Alex Stein is the author of Weird Emptiness: Essays and Aphorisms.
1. What poet should be in Obama’s cabinet, and in what role?
A very small one, not subject to claustrophobia, crouching.
2. If you could send Obama one poem or book of poems (not your own), what would it be and why?
Leaves of Grass. Bill gave it to Hillary. That turned out well.
5. What’s the funniest poem you’ve read lately? What was the last poem that made you cry?
“As poets have mournfully sung,/Death takes the innocent young/ The screamingly-funny/ The rolling-in-money/ And even the very well hung.” Auden (from memory)
8. Even for poetry books, the contract has a provision for movie rights. What poetry book should they make into a movie? Who should direct it, and why? Who should star in it?
What are movies?
9. What lines from a poem you first read years ago still haunt you now?
There was a young lady of Bright/ Whose speed was much faster than light/ She set out one day/ In a relative way/ And returned on the previous night.
10. What poem do you love, love, love, but don’t understand?
“Your love is like the white sun/ it goes East in the morning/ and West in the evening./ Mine is like the North Star/ it has remained constant for a thousand years.” T’ang Dynasty. If I ever knew the author I have forgotten the name and I’ve never found the poem anywhere, ever since. I don’t understand why in one reading in a bookstore in Burlington, Vermont it seared itself into my brain and then all material trace of it vanished. I don’t understand why nobody I know knows this poem. Does anyone know this poem?
14. We read poems in journals and books, we hear them in readings and on audio files. Sometimes we get them in unusual ways: on buses or in subway cars. How would you like to encounter your next poem?
On the inner thigh of my lover.
17. Tell the truth: is it a poetry book you keep in the john, or some other genre (john-re)?
Why would anyone feel the need to not tell the truth in response to this question?
18. Can you name every teacher you had in elementary school? Did any of them make you memorize a poem? What poem(s)?
Shakespeare’s “Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow, creeps in its petty pace from day to day, to the last syllable of recorded time, and all our yesterday’s have lighted fools the way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle! Life’s but a walking shadow. A poor player who struts and frets his hour upon the stage and is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot. Full of sound and fury. Signifying nothing!