Reading Elise Partridge

This piece was initially published in The Coastal Spectator in anticipation of the posthumous book launch for Elise Partridge's The Exiles' Gallery. I have modified the essay slightly to serve as a more general commentary. You can read the original here.


Elise Partridge
I was a fan of Elise Partridge the Poet before I was a fan of Elise Partridge the Person. Sometimes I need to remind myself of that. Not because her poems prove lacking—far from it—but because she was perhaps the most generous and encouraging poet around. Following Elise’s death from colon cancer at the end of January, proof of her giving spirit came pouring in from just about every corner of the Canadian poetry world (from The Globe and Mail and Quill and Quire, to writers’ personal blogs). Christopher Patton noted that Elise was “warm loving acute witty skeptical wry and humane,” Elizabeth Bachinsky added that she was “gracious and self-effacing,” and Stephanie Bolster praised “the generosity of spirit, the deep humanity, the ability to see each person or thing clearly and for its own qualities” in Elise’s life and work. In my own piece remembering Elise, I wrote that she taught me “that the generous heart and spirit that go into the page need to be the same heart and spirit that travel out into the world every day.”

Serifs ascending, descending,
I want to recognize all of you

– Chemo Side Effects: Vision
But before all that, for me, Elise Partridge was the name on the byline above two poems: “Chemo Side Effects: Memory” and “Chemo Side Effects: Vision”. The year must have been 2008, or soon after, when both poems were published in Elise’s sophomore collection Chameleon Hours (Anansi). At the time, as today, I was in part drawn to poetry for its compactness and care for detail: the best poetry serving as an antidote against the big, noisy, chaotic world we live in. But the moments when poets really did this—really stopped and looked, and became small and free and powerful through that looking—were rare. Then I opened Chameleon Hours and there was Elise, in the middle of chemotherapy—a particularly awful type of industrialized chaos which denied her full access to her basic faculties—saying “No” to the disease and the distraction. Saying, “I’m sorry if you’d rather I worry about the ‘big picture,’ but I have this small thing to look at: a word, a letter, the serif on the tip of an f, this fiddlehead fern.” Saying this even if she couldn’t quite see them any more. What a bold statement it seemed to me then, and even more now, against death. “Death,” it was as if she was saying, “you can do many things, but you cannot stop me from relishing the world.”

In Babel, they also lay down and wept.
– The Alphabet

The Exiles' Gallery
(Anansi, 2015)
And death didn’t. Testament to that is Elise’s third collection, The Exiles’ Gallery (Anansi, 2015). Two poems which are the new book’s strongest inheritors of the defiant looking of the “Chemo Side Effect” poems are “X, a CV” and “The Alphabet.” In “X, a CV”, the author lists the twenty-fourth letter’s finest accomplishments and most famous roles, including “bowling strike,” “kiss,” and “default sci-fi planet.” She drills down and down into a letter most of us think little about (“in Pirahã the glottal stop; / a fricative in Somali”) and in the process elevates and enriches the final image: “the name of millions: / those never granted an alphabet’s power.” I’ve read this poem aloud and listened as that last line’s simple observation resonated through the room, generating a depth of meaning it never would have accomplished had it been placed at the end of any other poem. More proof that Elise’s particular form of persistence paid off. “The Alphabet” functions similarly, with perhaps a more devastating conclusion.

And each crop a loyal perennial.
That infinite stash of pippins,
cores shied over a wall!
– Before the Fall

Elise’s attention to words and letters is not limited to their shapes and serifs—it’s clear in an Elise Partridge poem that all of a word’s meanings were considered, too, before it was pressed into the page. Many poets ask their reader, via the density of their poems, to pick up the dictionary in order to fully understand the poet’s work—few, though, succeed in making that process pleasurable. But with Elise’s rigour and intention, I always know the extra work will be worth it. Take, for example, the last sentence of the short poem “Before the Fall” (which opens a section of The Exiles’ Gallery). A poem about Adam and Eve in the garden, it closes: “That infinite stash of pippins, / cores shied over a wall!” Look up “pippins” in the dictionary and you’ll see it’s the word both for the apple and the seed (such a vital distinction in the Garden of Eden!). Look up “shy” and you’ll find a great number of meanings (eleven in the dictionary I’m using) from “throw” to “reserved” to “startle” to “distrustful” to “insufficient” – all of which seem to have a home in the poem.

