Poetry News

The Slippery Boundaries of 'I': Megan Kaminski Interview in The Millions

By Harriet Staff


Anne K. Yoder's description of Megan Kaminski's poetry closely mirrors our own interest: "I’ve been drawn to the intelligence, the linguistic precision, and the fascination with systems — ecological, financial, neural — that inform her writing." In an interview for The Millions that borders on being a essay-dialog, Yoder and Kaminski discuss everthing from catastrophe theory to the importance of place in Kaminski's first book of poetry,  Desiring Map:

I’m wary of the tradition of the poet who stands outside of the natural world, observing it with some sort of special authority and then seeing it primarily as a site for personal transformation. I’m not interested in the kind of poetry that Evelyn Reilly describes as the “aesthetic use of nature as mirror for human narcissism.” I think that sort of rendering of landscape — as background or as subservient to human demands and desires — does real violence to the natural world, a world which we surely exist in, rather than outside of. That said, I am very interested in our very weedy human appetites, such as longing and desire.

As Yoder points out, Kaminsky's long poem "Carry Catastrophe" is "an unlikely elegy for the financial markets. Kaminsky's description of catastrophe theory and the economic crisis as they relate to her work is fascinating:

In some ways it might seem conceptually strange to have a long poem about the economic crisis in a book that is largely concerned with a revision of the pastoral genre and of human possibility within nature. I think these things are all very much connected. The first poems in the book came out of my research and thinking about enclosures, both contemporary and historic. John Clare’s enclosure elegies were a source of inspiration, as were readings about contemporary enclosures and forms of resistance to this privatizing of the commons in Africa and South and Central America. Also playing into this were contemporary works like Lisa Robertson’s Debbie: An Epic (which in some ways revisits and revises Virgil’s pastoral mode) and Stephen Collis’s The Commons.

You can read the rest of this illuminating exchange in The Millions.

Originally Published: January 30th, 2013