Photo credit: Rachel
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
conducted by Craig
Craig Morgan Teicher:
You’ve been nominated twice before. How
does it feel this time?
I think it’s a wonderful honor.
I feel excited to be in such good company. It doesn’t
help get the next poem written, though—there’s
still that reality. I think it makes me more relaxed
about it. I know what it’s like. I have a somewhat
detached view about these sorts of things, and I think
maybe that’s because of having done it before,
which is not to say I’m not excited, but I know
many wonderful writers who have never been nominated,
or have been and never won. I try to keep it separate
from any notion of the quality of the work.
seem to be pretty prolific—a book every couple
of years. Are you writing all the time?
It doesn’t feel very regular to me. I’d
say I write two poems a month, and that doesn’t
mean that they’re necessarily keepers. I seem
to average about that. So it doesn’t seem like
being prolific to me. I guess if you write at that rate,
it’s not long before you have 40 poems. But I
always think these things are kind of like walking—everyone
has their own walk and there’s nothing they can
do about it. The pace that works for them.
CMT: People always
talk about the coiled, complex syntax in your poems.
The poems in this book seems to be a bit looser than
before, the sentences more straightforward. Is that
an intentional move?
I get bored easily and so I think that’s
the only way that the work can evolve. I certainly didn’t
sit and think, I don’t like long, convoluted sentences,
but I too notice that it seems there’s more clarity
in the last few years. For someone like me, it’s
a challenge—it’s hard to write a straightforward
sentence, when I don’t usually.
CMT: What do you think
about the fact that so many of this year’s finalists
are experimental poets?
I know it’s cliché to question the word
“experimental,” but I was speaking with
Lyn Hijinian, who is a friend, and I was talking about
the makeup of the list, and she was saying each of the
people on the list is differently experimental, and
I think that’s right. It’s strange, because
now experimental and language poetry has become a tradition.
Of course it’s not as well known as it should
be, and I guess that’s’ one of the things
that’s exciting about the list. I guess I’m
excited because it is so untraditional.
Morgan Teicher is a VP on the board of the National
Book Critics Circle. His first book of poems is
Brenda Is in the Room and Other Poems. A collection
of fiction and fables called Cradle Book will
be published by BOA Editions in the Spring. One of his
poems appears in The Best American Poetry 2009.