Friday, June 10, 2011

Anne Carson Interview

The Paris Review has a great interview tradition to the point where the interviews have been collected in books. I really enjoyed the interview with Anne Carson, a Canadian poet who now teaches at the University of Michigan.
One of the things that interests me about poets is what they do on their off time, that is to say the time when they are not doing "poet" things like reading and writing. The vast majority of poets teach, and that is interesting to, but I want to know about the smaller details of their lives like their hobbies, the things that don't necessarily come out in their poetry. Frank O'Hara, for example, once said he liked movies, and in this interview Carson mentions she does shadowboxing. I can't think of any poet who has done boxing, or anything close to boxing.
One of the other hobbies of Carson is making books, things that she gives to one another person. The tradition of bookmakers being poets and vice versa is well documented, the most famous being Emily Dickinson, who would collect her then-unpublished poetry into little books that she'd give her neighbors. Someone is going to have to do an academic study of Carson's book creations one day.
I also love it when poets talk about other poets. I really enjoyed Carson talk about Catallus, who I've always loved. She talks about his infamous 101 poem, which is my favorite Catallus poem. Later on, she quotes Sappho's Fragment 31, which I also love.
I also love the Lacan quote that she uses, "The reason we go to poetry is not for wisdom, but for the dismantling of wisdom." Once again, Lacan manages to get it right exactly. Carson has some great one liners too, like when she says "Model yourself on Oscar Wilde and you just lie all the time."

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