A Request for Interview Requests (plus 2 notes)

We’ve have some unfortunate scheduling issues in the last few months, and have had to postpone a few planned interviews, so as soon as this winter’s conversations with Robert Pinsky and Natasha Trethewey come out, we’re tapped. With the way the production schedule works, I really need to arrange interviews with at least two poets this fall — three would be nice, as I like to keep someone in reserve.

Here’s a list of the poets we’ve interviewed so far:

Robert Pinsky * Natasha Trethewey * Marvin Bell * Bob Hicok * Tess Gallagher * Arthur Sze * Marc Kelly Smith * Patricia Smith * Jane Hirshfield * Jack Kornfield * Hayden Carruth * Mark Jarman * Gregory Orr * Denise Duhamel * Alan Shapiro * David St. John * Sam Hamill * Deena Metzgar * Naomi Shihab Nye * Li-Young Lee * Colette Inez * Maxine Kumin * Robert Creeley * Gerald Stern * Lucille Clifton * Charles Simic * Mark Doty * Sharon Olds * Stephen Dobyns * C.K. Williams * Billy Collins * Jack Grapes * Simon Ortiz * Anne Waldman * Edward Hirsch * Diane Wakoski * James Ragan * Luis Rodriguez * Daniel Berrigan * Philip Levine * Dorianne Laux * Virginia Hamilton Adair

Damn, that’s a pretty impressive list… But everyone on there is out, so who would we look up next? Special consideration given to African-American poets for next summer’s issue, and Formalists for Dec. 2009. You are our readership — who would you like to read more about?

Remember that our “conversations” are less formal, more personal than most of the interviews that others publish, so this is a chance to get to know your favorite poets on a more intimate level.


Two of my own poems are featured in Cutthroat’s summer issue, which is available as a free PDF download. Visit the site to check them out — they’re both slender little lyrics, lots of sonic stuff going on; one’s political, the other’s metapoetic.

I haven’t had a chance to read the issue yet (I haven’t had a chance to do anything lately), but I’ve really enjoyed past issues, and I really like the people that run it. We keep getting stuck next to each other at boring book festivals, and Will and Pam are good company.


Bill Knott has further descended into wherever it is he’s going, and lately he’s been posting collages made from rejections slips. It was interesting to see that Rattle made the list (twice), a few years before my tenure began.

I’m not quite sure what Knott’s point is, whether it’s a gesture born of frustration or commiseration — if you’ve been following his blog, you know it could go either way. But regardless of his intent, it’s a great lesson for those new to submitting. Knott is a very successful poet, by any measure save perhaps his own — his books have come from all my favorite small presses, capped by FSG in 2004. And still, look at how these rejections pile up.


  1. Dorianne Laux

    A. Van Jordon, Tracy K. Smith, Terrance Hayes, Major Jackson,

  2. Larissa Szporluk, Mary Ann Samyn, Heather McHugh, Mary Crow, Maurice Manning, Eric Pankey

  3. Gary Snyder, Sandra McPherson, Alan Williamson, John Ashbery

  4. Terrance Hayes, Jerry Wemple and Allison Joseph

  5. Dorianne Laux

    Ross Gay, Alison Joseph, Alan Shapiro,

  6. Terrance Hayes, Ross Gay, Maurice Manning

  7. Anoth R. Poet

    Is there a problem with the cutthroat link? I went to their site and still can’t open the pdf – just FYI…

  8. Toi Derricotte

  9. Susan McLean

    Among my favorite formalist poets are Rhina Espaillat, A.E. Stallings, Dick Davis, R. S. Gwynn, Catherine Tufariello, and Deborah Warren.

  10. Pingback:Carter’s Little Pill » Interviews: I needs ‘em! or Who reads ‘em?

  11. G.M. Palmer from Jacksonville, FL would be a good candidate. His website is http://www.strongverse.com.

  12. G.M. Palmer seems like he would fit he runs strongverse.org

  13. Heather Harper

    The work of G.M. Palmer is fresh and forward-thinking. I would love to see an interview with him.

  14. Wow, thanks for all the tips, everyone! I didn’t expect this much of a response. Lots of great suggestions. We’ll be working on winnowing down this list for awhile!

  15. G.M. Palmer would be an excellent interview choice. He certainly has the right credentials. I have it on good authority that he has a poetic license.

  16. G.M. Palmer, Jacksonville, FL would really be a great choice for an interview.

  17. Anne-Marie Cook

    G.M Palmer is one of my favorite poets. I hope you choose to interview him.

  18. Voice of Dissent

    It’s like a G.M. Palmer fan club on here. Is this a joke? I don’t care for Palmer’s “poetry” at all, and therefore don’t have any interest in seeing an interview with the “writer.”

  19. I know what you mean V of D — it was enough to make me check IP addresses…are these all G.M. Palmer’s wife? They’re all different, although what are the odds that one of them has “palme” in their email address? 1/26^5? Very interesting!

  20. better G. M. Palmer than a descender like me . . .

  21. Actually, Bill, I’d love to have Rattle interview you if you’re up for it. There’d be a lot to talk about; I think it be very interesting.

