with this?

That whole stanza, in a way ends, as a problem that the first line, if we take the I to be you the male author undercuts or transcends.  Because, obviously your dealing with what Heidegger called (at least per translation) “throwness of individual existence”.  Was that intentional?

Creed: so many questions UVDey, geez…then you had throw a teutonic oh so heavy figure like Heidegger into the mix.  Is self effacement a commitment for me in the making of poems?  Not as much.  I’m trying to move in a direction where the reader can expect a sporadic confessional.  And I’m interested in really fleshing out other subjectivities—other people’s vantage points.  While I can’t pretend that my biographical self did not make its way into some of these poems, the emphasis is on the language itself and the consideration of the lives of others, trying to communicate to others as a fellow reader, sometimes via the multiplicity of other perspectives, but also as someone just enthralled with, again, the creation of new aesthetic objects and (usually im)practical new ideas, both of which are, like most contemporary poetry I enjoy, attempt to be in the service of undermining the dominant discourses of our society and proposing new or lesser known ways of being.   That is admittedly a personal agenda of mine.  But it likely shares interests with others as well.  The example you gave definitely has that burning question on the end.  A blunter way of saying it, is why do we accept the way things are? As a human being who is enthusiastic about conscious living —and there’s nothing fancy there, “conscious living” should not be taken as some esoteric term, or worse monopolized by stereotypical and/or stereotyped hippies— I’m interested in how the awareness of that “throwness”, the parts of human identity that are mere facts, but things we have no choice in the matter (our biological sex, our skin color, who we’re born to, where we’re born, etc., can lead to more freedom and more resistance.

OVD: so we come to the political, the more overtly political.  Does poetry make nothing happen or do words save lives in your opinion?

Creed:  I don’t know.  Poetry makes other poetry happen.  Words do not seem to have an agency.  I think an argument could be made that speech acts can save lives:  “don’t jump”.   But don’t don’t go preaching.  Showing is better than telling.  There was an interesting piece written in Fader magazine by a hip hop critic, Rawiya Kameir who was saying that we don’t need more protest songs, we need, what she called “liberation music”.  “Songs that acknowledge political realities while interrogating them existentially; art that imitates life and then goes a step further to contextualize that life.  Music that asks as many questions as it tries to answer.”  The examples she gave didn’t seem to do the idea justice, the picture he/she painted of it in my head anyway.  But the direction she’s pointing towards intriguing.  I’m probably doing injustice to her words, so here’s the link to the article.  But the point is that concrete realities of the lived individual are still very important in effective political critique.  And that requires empathy and a real time perspective about how social problems can affect one.  I feel I can pull that kind of thing off better in the songs I write and in the fiction I’ve been attempting.  The political manifests itself in more logocentric ways in my poems.

OVD: Tell us about your music.

Creed:  Wanna see how not ready I am?

OVD: Okay?

Creed: I can’t sing and play keyboards at the same time and I have shitty equipment.  Observe below.



From → Poetics

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