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An Interview with Dobby Gibson
Here he weighs in on the idea of being a “Minneapolis or Minnesota poet”:
SW: Do you consider yourself a Minneapolis or Minnesota poet?
DG: Oh god. That’s your first question? I mean… am I a poet who lives in Minneapolis and Minnesota? Yes. But if that question means something else, like do I subscribe to a school or a regional aesthetic of some kind, the answer is no. I don’t think I get much say in how I get labeled, or if I get labeled at all, though. If you’re a poet and live in Brooklyn, are you regionalized as an Eastern Seaboard poet? Or a New England poet? Probably not, because you’re in the power seat of American literary culture — at least historically speaking. What really makes me resist the Minnesota label is it makes people think of someone who writes poems about canoeing in the Boundary Waters with their grandfather — the kinds of homey life lessons you can needlepoint onto a throw pillow, and that’s not the kind of poem I’m writing, please God.
In your upcoming book, It Becomes You, you have a poem titled “The Minneapolis Poem” which made me think of James Wright’s poem of the same name. Your poem mentions three poets (Berryman, Bly, Wright) people think of when you say “Minneapolis” and “Poet” in the same sentence.
I wrote that poem without even thinking about the James Wright poem. My poem, which is about a lot more than just Minneapolis, simply came out onto the page one day. I thought of the James Wright poem afterwards, which is a totally ridiculous poem — this litany of horrors. “God forbid that I should ever be buried in Minneapolis,” or whatever. I’d really like to hear Charlton Heston read that one. I titled my poem “The Minneapolis Poem” as a way to take back ownership of that idea, at least a tiny bit.
Full interview here.