In this interview, Nathan McClain’s mode of inquiry evokes substantial and insightful responses from John Murillo. The ultimate craftsman, Murillo understands the value of writing from a space, from a feeling, instead of toward a subject. In other words, he does not make an event of writing a poem. His practice is uncorrupted by a chase for validation. Instead, we understand the time and dedication necessary to achieve Murillo’s exquisite lyricism and masterful use of form.
John Murillo’s most recent book, Kontemporary Amerikan Poetry, won the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award and was a finalist for the PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry and the NAACP Image Award. He is an assistant professor of English and director of the creative writing program at Wesleyan University.
How to Write on a Ledge: An Interview with John Murillo
In this interview, Ralph Sneeden traces his journey as a poet and essayist, avoiding the destructiveness of being pigeonholed, the inherent politicality of landscapes, and drawing from a pool of resources and poetic techniques to achieve a voice that is at once reflective, visceral, meditative, exploratory, and willing to uncover the veil of comfort and human complexity in an attempt to “testify, to lay bare the quirks, ironies and nuances of history in a way that suggests something new or different about them.”
Fugues, Evidence, and Arguments: A Poet Finds His Way
Recently published in The BreakBeat Poets Volume IV: LatiNEXT, Cuban-American writer Kyle Carrero Lopez holds an MFA in Poetry from NYU and is the co-founder of LEGACY, a production collective by and for Black queer artists.
Carrero Lopez is unapologetic about his poetic concerns. In this powerful interview, he explains how sonnets give him the ultimate space to practice his multitudes in a pressurized space, and the way anti-Blackness is provoked by capitalism, dangerous clothing, and cultural brutalization.
Sasha Burshteyn (SB):You have such a feeling for form in your collection MUSCLE MEMORY— “After Abolition” and “Inheritance” are both sonnets, and “(SLANG)UAGE” is in the Oulipian beautiful outlaw form. What draws you to these forms? What do you feel they offer your work?
Kyle Carrero Lopez (KCL): In the case of the sonnets, something about the compression really works for me. I appreciate that a sonnet demands a turn via the volta. It’s a pressurized space for those two poems. They’re intense poems as far as the subject matter, but I wanted to work with brevity in both, and so the sonnet felt like the right pot to put the poem in. Terrance Hayes has said that a sonnet is a room that you can scream into.
Sitting with Ugliness and Complicated Beauties: An Interview with Kyle Carrero Lopez
Ace: What Asexuality Reveals About Desire, Society, and the Meaning of Sex is Angela Chen’s first book: an incredible feat considering the breadth of topics that Chen covers with the adroitness that only an experienced journalist could bring. This is a book about asexuality, the often overlooked ‘A’ in LGBTQIA, and the ace community. But the book also challenges everyone, regardless of sexual identity, to interrogate their own relationship to romance, sex, desire, and culture. Chen is particularly interested in the phenomenon of compulsory sexuality, which, in her own words, describes, “a set of assumptions and behaviors that support the idea that every normal person is sexual, that not wanting (socially approved) sex is unnatural and wrong, and that people who don’t care about sexuality are missing out on an utterly necessary experience.”
Does a poet benefit from knowing more than one language? In what way do translingual poets approach their craft differently than their monolingual counterparts? Should translingual poets be understood as “self-translators”? Is translingualism a form of rebellion? How do we make home in, across, and between languages?
These topics are part of the following conversation between Ilan Stavans and Haoran Tong. Ilan Stavans is Lewis-Sebring Professor of Humanities, Latin America and Latino Culture at Amherst College. He is the author of the award-winning, book-length poem The Wall (2018) and the translator into English of Jorge Luis Borges and Pablo Neruda and into Spanish of Emily Dickinson and Elizabeth Bishop, among others. Chinese poet Haoran Tong is a student at Amherst College. The conversation took place electronically in Amherst and Wellfleet, Massachusetts, from June 25 to July 10, 2021.
