DA Powell: Every sentence written in English contains some anxiety about time. I'd love to write a poem that was Time-Free. Is that possible?

ME: Why? Is this particular to English?

DA: I don't think English is necessarily the only language in which time is embedded in the verbs. But I know that in Mandarin it's easy to make a sentence that doesn't tell you at what time things happened. And I wish that were possible in English. A sentence in English begins and ends; it has direction; it carries you, relentlessly, toward a period, a place of death. It's why I avoided sentences for so long in my poems--because I didn't want to feel like I was living out a sentence. Now, it appears as if that troubles me less. I can't think why. Except perhaps I have a deeper sense of purpose. But why would I have that? All I've done is write a few poems, which is a deeply unpurposive pursuit (if done correctly).

Having lunch with DA at Barney Greengrass recently (Philip Roth was sitting two tables away from us, eating lox, eggs and onions and reading the paper).
Originally Published: April 19th, 2011

Poet and educator Rachel Zucker was born in New York and grew up in Greenwich Village, the daughter of novelist Benjamin Zucker and storyteller Diane Wolkstein. She earned her BA at Yale University and her MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.   Zucker’s expansive yet lyrical poems interrogate and deftly...