Interview with Geosi Gyasi

Geosi Gyasi is an avid reader and blogger based in Ghana who has interviewed a wide range of authors over several years.

He discovered my work through a poem recently published in Rattle, and asked some interesting questions in our interview — about how formal study has influenced my poems, about how I see technology shaping poetry, and the best thing that has ever happened to me as a poet.

I also talk about why the human element is so important to me in world of word-play, and give a sneak peek at what readers might expect from my forthcoming collection The Knowledge.

You can read the full interview here at Geosi Reads.


Ranting About Transatlantic Poetry

Ireland-based The Ranting Beast interviewed me recently about the Transatlantic Poetry on Air reading series. I talk a bit about how the idea came to me, the perfectly imperfect nature of the very first broadcast, and what we are doing to make future broadcasts engaging and memorable. You can read the full interview here.

I am particularly excited about our upcoming broadcast in August, featuring Jane Hirshfield and George Szirtes, two well-known poets who are also translators, scholars, and deeply thoughtful people. It should be a wonderful evening. In case you need one, here is a personal invitation to join us:

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jaq9NCXuWns"><img src="http://www.robertpeake.com/files/2013/07/hirshfield-szirtes-spash-300x168.jpg" alt="Jane Hirshfield and George Szirtes on August 14th" class="alignnone size-medium wp-image-4663"/></a>


An Interview and Two Readings (Busy Week!)

Books by Mackenzie and PhilipI recently had the pleasure of interviewing Scottish poets Rob A. Mackenzie and Andrew Philip for the Huffington Post UK. We conducted the interview using email, passing around batches of questions so that they we could bounce off one other’s ideas and create a conversation. It was the next best thing to sharing a table at a coffee shop with them both, and the results make for an an enjoyable read: “Music, Memory and Subversion: Two Scottish Poets’ Second Books“.

Andrew will also be featured on July 10th as part of the Transatlantic Poetry on Air reading series, paired with California poet Michelle Bitting. The response to that initiative has been extremely positive so far, with poetry lovers on both sides of the pond eager to tune in these very special kinds of readings that could only happen in this century. To sign up to attend this reading, as well as a reading on August 14th with Jane Hirshfield and George Szirtes, be sure to join the rapidly-growing Transatlantic Poetry Community on Google+.

Michelle Bitting and Andrew Philip // Transatlantic Poetry on Air

 

Jane Hirshfield and George Szirtes // Transatlantic Poetry on Air

Click here for the latest news and updates from the Transatlantic Poetry community


Interview with Markie Burnhope, Part II

Markie Burnhope studied at London School of Theology before completing an MA in Creative Writing at Brunel University. Markie’s debut short collection, The Snowboy, was recently published by Salt. I had the pleasure of interviewing Markie about poetry, disability, theology, and much more. Click here to read Part I of this interview.

The two poets mentioned in this collection — Wallace Stevens and Zbignew Herbert — are both poets of rich imagination and lyrical intensity. The former generally relates to more abstract thoughts and feelings, whereas the latter treats difficult personal topics such as the Nazi occupation of Poland. What do you see as the role of personally difficult subject matter in your own work? How does this inhibit or fuel your creative power?

That’s a fantastic observation, that thoughts and feelings / topics and issues paradox. I am interested in what happens when thoughts and feelings, beliefs and doctrines (which are abstract and elusive, however much we argue about it) bump into authentic, concrete experience; how faith or religion helps and hinders social change, and how the desire for change sometimes necessitate a revision of personal belief systems.

To take one hot potato for example, homosexuality and homophobia: there was a point when I decided, “Stuff all this in-fighting, I’m tired of being part of a religion which fails to recognise and offer love wherever it finds it. God doesn’t exclude, he welcomes.” I’ve always identified with the ways the LGBT community has been maligned in the Church, because a lot of disabled people experience the same thing; for me, it finds its crux in talk of ‘healing the sick’. A lot of people want to heal us, believing that God made us this way by accident, or that we’re the handiwork of Satan. Even in completely secular contexts, there are feelings of pity and the desire to see us fit a more able-bodied norm in order to be accepted. Inclusiveness and equality are essential values to my faith, and that finds its way into my poems.
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