Danielle Pafunda is the author of My Zorba and Pretty Young Thing.
1. What poet should be in Obama’s cabinet, and in what role?
Mina Loy, secretary of Corpses and Geniuses. There is, at this site, an interesting petition for Obama to include a Secretary of the Arts.
2. If you could send Obama one poem or book of poems (not your own), what would it be and why?
Well, if I’m remembering my CNN, Obama took some poetry in college, so I’ll guess he’s familiar with the genre. Still, any one book seems insufficient. Maybe a presidential course reader?
3. What other poetry-related blog or website should I check out?
Delirious Hem has, this very moment, a gorgeous poetry advent calendar, made by Susana Gardner of Dusie, and featuring 24 irresistibles.
Here Comes Everybody ended its fine project of interviewing EVERYBODY (in poetry) in
April 2007, but the archives are a great read: http://www.herecomeseverybody.blogspot.com.
4. Who is the most exciting young/new poet I’ve never heard of, but whose work I ought to find and read?
Kim Hyesoon’s book Mommy Must be a Fountain of Feathers, translated by Don Mee Choi (Action Books 2008).
5. What’s the funniest poem you’ve read lately? What was the last poem that made you cry?
Laugh: I recently heard Caroline Knox read her poem “Salad” from Quaker Guns, and I had
a very junior high milk through the nose response. Hilarious.
Cry: Oni Buchanan’s poem in What Animal about the guinea pig who mistakes a green balloon
for lettuce, and accidentally pops and then nurses the balloon through a long night…sniffle…
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?
Dear Harvey, what sort of Frankenpoet are you building? How many Stein organs are you including? I hope you’re planning to bring it to life with wind energy.
7. Robert Lowell wrote a poem called “Falling Asleep Over the Aeneid.” What supposedly immortal poem puts you to sleep?
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?
Berryman’s Dreamsongs, directed by Tim Robbins, starring Johnny Depp. I know, obvious.
9. What lines from a poem you first read years ago still haunt you now?
Plath’s “I eat men like air.” I read it when I was seventeen, and it stuck. Also, “as if the earth in fast thick pants were breathing,” but only because the guy in my high school theater class who recited “Kubla Kahn” always wore the most ludicrous gigantic yellow corduroy pants. I’m haunted on a few levels by the image.
10. What poem do you love, love, love, but don’t understand?
That Joyelle McSweeney always dizzies me. The vaudeville, the refusal of the normative body (human, literary), I understand it with my impulse, and rarely with my brain pulse.
11. If the official organ of the AWP were not the Chronicle but were the Enquirer, what would some of the headlines be?
Well, I’d hope it would have more pictures of the poets with multiple heads, the poets with
multiple stomachs, the poets with horns, the poets with tails and scales…but the headlines would probably stay the same.
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?
Bidart’s Nijinsky, Plath’s Lady Lazarus, and Mary Jo Bang’s Louise.
13. This is the Best American Poetry blog. What’s the best non-American poetry you’ve read lately?
Kim Hyesoon, as above. Aase Berg (also published by Action Books). I should just admit that Action Books is my main resource for very contemporary non-American poetry. I’m a permanent fan of the now quite old The New Russian Poets 1955-1968.
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?
I don’t like surprises…but a poet I know, Jessica Bozek (whose first book is due out from
Switchback Books) made a beautiful poems-on-matchbook-covers project, and left these lovely little matchbooks around the city of Athens, Georgia.
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?
Anything animal by Marianne Moore...The film would be titled The Bride, The Heartthrob, and the Armadillo. The song would be sung by the bride’s sisters the night before the wedding.
16. Do you have a (clean) joke involving poetry you’d like to share?
I don’t know any clean jokes, but this is supplied by my three-year-old:
Apple the dog who crossed the road.
That’s a joke about poetry?
17. Tell the truth: is it a poetry book you keep in the john, or some other genre (john-re)?
I can’t abide books in the bathroom. Hygiene! But I have always wished I could keep and write poems in the shower. Laminate? Soap crayons?
18. Can you name every teacher you had in elementary school? Did any of them make you memorize a poem? What poem(s)?
Yes, I can name them all, and no, none of them ever asked us to memorize a “poem.” We
wrote them, though. My first publication is a Chanukah acrostic that begins, “chairs muddle in my living room.”
19. If you got to choose the next U.S. Poet Laureate, who (excluding of course the obvious candidates, you and me) would it be? Of former U.S. Poet Laureates, who did such a great job that he/she should get a second term? Next election cycle, what poet should run for President? Why her or him?
No second terms. No lame duck poets, please. Next, we ought to have Claudia Rankine, if
she’ll take it. Don’t Let me be Lonely is a great American book, and one I find peculiarly hopeful, despite.
I wouldn’t wish a presidential run on anyone, not even those blowhards who deserve it, but
I wouldn’t mind seeing Joe Wenderoth’s Letters to Wendy’s speaker give it a go; he’d have a helluva stump speech.
20. Insert your own question here.
[What book are you going to have to write for yourself since no one else seems to be writing it for you?] Mine’s about dead pearls and pigs and ugly ponies and spider misery. Yours?