The Poet’s Languages: A Conversation between Ilan Stavans and Haoran Tong
Elizabeth A.I. Powell’s most recent book is Atomizer(LSU Press, 2020). She is a Professor of Creative Writing at North Vermont University. Her poems are forthcoming in The New Republic and American Poetry Review. You can find her at www.elizabethaipowell.com.
The terrestrial assumption is that on any given day you can find humans crying out to the heavens. Elizabeth A.I. Powell is a poet who has “spent a lifetime trying to say the truth in a beautiful way,” and operates on the assumption that we all have celestial cries to process. In this interview, Matt Miller and Elizabeth A.I. Powell explore the invisibility of sexuality, the enactment of fury, and poem as atomizer. Walk through this synesthetic interview and discover how poetry approaches the smell of memory.
Come Angels: An interview with Elizabeth A.I. Powell about her new collection The Atomizer
This Way Back (West Virginia University Press, 2020) is Joanna Eleftheriou’s first book. She is currently an assistant professor of English at Christopher Newport University and a faculty member of the Writing Workshops in Greece. Dividing her time between Greece and New York, Eleftheriou’s work can also be found in Apalachee Review and Arts and Letters.
Most artists struggle with the role of responsibility and their art. Does art have a responsibility? In this insightful interview with Cameron Finch, Joanna Eleftheriou provides readers with a mini-manual on how to engage in the dialectic of identity, confront the privilege of choosing an identity, and how writers prioritize discovery. If you’re looking for advice on how to begin an essay, or a way to honor your wounds, this interview is an excellent starting point. Eleftheriou’s focus on freedom and all of its incarnations is a valuable canvas for artists who might find themselves at an impasse. “We deserve to see ourselves in art,” says Eleftheriou. Indeed, says The Common.
This Way Back: An Interview with Joanna Eleftheriou
Selected by Major Jackson as the 2012 Vassar Miller Poetry Prize winner for his sophomore collection, Club Icarus, and a former Wallace Stegner Fellow, Matt Miller published Tender the River this year with Texas Review Press. He is the winner of the 2019 Nimrod International Review’s Pablo Neruda Prize and has published poems in the Harvard Review, The Rumpus, and SouthwestReview. Miller also wrote The Wounded for the Water and Cameo Diner: Poems. He currently teaches at Phillips Exeter Academy.
In this interview conducted by Kerrin McCadden, you’ll find a poet engaged in an exploration of rivers as national symbols of disparity, dispossession, hope, and boundaries. The meaning of “being from somewhere,” or “home” is thoroughly examined in Miller’s responses, as it is in his poetry. McCadden’s inquiry ignites the discussion until it becomes a lesson on craft, self-reflection, the history of a place, and the biography of a country as told by a poet who can make cobblestone and metal dance, who can teach us how to listen when memory tries to speak.
Hold the Mirror up to Nature: An Interview with Matt Miller
Talking to Richard Ford, the 76-year-old author of The Sportswriter, Independence Day, and Between Them, provides some hope, a feeling of being somewhat consoled. The great Southern writer is considered and insightful, with that courtly Mississippi inflection. Evoking his classic A Multitude of Sins, Ford’s latest short story collection Sorry for Your Trouble proves he still has gas in the tank.
Richard Ford is the author of the New York Times bestseller Canada. His story collections include the bestseller Let Me Be Frank with You, and Rock Springs. His novel Wildlife was adapted into a 2018 film of the same name. He is winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the Prix Femina in France, the 2019 Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction, and the Princess of Asturias Award in Spain. Born in Jackson, Mississippi, he now lives in Boothbay, Maine, with his wife, Kristina Ford. Sorry for Your Trouble is out now from Ecco.
During the days leading up to President Biden’s inauguration, Ford and Alexander Bisley discussed sport, place, process and America’s future.
Sometimes I forget what a chapbook is for. Sometimes I think it’s the demo tape that hopes to precede the real album. Sometimes I think it’s the resting place for early work, work often promising, but ultimately unfinished.
It Requires a Kind of Surrender: An Interview with Ananda Lima