H. L. Hix's Twenty Questions aroused a lot of interest among readers last year. These responses, from Katy Evans-Bush, came in a week or so after Hix finished his stint as our guest blogger. Bush is the author of Me and the Dead (Salt Publishing). She blogs over at Baroque in Hackney.Thanks for sending them, Katy.
1. What poet should be in Obama's cabinet, and in what role?
Stevens: he was uncompromising in his art; he could see the things that
aren't there; and he was "a hell of an underwriter." He'd get things
done. And he brought doughnuts to meetings. He could be the Secretary
of Ice Cream, a role he would be free to interpret for the national
2. If you could send Obama one poem or book of poems (not your own), what would it be and why?
Harmonium. For the reasons cited above: it's the next best thing.
3. What other poetry-related blog or website should I check out?
4. Who is the most exciting young/new poet I've never heard of, but whose work I ought to find and read?
of a poet, I'll say a publisher: Salt. They're really opening things
out in the UK, where they're based, but they have a wonderful US list
too. My favourite US Salt poet is the ex-Soviet dissident Katia
5. What's the funniest poem you've read lately? What was the last poem that made you cry?
read a whole funny collection lately, actually it made me laugh out
loud on the train. It is Letters From Aldenderry, by Philip
Nikolayev. The last poem that made me cry was probably at a
reading, was bad, was read at 10pm, and was preceded by a five-minute
introduction. (Oh, thinking about it: I was blown away recently by a
poem about horsemen, by Michael Symmons Roberts. Really chilling and
moving. But I didn't laugh or cry.)
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?
All, please! No limitations.
7. Robert Lowell wrote a poem called "Falling Asleep Over the Aeneid." What supposedly immortal poem puts you to sleep?
Once I'm tired, anything I read will swim around like a strange fish seeming less and less to do with me. Paradise Lost is marvellous, but long and sonorous and without breaks. I wouldn't be able to read that past a certain hour. And once my eyes are tired that's it.
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?
doesn't. Nothing too self-conscious please! You could film some
L=A=N=G=A=G=E collection and get a more art-gallery
effect, but in terms of filmmaking I think that's a bit over now. Maybe
something by BA Fairchild, or Vern Rutsala, starring someone very
simple, yet layered. A Kim Addonizio film would go down great with the
girls. Or you could have a flarf film staring Ben Stiller.
9. What lines from a poem you first read years ago still haunt you now?
many to list. Phrases that float into my thoughts at any time;
sometimes I can't tell what something is but I just know it came from
something. I know lots of odd stanzas and half-stanzas of things...
10. What poem do you love, love, love, but don't understand?
"The Kimono" by James Merrill.
11. If the official organ of the AWP were not the Chronicle but were the Enquirer, what would some of the headlines be?
13. This is the Best American Poetry blog. What's the best non-American poetry you've read lately?
Lithuanian poet Tomas Venclova. Valzhyna Mort, from Belorussia, who
lives in the Northwest US. Ciaran Carson, For All I Know. Kapovich.
Over here in the UK it's all about trying to get people to read more
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?
like it to be one I write. Either that or just by accident, in the form
of a wonderful old recording that I could gradually come to realise was
something out of the ordinary, and would remember forever.
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?
by DA Powell. His work might lend itself to the Bollywood treatment,
all that colour and swirling, but it would have to be a pretty strange
Bollywood film! The hero will be confessing to someone that he's in
love with the bride's brother.
16. Do you have a (clean) joke involving poetry you'd like to share?
A joke about poetry?
17. Tell the truth: is it a poetry book you keep in the john, or some other genre (john-re)?
put the latest poetry magazines, or some book I've just bought, to pop
through the door into the bathroom. I'm a great one for reading in the
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, with their first names too. I don't think we had to memorise anything, though I used to do it for fun.
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?
We're having the same debate in England, with Andrew Motion's stint about to end. It's impossible to say, because the main thing is that they need to WANT it, they need to feel some sense of calling about what they could achieve. To that end the poet as poet isn't quite so important. Ideally it should be someone who isn't too political about their poetry movements or anything like that.
Poet for President?
20. Insert your own question here.
Can't think of one.