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T.R. Hummer in conversation with The Rumpus

By Harriet Staff

Over at The Rumpus, there’s a long conversation between the members of the site’s Poetry Book Club and poet T.R. Hummer (a.k.a. Terry) who was recently praised as “awesome dipped in awesome sauce“.

Among other topics, they discussed Hummer’s poem “Bald Man Fallacy” from his recent collection Ephemeron (you can read the poem here).

Brian S: I looked at the poem as an extension of the pattern of fallacies from earlier in the book–argument from design, fallacy of composition, etc. And that the bald man was a reference to a politician sending people like the sniper to war. And then that last line was a sort of a realpolitik moment from the bald man.

Terry: No, there is actually a logical fallacy–an official philosophical one–called the Bald Man Fallacy.

Thelma: Right. So shouldn’t there be a hairy (Perry) fallacy to balance things out?

Brian S: Is there really? Wow. I was thinking it was an oblique Dick Cheney reference or something.

Terry: Basically it goes like this: look at the vast number of hairs on this man’s head. If I pull one, the number hardly goes down at all. So let’s pull another. Look, he’s still hairy. That should mean we can keep pulling his hair forever and he’ll still have plenty.

Now, just apply that line of reasoning, say, to environmental issues. Or to war.

Brandon: Yet at the same time I have to sort of suggest that the last line must be laced with irony.

Terry: Of course it is. Because the Bald Man Fallacy is a fallacy.

Hummer also talked about grappling with the idea of death and being a “baby geezer”:

Terry: At some point, maybe 15 years ago, I came to the conclusion that the only philosophical subject worth dealing with is the question of the nature of death

And that we can never know anything about it

Brian S: But you still have to wonder about it all the same.

Terry: Precisely, you can’t not.

Thelma, we might as well call the powers that own us “gods,” however loaded the word may be.

Mark Folse: Outside of the sniper poems, the death seems to be apocalyptic and monstrous.

Terry: And whatever we may mean by it

Brian S: That’s roughly the time I left the church, and one of the big things I had to deal with was the idea that this eternal future I’d been sure of wasn’t likely to happen. And then be okay with it.

Terry: Pretty much

Yes, we go one way or the other on that question, don’t we? Either we take something on faith or we don’t.

Mark Folse: You seemed to have wandered into the forest in (name of poem?) where metaphysics matter.

Terry: Yes

That’s in the poem called “/”

I was absolutely delighted to call a poem “/”

Mark Folse: Just read those again an hour ago. Middle aged brain.

Terry: I know what you mean. I’m beyond middle age now: I’m a baby geezer, at 61.

Read the rest of the conversation — in which Hummer makes a “terrible confession” regarding Twitter — here.

Posted in Poetry News on Wednesday, December 14th, 2011 by Harriet Staff.