Are you your poems?

No. Yes. An acquaintance once said to me, “I feel like I know you through your poems.” He doesn’t. A friend once said, “I didn’t like that poem because it’s not the Marilyn I know.” It wasn’t. My poems are generally a quick-heated amalgam of memory, imagination, musings, things I’ve seen, things I’ve thought I’ve seen, stuff I’ve read or my imperfect recollection of stuff I’ve read, people I’ve known and the stories I’ve heard. Every poem is a fiction, and like all good fiction, is true…ish.

It seems like there’s a fair amount of violence in your poems. What’s that about?

It seems to me that violence is an inescapable aspect of the human species, and interesting and terrifying. Or at any rate, it seems an inescapable aspect of me. Seems like a good thing to write about. But I also write about transcendence, another interesting and inescapable aspect of the human experience. We’re all angel and demon both, the Good Witch and the Bad Witch, and a good dose of those creepy flying monkeys. And Dorothy. If you’re lucky, you’ve got some Toto in you. I do not.
What’s the most important thing you do to feed your poetry?

Read. And read and read. I read lots of poetry of all kinds, essays about writing poetry and writing in general; I read nonfiction of all kinds, and sometimes some fiction just to remind myself about character and plot. I write poetry book reviews – several can be found on ConnotationPress.com — to force myself to read consciously and critically. And I spend a lot of time sitting on the couch looking out the window. That’s important work.


What’s your biggest challenge in your poetry practice?

I have to resist my desire to know things and force myself to reside in the scary space of the question. But look, even with that answer I’ve fallen prey again to knowing. Rats.

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TNB Poetry features poems and self-interviews from some of the world's finest poets. Past and future writers include Catherine Tufariello, Lewis Turco, Timothy Steele, Amber Tamblyn and Wanda Coleman. Our editorial team comprises: UCHE OGBUJI (uche.ogbuji.net, @uogbuji) is a Nigerian-American poet, editor ( Kin) & computer engineer living near Boulder, Colorado, USA. His short collection of poems Ndewo, Colorado is available from Aldrich Press. RICH FERGUSON (YouTube) has been published and anthologized by various journals and presses. He is also a featured performer in the film, What About Me?. WENDY CHIN-TANNER is a poet, an editor (Kin), interviewer (Lantern), a sociology instructor (Cambridge, UK), and co-founder of A Wave Blue World, a publishing company for graphic novels. DENA RASH GUZMAN, is author of Life Cycle—Poems, Dog On A Chain Press, 2013, Founding Editor of Unshod Quills, Poetry Editor and Managing Director at HAL Publishing (Shanghai & Hong Kong). Uche, Wendy & Dena are founding members of The Stanza Massive poetry/media collective.

2 responses to “Marilyn McCabe: The TNB Self-Interview”

  1. Rich Boucher says:

    “I have to resist my desire to know things”.

    Absolutely. Love this.

  2. Androw says:

    awesome read

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