September 03, 2019
Why did you give your book such an uncool title?
Yeah, I agree. It felt like it was related to the central concerns of the book, both myself as a father, but also the general concept of fathering, of responsibility. There’s a poem in the book with that title, that ends with the lines:
the children sleeping
alone in some
our brilliant sincerity
it’s not enough
to give some money
make some calls
they are not ours
but they are
we are the first
where we cannot
there are no others
I was thinking about our founding fathers, and how they let us down. And all those fathers running things now, so destructively. And about what it would mean to be a new kind of father: what sort of fathers we all (regardless of gender) need to be now, to all kids, each other, the earth, ourselves.
Plus the word father seems very ancient and powerful, but also in need of renewal.
Who is that on the cover of your book?
That’s me and my dad. It’s a picture that we had in a frame in our house the entire time I was a kid. When I was thinking about a cover for this book it came to mind and I knew it was right.
How can you write poetry at a time like this?
I’m sure that whatever is in the best poems is what totalitarians and nihilists want to destroy. Not mere content, approved or toxic, which is everywhere. So much content. Tyrants love content, because it can be monetized. Poems are something more than content: they are a way of relating to language and each other.
No matter what poems are about, if they are true poems they resist the constant encroachment of degraded speech and thinking. It feels good and necessary to think freely and with exactitude in relation to language and reality. Despite all the current evidence, I still believe in the possibility that my mind and yours can commune in a space not commanded or owned. Poems are a form of love.