Q & A: Randall Mann

What makes the poem a song?

It’s a ballad of sorts; it has some of the music of a song.

The tourists are “recidivists”? What do you mean by that?

Travel has been an excuse for me to backslide into bad habits (the bathhouse foam in the poem; the vice). And I like the sound of “tourists” and “recidivists” in the same line.

How does Vallejo enter the poem?

I have always liked the arbitrary specificity of Vallejo’s death on a Thursday in “Black Stone on a White Stone”; also, “Song” is about not dying in Paris, which means it’s about dying in Paris, which means I must have been thinking about Vallejo. And of course I was.

Can you say what, if anything, these three poems have in common? They seem related.

Forms, accessories, sex, and death.


This poem originally appeared in the April 2010 issue of Poetry magazine

April 2010

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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