The gate that won’t quite shut
with its scruff of lichen
invites us into the orchard

– Invitation
As playful and powerful as the above poems are, the most affecting suite of poems in The Exiles’ Gallery comes, as with the “Chemo Side Effect” poems in Chameleon Hours, when Elise applies her determined attention to her battle with cancer (Abigail Deutch, in her review of The Exiles’ Gallery, pulls out a line from “Chameleon Hours” and suitably dubs Elise “The Virtuoso of Upheaval”). In poems like “Gifts”, “The If Borderlands”, and “Invitation”, we see the rich benefits of all of Elise’s looking and insisting: “the bursting plums” in the orchard, which we are invited “to pick ‘till time and times are done’”; the globe in our hands that we linger and long for, “tender as a peach.”

With your labour of double love
you will give us hundreds,
and all you ask is two loaves.

– Range
At this point in reading and thinking about Elise and her work, the difference between Elise the Poet and Elise the Person begins to feel irrelevant. She lived the two, in union, so seemingly effortlessly. Like Klaus, the repairman in her poem, “Range,” Elise came into our lives both in person and on the page, and fixed what needed fixing. As Elise's friend and colleague Barbara Nickel puts it: “Like Klaus… Elise gave and gave and gave careful, meticulous, loving attention—to her poems, to others’ poems, to friends and family, strangers, anyone she met.” In talking with Elise’s husband, Steve, he used the phrase “scrap-yard rescue” to describe a theme that runs through Elise’s poems like “Range” and “A Late Writer’s Desk”— poems focused on “preserving what others have given up on.”

My friend, you didn’t lie down.

– Last Days
Sometimes it feels like poetry itself is what we, as a society, have given up on. Or simple, generous attention. Or, simply, generosity. But all of these things feel preserved, and redeemed, when you have a book of Elise Partridge’s poetry in your hands. So please, pick up a copy and find a comfortable chair. Read with the focus and wonder under which the poems were created. And wherever you are, you won’t be alone or unseen.

Miranda Pearson reading at Elise Partridge's Vancouver Book Launch, May 21st, 2015


Elise Partridge Essay and Launch (Tonight!)

Tonight, in Vancouver, we will be launching Elise Partridge's posthumous collection The Exile's Gallery. In anticipation of the event, I wrote a little essay on Elise, her writing, and some of the poems in the new collection. You can read that here:

Book launch celebrates life and work of late Elise Partridge

As for the event itself, it will take place at 7 PM, at the Heartwood Café near Broadway and Main, and will feature a really wonderful lineup of readers. You can get more info via the event's Facebook page or by moving your eyes slightly lower on this page to view the event poster:

(click on image to enlarge)
I hope to see you there!


part of a vast and communal enterprise

As a parent, you do have to grow up – or at least moonlight as an adult. It’s a truth that terrified me at first. I figured that “parent-mind” – preoccupied with schedules, routines, logistics, crossing chores off lists, and caring for others – would be bad for the work, and in some ways of course it is, because it devours so much time and keeps hauling you out of the sacramental mode and back into the logistical/secretarial.

But on the whole I was wrong. As with any parent who doesn’t hate the job, my vision of life and, hence, my imaginative scope have widened hugely with fatherhood. Being a parent, and thus an adult, alters your vision of time and mortality. You can’t help starting to see yourself as part of a vast and communal enterprise, instead of a discrete, isolate being (i.e. an eternal child enwombed at the navel of the cosmos). Eternal children can write nothing but lyric poems until their lyric source is depleted; or else they write self-focused, first-person Bildungsromans, one or two at the most, till that source too dries up. A child who becomes an adult – even if an incomplete, part-time, sometimes grudging one – is inducted into the world’s larger life and can never run out of material.

-Steven Heighton, in interview with Evan Jones over at Partisan. You can read the whole thing here.


May Dead Poets - Tomorrow!

The next Dead Poets Reading Series even will take place on May 10th, 3-5 PM, Alice MacKay Room, VPL Central Branch, and will feature:

Frances Horovitz (1938 - 1983), read by Alan Hill
Maxine Kumin (1925 - 2014), read by Rhona McAdam
Grace Paley (1922 - 2007), read by Martha Roth
Lorraine Vernon (1921 - 2004), read by Heidi Greco
Goethe (1749 - 1832), read by Graham Good

You can RSVP for the reading via Facebook here. For more info, visit our website.

