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Poets Q&A

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Diane H. from Athens, Georgia: How often do you write? Do you write everyday or in bursts where you write a lot at once? Deb Wills from Ashland, Virginia: Do you write everyday? Do you set production goals (for lack of a better term) for yourself, or do you let poems come as they may? Campbell McGrath: My writing has no absolute pattern. I have young children, and my family takes precedence over my writing. As our life schedule evolves, as my work schedule waxes and wanes, my writing schedule likewise changes. In general I do not write everyday, but in concentrated stretches of a few weeks or months where I am aggressively working on one or several projects. Sometimes I set goals-I must get a complete new draft of these poems completed by such and such a date-but sometimes, sadly, these goals go unmet. The work of revision is more in your control, and setting "productivity goals" does make sense to me, as a way of overcoming inertia. However, the originating muse from whence the poem arises is far less controllable, and generally comes when and if it so decides.

M. Parker from Las Vegas: Do you recall the poem, or group of poems, you wrote when you felt like you were no longer writing young poems or poems which you were unsure about? Campbell McGrath: In graduate school I began to write a series of "Capitalist Poems," beginning with "Capitalist Poem #5." Those poems for me mark the beginning of my "authentic" voice as a poet. They were still young poems, but in them I began to identify the subject matter from which my poetry would spring-American culture and commerce and discourse and dissonance, the search for place and community in our contemporary world. In some senses my writing has evolved far beyond those early poems, but in another sense I am still writing them. The 7-11 was the iconic heart of those poems, and I'm sorry that my life today does not include a 7-11-they don't have too many down here in Miami.

Mark Felton from Maine: Is meter an important part of your initial writing? In other words, are you consciously thinking about meter while you write, or is it a concern that develops after a draft of the poem has been written? Campbell McGrath: Meter does not play any part in my poetic process.

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who are some of that you would recommend I read? S. I think you received as much response to your humor as anyone who read after you that night. from Albany.V. Merwin. Ireland: Who are some of your favorite poets.Poets Q&A http://www. Waters from Michigan: Which poets do you find are the best for teaching college-level workshops? 2 of 13 5/13/2011 10:54 PM . Some of those poets I had met-such as Robert Pinsky. NY: Do you read the work of contemporary non-American poets. whose most recent book is Cry for the Hot Belly. Dr. Gluck. many of them women. but that was certainly an all-star cast. E. Sue from Washington DC: I remember seeing you read at the Library of Congress some years ago. I'm particularly fond of contemporary Irish poetry. who invited me there as a Fellow of the Library-but some I had never encountered. Among such poets are many of those I return to again and again. Neruda. and wanted to present new work. You read with a bunch of the "super star" poets-Pinsky. as the event was to celebrate the bicentennial of the Library of Congress. How unfinished was the poem at that time? I enjoyed the book very much and I'm happy to have found you at Smartish Pace-thank you. There are some really gifted younger poets. etc.com/home/poetsqa/mcgrath_answers. from Dublin. Rilke. and I prefer finding poets for whom multiple translations exist.M. etc. Basho. of whom I particularly like Kerry Hardie. but not meter. or other writers. and if so. which made it exciting for me to be there. Horace.E.-and I'm wondering if you were nervous? They described you as a "newer poet" and I'm wondering if you had been in that type of readings before? You read some of your Florida poem. including many of the traditional tropes and tricks of the trade.html Rhythm and breath and musicality. from Gallery Press. And I do remember reading the first few pages of "The Florida Poem. I also read contemporary fiction by people like Calvino.smartishpace. which I believe was still unfinished at the time. Campbell McGrath: I had done a few readings with other major figures. so I can triangulate among them. and arrive at a richer understanding of the original. Kundera and Sebald-poetic prose writers with lyrical and imagistic imaginations." which at that time had no ending-but I felt certain of the beginning. So I was excited. which is a very rich vein at the moment. not writing in English? Campbell McGrath: It is hugely complicated to read poetry in translation. but I don't get very nervous about readings anymore-I've just been doing it long enough to feel comfortable. I think Heaney is the best poet in the language. I like Paul Durcan and Ciaran Carson.

