Wednesday, December 12, 2012

12 or 20 (second series) with Karen Mac Cormack

rob mclennan 1- How did your first book change your life? How does your most recent work compare to your previous? How does it feel different?
Karen Mac Cormack
One’s first published book gives the writing a life of its own by sending it out into the world. Each subsequent publication does that but with different realizations. (Just as one’s first experience of anything differs but relates to subsequent manifestations and variations.)

rm 2 - How did you come to poetry first, as opposed to, say, fiction or non-fiction?
As a child I wrote poetry and short stories. My Irish grandfather wrote many poems for me and would give me books of poetry to read. His was rhyming poetry, mine was not. I remember both of us appreciating what the other could do.

rm 3 - How long does it take to start any particular writing project? Does your writing initially come quickly, or is it a slow process? Do first drafts appear looking close to their final shape, or does your work come out of copious notes?
Each project is different, though overall I would say I write slowly and usually with many revisions.

rm 4 - Where does a poem usually begin for you? Are you an author of short pieces that end up combining into a larger project, or are you working on a "book" from the very beginning?
I am a project-by-project writer, though they often overlap (i.e. I work on more than one project at a time) and yes, there are often non-project poems included as a variant measure.

rm 5 - Are public readings part of or counter to your creative process? Are you the sort of writer who enjoys doing readings?
If a writer agrees to a reading then the writer should be kind to their work AND to the audience and give as fine a reading as is possible. Enjoyment comes from a shared engagement, albeit sometimes provocative.

rm 6 - Do you have any theoretical concerns behind your writing? What kinds of questions are you trying to answer with your work? What do you even think the current questions are?
To read my published work is to answer that question (for the time being) --- at the risk of appearing flippant, though that is not my intention. It seems to me that these questions are generic in the sense that they can be sent to any writer, without specific queries for a particular writer, so I’m somewhat at a loss.

rm 7 – What do you see the current role of the writer being in larger culture? Does s/he even have one? What do you think the role of the writer should be?
Explorer/investigator/innovator/agent provocateur.

rm 8 - Do you find the process of working with an outside editor difficult or essential (or both)?
My experiences have been positive for the most part.

rm 9 - What is the best piece of advice you've heard (not necessarily given to you directly)?
To paraphrase: “Writing well is the best revenge.”

rm 10 - How easy has it been for you to move between genres (solo to collaborative)? What do you see as the appeal?
Collaborations can be “arm’s length” experiences or they can be more engaged and engaging (writing in the same notebook, writing down each other’s lines [as in dictation], editing each other’s contributions). In all of this there is the encounter with another’s creativity, thinking, and practice, which can move one in(to) different creative directions or territories and that is welcome, even if the results aren’t always viable.

rm 11 - What kind of writing routine do you tend to keep, or do you even have one? How does a typical day (for you) begin?
I prefer to begin my days by reading books (there’s usually more than one at any given time), but I don’t consider that my writing is based on a routine.

rm 12 - When your writing gets stalled, where do you turn or return for (for lack of a better word) inspiration?
No tried and true answer(s) for this question.

rm 13 - What fragrance reminds you of home?
The scent of jasmine reminds me of more than one of the countries in which I’ve lived.

rm 14 - David W. McFadden once said that books come from books, but are there any other forms that influence your work, whether nature, music, science or visual art?
Architecture, string theory, nanotechnology, music, and yes, visual art.

rm 15 - What other writers or writings are important for your work, or simply your life outside of your work?
Robert Musil’s work in its entirety, ditto Djuna Barnes.

rm 16 - What would you like to do that you haven't yet done?
Realize a full-scale collaboration with an “innovative” architect.

rm 17 - If you could pick any other occupation to attempt, what would it be? Or, alternately, what do you think you would have ended up doing had you not been a writer?
My occupations include adjunct professor, occasional visual arts curator, and freelance editor. I’m a poet by definition, but not “occupation.”

rm 18 - What made you write, as opposed to doing something else?
One can always write in addition to “doing something else.” Not every other discipline affords the same possibilities.

rm 19 - What was the last great book you read? What was the last great film?

rm 20 - What are you currently working on?
– This interview; a new poetry manuscript for VEER Books (UK); essays; a proposal for a conference in Fall 2013.

12 or 20 (second series) questions;

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