Thursday, November 12, 2009

Great Interview with Sam Hamill

Speaking of Copper Canyon Press, here's a great interview with Sam Hamill, the founder...

Sam Hamill:

I've always liked Ezra Pound's famous comment, "Poetry is news that stays news." Poetry is a very large house with many rooms, closets, attics, basements, bedrooms and kitchens. For me, the practice of poetry is a way of life - as it was for many of the ancient Chinese and Japanese poets I have translated. For me, poetry is for re-reading, a world to be explored and revisited, a world that enriches the quality of one's life.

Read the full interview here at


  1. When I was researching for my original history thesis, I was going to write on Ezra Pound. A friend of mine put me in touch with Sam Hamill. Instead of saying 'hello' on the phone, he said, "So you're the young man who wants to climb Everest with only a day pack."

    I ended up finding a book which devoted two chapters to the very thing I wanted to write about, so I changed my topic to Chinese immigration, but I wiill always remember my brush with THE Sam Hamill.

  2. A nice interview -- I actually came across it sometime a little earlier during the past month, through a link in someone else's blog, can't remember who now. I've always found Hamill's remarks about poetry and poetry writing interesting and provocative.

    Years ago (ca. 1990) I read Hamill's book "Basho's Ghost" (published 1989 by Broken Moon Press, out of print the last I checked), a collection of loosely connected essays and travel sketches from a year he spent in Japan, full of wonderful accounts of Japanese poets ancient and modern, Japanese culture, and much else.

    I couldn't put the book down, stayed up late into the night a couple of nights, actually up all night in one case, reading the book. Sometime shortly after I finished reading it, I had a long elaborate dream one night, and at the end of the dream Sam Hamill was there, and in the dream I told him "I really like 'Basho's Ghost'." Then the dream ended and I woke up.

    Within the next day or so, I wrote to him (never having met him), a letter talking about "Basho's Ghost," some of the things I liked about it, commenting on things he'd said in the book, and I mentioned the dream I'd had. I got back a brief gracious note in reply back from him, certainly as much as I could have expected in answer to a long letter from a stranger.

    As it happened, not long after that I was in Port Townsend, Washington, where Copper Canyon Press is located, for the writers' conference held there each July, and at one point I was standing on the front porch of a building and the only other person on the porch was Sam Hamill, and I introduced myself. No more than a two-sentence conversation, he was quite gracious, remembered my name from the letter I'd sent.

    This, anyway, my brush with Sam Hamill...

    Word Verification is "tangli". Yes, I agree, tangli it is.


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