Thank you. A Campbell McGrath fan from Conway. as in Spring Comes to Chicago. there is more poetry being published today than ever before. Mr. It takes me several years to feel certain that a poem is really finished. Murray from Phoenix. Sometimes I only solve the final problems in a long poem as a book is entering the publication stage. And there are several anthologies of younger American poets that display the breadth and passion of the art while keeping it recognizably human. and so I lose out on the chance to publish it in a magazine. you just have to keep reading until you find it. CO: Do you think the standards for poetry have been watered down in the past couple of decades? It seems that as the avenues to publication increase.S. Eliot. while my books might have 20 or 25-or only 3 or 4. William Carlos Williams is more useful than T. that's certainly true. but it seems like you don't publish in the mags too often. the quality of the average poem has significantly decreased. Karen from Tampa. Also. and when haven't they been? I don't think having a lot of good. Many books tend to have around 50 poems in them. But even the mediocre poetry is a sign of an art that is truly flourishing.Poets Q&A http://www. why? The "Bob Hope" poem is. it would be wonderful to see your poems appear in more magazines. Campbell McGrath: Most of my poems are published in mags before they appear in books. in my opinion. As you are one of my favorite poets. one of the five best poems written since World War II. It's all out there. 3 of 13 5/13/2011 10:54 PM . who are all the rest of these poets being published?! Campbell McGrath: Well. for instance. but I tend to write long (or even very long) poems. Fantastic artistic geniuses are rare today. solid work negates the possibility of brilliant and original poetry being written and published. solid poets around publishing their good. longer poems tend to feel unfinished to me for a longer period of time. and longer poems tend to have a troublesome line or passage that resists revision. some is mediocre. Some of it is good. But I thank you for looking for the poems.html Campbell McGrath: I think college kids benefit from exposure to a wide range of poets.com/home/poetsqa/mcgrath_answers. therefore there are less of them. and I believe that literary magazines are the most authentic forum for contemporary poetry. Arizona: Did it really take you nine years to write the "Bob Hope" poem? If so. Florida: Do you think the genuine poet is rare? And if so. Brent May from Gunnison.smartishpace. and especially those who speak of and from our recognizable world. Arkansas: Why don't your poems appear in more magazines? I read a good number of "popular" poetry magazines and I see the same old poets being published over and over.

the latter half with Road Atlas. right up to its publication. And mostly. but it's not how I think of myself. on your recommendation. by any objective standard. but it did take that long to complete. Since I grew up in the DC area. I'm still doing it-that makes me "a writer. and so far exceeded my ability to control or even to foresee where it was going.Poets Q&A http://www. Campbell McGrath: There were some places to find me reading poems on the internet. from Winnipeg. the size of the poem. I am one.C.com/home/poetsqa/mcgrath_answers. bought a house-things which tend to interfere with the writing of a long poem. So. Parts were still being revised in 1995. Sam Anderson from Harrisburg. I kept doing it.smartishpace. began a new teaching job. Maryland: Will you be reading in the Smartish Pace reading series? I missed you last time you were in the area and I was thinking maybe you're friends with this magazine and maybe you'll read this spring or next fall? I enjoy your poetry and look forward to hearing you read someday. Canada: At what point did you consider yourself a writer? a poet? Did the same event precipitate both? Campbell McGrath: I don't really consider myself a poet even now. Maybe you could search via Google? I wish I could be more helpful." but I really don't care about the title too much. while writing it I was writing other things as well: the first half of it overlaps with the writing of American Noise. Have you written such a poem? Campbell McGrath: "Wheatfield Under Clouded Sky" is a poem titled 4 of 13 5/13/2011 10:54 PM . by no means was I writing the poem every day for nine years. Some passages date back to poems I was writing in the mid-1980s. I will probably read there again before too long-I'll volunteer my services to Smartish Pace next year.html Campbell McGrath: Thank you for saying so. PA: I've read a number of poems. some in Smartish Pace over the past couple of years. During those ten years I moved from Chicago to Miami. that we're inspired by visual arts. Also. and we have lots of family there and in Baltimore. and the complexity of its various subjects account for that extraordinary length of time. J. its diversity of form. but I'm not sure. and perhaps still are. I liked doing it. (What are the other four?) "The Bob Hope Poem" took years to write because it was so large and complicated. There was no one magical milestone in my becoming a writer. just steady progress-what they say about life is true of writing as well: it is a process and not an event. and thank you Smartish Pace. Beth from Oxford. when I wrote the longer historical poems in the second half of Capitalism. McGrath. Where on the internet can I hear a clip of you reading your poetry? Thank you Mr. had children.

