Yesterday (scroll down!) Nate Pritts gave a little background on his History of Small Press Publishing class & the project the students are working on - spotlight interviews with current small presses!
Fitting that today's interview, conducted by DWC student Jack Davis, is with Nate in his capacity as founder & principal editor of H_NGM_N - an online journal found here, with a burgeoning book series, here.
Take it, Jack!
Jack Davis: Besides individuality, what attributes do you think might make a poetic piece stand out more affectively?
Nate Pritts: One of the first things I notice about a poem is its use of a consistent voice - or its consistent misuse of consistency in terms of voice. I'm also drawn to a sense of risk, a sense of recklessness - either in terms of imagery, the utterance itself, the subject being discussed & the speaker's relationship to it. A poem that feels too safe or tidy turns me off immediately.
JD: Could you reveal your feelings, contrasting established writing tempos with oral performance rhythms and perhaps other orchestrations that might shape the sound or silence?
NP: For a long time I never paid much attention to how my poems sounded - I didn't read them out loud very much & worked on the page for the page. Now, I'm very aware - constantly reading my poems out to hear how the meaning is enforced or undermined by the sounds. I think what this means is that I'm thinking of my poetry in both private & public ways & trying to strike a balance between a poetic line that has rhythm & a driven compelling force established both through the meaning & the sounds.
JD: Other than READ, WRITE, and SUBMIT, what might be your best advise for an aspiring poet?
NP: Those are three pretty good words of advice. I was asked the other night for some general advice - not specifically about writing - & I said "I think we should all try really damn hard all the time." So, in addition to reading & writing & submitting - we should care a lot about those things. We should bust our asses.
JD: Whose responsibility to experience is the mystery, shape, or practice of poetry-the poet or the reader?
NP: The word responsibility trips me up a little here but I think, in general, the poet is the one who is writing the poem. I can't walk around & ensure all my readers are "doing it right." I need to do the best job I can to create the poem as an experience in & of itself - not just notation of an experience, but a little circus of its own.
JD: Are we relegating the art of poetry to epitaph?
NP: I don't think we are! But some people might be. I think there are lots of people who think of poetry as one specific thing - & some of these people are poets! It's time to embrace the various possibilities for the lively & dynamic art of poetry making. Poets can't complain that no one reads poetry & sulk. We need to find answers & work hard.
JD: If it’s not prying, could you share some personal favorite poems by form & content?
NP: I have too many poems & poets that I would list as favorites to even mention. I think that should be the point - & my favorites are wide ranging. Though I don't typically write formal verse, some of my favorite poems are in set forms. I don't think we can discount anything.