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Interview with Anthony Madrid
Michael Robbins, as guest blogger for the week, is interviewing his ass off over at the Best American Poetry blog. Yesterday he interviewed Anthony Madrid.
Here’s a sample:
MR: Talk about this Mardud persona—he seems almost novelistic, a little man in a cave drinking cheap Rioja. His voice is remarkably consistent across the poems. He cracks wise, he feints as if he might dispense some wisdom, he curses the world and himself. Who is this guy? Where did he come from?
AM: This thing is a problem. But I am starting to develop a standard response to this line of questioning. It’s this. The MADRID and the MARDUD of the poems are not not me. They say stuff that I definitely think—but I think all kinds of stuff. Basically? My temperament is such that in order to think anything at all, I commonly have to frame the thought as a kind of whip-crack aphorism, one that patently “goes too far.” I hardly ever begin by being fair. I throw out a pungent saying and see how I feel about it. I let the storm rage and then I see what’s left standing. This is my way. I’m hot-blooded. Check it and see. I got a fever of 103.
Listen, doesn’t everyone feel that it’s B.S., what Berryman famously says at the beginning of the Dream Songs—? Quote: “The poem, then, whatever its wide cast of characters, is essentially about an imaginary character (not the poet, not me) named Henry, a white American in early middle age sometimes in blackface, who has suffered an irreversible loss…” I mean, c’mon. I’ve read the biography. Henry’s not Berryman? OK, but he’s not not Berryman either. Henry is a dramatization of Berryman’s inner climate, that’s all. Racy, irresponsible, and so on. It’s the same thing with me and my MADRID.