This is from Susan's blog. And while "meme" is one of my least favorite words (along with panties and filibuster), I like to do these.
Reading & Writing
1. What are you currently reading and what’s on your to-be-read pile?
Just Breathe Normally, by Peggy Shumaker
Dorianne Laux's Questions about the Moon
What the Postcard Didn't Say by Shoshauna Shy
Hip Logic by Terrance Hayes
To be read:
The Autobiography of William Carlos Williams
A Conversation with Elizabeth Bishop
Li-Young Lee's, Behind My Eyes
2. What type of writing influences your work most: fiction, poetry, or non-fiction?Poetry inspires my poetry, but reading or listening to interviews with authors inspires my entire writing life. I write more when I hear the voices of others battling the same issues I am. I'm inspired by their creativity.
One of the best place to find great interviews with writers is here:
New Letters on the Air. Author interviews by Angela Elam who I appreciate for her desire to understand what makes these author tick.
I listened to a fantastic interview with Eleanor Wilner, while trimming my hedge. She is a marvelous poet and interviewee.
3. What 3 characteristics, elements or themes are prevalent in your work?
4. As a writer and reader, does gender matter?
It depends. I do not choose poets by what sex they are, but by their words. I want a connection. My favorite poets writing right now are a mix of men and women--
Tracy K. Smith
Jeannine Hall Gailey
Beth Ann Fennelly
However, that said I tend to connect more (or prefer) the poems by women. For example, for awhile there was this huge gushing over Ben Lerner's poems. I have a copy of his book THE LICHTENBERG FIGURES and while on paper I can appreciate his craft, it's not a book I'd take to bed with me, it's not the book I'd carry around with me to read in those in-between moments.
Of course, there are women who write this way too. There's a wall between the reader and writer, a standoffishness. I don't want that in the poems I read. If the poet gives me cleverness (with word, form, or speech) there needs to be more for the poem to be satisfying me. I admire Heather McHugh and Peter Pereira because they can be clever with words and still satisfy me emotionally as a reader.
I'm noticing the "relationship language" in my response--I want to take a poet to bed, I want to be satisfied emotionally--and maybe that's what poetry is to me, a paper love affair where I don't want to date the cool kid with all the great comebacks or the boy who needs to convince me he knows more than I do, I want the man or woman who offers craft and compassion, who is considerate to my needs as well as theirs.
Maybe for me, the question shouldn't be "Does gender matter?" but "Does connection matter?" That space in a poem that you can't name, but it's there, the gut reaction, the emotional grasp a poem can have on me. To me, that's what matters, the ability of the poet to reach out and offer me a hand without pulling it away right before we connect.