Jacob McArthur Mooney: Do you see the book-length project, or the long poem, as becoming your preferred structure? And if so, why? Is it easier to arrange your thoughts? Is it a more reliable long-term source of inspiration than the “occasional” poem?
Michael Lista: ... Not every gesture is a manifesto. I wrote Bloom the way I did because it needed to be written like that. If a poet is writing a certain way because it’s “easier” then she’s probably doing her poems–and her readers–a disservice. Poems, long or short, fail because of the shortcomings of the people who write them, not because of the ontology of the form in which they are written. In tennis, you lose a point because you hit the ball too low, not because the net is too high or the ball’s too heavy.
I’m not interested in sloganeering; I’m not here to turn people off “individual poems” and onto “long poems.” Not at all. I write both, as the poems require themselves to be written... As I’ve said before, the long poem done right can provide a poet with opportunities for meaning that cloistered poems can’t. It populates the absences. The trick is to be scrupulous about the rules of mutual cohesion; otherwise you end up with the uber-unfortunate flab that gives some long poems a bad name.
- Jacob McArthur Mooney and Michael Lista in conversation on the latter's new book, Bloom, over at The Torontoist's Book Page. Read the whole thing here.