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Part 2 OF INTERVIEW WITH UNASSUMING VOICE IN THE DARK

February 12, 2015

Part 2

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UVD: creativity itself seems to be in question in much of this work. Obviously, the allusion in your title, the notion of reinventing the wheel seems very close to what you’re trying to do. You start by indicating that the perception of the assumed 2nd person’s freedom is another way of saying that there’s an opportunity to build vocabulary. What the hell do you mean by that? Do you mean that sense of freedom obfuscates in some way to a path to a bigger vocabulary?

Creed: what “sports objects” to ask me a question like that UVD.

UVD: Sorry, I’m calling your charlatan ass out. But no, if that’s what you mean, then it’s interesting, and it implies that lack of knowledge, not creativity, is what keeps us down.

Creed: since we’re talking about poems, I don’t want to pretend at the begininng of the book that the reader’s not there. With that in mind I was hooked to the idea that lack of words or the lack of need for more words may give one that sense of freedom. The act of naming things influences perception. There’s no unique insight there, linguists and cognitive scientists have been in agreement with that for many years from what little I’ve read over the years. But I was dealing with that struggle as a reader myself. Often I find myself in a spell reading someone like Lynn Hejenian, Silliman or a plethora of others whose words just musically bounce and I feel like I’m always on the blissful cusp of that aboutness and it is often the case that I forget my own ignorance of what a word means, or assume I know what it means, because the poem is just that, convincing, if you will. I feel so alive and then when I ask myself later what that poem is about, I have to return with a sense of very little understanding, compared to my sense before, and I read slower with dictionary at virtual hand, there’s a real freedom of interpretation there, but then often the posibilities narrow with every re-reading. So if you read that poem [“The Real Third Wheel”] with that in mind it makes more sense.

UVD: why didn’t you just write that in the stanza then?

Creed: It would have ruined the form and it would have required me to hack off much of the rest of the poem

UVD: Anyway the modernist project “of making it new” seems to be a (an inherited?) preoccupation. The idea of reinventing the wheel carries with it the negative connotation, that you are making something unnecessarily difficult.

Creed: the old “why reinvent the wheel, when it’s already been invented”, uh hmm…

UVD: …but upon multiple readings, the majority of these poems have the consistently recurring theme of being on the margins of things, which is somehow bound up with your very weird objects, novelties. Theres a real almost down-to-earth desire to get something across. And then it fails at the end…

Creed: …yes!

UVD: …in many of the poems; those unique things, which is often where the parataxis comes in. Am I reading it right?

Creed: there’s a point in many of the poems, where the parataxis is used for that aim, the admission of failure. But in other poems, the parataxis is employed in ways that just seem more fitting in accordance with real life experience, the involuntary inclusion of other things that on the surface don’t seem to be apart of the thematic structure being mentally labored over.

UVD: Okay, I’m going to spout a word, line or phrase from Third Wheel and you give me an explanation in the same length of words I spout. You game?

Creed: k, let’s do this

UVD: “‘To examine the nature of resemblance without resorting to symmetry’”

Creed: The line from the Russian poet, Arkadii Dragomoshchenko. Original here.

UVD: “I too agree that capitalism’s possibilities of usefulness are not over”

Creed: “in reference to a statement Mussolini made. That poem mines fascism.

UVD: “Yum. Stock up on Kleenex pervert”

Creed: my peverted usurping of readers’ expectations.

UVD: “Because when dead you’ll be remembered as long as the longest living loved one lives
or as long as the longest living loved one of a long lived loved one lives.”

Creed: my best friend, Mauro, in response to my desire to create new rituals, suggested a living funeral. As if that would be a methadone to immortality’s heroin. 15 minutes my internetted ass.

UVD: “Enlightend Plan B Tolasana”

Creed: For when thinking…fails?

UVD: Thanks for participating. See, aint it funner than pontificating about your work.
Creed: it’s more fun and potentially less cringe worthy if I have to think about someone I like and respect reading this months or years from now.

UVD: that’s another thing that is hard to comprehend about you as the author and your chapbooks. You’re extremely forthcoming about your limitations and overall vunerable in preface and colophon. It doesn’t seem compatible with the alienating coldness that comes across in your work.

Creed: …

UVD: …

Creed: your question?

