Sunday, October 01, 2023

12 or 20 (second series) questions with Myronn Hardy

Myronn Hardy is the author of several books of poems.  Aurora Americana is forthcoming, October 2023 (Princeton University Press).  His poems have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Ploughshares, POETRY, The Georgia Review, The Baffler, and elsewhere. His books have garnered the PEN/Oakland Josephine Award among others.  He is an assistant professor of English at Bates College.

1 - How did your first book change your life? The first book truly gave me confidence.  It confirmed that it was possible to do this thing I thought impossible which was to write and publish a book of poems.  How does your most recent work compare to your previous? Aurora Americana and my previous book, Radioactive Starlings, are both thinking through the notion of place.  They are doing this in different ways but the notion of place is the link by which they connect.  How does it feel different?  Aurora Americana is a dawn book.  Most of the poems take place during or close to dawn.  I’ve never centered time in this way.      

2 - How did you come to poetry first, as opposed to, say, fiction or non-fiction?  I think I initially found the shapes of poems curious.  When I started learning more about what they do, how concentrated language can create feeling, make music, I knew I wanted to attempt to make poems.

3 - How long does it take to start any particular writing project? I’ve written poems that have taken years, a couple took a decade to write.  I need time to figure out what poems need and how I can give them what they need.  Does your writing initially come quickly, or is it a slow process? Slow.  Do first drafts appear looking close to their final shape, or does your work come out of copious notes? Rarely do poems resemble first drafts.  Attempting to make and know a poem take a lot of time.  I spend a long-time compiling images, lines, phrases, sentences.  I write several versions before the version is set.  Often, during a reading, I’ll even change a word or phrase.     

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 write poem after poem.  I never know if single poems will compile into a book.  After several years, I’ll look back to see what I’ve been writing, of what I’ve been fixated.  Sometimes that looking back tells me that a book might be emerging.

5 - Are public readings part of or counter to your creative process? Are you the sort of writer who enjoys doing readings?  I like doing public readings because they allow me to see and hear reactions to the work. As someone who attends poetry readings, I know that hearing poems read by the poet reinform one’s experience and knowledge of the work.   

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?  I’m very interested in how we connect and disconnect.  How do we live, thrive despite everything?  How does place inform? How do we sustain our humanity?    

7 – What do you see the current role of the writer being in larger culture? Do they even have one? What do you think the role of the writer should be?  The role of the writer is to see what they see and write what they write.  To always go there and get to the truth despite the pull to be untrue.

8 - Do you find the process of working with an outside editor difficult or essential (or both)? My experience with editors has been good.  A good editor asks questions as opposed to saying, “This is wrong. Do it this way.”  And this, for me, has always been helpful.   

9 - What is the best piece of advice you've heard (not necessarily given to you directly)?  Be free.  Your work, your writing (your poetry) is perhaps the only place where you can be free and dangerous.  You are in control of that danger.    

10 - 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 write every day.  I wake up very early, before sunrise.  I like to have that new day’s sunlight fall over the page as I write.  I usually write for four hours in the morning.  I end the morning writing session with a run.  I dedicate the evenings to revision. 

11 - When your writing gets stalled, where do you turn or return for (for lack of a better word) inspiration?  When the writing is stalled, I read; sometimes I’ll listening to music, I’ll force myself to get lost within it. 

12 - What fragrance reminds you of home? Pine. 

13 - 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?  The natural world is my most profound influence.  It’s an inexhaustible resource.   

14 - What other writers or writings are important for your work, or simply your life outside of your work?  Fernando Pessoa.  Bob Kaufman.  Gabriel Garcia Marquez.  Lucille Clifton.  Mahmoud Darwish. Elizabeth Bishop.   

15 - What would you like to do that you haven't yet done?  I would like to visit Oman. 

16 - 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?  If I hadn’t become a writer, I think I would have liked to have become either an architect or astronomer. 

17 - What made you write, as opposed to doing something else?  Writing is a necessity for me.  It selected me.  And I said, yes. And despite that selection, I didn’t believe it was possible.  But here I am and here it is.  And I’m grateful. 

18 - What was the last great book you read? What was the last great film? Book: MPH and Other Poems by Ed Roberson; Film:  Death for Sale

19 - What are you currently working on?  I’m writing poem after poem.  And I have novel manuscript.  We’ll see what happens. 

12 or 20 (second series) questions;

No comments: