A Poem Which Wanders
Posted by Literary Titan
Drifters is a diverse collection of poetry that provides readers with rich experiences. What inspires you to write poetry?
I wish I knew. A word, a phrase, a sound, a dream, a memory—one or another pops into my mind and generates a poem. The word “globule” produced “Lingo,” a brief, somewhat nasty poem about my non-existent dog. A chapter in Darwin’s “Voyage” was so elegant and filled with wonderful science that I wrote a poem of 28 tanka which is 90% Silverman but 10% quotation from the book. Reading about footbinding stirred my imagination into inventing a Chinese court lady lamenting her father’s refusal to have her feet bound which, ironically, made her an outcast among the footbound and hidebound ladies of the court. I could add many other and diverse examples.
Did you write the poems in this collection for this book or did you write them over time and then collected them here?
I’ve something like 1500-to-2000 poems on hundreds of pages typed and handwritten filling dozens of boxes. The short answer is that I chose poems already written and wrestled them into a collection. I’ve little appetite for writing a set of poems on “My First Trip To Europe” but much for writing about particular aspects of Hawaii that moved me to thought or left a strong feeling. My imagination takes over and the result is fresh and, at its best, unforced. The result is varied in subject and theme as well as form. I write sestinas and free verse, concrete poetry and prose poems. I find most thematic collections interesting only here-and-there. Poe wrote that a long poem interesting in stretches was tiresome in stretches (and that what was boring might be interesting if read afresh). It seems to me that many poems in thematic collections show the author trying too hard to write something that will fill a space, not because he or she feels the compulsion to create a new poem.
What are some themes you often find your poetry gravitating towards?
Time, certainly, what it is and how it affects our perceptions. Also, color and texture, the way these elements shape our feeling for being. And, very important, the connection between sounds, words, and imagery. Often, a phrase generates a poem which wanders away from the phrase but finds puns or sonic connections that lead the poem into fields far from its origins.
What has been the most impactful poem you’ve read?
A really difficult question for me to answer. Some of Donne’s, e.g., “A Valediction Forbidding Mourning,” or Marvell’s “The Garden.” The Iliad, of course, and Chaucer’s “Troilus and Creseide.” Pope’s “Rape of the Lock” and “The Dunciad” along with Dryden’s “Absalom and Achitophel.” Milton’s Paradise Lost, I suppose, though his Samson Agonistes sometimes seems the better constructed and moving poem. The one that most people might not have any inkling of, and which I think is one of the greatest in the language, is Browning’s The Ring and the Book. It is psychologically compelling and so beautifully constructed that it never flags despite its great length.
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Posted on January 4, 2022, in Interviews and tagged author, author interview, book, book recommendations, book review, book reviews, book shelf, bookblogger, books, books to read, Drifters, ebook, goodreads, kindle, kobo, literature, nook, novel, poem, poet, poetry, read, reader, reading, story, Stuart Silverman, writer, writing. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.
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