where poems are published in the Sunday papers.programmatic" reading that sparks a poem. as we all know. My poems often begin with a scrawled passage in a notebook.smartishpace. Poets can be effective voices of political outrage in this country. In my very first book. Poetry is in some sense the national art form of Ireland. Revision is the real work. is a gift of the muse. Dan from Baltimore: Before the Romantics.com/home/poetsqa/mcgrath_answers. one of his later. James from Roanoke. Do you do this? Or do you go for long stretches of writing and not reading.html after a Van Gogh painting. for example. intermixed with Woody Guthrie songs. 5 of 13 5/13/2011 10:54 PM . I can't even imagine a scenario wherein it escapes the wings and seizes the cultural spotlight. and poets are viewed as important cultural figures. America's national art form is the Hollywood blockbuster. Yet I often find my reading to be a catalyst to writing-some word. And as poetry is a cinematic art. or cultural anthropology. With war on the horizon. Same for some American poets of the sixties.Poets Q&A http://www. but I'm not always writing. image or idea in a book will somehow inspire a poem. a poem called "Where the Water Runs Down" incorporates several Ansel Adams photographs as a subject. While poetry is flourishing in America. Virginia: As a writer (of fiction) I try to strike a balance everyday between reading and writing. I am often influenced stylistically by the movies. where so many people feel resigned to their fates and seem unwilling or unable to raise their own voices in protest. moody landscapes of hayfields in northern France. or a biography of Ulysses Grant-but often it's the "non. and their work and views held sway. That they will go unheard does not mean they would be better left unsaid. while inspiration. American poets will man their invisible barricades and sound their warcries. Alvin Duran from Baltimore. The poem very much originates with that painting. Sometimes my reading is designed as a program to support a poem I'm writing-the history of Florida. and transform through dozens (or even hundreds) or revisions. Do you see something similar on the horizon for American poetry in this decade? Does American poetry have a large enough audience to impact society? Campbell McGrath: Why would a society that doesn't care enough about basic literacy to provide adequate supplies of paper and pencils in elementary schools care about something as luxuriously literate as poetry? Many other cultures value poetry far more highly-Ireland. or reading and not writing? Campbell McGrath: I'm always reading. popular English poets were more politically engaged. Maryland: How much do your rough-drafts resemble the poems that they become? Campbell McGrath: Very little.

html Sally Ann from Davenport. 6 of 13 5/13/2011 10:54 PM . For some reason I don't have a great answer to this question. Illinois: Have you read all the books on your bookshelf? Campbell McGrath: No. from NYC: How do you sustain such great creative and inventive momentum through your long poems? Campbell McGrath: Sustaining momentum is exactly the issue in longer poems. a sense of exploration. It was insightful to here such a wonderful poet give such a specific example of inspiration for his work. but linguistic and syntactical momentum. rather than turgid or repetitive. the poem should be shorter-listen to what the poem tells you. Elsewhere in these questions I point to a lot of general influences. Campbell McGrath: I wish I had read Robert's reply. a longer poem needs to be full of "stuff"-whether that is narrative. A poem is kind of like a rocket engine. which was inspired by a poem by Vladimir Mayakovsky. Obviously I need to think harder on this. historical. but right now I'm drawing a blank on any very helpful specific examples. geographical. And even though my bookshelves are full.Poets Q&A http://www. Is there a poet or particular poem that you can point to that was a major source of inspiration? And if so. rather than a sense of having been programmatically outlined in advance. It needs to have an element of discovery in it. and it's not just "creative" momentum. C. For me. (It takes a lot of hard work to appear spontaneous. and many of which I will not. what did it inspire in you? Thank you being here at Poets Q & A. Wisconsin: In his Poets Q & A session Robert Pinksy. many of which I will read. And if none of the above work.J. as it does sound extremely interesting. replied that he remembers the thrill he got from a particular Frank O'Hara poem about talking to the sun. Franz from Stevens Point.smartishpace. I keep buying more books. it often knows best. in that it burns fuel at a tremendous rate-but if you give it enough fuel it offers amazing propulsion. without which the poem falls flat. It's so nice of all you poets to take time to answer questions.) I also think it needs a wide range of diction in order to give a varied texture to the language. And control of the syntactical ebb and flow. philosophical-or better yet. enables the poem to feel energized to the last line. when asked about inspiration for his poetry.com/home/poetsqa/mcgrath_answers. a combination of them all. speeding up and slowing down the reader.

