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Matthew Zapruder in conversation

By Harriet Staff

Matthew Zapruder took part in this interview with Poetry Turned Around.

Here Zapruder speaks to ending poems and the greatest difficulty he faces as a writer:

Are you sick of being asked, “How do you know when a poem is finished?” I’ll ask anyway. How do you know when you’ve finished revising a poem? How do you know when a word is adding its bit of magic or just getting in the way?

I wish there was a liquid or something we could dip the end of our poems into that would turn a certain color if we had exactly the right ending. Maybe there is a poet out there with a scientific background who can get to work on that. All I can say, and this isn’t particularly helpful, is that if the poem doesn’t yet have the right ending, I just have a nagging feeling that the poem is not yet finished, or maybe finished in a way that is a little false. I listen to that feeling. It’s easy to write an acceptable ending, and a lot harder to find the one that really feels as if it simultaneously opens and closes the poem in just the right way. Usually if I don’t get it right away, I have to let things sit, keep coming back to it over and over again, until I know I’ve gotten it.

What is your greatest difficulty as a writer and how do you deal with it?

I am very, very, very distractible. Sometimes I deal with it well, by setting up schedules and situations that isolate me (literally and/or figuratively) in a space of writing. But more often than not I find myself looking back on a day, or week, or month, with great frustration, because I can see how much time I have wasted.

Much more after the jump.

Posted in Poetry News on Friday, June 1st, 2012 by Harriet Staff.