Poetry News

Caryl Pagel in The Volta

By Harriet Staff

It's Monday, but we remember how good Friday felt. So check out the the Friday Feature over at The Volta. We have Caryl Pagel answering questions, primarily, about her first full-length collection, Experiments I Should Like Tried At My Own Death.

We have some for you:

9. What aspirations did you have for this book?

Making something out of nothing? Unapparitionalizing? Unbecoming nothing as a mode of rediscovering the nothing that one always is? Book as excuse for party? Book as impetus to write? Book as thorn? Book as shield? Book as evidence? Book as pyre? Book as memorial? Book as blunt force object? Book as gift? Book as missive to you, you!, long-lost and only you? Book as open secret? Book as parachute?

10. How would you describe this work?

Visions, emergencies.

11. Do you work primarily on discrete poems, serially, toward a project, with a set of concerns, or otherwise?

A project is a challenge that helps me begin, but rarely manifests itself as stable, strict, or realized. For example, I’ll say to myself: I’m going to write a book of sonnets now! Here I go!, or Why aren’t there more poems about Wilky James, William’s lesser known younger brother? and then write five of a kind and move on—but the initial mission engages my mind. I’m a slave to form, or the promises of form (see the various sonnets, syllabics, lists, indexes, mythologies, collages, and elegies in Experiments), even if (hopefully if!) the structure transforms and breaks during making. A girl’s gotta (pretend to?!?) set some goals and limits! and I experience the word “project” less as outcome than measured generating force. I develop a plan, conduct experiments, fail, try again. If I have one consistent mode of working, regardless of genre, it is to inhabit research, art, and reading.

Full interview here.

Originally Published: November 12th, 2012
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