Please help spread the word, and if you're in Vancouver, I hope to see you there!


PRISM 53.3 - Launches Tonight!

My third issue as editor of PRISM international is being launched tonight! The details are all here in this alarmingly green poster:

You can RSVP via Facebook here, or just show up. There will be food, and you'll have the chance to be the famous pizza pug:

Even if you can't make it to the launch, I'm hopeful you'll pick up a copy, as I'm quite proud of the issue.

It features new work from a number of Canadian writers, including locals Evelyn Lau, Daniela Elza and Angela Rebrec, and also writing from three Americans: Todd Boss, Derek Sheffield and Katy E Ellis. The feature to open the issue is a five-poem sequence by Alberta poet Nora Gould, an excerpt from her forthcoming Brick Books collection Joy, breathe (Fall 2016).

To promote the issue, I interviewed Todd Boss (who I was lucky to meet at AWP) about his Motionpoems project, in which he pairs poets and film makers to make fantastic short films:

Motionpoems: Videos and an Interview with Todd Boss

I also posted one sample poem from the issue, by Toronto poet Michelle Brown, which you can read here:

"Something Funny" by Michelle Brown

In addition to the poetry, the issue features some excellent prose, including Non-Fiction Contest winner Diane Bracuk's "Doughnut Eaters" and fiction by Richard Kelly Kemick (who will be reading at the big launch).

So come out tonight! And if you can't, think about picking up a copy via PRISM's online store.


inside something going on inside you

There are so many different ways of praying. For me the practice is writing. Not that what I’m writing is necessarily prayer-related, but the practice of writing is a way of centering, of clarifying and creating, and no matter what the poem is about, just the actuality of writing it, creating it and making it right is a jubilation. I can’t imagine not writing. It’s very healthy, it’s who I am, and not to do it would exact a tremendous cost. The peace that comes from writing is the peace of satisfaction, of fulfillment, even of surprise, because of course in writing there are always those moments that make you think, Where did that come from? You’re inside something going on inside you.

- David Zieroth, in interview with Kathryn Para over at Numero Cinq. You can read the whole thing here.


he's into Grecian urns, so am I!

Mike Spry: I guess the things I find interesting about all three books is that relationships with tradition and contemporary. You're equally comfortable discussing Twain and Maupassant as John Stamos and Beyoncé.

David McGimpsey: I don't think of those things as being unusual. The only thing that becomes unusual is people's insistence that things like John Stamos don't belong in poems. To me it's all just metaphorical matter, and I'm not really writing about John Stamos anymore than John Keats is writing about a Grecian urn. You don't say, "Oh I love John Keats because he likes Grecian urns too, this poet talks about the things that I like, he's into Grecian urns, so am I!" The world of poetry, for whatever reason, is fairly uncomfortable with the world of working class culture.


Spry: What about the Internet as a place, but more specifically social media as a place?

McGimpsey: I think these things have been an enormous benefit to literature. I can’t justify it in a full way. My anecdotal psychological insight into this is that Facebook and social media has made younger people generally better poets than they used to be, and the reason why is that now it becomes a thing that people just know how to do without being told how to do it: How to materialize the self. The function that poets often engage in to where your speaking self as a poet is a kind of materialization of an aspect of your personality. It’s not you, but a version of you. And good version of you. One where you’re more articulate, more on point, one where you’re more perceptive. Your Facebook is like that. It’s a materialization of who you are.

- David McGimpsey, in interview with Mike Spry over at Cosmonauts Avenue. You can read the whole thing here.


things like that

rob mclennan: Are public readings part of or counter to your creative process? Are you the sort of writer who enjoys doing readings?

Raoul Fernandes: I really like them despite the nerves and rarely being as good as I want. It's very important for my work to connect with people. I write my poems towards that. It's such an intimate thing to have people sit quietly and listen to you, to have that trust. Especially with something as potentially volatile or bewildering as poetry. After, I want to kiss all their foreheads and say “sorry” and “thank you.”

rob: Do you have any theoretical concerns behind your writing? What kinds of questions are you trying to answer with your work? What do you even think the current questions are?

Raoul: Oh goodness. Well, I think I can speak only for myself. I find myself getting obsessed with certain human qualities: how we perceive things, how we try to make sense of this life. What is this sensation I have no words for? How do we get through the day? Why did that person set himself on fire? Do I want to set myself on fire on occasion? Things like that.

