Interview with Oak Bend Review

The new issue of Oak Bend Review features an interview with yours truly (click on “Honorary Guest”), along with a generous spread of poetry (including one previously unpublished), glowing praise for American Fractal, and even a posting of that YouTube video did a while back.  I don’t know about “honorary,” but I truly am honored.  The last editor/poet to be interviewed there was Christian Wiman, so more than honored, I feel a little out of my league.

The interview drifts between commentary on the state of poetry in America, poetry itself, various issues we’ve done at Rattle, and our editorial outlook.  In addition to my aforementioned tendency to yodel out an avalanche of bad metaphors, you’ll notice a more general tendency to spew forth whatever comes to mind, unfiltered.  I can see this getting me into trouble some day.

Moreover, looking back at the interview–which we did about two months ago–it occurs to me that I’m pretty damn opinionated.  I’m humble about my own insight into poetry, or lack thereof, particularly when it comes to weilding my imaginary editorial clout.  In other words, I really don’t think I have any special understanding of literature; though I read a lot, I’m not particularly well-read, and so on.

But boy, do I have my opinions about poetry–somewhere along the way I’ve developed a fully formed poetic ideology, from creative conception to life on the page.  I think I know what poetry is, how it works, and why it’s useful–and not in some general sense.  My poetic ideology is specific and nuanced, centered around my personal interpretation of eastern philosophies, but also informed by cognitive science and psychology.

When I read other peoples’ comments on poetry, I’m past the stage of absorbing them — I’m merely judging them in relation to my own theories, saving those that fit, discarding the ones that don’t.  This has been coming up more often lately, as I’ve been reading essays on poetry for Aram Saroyan’s class.  I’m always thinking, “Pound is right when he says X, but seems not to understand Z.”  I’m even looking forward to turning my thoughts into a book, a project that at times seems more interesting than writing new poems.

This kind of opinionated arrogance flies in the face of my editorial stance as a relative novice, open to anything.  But I guess four and a half years of full-time poetry will do that to you.

Anyway, do check out the whole issue.  I’ve only had time to skim parts of it, but in the poetry section, I’ve already enjoyed Drew Riley’s bawdy voice, and E. Darcy Trie’s delicacy.  There are some names, too, familiar to Rattle readers–Antonia Clark, Martin Willits, Jr.–that I’m saving for later.

The journal is very young, but editor Sandee Lyles fully realizes the virtues of the young with her enthusiasm and dedication.  The format is interesting, too, both online and print-on-demand.  Think about submitting some work.