Featured Poem of the month
The Solar Apogee of Indigo Mystics
a kind of freedom lives in yellow and indigo
a bit of hate remains
in the stickiness of sidewalks
on small brown, slick, freeze-pop fingers
balls of gold glow less and so too inhibitions
of bare-skinned limbs in mangled jeans
from long party nights and lusty red lights
living on sweaty cocoa skin
chalk-stained sidewalks fade, old mascara
on grey eyes and silver seams
snaps of double-dutch ropes; scurrying gym shoes
Hide 'n Seek where we vanish as ghosts
cotton wraps lie one on top of two on top of three
enshrine bodies and trap movement
where humid longing remains entombed
trills of bells; clicks of computers; squares and grills
easy peace and easier violence
Clustered frames and bunched buildings
small steel projectiles shattering glass and lives
taken all into some languid equation of existence
stripped of ballads and romantic words
we stand here waiting for all that is next.
A writer born, raised and living on the South Side of Chicago, Catherine Adel West fixes punctuation and grammar for big companies to pay the mortgage. While soothing itchy Twitter fingers on @cawest329 or curating content for her blog, The Scriptor Complex ( she's also recently completed her first novel. Publication credits include Black Fox Literary Magazine, Five2One, 805 Lit + Art, and Doors Ajar.
Ron Silliman is, as the Poetry Foundation Profile states,"An influential figure in contemporary poetics, Ron Silliman became associated with the West Coast literary movement known as “Language poetry” in the 1960s and ‘70s. He edited In the American Tree (1986), which remains the primary Language poetry anthology, as well as penned one of the movement’s defining critical texts, The New Sentence (1987)."
We will ask him, not only about Language Poetry, his philosophy of poetry and writing, but about his thoughts on modern poetry and modern poets, many of whom are or were his friends.
Photo by Krishna Evans
BTS: This question possibly reflects my ignorance in general but I am curious and I think some of our readers might be curious because you were extremely knowledgeable and you've given lots of thought to kinds of questions about poetry. How much help or harm do you think is done to a poet through education? I mean given where you come from the language poets, is the outsider person more useful to the conversation about poetry or are they just ignorant people who get in the way? Maybe I'm asking this question wrong or maybe it's the wrong question and you're welcome to tell me either.
RS: I believe there is such as folk poetry, a poetry written by people who do not read much poetry and have no interest in any of the (always contested) canons. Cowboy poetry, fisherman poetry, a lot of slam/spoken word/hip hop (although not all), some of the sentimentalist poetics around works like Rupi Kaur's Milk and Honey. None of that is objectionable to me in the slightest -- there will be people who get introduced to poetry that way and some of them will go on to do interesting things. There is a wonderful book about the role of poetry among Yemeni nomads, a society in which people need their horse, their rifle and their ability to compose poems under competitive conditions. The role of the poem is always conditioned by the society that we find ourselves in. So I have no problems really with outsider poets -- I have real affinities with some of that -- and I have none really with what I think of as the administrative poetics of the MFA mills. Not my thing, maybe, but, hey, why not? There is no one right way.