- Raoul Fernandes, in interview with rob mclennan over on his blog. You can read the whole thing here.

Raoul is launching his first collection, Transmitter and Receiver, this Sunday at the Grand Luxe Hall. You can get more information on that here.


poetry is the invader

The best poems come through us, speak in our voices, and yet come from somewhere else entirely. We have to be other than ourselves at the moment of writing.

Only then does the poet’s imagination, recognizing the meaningless of most daily life, come to our rescue by offering its solution: a poem. An approximation of our experience in language but one that is more orderly, more meaningful and more humane.

Poetry is the invader that takes over those dormant areas of our minds when we are courageous enough to abandon our hold on them.

- Chris Banks, in interview with Alex Boyd about his new Anstruther Press chapbook Invaders, over on Alex's blog. You can read the whole thing here.

I've had a sneak peek at a bunch of the poems in the chapbook, and it's really something. There aren't many copies available, so grab one while you can!


like talking about the skeleton without talking about the flesh - "Don't Let It End Like This Tell Them I Said Something" by Paul Vermeersch

Sugar Transformed by the Sun - Paul Vermeersch
... Whatever can
be destroyed is going to be destroyed. Patience, patience.
Hate what needs to be hated. All is finished. All’s completed.

—A. F. Moritz

Skin. An eye. An ulcer. Whatever can bleed will be torn
by the nail or the knife. Matter that ripens, that rots,
will be cuisine for the grubs. If it can burn, be it paper,
or muscle, or coal, it will be ash when the sun swells
and reddens, taking the inner planets into its bloom
when the apparatus falters. Whatever can be destroyed
with a look, with a glance, will stand before the basilisk,
the Gorgon, or the cockatrice, and will petrify as when
the heat escapes, all at once, from a face, from a forest,
and is swapped with layers of many-coloured silica.
Whatever can be lied about, will. I have forgotten you.
This sentence is going to be destroyed. And the nail too.
And the knife. And the grub. And the sun as well will
corrode and get dull and pass into a fizzled, brown lump.

All of this is to say even a mountain is fragile, even one
that came from the bottom of the world, that came by inches,
by eons, that rose over India, and was worn. Patience,
patience. The erosion of Eliki, of New Orleans, will be repeated.
Even the Earth, at intervals, must miscarry. And what to do
in the interim but revel in the soft tissue? To conduct the blood
inaudibly to our extremities in the revelling. To taste the spit
in our mouths. Burn through the calories. Savour the injury.
Hate what needs to be hated. Fracture, cancer, lesion, and virus.
Though a virus might be taught to sing like a wren, become
the darling instrument on which we play our message:
Dear reader, all was beautiful. All was sugar transformed
by the sun. All was teeming in the seas. All was admired
while we could admire it. All is finished. All’s completed.

from Don't Let It End Like This
Tell Them I Said Something

(ECW Press, 2014).
Reprinted with permission.


Paul Vermeersch. Author of many poetry collections. Editor at Wolsak and Wynn. Devo devotee.

Photo whipped into shape by Kristen Foster.

I've long admired Paul's writing and t-shirt selection, so I jumped at the chance to interview him when his latest collection, Don't Let It End Like This Tell Them I Said Something, was released last Fall from ECW Press. Goodness, it's quite a book. Apocalyptic in its concerns, Don't Let It End... gets at its big questions through poems written within various formal restraints (glosas, erasure poems, found poems, and more).

The biggest of its questions, though, seems to originate outside the book itself. In the Ted Hughes poem "Gog", which inspires the opening section of Don't Let It End..., the speaker asks, "What was my error?" Vermeersch's book takes off from that moment, that question: the error committed, the apocalypse upon us (or, at least, inevitable). Throughout Don't Let It End... we are always looking back, probing, searching, for the root cause of the mistake.

The answer seems to come a few lines later in "Gog":
“I do not look at the rocks and trees, I am frightened of what they see”
The error was made because we were too afraid to look at the world, and at what we were doing. But now, Vermeersch insists, he will look, and we are invited to look with him. To sift through the rubble and see the error that was there all along.

Knowing the apocalypse would soon be upon us, Paul and I struck up a quick correspondence, and here - a mere six months later - I present you with the rapturous results.