UVD: …uhm…

Creed: no, I have noticed this too. And I’m not going to apologize—don’t make me say sorry again, please no! Uhm, [smiles] ultimately I have accepted the fact that for right now, my audience is fragmented and largely not heavy on contemporary poetry. I basically write the kind of stuff that I like to read. The truth is that there are so many goddamn amazing poems being written and shown online, from poets all over the world in perhaps thousands of very decent little presses —and a few big ones too— that I haven’t been able to study intensely any poets under the age of 40 (Noah Eli Gordon, being a possible exception), and so many that I haven’t been able to figure out how to find a publishing niche. It would be no problem if I was coming from an MFA background. The University of Kansas in Lawrence, where I live, has a damn good creative writing department. But I’m not really interested in being a (full time at least) member of that world.  My point is that my poems are inevitably informed by my reading of other poets, but I also know that most of my readers are my friends nonpoets, mostly not big readers of poetry. So I’m living with that contradiction. I think it’s one of the most important themes in life and it should be a more explored them in this age. The insane obstacles that prevent us from understanding one another, that causes a lot of folks to just stick to “their own”. The social networking thing, as you probably know, has people more closed in their own cultural silos. How do we overcome that? And the truth is I’m still trying to justify in my mind why I should persist in writing and sharing poetry. Of course I want to share my stuff because I know it encourages me to write, you know with a very human and real audience in mind. And I write for the same reason I make music and for the same reason I spend time with my partner Jamie—I love it!  At the same time I often fucking resent seeking out fans. And then I reproach myself for allowing this resentment into my thoughts I suspect the idea of being a professional artist of any kind was defined in my childhood brain in large part by being known to a lot strangers. The goal was always to imagine the reader, the audience, etc. But real life relationships have the most value to me.

UVD: there’s been a recurring debate between some in the “communit(ies)y of contemporary poetry about accessibility and elitism. Many poets want to increase the audience size for poetry. From a basic economic (basic as in not greedy but just trying to make a living) standpoint, it makes sense.  Thousands, if not millions of writers rely on grants, endowments and other private and government funding to do their work. And much of that money goes to doing great work. It would ease any burden of that funding if the market of demand were bigger. There’s of course, to overgeneralize, “the other side”. How do you weigh in on this?

Creed: I really like reading about these debates and have found sympathy with a lot folks on all sides of the debate. The insitution of poetry is kind of a shared illusion. We don’t want to give it up, the poets who make a passionate living teaching and writing it, especially. As long as that holds up and we live in this world affected by the dictatorship of capital, I believe that those who have benefitted materially, and that includes those who have relatively large audiences, should act on any responsiblity they have to promote poetry? Would there be more or less good poetry if they did their utmost? I don’t know, kinda scary —I have too low a tolerance for poetry I hate— but let’s put that aside and go back to your central question. A lot of poets who are in agreement with promoting poetry to the masses criticize or simply dismiss what they percieve to be the obscurantism found in much of contemporary poetry. I.e., “how do you expect to attract more readers when you make your poems so difficult?” It is true that much of contemporary poetry seems impossible to understand or is not meant to be understood. The charges of obscurantism, I believe are unfair. Not because many of those poems aren’t obscure and unreasonably difficult for the average person to read, some are. The charge is unfair, because poetry is music and it deals with language on a level that can make obsolete the need for such conventional meaning. There’s a rich legacy of modernism that has taken us on a path of greater semantic, syntactic and/or phonetic complexity. Much of it does intentionally make itself more complex, and eschew the act of relating a story completely. The old ideas to “make it new” and to allow readerly interpretation into the meaning of many poems is still very much alive.

On the other hand, there are a number of poets who seem to take for granted , and insist that folks can take the time to get familiar with it. I find myself wanting to go in a more genuinely populist direction, although I’m still happily attached to many of the incendentally more difficult poets, what I’ve been able to learn from and how I have responded to them. And there are all sorts of implications to this debate that have to do with class and race. It’s also made me think about the debate between writing and speech, or Written vs. Oral Culture. Enduring Puberty Press has recently invited its patrons to help explore that.

I think one bridge to be made has to do with metaphor.

In George Lakoff and Mark Turner’s More Than Cool Reason: A Field Guide To Poetic Metaphor, the assertion is made that only three stances a poet can make in regard to metaphors at the “conceptual level”. They can simply versify them in automatic ways, which as is noted by them, can lead to a lot of cliched tripe. Two, they can deploy them masterfully, combining them, extending them and chrystalizing them in strong images. Or three, step outside the ordinary ways we think metaphorically, offer new modes of metaphorical thought, employing basic metaphors in unusual ways, destabilize them to reveal their inadequacies for making sense of reality; or create new metaphors.

It’s the third stance that I take the most. But I do acknowledge just how much we can still beautifully exhaust by taking the second one (which more accessible poets tend to take), especially when you bring translation and transliteration into the mix. It seems fairly obvious that being aware of how metaphorical our thinking world is may give younger generations tools to become more self realized, and see beyond themselves and challenge the way they see things.

But I’m going way out of my depth, I want to hear educators pick up from here.

UVD: Enduring Puberty Press, what direction will you take it.

Creed: EPP wants to be open to a lot of different styles, forms and mediums. High quality but a demphasis on “professionalism”. Please see the application, fill it out in any crazy font and document style you want and send it to the address at the bottom.

UVD: Thanks for the conversation, it was really fun. I still think you’re kind of pompous.

Creed: [scoffs] me and Kanye West are like the most misunderstood artists of this generation or something.

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