Gregory Dowling teaches American Literature at Venice University.
1. What poet should be in Obama’s cabinet, and in what role?
Wallace Stevens, to remind people of the need of “an and yet, and yet, and yet”.
2. If you could send Obama one poem or book of poems (not your own), what would it be and why?
X. J. Kennedy, Peeping Tom’s Cabin, because he’ll need a good laugh occasionally.
5. What’s the funniest poem you’ve read lately? What was the last poem that made you cry?
funny: John Whitworth, “Being the Bad Guy” (you can find the poem at this address: https://www.ablemuse.com/erato/ubbhtml/Forum9/HTML/003064.html )
made me cry: “Death of the Hired Man” (it can get me every time)
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. Robert. Bishop. Couldn’t say. “Must resist…” No opinion.
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?
Comedian as the Letter C; Tim Burton; Johnny Depp
9. What lines from a poem you first read years ago still haunt you now?
Perhaps “Back out of all this now too much for us…”
10. What poem do you love, love, love, but don’t understand?
Esthétique du mal
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’m afraid my knowledge of the scandals of poets’ private lives stops more or less around the days of Lord Byron
13. This is the Best American Poetry blog. What’s the best non-American poetry you’ve read lately?
Don Paterson. Landing LIght
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?
Sailing to Byzantium. It would make a good film-title too. Any scene would do.
16. Do you have a (clean) joke involving poetry you’d like to share?
I never remember clean jokes.
17. Tell the truth: is it a poetry book you keep in the john, or some other genre (john-re)?
Among other things.
18. Can you name every teacher you had in elementary school? Did any of them make you memorize a poem? What poem(s)?
At elementary school, no. “The Lake Isle of Innisfree” at age 11.
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?
R.S. Gwynn – as Laureate and subsequently President. Because he’d carry it off with great panache. And we’d all be guaranteed a laugh.