Thanks! Campbell McGrath: When I was in my twenties. I like all your poems-early and new. I also like what's happening with this young magazine Smartish Pace. My earliest published work is certainly the work of a young man. If I may. I love passionate. Richard Buckner to Paul Westerberg. With you being so young I was wondering if you had any small regrets with the early poems you published? In any case. Keep up the innovative work. the "younger" poets were already "older" poets. literate American songwriters who understand the medium. whether kind of countryish or alternative rockish. Campbell McGrath: I have never yet regretted publishing a poem. in an interview with Stephen Reichert. but I'm wondering how you got chosen to participate? Did someone recommend you? I'd like to do the same one-day. I've also been inspired to write poems by Charlton Heston and "The Price Is Right. but the reverse holds true as well. D. it's a breath of desperately needed fresh poetry air. Keep up the wonderful writing. I felt somewhat annoyed and confused by the fact that "younger" poets were people in their 40s who had already published several books. If they were "younger. From Woody Guthrie to contemporary rock and roll. but man. I have written many poems that I have never chosen to publish.Poets Q&A http://www. and even when I was in my twenties I did not submit poems to magazines unless I felt certain about them.smartishpace. Colorado: Who are some artists who inspire you and are not writers? Campbell McGrath: A lot of music inspires me. technically. I'd like to suggest Frank Bidart and Robert Creeley for Poets Q & A.html Dr. you're the NOW of poetry. June from UCLA: I'm a younger poet who has been published in a few magazines and I'm wondering how you were able to do Poets Q & A? It's such a great idea and I've been able to ask a couple of questions in the past." Mary from Philadelphia: I like some of our older poets. from Steve Earle to Stephen Malkmus. and it often addresses the concerns and issues I have now outgrown. I'm very influenced by "American" music." then what was I-infantile? To my mind. Silverman from New York: Do you like your newer poems more than your early poems? I read where Stephen Cushman said. just beginning to publish. that he wasn't embarrassed by his early work because his first published poems came much later in life when he already had time to develop his writing. but that doesn't make me regret being that person or thinking that way or writing out of that self.com/home/poetsqa/mcgrath_answers. It would be embarrassing to write like a 20-year old when one was 45. and am a much a better poet than I was then. White from Broomfield. If poetry were run by younger folks don't you think you would have pushed some of these tired old poets off the scene by now? Do we always have to wait for them to die? It seems unfortunate that poets such as you won't get the attention you deserve until we're all a lot older and other new-maybe more relevant-poets have come on the scene. as distinct from 7 of 13 5/13/2011 10:54 PM .

