Jeff Latosik Interview @ The Torontoist
My interview with Toronto poet (and noted Vox Pop Superfriend) Jeff Latosik is now up on The Torontoist’s books page, as part of this Critical Interviews series I’ve been hosting at said book page since early in the year. His book is called Tiny, Frantic, Stronger, and is part of the disturbing trend this year of much-hyped first books that are actually as good as people said they’d be. Here comes a short excerpt, but really should just skip it and read the very long excerpt.
JMM: I like that. It sounds like a very pragmatic attempt at accounting for the surrealist impulse as something that can be, if not exactly accounted for, at least given an analogy with something as trite and obscene consumerist economics.
I wonder, to conclude, what your thoughts are on the book as a consumer object in its own right. Poets who have just published their first collection have been known to hold a whole collection of different emotions and opinions regarding the publishing act. What’s the point of publishing a book of poetry, exactly? And, if this isn’t too unfair a question, what’s the point of buying one?
JL: Publishing poetry means bringing the solitary scribblings into the public square—giving them life, and, ideally, imbuing on them a sense of aesthetic accomplishment. Does this apply in all cases? Well, no. Some books are sadly lost in the maelstrom; other brilliant poems and manuscripts are still in a drawer somewhere, waiting.
I may not have answered the question. One of the things a poem does is that it takes this thing we use absolutely, every day (i.e. language), and actually breathes life back into it, as one might somebody who’s been drowning. That’s the impact a good poem can have, and, I suppose, that’s the larger impact a public poetry can be said to have in a world of bus ads, hit singles, and evening news exposes.
Buying poetry is a further nudging of the form into the consortium. Poems need readers to complete them, to place emphasis, interpret, scrutinize, and fill in the blurry edges. No two readers will do it the same, and this is not a defect in the product, but a wider, more inclusive sense of use. Poems are not Swiffers or Gatorade or Harlequin Romances because they are not emptied. So buying a poetry collection means participating in a wider sense of value.
As an aside, I’m very much aware of this terrible news w.r.t. This Ain’t the Rosedale Library, perhaps the best of Toronto’s independent bookstores. While I very much want to help the community, I feel like we should all be taking a couple deep breathes and remember that this is a family business, and it’s up to the owners how they want to proceed. If Charlie and Jesse want to fight for their bookstore, I want to help. When I hear something that isn’t just the knee-jerk reaction of grief, but instead a plan of action that comes from them directly, I’ll be sure to pass it on as much as I can.