University of Pittsburgh
conducted by Craig
Craig Morgan Teicher:
Open Interval is your second book—how
does it feel being nominated for an early-career work?
Pastoral, and I
kept reading from it to every student who came into
my office—insisting that they listen to Carl Phillips
poems. When the list came out, I just couldn’t
believe it—Carl Phillips and me!
Surreal. It’s very strange. It’s kind of
bizarre, because I just feel really, really honored
to be included with such a talented group of people.
It hasn’t sunk in yet. To be considered for a
prize that people I respect so much and look up to feels
great. All last week I was obsessively reading one of
Carl Phillips’ books,
CMT: What do you think
about being included on a list with so many experimental
writers on it?
It’s kind of my goal to be claimed by all the
groups. I think anything that I can have at my disposal
in my poetry toolbox, I should use. You could say that
I’m experimental, but you could also say I’m
a neo-formalist. I don’t like lines. I don’t
like those boundaries. I think they’re artificial,
and not very useful.
CMT: What’s your
writing life like? Do you write all the time?
Black Swan, and Open Interval.
I have a really good life here in Ithaca. I’m
part of a really supportive program here at Cornell,
so I’m able to find time to write outside of my
teaching and other responsibilities. I’m also
part of a really fantastic community here with a lot
of artists in it. It’s a really great town. Most
of my friends here not associated with Cornell are musicians.
I spend a lot of time with musicians and looking at
art trying to find inspiration.
I do write all the time, but I also write really
slowly. There was a seven year gap between my first
CMT: A lot of the poems
in this book borrow lines from other writers, or have
epigraphs and dedications. Is important to the way you
write to keep other voices or sources in your work?
Definitely. One of the things I really wanted
to do was acknowledge other poetry so you could see
other poems reaching out from behind my poems, to sort
of fight against that whole “make it new”
thing. I don’t necessarily think “new”
is where it’s at. I believe in acknowledging one’s
literary kin, your forbearers. Also it’s more
like the way life is, all of that layering and collaging,
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