My friend LP continues to feed my poetry habit. She posted the following poem by Larissa Szporluk on her site over the weekend. I immediately went scurrying through the web for more information about S’s work.

So following the poem posted below is an excerpt from an interview with the poet from Perihelion. The sensibilities expressed here overflow effortlessly and fittingly into other creative pursuits, like music and visual art. I love the interviewer’s statement that each of Szporluk’s poems feels like a small animal, something I absolutely know the feeling of in the visual realm. I also understand that sense of aliveness in the process of making, and how that changes at various stages in the life of a work.

Thank you LP. Keep leading me.


I nudge the eggs
of not my make,
watch them drop
without a thought—
dead who? dead who?
Who cares? They’re
not my make. I’m
cuckoo-true, a blood
and thunder freedom
monger—free what?
free who? Free you,
my boy, from mama
bird and birdie wife
and future brood.
You’re free to crack,
to stink, to cook.
You’re better off off
the hook, and off
the clock of my off-war
where time is space
and space is time
and both are wound
to wind up mine—
without a wall, what
can hang? Without
the sky, why not fall?
It’s all all off, but
I’m in tune. Death
is math. Rest assured
the nest left you.

–Larissa Szporluk


From Perihelion:

Q: Your poetry is often described as work that is very active, very full. I often feel like each poem is a small wild animal. How do you feel when you read your own work? How much does the readers’ perception concern you?

Szporluk: I’m completely uneven as a reader of my own work. I revise endlessly. It’s kind of sickening, goes beyond what is actually constructive. I suppose that might be why the work seems “active”–because it’s always being acted on. I can’t leave it alone. I’m too aware of all the possibilities. I know with conviction how much better every poem could be. The reader’s perception concerns me a lot, but I try to postpone that concern until the end, near-end, of the process. I have an imaginary reader who is very demanding. He/she will not tolerate any fluff. I hope the small wild animals you feel are hairless because if there’s anything I can’t stand it’s decoration. And yet I do it all the time.

Q: I’ve heard various people claim that there is no Auden or Eliot to look up to and follow these days. But people are writing poetry. Each year more people enroll in Creative Writing programs and submit work to literary magazines, so something must be driving them and encouraging them. As a poet and a professor of Creative Writing, what do you think of the state of poetry in this age?

Szporluk: I think it’s fine to be Audenless. Why should we have another one? We should have something of our own, and we shouldn’t worry about its name or nature. What I love about the state of poetry in this age is how passionate the students are–they become completely involved in the process of writing and I think they realize that they can apply that same intensity to the rest of their lives. One graduate student confessed that she wasn’t happy when she wasn’t writing, that everything else seemed dull. (Which is what my husband says about surfing.) For me, it’s a sign that people are connecting to the creative process, which is bigger than ourselves, and infinitely more wonderful. I’m very positive about poetry today. I think it has become a force.

Q: What kind of relationship do you have with your own poetry? We all have different roles we live which compile part of the self. One’s work can feel drastically different when held in his/her own hand privately than when it’s on the way to the publisher. Do you feel that with your work? Does your work meet different needs within you as a person, as a professor, as a publishing writer?

Szporluk: I think I answered part of that question above, but I’ll reiterate a bit. My work now has become inseparable from myself as a whole, inseparable from teaching, from parenting. It’s the publishing part that I worry about; it’s the one part I can’t reconcile. I’m not sure anybody can. When I’m writing a poem, it’s as alive as I am. So alive in fact that I feel an urge to send it out immediately, a very stupid urge I’ve learned. A vast sea lies between my desk and the desks of editors. They look at my spasmodic arrangements and frown. I’ve had to discipline myself. Now I only (usually) send out work that has calmed down. Once it’s published, it becomes dead to me–a good dead I think. It has crossed the sea. I no longer speak to it. I’m definitely the kind of writer who prefers the process to the finished product.