Sunday, January 6, 2008

Bob Hicok interview: greatest hits

Okay, so this interview with Bob Hicok is from the Sept. 2007 issue of The Writer's Chronicle. I'm a little behind in my reading. The whole interview is worth checking out, but here are the highlights - the things I found worth saving, if you will.

"There is also something particularly damning about being considered a funny poet. The most common notion is that poetry is and should be serious, that it's not the place for humor. And it's easy for poets who write with humor to give in to it, to let the laugh take over and steer the work."

"You want a chicken in the poem? Add one. There's so much latitude to jump, to go in one direction for a while and then another. The connection between threads may be logical or felt; it may not even exist. Poetry allows, and on some level, demands, this kind of movement."

"In a sense, lists work like figurative language: they bring things or ideas, words, into proximity, things which when linked, suggest patterns and relationships. 'Shoes' is not nearly as evocative as 'loafers and saddle shoes, wingtips and sneakers.' The elements of a list create a kind of nexus, a locus of words and images that, while specific, can open up in different ways in different minds. And rhythmically, they're quite elastic, can be used to augment the overall rhythm of lines and ideas or divert it, change it."

"What tends to happen is that poems that need revision will pile up. I really try to finish a poem the first time through. ... I do discard a lot, and it's not difficult. For me, it was harder when I was younger. I've been doing this long enough that I understand what my rhythm is. I trust that I will come up with more ideas. I've also become better at letting go of what's going to be a dead end. I can often tell I struck off in the wrong direction after three or four lines."

"Poets talk about musicality in poetry, and I think it's one of the most exaggerated things. If I have a choice of listening to someone read poetry or someone play the clarinet, I'm going to listen to the clarinet. There are certainly attributes of music in poetry, but it is at best a bastard child."

"Each of us is at the center of an ever-changing mix of thoughts and stimuli. The more I write, the more likely I am to capture the essence of these different moments."

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