Thursday, September 3, 2009

THE POETRY CHAIN GANG (part 14 w/ Cecily Parks)

The Black Telephone has five fast questions for poet Cecily Parks

BT: It’s 9 p.m., are you…
a.) just putting the finishing touches on a poem?
b.) just beginning a poem?
c.) reading a poem?
d.) not even thinking about poetry?


BT: After I've read a really good poem, I always find myself in a writing mood. How do you feel after you've read a really good poem?

CECILY: A really good poem makes me feel like I might cry. I get that tingly feeling on the backs of my eyeballs.

BT: In a 1970 interview with poet Robert Graves, he had this to say: "…Writing a poem is…like finding the top of a statue buried in sand. You gradually take the sand away and you find the thing, whole— that is what poetry is, rather than building something up. It's rediscovering what you've known inside yourself the whole time, what you've foreseen." Would you agree or beg to differ?

CECILY: I agree that writing a poem allows you to rediscover something inside yourself, but I don't think that the process is as pristine as Graves suggests. Because I'm obsessed with swamps at the moment, I've come to think that writing a poem is a little bit like wading into a swamp. Maybe it's the swamp of the self, or the swamp of the mind— either way, it's messy and dark and fluid

BT: I love the idea of found poems ("Found poetry is a type of poetry created by taking words, phrases, and sometimes whole passages from other sources and [turning] them [into] poetry by making changes in spacing and/or lines…"). That said— how do you feel about found poems?

CECILY: I think that in the game hide-and-go-seek, the hider secretly wants to be found. So, I like found poems because they remind us that poems want to be found, even though they may be elusive and elliptical, or hiding in a block of prose.

BT: I'm trying to start a chain, a chain of poets, sort of like a chain gang of poets. Can you please suggest a poet I should ask five fast questions to next?

CECILY: Jennifer Chang

Cecily Parks is the author of the poetry collection Field Folly Snow, which was a finalist for the Norma Farber First Book Award and the Glasgow / Shenandoah Prize for Emerging Writers. She is a PhD candidate in English at the CUNY Graduate Center and teaches in the undergraduate creative writing program at Columbia University.