Cecilia Woloch is the author of four collections of poetry, most recently a chapbook, Narcissus, winner of the Tupelo Press Snowbound Prize. A new book-length collection of poems is forthcoming from BOA Editions in 2009.
1. What poet should be in Obama’s cabinet, and in what role?
Leonard Cohen, even though he's not American -- or maybe because he's not American? He could be the bard-in-residence, or the secretary of passion and irony; he could sing "Democracy Is Coming to the USA" on the White House lawn.
2. If you could send Obama one poem or book of poems (not your own), what would it be and why?
I'd send him that little Shambala edition of Whitman's Song of Myself, because it's visionary and inspiring and great to read out loud.
4. Who is the most exciting young/new poet I’ve never heard of, but whose work I ought to find and read?
Natalie G. Diaz, Douglas Kearney
5. What’s the funniest poem you’ve read lately? What was the last poem that made you cry?
Miller Williams' "Ruby Tells All" always makes me cry. The one that made me laugh most recently was a poem called "Valentine" I came across in a literary journal -- maybe Kiki Petrosino is another young/new poet to watch for?
Sorry, but I just don't love you
more than Darwinism.
More than: Farmers take their animals to feed
upon the alpine balds.
I don't love you more than this cheese slice
which tastes of Swiss feet.
I don't love you more than falling off the
button lift, or haul lines,
or deciding whether peanut M&M's are treats
I don't love you more than old darknesses
and sipping from thimbles.
I just don't love you.
I just don't love you more than pizza.
Or the final scenes of Clue.
Or colored chalk.
Or what Clive Owen's jaws are made out of.
I don't love you more than the social imagination.
Or more than NPR on Sunday.
Or my own face, glyphed
with tulip pollen.
I don't love you more than the word classic.
Or my afro.
Or this badass wrestling singlet.
No. But you're better off.
I'd only cause you grief, in time.
Abandon you for someone jazzy, more hirsute —
Probably. I guess.
I mean, maybe if you stepped into the singlet right now.
Theoretically. Just to see.
Wait — Wait —
6. William or Dorothy? Robert or Elizabeth Barrett? Moore or Bishop? Dunbar or Cullen? “Poetry must resist the intelligence almost successfully” or “No ideas but in things”? Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas or Tender Buttons.
William, Elizabeth, Bishop, Dunbar. "No ideas but in things." Tender Buttons.
7. Robert Lowell wrote a poem called “Falling Asleep Over the Aeneid.” What supposedly immortal poem puts you to sleep?
Anything by T.S. Eliot.
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?
My undergraduates recently came up with the idea for "Howl, the Musical." I can't top that, I don't think., but I think that should be a Broadway show and not a film. I'd like to see a film version of David St. John's THE FACE directed by Tim Robbins and staring Viggo Mortenson.
9. What lines from a poem you first read years ago still haunt you now?
"Since after all, we were born to marry strangers ..."
10. What poem do you love, love, love, but don’t understand?
"Somnambule Ballad" by Lorca; "Death Fugue" by Celan; "Daddy" by Sylvia Plath
11. If the official organ of the AWP were not the Chronicle but were the Enquirer, what would some of the headlines be?
The headlines would be a lot like the headlines in Poets & Writers Magazine, wouldn't they? ;-) Or maybe there would be more scandalous stories about the sexual shenanigans -- teachers sleeping with students, etc... -- and cronyism and corruption in the academic poetry world. There would maybe be a big story about what's been happening in the New England College MFA program over the past couple of years and the law suit that's pending now.
12. If you were making a scandal rag for poetry in the grocery store checkout stands, what fictitious poetry love triangle would you make up to outsell that tired Hollywood story of Angelina and Brad and Jen?
I wouldn't have to go for anything fictitious if I could just go back to the 20's, 30's and 40's and use what was going on in those years between H.D. and Pound and Aldington and Bryher and whoever the father of H.D.'s daughter was -- Cecil Grey? D.H. Lawrence?
13. This is the Best American Poetry blog. What’s the best non-American poetry you’ve read lately?
The British poet Carol Ann Duffy's book called THE WORLD'S WIFE.
The Ukrainian poet Yuri Andrukovych, SONGS FOR A DEAD ROOSTER, as translated by Sarah Luczaj.
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?
In a movie theater, on the big screen, with background music, voice over, and beautiful visuals.
15. What poem would you like to hear the main character bust out singing in a Bollywood film? What would be the name of the movie? What would be the scene in which it was sung?
Sorry, I've never seen a Bollywood film. But once I burst into a third grade classroom and the kids burst out singing "Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening" to the tune of "Fernando's Hideaway." (Their teacher was playing piano, and some of the kids also did the tango.) That SHOULD have been filmed.
18. Can you name every teacher you had in elementary school? Did any of them make you memorize a poem? What poem(s)?
I can name them ALL. The first to get me to memorize a poem was the first one I fell in love with -- Mr. DiBenedetto, who turned 22 years old the year he taught my sixth grade class. I memorized "If" for him and recited it to the class.