Saturday, 29 June 2013

Unmade Beds

Lots of good moments in Daisy Fried's new interview over at the The Rumpus. On the question of whether she feels "frustration" with an "American vernacular tradition so dominated by dudes":
I’ve had a lot of success due to men: plenty of male editors, one instance where a male department head gave me better classes to teach the succeeding woman department head, male reviewers, a guy host who got me more money for a reading than his female-co-host told me was possible. Plenty of great women, too. Women have, in no sense, done me wrong—quite the opposite. The Poetess says, “A woman is no worse than a man,” and she’s quite right. I just mean I don’t perceive a difference in how I’ve been received as a poet and teacher by men versus by women. I will say that sometimes people say things that make me wonder if they’d have said them to a man. A guy says “you should take a more diplomatic tone” when you’re simply asking in a straightforward way for what you want, the way a man would. Most women have experienced this sort of thing. It’s tiresome. But overall, minor. I don’t feel frustrated about gender things. I’m very lucky on top of being pretty hard-working, and I don’t think I can complain.
On whether she's a "Mommy poet":
That said: what I get a little anxious about is talking too much about motherhood. This is not to say you shouldn’t ask. But am I going to be typed as a Mommy Poet? I don’t think I am one—motherhood and politics and sunlight and sex and work and money and weather and, good god, even kittens, are all what we have always with us, so why exclude them from poems? And it’s true I did just write potty training advice in my letter this week to my low-residency MFA student who has a daughter, but then I also went on to write to her about Francis Ponge and defamiliarization techniques, and whether or not she should include two long prose poems in her Master’s thesis. I do feel this all should be natural, not remarkable, this wearing of various hats, the code-switching between potty and poetry. Or should there be any switch at all?
And then there's this bright bit:
I don’t really have any thematic or strategic or formal goals; I just start writing and rewriting and basically harass the words and myself till I have a feeling the poem might be a keeper. I do want them to get better and better. I don’t want to repeat myself (and honestly am not sure how I would do that since I don’t really know what I do each time I write a poem). I’m sorry to be vague, but this is really all I can say. Of course when I’m applying for a grant or fellowship, this is also what I say, but in more detail and at greater length. So let’s try that: “Minds like beds all made up,” writes William Carlos Williams in the beginning of Paterson. The made-up mind is important for poets to avoid. How to stay open and unmade when it’s so much easier not to?

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