but I'm very glad that I am not Poet Laureate. heroic generation of poets born in the 1920s is diminished." so far as I know. I was delighted when he was chosen. and when they are gone the landscape will be startlingly barren. but in reality all that's waiting is the end of the line.smartishpace. I'm not as impatient about getting to the top. The two laureates prior to Pinsky-Robert Hass and Rita Dove-were also terrific in the role. and new candy takes its place. nor am I eager to push anyone off the edge. but not all laureates have such a specific agenda. but I can't think of another recent laureate who did anything special. but you are likely to learn even more from reading your elders-from those a single generation older. and also have poems printed on Slurpee cups at 7-11s. Personally. Wilbert Rohn from Traverse City. the tradition incorporates our generational concerns into its ever-evolving continuum. Maxine from Nebraska: Some people seem to have been critical of Billy Collins being named our Poet Laureate. Part of the frustration for younger poets is that sense that all the spots are already full. but first you have to know those models. And I don't mean copying them-you can learn by reacting against models you find inadequate. Every year now. all the poetry hats have been given out. Billy Collins does not have a "project. Hass' "special projects" concerned literacy and the environment. as he is a comic and accessible poet who has sought to enlarge poetry's audience throughout his career. Do you have any insight into these matters? If Mr. You can learn a lot from reading your peers. and seems to be doing a good job. and I would have voted for him to continue. the process will keep going long after we have vanished. but of course it is not a static arena but an evolutionary one. I don't see what all the fuss was about. and most relevant-at least to readers of that same generation. a sacrificing of one's private life for a very public job.com/home/poetsqa/mcgrath_answers. but he fits the bill as an energetic advocate. The art is larger than each of us individually. If I were Poet Laureate I would organize readings at Wal-Marts in all fifty states. but that's not the way the post is conceived. more like the production line in the famous "I Love Lucy" episode. but I'm still trying to figure out exactly what the poet laureate does? Robert Pinsky with his favorite poems project seemed to be active in promoting poetry among the masses. Michigan: Have you thought of pursuing an endorsement deal with Campbell's soup? I bet you could 8 of 13 5/13/2011 10:54 PM . The job description is vague. From the vantage point of one's 20s it appears that fame and fortune are waiting at the end of the line. visible and energetic advocates for poetry. the remarkable. all the way back to the origins of the cannon. Pinsky was so active why didn't we just continue to make him Poet Laureate? And what would you do if you became Poet Laureate? Campbell McGrath: Robert Pinsky was a great Poet Laureate. Now that I'm in the middle of that generational progression. active. as to do the job well demands a tremendous commitment of time and effort. Poetry written by people in their 20s is often the most immediate. and being sponsoring some readings at the Library of Congress is the only official duty. and falling off the other end.html the "virtually ancient" poets at the top of the totem pole. That candy keeps coming down.Poets Q&A http://www.

but I wanted to address the history of Florida. its landscape and society. I've been very curious: what are your general political views? Do you prefer another system to Democracy? I enjoy your poetry very much. Just write and don't worry about where it will get you. Well. Hopefully the poem 9 of 13 5/13/2011 10:54 PM . What advice would you give an aspiring poet? Campbell McGrath: Stephen Dunn could not be more correct.Poets Q&A http://www.W. Did you write the long Florida poem in batches and come-up with the ideas as you went. To take an obvious example. how can anyone who truly believes in democracy not be scandalized at the vast and undemocratic influence of money on the process of government? Secret meetings between the White House and big oil corporations that result in dangerous revisions to environmental policies suggest the functioning of an oligarchy rather than a democracy. Campbell McGrath: But what would they get out of it? Alex E. from Trinity: I think it was Yeats who used to write down all of the ideas in a poem before he wrote the poem. Wisconsin: Stephen Dunn wrote in Poets Q & A that it's counterproductive to think about what it takes to make it as a big time poet. Rather than basking in self-satisfaction.com/home/poetsqa/mcgrath_answers. and America's version of democracy is probably the most pragmatically successful yet.html make a ton. America needs to address the large and growing inequities. This seems like a very logical way to write a poem. I never actually charted out all of its ideas. to identify some kind of beginning. hypocrisies and falsities it blithely tolerates. as I couldn't really make sense of the place. from UNC: I know this may not be the sort-of thing you want to answer in a forum such as this. do you plot them out or just write from beginning to end? Thank you. D. or did you have a plan as to the topics we'd write about before you set out writing? Melanie from Denver: In your long poems. Campbell McGrath: Democracy seems like an excellent system. even its "mythic" underpinning. Thank you. I consider it only the beginning. And thanks to Smartish Pace.smartishpace. Campbell McGrath: I did write "The Florida Poem" in stages. I wanted to go back as far as I could into the past. and end at the present moment. or find in my research some overarching theme or trope. it took quite a few years to get going on the poem. as there really is no where to get. Mr. Salazar from Oshkosh. Having established that ambitious agenda. But rather than being the end of the question. if such there were. I guess I'm being very counterproductive. but this is still a pursuit of mine. but having read some of your books.