  22. well, as descended and down in the dump as you’ve hurled me, i doubt i could get “up” for anything . . . what is there for me to say, anyway, that these folks haven’t:

    “[Knott’s] poems are so naive that the question of their poetic quality hardly arises. . . . Mr. Knott practices a dead language.” —Denis Donoghue, New York Review of Books, May 7, 1970

    “Bill Knott . . . is so bad one can only groan in response.” —Peter Stitt, Georgia Review, Winter 1983

    [Bill Knott’s poems are] typically mindless. . . . He produces only the prototaxis of idiocy. . . . Rumor has it that Knott’s habit of giving his birth and terminal dates together originated when he realized he could no longer face the horror of a poetry reading he was scheduled to give.” —Charles Molesworth, Poetry (Chicago) Magazine, May 1972

    “Bill Knott’s poems are . . . rhetorical fluff . . . and fake.” —Ron Loewinsohn, TriQuarterly, Spring 1970

    “Bill Knott[‘s] ancient, academic ramblings are part of what’s wrong with poetry today. Ignore the old bastard. . . .” —Collin Kelley (from “They Shoot Poets Don’t They” blog, August 08, 2006)

    “[Bill] Knott’s work tends today to inspire strong dismissal. . . . [He’s] been forced to self-publish some of his recent books. . . . [B]ad—not to mention offensively grotesque—poetry. . . . appalling . . . . maddening . . . . wildly uneven . . . adolescent, or obsessively repetitive . . . grotesqueries . . . . [His] language is like thick, old paint . . . his poems have a kind of prickly accrual that’s less decorative than guarded or layered . . . emotionally distancing . . . . uncomfortable. Knott . . . is a willful . . . irritating . . . contrarian.” —Meghan O’Rourke, Poetry (Chicago) Magazine, Feb 2005

    “I’m not that familiar with Kenneth Koch’s poetry. I often see him as the spiritual father of Bill Knott. . . .” —Geof Huth (from “dbqp: visualizing poetics” blog)

    “[Bill Knott’s books are] filled with venom. . . . Knott seems to hate himself . . . and he seems to hate his readers.” —Kirk Robinson, ACM (Another Chicago Magazine)

    “[Bill Knott is] incompetent . . .” —Alicia Ostriker, Partisan Review

    “Bill Knott [is] the crown prince of bad judgment. . . .” —Ron Silliman, Silliman’s Blog, June 26, 2007

    “Eccentric, uneven . . . poet Bill Knott is not [fit] to win prizes . . . [His work is] thorny . . . rebellious, avant-garde . . . .” —Robert Pinsky, Washington Post.com, April 17, 2005

    “[Bill Knott’s poetry is] queerly adolescent . . . extremely weird. . . personal to the point of obscurity. . . his idiosyncrasy has grown formulaic, his obscure poems more obscure, his terse observations so terse they scoot by without leaving much of a dent in the reader. . . . There is a petulance at work [in his poetry]. . . . [H]is style has grown long in the tooth. . . . In fact, [at least one of his poems is] unethical. . . .” —Marc Pietrzykowski, Contemporary Poetry Review

    “Bill Knot [sic] sucks.” —Marcus Slease (from “Never Mind the Beasts” blog, June 10, 2005)

    “[Bill Knott is] a malignant clown . . .” —Calvin Bedient, Massachusetts Review

    “Bill Knott is the Bad Boy of American Poetry.” —Carolyn Kizer, Washington Post Book World

    “Bill Knott should be beaten with a flail.” —Tomaz Salamun, Snow

  23. A lot, Bill. The only reason I’ve never asked is because I always assumed this would be the response I’d get. But I’ve read your work. I don’t care what a hundred reviewers have said, and I don’t see how that matters. You live poetry with an intensity that few do. That’s always going to be worth talking about.

    Sorry I chose a spatial metaphor, but given that, what would you call this reaction, an ascent?

  24. A. E. Stallings

  25. Anoth R. Poet

    Bill Knott – I remember you from Iowa – black sneakers I believe.

  26. Anoth R. Poet

    A request of Bill Knott in his interview:

    Bill, you wrote in a note in your poem, A SUITE FROM SUMMER/AUTUMN 2001:

    “Futurism was the only Ism embraced by totalitarians of both the Left (Soviets) and Right (Italian Fascists). It continues to fascinate all kinds of dogmatists.”

    Expand on this, if you could…

    Also, wow! fantastic line –

    “We will pay any price to maintain our selfish addiction to the first-person voice.”

    Thanks for writing that Bill Knott.

  27. I love what you’re doing here, Tim.

    I didn’t take time to read the “conditions of contest” for your list but if non-U.S. poets are eligible I’d certainly want to add Margaret A. Griffiths, Leonard Cohen and Michael Ondaatje.

  28. Bill Knott is a rock star. An interview with him would be a huge coup and very interesting, given both of your recent blog posts.

    As for shades of formalism, I just came across Troy Jollimore on Poetry Daily and I would be interested to hear more from him. (Aren’t philosophers often such interesting poets?)

  29. Try for Maurice Manning (A Companion for Owls and Bucolics) and W.S. Merwin (too many to list).
    I’ve met and spoken with both of these fine poets (at different times, of course), and having a pair of interviews with these two–separated in age by decades–would make for a splendid Rattle issue.

    Merwin gives fabulous interviews. (I can send you a digital copy of one he did for Spalding in Fall 06.) Manning is also a great interviewee–warm, funny, personable.

    Good luck!
    Trish Lindsey Jaggers

  30. Now that I’ve sampled Bill Knott’s poetry (and laughed out loud at the rejection slips–some of which I hold identical copies), I agree with you, Tim. By all means, Bill, acquiesce–give the damned interview. I’d like to hear (as well as the rest of the jagged line platoon) what you have to say!
    Trish Lindsey Jaggers

  31. Joseph Stroud

  32. Yusef Komunyakaa, Ilya Kaminsky, Olena Kalytiak Davis, Joshua Weiner, John Bensko, Moira Egan

  33. Dangit, I’ve been caught in the act of laziness again. Thanks for the link, Tim. Looks like a great book!

  34. In your vicinity :
    Aram Saroyan ; Paul Vangelisti


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