Poetry News

'It Absorbs Light': An Interview with Christopher DeWeese

By Harriet Staff

Christopher Deweese, whose first collection The Black Forest came out this year from Octopus Books, took part in this interview with Blake Butler over at HTMLGiant.

Here DeWeese talks a bit about the use of logic in his poems:

I wonder what you would say about the use of logic in your poems, versus perhaps the use of dream material, or the image of a tree.

CD: I really like that you used the phrase “dreamy, logical monologue voice.” I think that’s a perfect way to describe the mechanism that powers the poems in The Black Forest. To me, each poem in the book is a narrative monologue, and what powers the narratives is not plot so much as discovery: the speaker of each poem is discovering the way they exist in the time and space of language. And for me, that’s where a lot of the excitement of writing poems comes from. So a lot of the spine of these poems comes from that generative impulse. At the same time, though, I am a huge reviser of my own poems, and over time I like to interject shifts and stoppages inside them to complicate and compliment their basic shape. In this impulse, one very important influence on my work has been Dan Bejar/Destroyer. I really love the way his songs interrupt themselves to suddenly proclaim things like “it was 2002,” or “Thursday, 10 PM” and it’s like oh yeah, it’s good that all of a sudden in this song about something else entirely now we know that it’s 2002, or now we know that it’s Thursday at 10 PM, because this information is totally crucial and completely irrelevant at the same time. And I think maybe that’s the case with a lot of the “stuff” inside my poems: the pretzels and bear-suits gain a certain power because they are the only things in the poem-rooms each voice inhabits. I like how naming them makes them so important, so for example that pretzel becomes sort of the realest thing in its poem, the center around which the terms of the narrative space of the poem flexes and distorts. It creates space by filling it. It absorbs light.

Go read the rest!

Originally Published: May 4th, 2012
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