is it possible not to be enamored of Bob Hope and hate him with fiery hot hate? Campbell McGrath: I don't think so.smartishpace. any such pre-planning should remain a suggestive map rather than a rigidly adhered to outline. too. I could imagine not caring either way. It's hard to choose a favorite poem." but even the products of human greed and confusion deserve respectful consideration. Jackie from Toledo: What do you tell people when they ask you to define the prose poem? (Has anyone ever asked you that?) Why write in the prose poem form rather than in broken lines? Campbell McGrath: People ask me that all the time. the more deeply I care about anything. the more ambivalent I become-there are few black and white issues in this world. Duncan from Baltimore: My favorite two lines from Florida Poems are "Chuck E.html enacts that process of discovery to some degree. no matter how small./the bewhiskered Mephistopheles of ring toss. and I'm happy to act as spokesperson for the prose poem. why can't a professional poet?!!! Campbell McGrath: Thanks for the praise. it's what our other local hero Michael Jordan does every time they stick a microphone in his face. That is. skeeball prizes. why not sketch a blueprint of those ideas in advance? However. your poems in some way reverence those plastic spider rings and 7-11 burritos. i. David Lane from Chicago: The Bob Hope poem is David Lane's favorite Campbell McGrath poem. They are like small creatures one has created. say. but David Lane is wondering which Campbell McGrath poem Campbell McGrath likes best? David Lane is also hoping Campbell McGrath can answer by referring to himself in 3rd person. and their feelings are easily hurt. but once I decide to "care" about Bob Hope. and I bet it is for others in Chicago. I mean. and really examine him and what he says about America. I don't know about "reverence." When you pair transcendent ideals with products. I do like "The Bob Hope Poem". to make some sense of Florida. Chuck E. Now. though I receive no recompense 10 of 13 5/13/2011 10:54 PM . which is a dinosaur among the dancing mice. as the poem needs to retain its organic freedom to become what it needs to become. but I remain fond of mice.Poets Q&A http://www.com/home/poetsqa/mcgrath_answers. Cheese is getting pretty close to black and white-I really can't find a redeeming detail to the place. In general. both real and implied. Cheese is the monstrous embodiment of a nightmare. If the poem is derived from ideas. gradually. The strategy you (or perhaps Yeats) suggest sounds very logical to me.e. is that reprehensible? Is it possible to be enamored with Bob Hope and hate him with fiery hot hate at once? Rather. disgust and admiration seem inseparable. as I came. and a lot of grey areas. rather than narrative.

so check that out if what I say here is unclear. Poetry and prose are like silver and gold. The longer poems often feel like they have loose ends. I am currently weary of "monumentalism" and striving for simplicity and compression in my work-writing a lot of haiku. or a lot of landscape detail-a lot of hard-to-digest data. but in prose sentences-it surrenders the poet's most valuable tool. but in return gains access to a broader palette of syntax and sentence structures. A prose poem is not written in lines. as if these were two realms divided by some kind of Berlin wall. and tugging on one screws up something later in the poem. 11 of 13 5/13/2011 10:54 PM . etc. well worth exploring." When do you decide the less monumental poems are good enough for the world to see? Campbell McGrath: Actually. They are not easier to write. and some are very short or follow a prescribed assignment-like form-"Seashells. First of all. the line break.html in my role as product endorser. Of course this is not true at all. Emotions and human feeling can and should be part of the poetic process-but don't overstate them. I wrote a poem called "The Prose Poem" that is actually a parable or essay about prose poems. and poets who rely on traditional prose techniques.com/home/poetsqa/mcgrath_answers. This is not an aesthetic judgment.smartishpace. Rather than inhabiting rigidly delineated zones. imagistically. just a technical issue. and to emphasize their differences is to overlook their far more obvious kinship. I find prose poems particularly accommodating to poems with a strong narrative line. If prose poems were called something else-like "gridmatics" or "Rufus"-there would be far less confusion about their identity and validity as a poetic form. A prose poem is essentially a shortish piece of imagistic. The shorter poems are less logistically complex. lyrically written prose that employs poetic structural strategies. in particular poetic closure. prose poems appear to be a logical impossibility. whose inner workings remain poetry. A prose poem is exactly what it says it is: a poem written in prose. Mary Katherine from Albuquerque: What is the difference between sentiment and sentimentality? I've often been told my poems are too sentimental. in fact. poetry and prose share a complicated terrain with no hard and fast boundaries. It is like a building sheathed in the smooth glass of prose. Campbell McGrath: Good question. which then must be adjusted. for me it's harder to know when the "monumental" ones are complete than the shorter ones.Poets Q&A http://www. Derrick from Hollywood. a homeless refugee in no man's land. there are lyrical and poetic prose writers who steal generously from poetry. Rather than stating them at all. This appears confusing only because of the false dichotomy some people perceive poetry and prose. but easier to wrap up. Florida: Some of your poems are monumental in scale and in their ideas. but because of some confusing nomenclature. It is a great form. Manasota Key. try to show them. per se.