Rob: Don't Let It End... is composed of six discrete sections, each quite distinct from the next and usually bound by a different set of formal restraints. That said, they are all very much linked by their shared apocalyptic concerns. Could you speak a bit about how the book came together? Did you have a few of these chapbook-length sections and then think that maybe there was a book in there, or did you think of this as a book-length project from the start?

Paul: I had just finished my previous book, The Reinvention of the Human Hand, which was very much concerned with the past, with human origins and evolution. Looking ahead to a new project, I wanted to do something I'd never done before, so I started experimenting with forms and techniques that I'd never really used before: centos, erasures, things like that. A lot of my first attempts went straight into the scrap heap, but initially I was happy just to play with these new toys and see how the parts fit together. As things started to take shape, though, I knew I was going to need something to hold the poems together. Since my last book was concerned with origins, it made sense that I should now consider endings, extinctions. Soon, I had this image of a ruined city, a city of texts, and instead of shattered buildings, the rubble was the scattered fragments of poems, stories, and such. It was my job to fit the fragments back together, to build something new. The post-apocalyptic theme for the book grew directly out of that image.

Rob: Writing in found forms (Jordan Abel, Mary Dalton, etc. etc.) and writing on apocalyptic subject matter (Jacqueline Turner, Al Rempel, etc.) are both popular in Canadian poetry right now. Do you think there is a link between the two, some common source or driver? Is there a common source you hoped to tap into by bringing the two together in your book?

Paul: All these forms of found poetry have lately been marshalled under the umbrella of conceptual writing, and a lot of the rhetoric concerning conceptual poetics, especially from those with a vested interest in promoting it, is apocalyptic by nature, as it tends to prophesize (or proselytize) the inevitable extinction of written art, like uncreative writing's admonition that “there’s no longer a need for new writing,” or what have you. Perhaps it’s just aggressive marketing to promote one kind of writing by declaring the rest obsolete, but it does fit nicely with the analogy of writing in found forms as rebuilding a ruined city — and yes, some of the writing in my book, especially the cento sequence “Rubble,” comes out of that concept. So there’s definitely a connection between found forms and the theme of apocalypse, but it’s more a matter of interpretation than anything intrinsic in found writing itself. Instead of apocalyptic themes, found writing can be genitive, liminal, transformative or mythic—whatever you want. The thematic application is only limited by the imagination of the author.

Rob: For years I've been tinkering with the idea of sonnet glosas (14 lines, 4 lines of quotes), trying them here and there, working my way towards a set structure I could work with going forward. So I was both excited and somewhat disappointed to see, in section four of your book (and demonstrated above in "Sugar Transformed by the Sun"), that you'd beaten me to it! Did you come up with the form on your own, or did you first encounter it elsewhere? Did you, by any chance, steal it from my dreams? What drew you to these hybrid/shortened glosas as opposed to the standard forty-line versions, and what have you found to be the strengths and weaknesses of the form compared to the standard version?

Paul: I had been working on some of these glosas at the same time I was editing Catherine Graham’s book Her Red Hair Rises with the Wings of Insects for Wolsak & Wynn. Catherine’s book was a real education in the possibilities of the glosa form for me. That manuscript was more traditional in its early stages, but the more she worked on it, the further she got from “the rules” of the form. Catherine really responded to that freedom, and she created all these gorgeous mutated glosas. I was inspired with her successes to see what I could with it, so my own glosa variations came directly from the experience of editing her book.

Rob: And a little bit from my dreams, right? Right! Ok, moving on... Thinking of your past books, in what ways do you feel this is in keeping with them, and in what ways do you think it's a new endeavour? Did you feel like writing this book involved stepping out of your comfort zone?

Paul: Because I started out consciously trying to do new things, I knew was stepping out of my comfort zone, but I was always concerned with staying true to my voice, or my aesthetic, or whatever you wish to call it. I wanted to build on what I've done, not abandon it. So, while this was a new way of writing for me, what I wrote is still very much in the continuum of my work. I'm not interested in repeating myself, of course, but I'm not interested in experiment for experiment's sake, or novelty for novelty's sake. I am always willing to try new procedures, but I am mostly concerned with the poem that results. No matter how it gets written, the poem itself needs to be satisfying, or the experiment was a failure. My aim was to put new tools in my toolbox, not reinvent the wheel.

Rob: In presenting this book to the world (sending the poems to magazines, soliciting the manuscript to publishers, reading the poems at launches, etc.) have you found that the more obviously "found" poems have been received differently from the others? Have you found this book to be received differently than your previous ones? If so, how? Have you gained any insights into how more experimental writing is received in our country?

