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An Interview With Aaron Belz
In it he discusses the role of humor/comedy in his work, how he doesn’t like reading contemporary poetry, and, similar to the Billy Collins post we made today, why poetry isn’t nearly as vital as it was in the 18th and 19th centuries.
LI: I’ve read some of your early, college-era poems and the humor part is missing. How did your style develop? Do you think the associations with the New York School are accurate?
AB: The humor part was missing because in college I was a tall drink of gaiety. I had a cute girlfriend, a dad who let me buy things but lived hundreds of miles away, good grades, a Walkman and a convertible 1963 Volkswagen. Nothing yet had gone wrong. I hadn’t been exposed to the deep well of horror that is human life, especially the horror that is myself. Over the past ten years especially I’ve seen it. I’m much more sympathetic to other people’s troubles now. As to the New York School poets, In grad school I started reading Ashbery and O’Hara. After that I found Schuyler and Koch and felt right at home. It’s educated dorkiness with a correct sense what walking down the street feels like. That’s about where I was in the 90s and still am.
LI: Do you have any predictions for where poetry may be heading based on what you’re reading lately?
AB: I’m not in tune with most newer poetry, though I know many of the poets, or at least their names. I like Rae Armantrout’s poetry very much. If she’s any indication, poetry’s going to get more aggressive and self-assured, but I don’t really know. I have no clue what will happen. It depends on who’s writing it, I think. Poetry is words, and words can be made to do just about anything. To me, the big question is, will poetry ever regain its 18th and 19th century readership?
LI: You’ve encouraged younger poets to read old poets. Who have you been reading?
AB: Honestly I’m reading nothing at the moment. It’s all packed up, because I just moved to North Carolina. And when I read, it’s often assigned review books, essays, opinion pieces, and more out of the way stuff. I’m not trying to sound weird, but contemporary poetry doesn’t inspire me…at all. I love and respect what my peers are doing, but I don’t read it unless I have to. It feels incestuous to read it. Old stuff (like Herrick), on the other hand, sounds really fresh and innovative. I do read old stuff occasionally. I also teach other people how to read and understand old stuff, and that process is invigorating.
Go read the rest!