but not so many poets. what book do you reread most often? Campbell McGrath: Whitman and Sandburg are quoted in "The Bob Hope Poem". Sierra from San Diego: How do you come up with ideas for poems? Campbell McGrath: I don't come up with them so much as they come up with me. Shirley from Sheboygan. I decide to write a poem about a thing or place or idea. MA: What's more valuable in the long run. and that's one poetic tradition I've been heavily influenced by. How do you think travel has influenced your work. TX: In "The Bob Hope Poem" you use many quotations from Wittgenstein and such like. Novelists have been a big influence on my literary sensibility. besides by giving you material? Campbell McGrath: For some reason the act of traveling. Three bodies of poetry I have reread many times are: the prose poems of James Wright.html Todd from Oklahoma City: You've obviously traveled quite a bit. a 12 of 13 5/13/2011 10:54 PM .. Basho. There is plenty of material in different landscapes and societies. as you say. Neruda-some of these I've mentioned in other contexts here. but usually the poem arrives as a moment of inspiration-. a poem about two poppies in a vase that somehow remind the poet of her daughter and herself and their strained relationship. the poems of Sylvia Plath. or. Max Frisch's Man in the Holocene. James Wright. though perhaps not my actual writing-Faulkner. Sylvia Plath. William Carlos Williams.a linguistic quickening of attention. and create the poem out of whole cloth. The poetry has supplanted the prose in my affections. David from Provincetown. What writers influenced your writing the most? Thanks to Smartish Pace for Poets Q & A. and The Bear. Rilke. a song fragment paired with a few seconds of film footage-and then it's my job to cut and stitch that shard or segment into a poetic whole. Elizabeth Bishop. Calvino.smartishpace. by William Faulkner-though in general I have not read these in many years.com/home/poetsqa/mcgrath_answers. or if that's too difficult. but rarely. whether by car or plane or whatever. but the sheer act of being in motion in the world just starts me writing. Melville. even if the outside world is brought into the poem through the specific relationship. and Rilke's Duino Elegies. Dos Passos. Among poets. Kerouac's On the Road. Prose works I have read many times include Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities. inspires me to write. or perhaps there is just no end to what can be learned from great poetry. Whitman. Sometimes. Kerouac..Poets Q&A http://www. WI: What is your favorite book of poetry. Wallace Stevens. Chris from Wichita Falls.

Poets Q&A http://www. was it her task to address social or political themes? I don't think so. only the internal judgment as to whether the artwork succeeds. painting or film or poetry. 13 of 13 5/13/2011 10:54 PM . and the world needs to be invoked in more complex detail. In any genre.html poem that is concerned with the world outside the poet's personal life? Campbell McGrath: This question is unanswerable. and each work of art enacts it anew. as I think we all know. on the other hand.com/home/poetsqa/mcgrath_answers. the personal perspective can sometimes resonate more deeply than the grand objective project-a flower in a vase is quite capable of bearing the weight of human joy or suffering. You can balance The Divine Comedy against a single haiku. Sometimes. Each artist makes this value judgment for his or herself.smartishpace. There is no external truth to either approach. the flower feels inadequate. and who's to say which is more valuable? Should Dickinson have attempted to write Whitman's poems.