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Allan Peterson on Science, Punctuation, and more at McSweeney’s
McSweeney’s posted an eclectic interview with Allan Peterson today, in which he talks about his discovery of poetry, its connection to visual art, and his creative process. Peterson is also a naturalist, which grants him access to a particularly rich sphere of language—he calls poets “a great rarity, spaced out distantly like planets.”
My favorite memories of childhood were of being alone in nature, reading constantly about what was then called Natural History, identifying everything around me. I was a lepidopterist. I saved for a microscope. I learned the life cycles of birds and insects. Reading was also an introduction to words and their power to connect to imagination. A large world map on my wall conveyed a sense of the world and its places, the lure of names. Little about those interests has changed, though now I have a way better microscope.
If I refer to an insect’s antennae structure, protozoa like stentor or vorticella, or the habits of wasps, those are things I’m familiar with, facts that have enriched my understanding. I believe with Pound that you write to your level of understanding.
The editors also ask Peterson about his spare use of punctuation. He replies, “It is sometimes a useful convention, but a bit of a tyranny when trying to get at the ineffable.”
Read the full interview here. Peterson’s new book, Fragile Acts, is published by McSweeney’s.