As you already know, if you’ve been following, we’ve been posting bonus material all month, to hold our readers over until the winter 2011 issue arrives (any day now!). We asked all the writers in our summer issue to tell us about the ideas that lead to their poems, stories, and essays. Below are the final two, by Laura Van Den Berg and Ron Wallace. If you missed all the others, scroll down and check them out.
Laura Van Den Berg: I loved having the opportunity to delve into Jonathan Lethem’s Chronic City and to craft my impressions into the essay “Chronic Conversation.” Though of course aware of Lethem’s contribution to contemporary letters, I was woefully under-read when it came to his work and so it was a joy and a challenge to have a chance to sit with this ambitious and intriguing novel.
Ron Wallace: When I started writing poetry seriously forty years ago, I was in love with the music of language and content to bake the kind of fruitcakes of image and sound that my mentors, Gerard Manley Hopkins and Dylan Thomas, were famous for. Pound’s warning to “go in fear of abstractions,” and William Carlos Williams’s prescription “no ideas but in things” further reinforced that recipe for poetic practice. These days I’m facing my fears, embracing abstractions, and striving directly to explore ideas in my poems, even though the older I get the less I seem to know.
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