a poem needs to eat its own shadow

Posted by Daniela Elza on Jul 02 2012

An interview with Phil Hall (via Rob Taylor)

Q: Is there a poem you consider the best you’ve ever written?

A: The poem of mine that I most enjoy reading to audiences these days is the one that begins “There is a library of strangers in Dublin”. An in memoriam for Stan Brakhage, the experimental film maker. It surprises my mouth each time…

Q: Do you write for the reader or for yourself?

A: Neither. The reader is a romantic concept. As is myself, I suspect. The quill poised; the head bowed over a small volume. Neither writer nor reader nor text is sacred to me, if I can help it; I prefer a “we” at both ends of the transfer. I hope (or pretend) that the origin & destination of my compulsion-to-not-be-silent — is collective.

Q: What’s the most common misconception people have about poetry?

A: That you have to be smart to write a good poem. That intelligence in the forefront is a virtue in a poem. When in fact a person is better off being slightly stupid, cracked somehow, slow enough to miss the standard follow-throughs. We are living through another period in which most celebrated poetry says little more than, Is this poet ever smart! A master! A virtuoso!

But a poem needs to eat its shadow, which means no tricks, no showing off, no virtuosity. Give it everything you’ve got, then take everything you’ve got out of it, & let it stand there blinking like a donkey.

Read the whole thing here.

Comments are closed.