So I always thought it was cool—especially the Italians. The Fellini gang. You know, even Godard and his cool glasses. CM: At what age did you begin to think of yourself as a poet? TSE: Tomorrow. No, I think I committed to or realized there was poetic sensibility.
You know, I felt things. I felt things all the time. And I wanted to shape and say things about the things I felt all the time. And I recognized that early on, even as a kid. I was given the gift of thinking that was poetic whether it was or not. So I wrote poems pretty early. Things about birds. Little things like that.
The easy things to do before you learn the heavy people. So I was writing poems or song-like poems about birds and animals and trees and towers and, you know, churches. Things that I thought would always be here and were always here. So was anyone reading those poems about the birds and churches and the towers? TSE: Those poems were being hidden from my large father. I just thought that if he found the poems, he would know that I was reading a lot.
The books I got— had hidden under my bed— were books that I had stolen. I met a woman at age fourteen or fifteen sitting across from me in Washington, DC Metro subway. And she had a big red book. And it was the collected stories of John Cheever. And I ran right out and stole it. It opened up this part of the country to me in lots of ways. And I thought it was a way to travel to a world that I knew I would see one day. The red bag. The red book.
TSE: The red book. CM: Can you talk a little bit about the ways in which being African American has influenced your work? You can trust me. Or I can reach you. I am liable to stay around if the motion, if the tapestry, if the nuance is made with some movement.
Now, we call that movement in this country, you know, rhythm. I think of it as the ideas and the sounds, or that the writer is free enough to add the sounds in equal amount as one would the logic, so that the logic is sort of doubling that occurs. And I like that in the reading experience. I want to feel some of the surrender. Some of the writer allowing the language to be a part of the turning, and breaking, and the breathing walk, and the line.
And if so, how that played out. Work against it all your life or embrace it all your life. Try to make peace with it or reach an understanding. And how much of my father can be allowed into the craft? The trap is they make us. CM: Poetry is your new gang in a sense.
TSE: Yes, totally. CM: And the old gang or your brother, because your father is now dead, how do they respond to Thomas the Poet? CM: I wanted to ask you when you knew when something was done. So how do you teach yourself to stretch it further? You feel like you feel in a meal. The poem is swelling in you.
And the poem is forgetting about you. The poem is finishing with you. Now, the history of shapes, the history of forms tells you there could be a commercial break. There can be a blink.
There could be a long trip across the world and back. And if it still worries you, then it deserves another look. But ultimately the poem on the page is the only thing that can be finished. The work itself continues to go on and goes on in other poems. The poem does that for you. You negotiate that over time. You know, you stop them. It contributes to that muscular way of knowing that is really hard to articulate because it begins as impulse and ends as impulse if anything.
CM: Whose work do you find yourself admiring now? And what classic poets do you return to? I teach at Sarah Lawrence now. I particularly took that job because she used to work there years ago. So sad. But, I love Rukeyser. Those are hands I sought. At the memorial I didn't want to see the body, but I was curious about how seeing the body would affect people and how people were preparing themselves to let go. In several poems you discuss your frustration with stereotypes of black poetry—spoken word or academic.
Your work certainly straddles that line. When you were coming up as a poet, did you feel a distinct pressure to work in one camp or the other?
I didn't feel the pressure, but I was aware of the climate, the aesthetic amputations, the segregated limits. I could hear the workshop music, see the lack of page-dance, and recognize the isms and their various communities and cliques.
I've never felt in between or outside—just wildly in search of a way to make every line do both. Is his very broken identity one you hope to help repair? I was at Cave Canem in a poetry reading when I heard the news of his death, and I immediately left the reading, went outside, and wrote the title.
The first section was written that night and the rest of the poem, very quickly, over nine months in the order that it appears. It's purposefully excessive.Even the people who find him off-putting and unprofessional tend to agree. I like Milosz. And in a few arenas, I think procedure should not be expected to catch up. I bled and cleaned and shook. At what essay would an employer begin to Metu area studies phd thesis sexual assault has outpaced the systems that expose and. But some of these accomplished teachers are the very thomas people who harass, intimidate, and shun. Advertisement Our awareness of the prevalence and magnitude of a legally sound case for official dismissal.
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The cultural landscape is set up ideally right now for women to speak out about this. The fiction of us created by the creators of must be met with equal creative force and simply counter-punching with more as a form of depowering it walks a line of interpretation that varies, dangerously, from audience to audience and user to user. Advertisement Kat Stoeffel wrote about the accusations thoughtfully at the Cut: Now women are speaking up about situations that fall outside the conventional definition of rape but nonetheless reflect a gender power dynamic that leaves women sexually vulnerable. Maybe this is why rape, assault, and sexual harassment are so common in the music world. Commission on the Arts and Humanities.