Michael Lista Interview @ The Torontoist
My interview with Michael Lista, whose first book Bloom is, to my ear, as good as many readers of this blog have been hoping it would be, is now up at The Torontoist Book Page. Thanks to Michael for an interview that was challenging, fun, and strictly in defiance of expectations. As usual, an excerpt follows this paragraph. But really, you should do the right thing and read the full piece. Really. Dude has some good things to say.
JMM: I’ve heard you use, in more casual settings, the “English-to-English translation” expression before. That shorthand definitely helped me understand the book in advance of reading it but, having spent time with it now, I’m not sure if the process suggested by that phrase “translates” (Cheesy Punner’s Remorse…) into my reading experience…
ML: I think you’re right; translation isn’t quite what’s happening. One of the purposes of a traditional translation is to make available poems to readers who otherwise wouldn’t have any access to them. So therefore, for many readers, the original poem exists only as its translation in their language. That’s not the case with my poems from Bloom though; and the pre-conceptions that readers bring to my technique are part of what supplies the aesthetic tension I wrote Bloom to explore. I think creative plagiarism is one of the finest untapped sources of aesthetic possibility available to us today, and it has obvious extra-poetic relevance. In the last century a poem was censured because it was immoral; now they’ll be censured because they’re proprietary. Meeka Walsh, the editor of Border Crossings magazine, which first published some Bloom poems in 2007, called the poems allotropes which I think is pretty good. Others have called them palimpsests, or pentimentos, both of which I also like. A friend called them my irradiated mutants. I don’t really know what to call them, but I know what they do. What would you call them?
JMM: How about “renovations”?
ML: That’d work, if you consider children renovations of their parents.
JMM: Oh boy. I can tell my head’s going to hurt by the end of this one. *
*Vox’s Note: It did. Read the rest here.
Also, those of you with calendars will know that tomorrow is the last day of March. This means three things. 1. I’m hosting the NOW Magazine Open Poetry Stage at Harbourfront at 7:30. Tickets are still available. Probably. 2. The Optimisms Project is due to start soon. We’re going to make some allowances for the ressurection of Zombie Jesus, so expect some delays near the beginning. There are still *very* few spaces left. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to get one. And lastly, the Lampert and Lowther shortlists are out tomorrow. I have high hopes for some debuting-and/or-uterus-owning poets out there. Good luck to all in contention.