Paul: I was actually quite nervous about how this book was going to be received. I had all these questions. Were people who liked The Reinvention of the Human Hand going to be disappointed if this book was too radical a departure? Was the book experimental enough to appeal to aficionados of more avant garde writing? In the end, though, I don’t think these questions really mattered. Several people have remarked how different this book is compared to my earlier work, so perhaps I have gained some insight on what it’s like to defy expectations. I think people like to be surprised, and readers who expected a certain kind of book from me were surprised by this one. As far as I can tell, the people who really liked Reinvention have stayed with me, and I seem to have attracted new readers who are looking for something more formally innovative. If anything, it looks like putting out a more “experimental” book may have broadened my readership.

But I don’t actually think this is useful information for me, creatively speaking. It doesn’t point me in a direction for my next project. If people enjoy this book or that book, there are too many variables to say why exactly, and I’m not sure I’m comfortable assuming it’s because the writing is more or less experimental or more or less lyrical. That seems too much like brand loyalty to me. I like to think readers are more sophisticated than that. We just have to write what feels right, and hope that readers will respond to it.

Rob: Don't Let It End..., in its taking on of such a range of forms, brought to mind the work of a great number of other poets. Ted Hughes, obviously, for the first section, "Magog", and names like Dalton, P.K. Page, Michael Lista, Suzanne Buffam, Jonathan Ball, all came to my mind at various times. Did you have major influences (poems, books, authors) for each of the sections?

Paul: Obviously Hughes and Page had an influence on parts of this book, and British poets like Peter Redgrove and Geoffrey Hill had an influence on it, I think. Maybe not in overt ways. But perhaps what you are getting at is an impulse to wrestle with one's influences as a way of addressing, or even including, the past, the poetic tradition or history that most compels or repels or propels us, as poets, to make poetry instead of, say, architecture or music. The poetics of repurposing, recycling, salvage and collage - at first glance it can seem radical or subversive, but often, I think it can reflect a desire to pay homage or to situate the work within a tradition. This is certainly the case with the glosa, which began as a form of poetic tribute in the 15th century Spanish court, or the cento, which started in second-century Rome and seems a creative cousin to the painterly practice of copying the masters' works in order to perfect their techniques. The current trend seems to focus on subversive interpretations of the practice like creative plagiarism, but there are also a profound implications of traditionalism in reusing or repurposing a text, or elements of a text. It provides a work a direct connection to its poetic parentage, its creative DNA.

Rob: In reading the fifth section of your book, "On the Reintegration of Disintegrated Texts: A Manual for Survival", which contains wild ideas for poems and writing projects (such as "Starting with the person nearest you, and then the next person and so on, type out the names of every living person on earth. // Call it "Roster""), took me straight to Kenneth Goldsmith's line on conceptual poetry:
"The best thing about conceptual poetry is that it doesn’t need to be read. You don’t have to read it. As a matter of fact, you can write books, and you don’t even have to read them. My books, for example, are unreadable."
Do you think this section of your book is in agreement with Goldsmith's statement? If so, how? If not, how is it pushing against it?

Paul: I don't think my manual for survivors is in agreement with Goldsmith's statement for one simple reason: it's meant to be read. In fact, I had written about half of it when I realized its similarity to Darren Wershler's The Tapeworm Foundry. Both are a list of more-or-less impossible, or at least improbable, writing projects. I reread Darren's book, which I highly recommend, to make sure I wasn't doing exactly what he had already done. To my relief, I wasn't. My sequence began as a parody of uncreative writing, but as with many things that self-satirize, the parody ends up looking a lot like its target. What's left is tongue-in-cheek artifact of my thinking process on the subject. But no, I haven't signed on to the movement; I still want to read and to write books that are meant to be read.

Rob: More generally, how do you feel about talking about the structure of your poems ahead of/instead of the content of them? Obviously concept and content are bound together, but do you worry that the full value of individual poems is somehow diminished by talking about them as structures or ideas or themes, instead of singular poems?

Paul: To me it's like talking about the skeleton without talking about the flesh. The living animal in motion will always be more interesting to me.

Be sure to grab a copy of Don't Let It End Like This Tell Them I Said Something before it's too late! You can do so from your local bookstore, or from the ECW Press website or, if you wish to hasten the apocalypse, Amazon.