What originally motivated you to begin writing poetry?
Girls. I thought it was a great way of impressing girls. Of course
later I found out that having an expensive mobile phone works much
better. The girl I wrote my first poem to just looked at me like I was
crazy. So I got the natural idea that I was probably not good enough
at it yet and started with the vain idea that i could improve these
skills. Of course later on I realized that having a crisp hundred
dollar bill sticking out of your breast pocket is much more effective
if you want to get interactive.
Are all of your poems kind of constructed around a main theme?
No. In fact if you investigate this idea closely you will see that
‘themes’ actually do not exist in the entire corpus of poetry. This is
because of the nature of poetry, which primarily is a tool that tries
to name the unnameable. You could, for example, claim lots of poems
have ‘death’ as a theme. But do they really? The theme itself is often
just a metaphor for something else. And death is an abstract concept,
in this case operating in the abstract environment of a poem. So what
exactly does it mean to call ‘death’ a theme? Nothing much on closer
investigation. A poet could really be talking about anything
imaginable and make it look like a poem about death. Don’t be fooled.
Poets are tricksters.
How do you feel poetry is beneficial to the world of literature, and
the world itself?
The world of literature kind of stinks. It’s full of fools who have
invested a lot of time in ‘cultural capital’ and are very hungry to
get returns on those investments in the form of recognition. Frankly,
only a complete moron would waste his precious time on this planet
with such insane people. In my opinion poetry wants to have little to
do with those people. The stuff they praise always seems pretty random
to me. They praise good stuff and they praise bad stuff, all is the
same to them. If you wanna write poems just keep out of the world
of literature that’s what I say.
As to ‘what beneficial effect does poetry have on the world’ I am not
at liberty to answer that question since this is one of our trade
When you pull together a piece of poetry, is it all at once, or do you
begin a piece and return to it later?
In my opinion the most effective way of writing poetry is to get up at
0600 in the morning every day and write, write the poem until the
draft is finished. I have heard this from several great poets – early
in the morning the mind is the cleanest and its most easy to produce
poetry without the mind interfering with itself. Just do that every
day for a few years, then you have like a few hundred drafts. Then
reserve a month or two to rewrite about 50 or 60 good poems from those
hundreds of drafts. And there you go.
Do you have any big inspirations for your poetry?
How exactly does one measure the size of inspirations? How am i
supposed to know if an inspiration is big or not? Sometimes you feel
something, a little tickle in the back of your head. Sometimes you
feel an incredible urge. Is the last ‘bigger’ than the first? Better?
Hell if I know. Big inspirations, little inspirations, I do them all,
dude. I’m an omni-inspirationalist. In my opinion the whole world is
fabricated by inspirations. But now I am getting dangerously close to
those trade secrets again.
Thanks a ton once again, I know you’re likely very busy and It’s very
Welcome, Lee. I wish you the best of luck with your project. Let me
close this interview with one of my favourite poems from Milosz, which
concerns some of the topics we touched in this interview:
A Confession (1985)
My God, I loved strawberry jam.
And the dark sweetness of a woman’s body.
Also well-chilled vodka, herring in olive oil,
Scents, of cinnamon, of cloves.
So what kind of prophet am I? Why should the spirit
Have visited such a man? Many others
Were justly called, and trustworthy.
Who would have trusted me? For they saw
How I empty glasses, throw myself on food,
And glance greedily at the waitress’s neck.
Flawed and aware of it. Desiring greatness,
Able to recognise greatness wherever it is,
And yet not quite, only in part, clairvoyant,
I knew what was left for smaller men like me:
A feast of brief hopes, a rally of the proud,
A tournament of hunchbacks, literature.