Smartish Pace poet Carson Cistulli is all things to all people. If all the things people care about are poetry and baseball, that is. Listen here to Carson on the ... [ read more ]
Poet Matthew Zapruder has been appointed the new poetry column editor for The New York Times Magazine. Born in Washington, D.C., he lives in Oakland, where he is the director ... [ read more ]
Brenda Hillman Reading
Brenda Hillman reading on Oct. 3, 2002; introduced by Robert Hass. Hillman has new poems in Smartish Pace, Issue 16 (April, 2009) and Robert Hass participated in Poets Q&A located on this website.
Traci O’Dea (Associate Editor, Smartish Pace): How has translating Sappho affected your own poetry?
Aaron Poochigian: I had always wanted each line of my poetry to be songlike and ravishing. Now, after having lived with Sappho for about two years, I have a better sense of what that means. But I should be more specific about her influence. Many of Sappho’s poems give the reader the impression that he or she is eavesdropping on a private conversation, as in the following fragment:As you are dear to me go find a youngerBed as your due.I can’t stand being the old one any longer,Living with you.I now readily slip into the conversational mode in my own work. Sappho, in fact, is credited with pioneering the “personal” in poetry, partly because she gives the reader this window into the intimate. She also makes frequent use of what I call “choral” expression—that is, the speaker as a first person plural “we” representing a group of people. I now often write poems in “group voices.” Perhaps the poem “The Marriage of Peleus and Thetis” is the best evidence of her influence on my work. The Marriage ... [ read more ]
Many readers may see Christian Wiman’s new poems only through the lens of death and dying once they know of Wiman’s medical condition: he has a serious blood disease (and he was raised in West Texas, another mortal wound). Certainly, part of my own reaction (mostly delight) to Wiman’s West Texas poems is affected by having lived nearby the poet’s early stomping grounds. The mesquite, the cotton, the pumpjacks, the open fields and open sky, the dust devils—these are all ... [ read more ]