Poetry News

Marie Buck on Collectivity, Star Trek, Portrait of Doom, Political Hope, More

By Harriet Staff


Our friend Marie Buck is interviewed by rob mclennan! We have a soft spot for these interviews, and have been enjoying Buck's recent book, Portrait of Doom (Krupskaya 2015). "[A]ll of my work seems to wind up circling around a few things: power, the grotesque, quotidian expressions of power relations, political and personal angst as one and the same, bodies, over the top self-reflexivity on the part of the speaker." Read on:

6 - Do you have any theoretical concerns behind your writing? What kinds of questions are you trying to answer with your work? What do you even think the current questions are?

...[R]ight now I am very interested in thinking about political hope and disappointment—how these affects work, how they might play into the formation of collectivities. Right now there is a lot of up and down, social movements springing up but only briefly, heavy repression, lack of organization. I’m interested in thinking about contemporary hope and disappointment through thinking about the 1970s and 1980s. I was born in 1982. Myself and anyone roughly my age grew up in the wake of the 60s—i.e., in this larger cultural mood of expectation for better things, and simultaneously, deep disappointment that the movements of the 60s didn’t bring about more substantive change. I’m intrigued by Star Trek, right now, for instance. Compare its vision of the future to contemporary visions of the future. I'm thinking of, say, Children of Men (which is a fantastic movie). We all picture dystopia now. Literally no one even imagines a world like in Star Trek, where humans have eliminated want. No one imagines things progressing. Pretty much everyone imagines things getting worse and worse. If I’m feeling really depressed about the state of the world, sometimes I’ll just watch Star Trek and remember that this made sense as a piece of cultural production just a couple of decades ago, and that cheers me up a bit. So—Star Trek isn’t in my poems in any direct way, but Star Trek and various other relics of the post-60s era are spurring me to hash out some questions in my work.

7 – What do you see the current role of the writer being in larger culture? Does s/he even have one? What do you think the role of the writer should be?

Well, poetry communities are always kind of their own thing I guess. But in a less stupid world, everyone would have a lot more time to be creative, and a lot more people would be writers. There would be more arts funding. People would have access to thriving aesthetic communities everywhere.


18 - What was the last great book you read? What was the last great film?

The last book I read is Black Against Empire, a history of the Black Panther Party....

Find out more at rob mclennan's blog.

Originally Published: July 17th, 2015