Quick fire questions with poet Charles Bane Jr.
Charles Bane, Jr. has no shortage of writing accolades. He is the American author of a chapbook published with Curbside Splendor , a collection called Love Poems that is available from Aldrich Press, and Three Seasons: Writing Donald Hall. His fourth book The Ends Of The Earth: Collected Poems was released in the U.S. on September 1st by Transcendent Zero Press. If that wasn’t enough a second book he’s authored, this year, is Meet Geronimo And Other Stories, and this is currently available on Amazon, from Avignon Press. He has created and contributes to The Meaning Of Poetry series for The Gutenberg Project, and is a current nominee as Poet Laureate of Florida. He took a break from this phenomenal workload to sit down and answer some quick-fire questions.
So first up, how does it feel to be a nominee for Florida’s Poet Laureate? How did that come about?
I was nominated by several sources because the selection, appointed by Florida’s Governor, is very politicized and to be considered seriously, you have to wage something resembling a campaign. The post is ceremonial, and pays nothing, but there’s some influence bestowed and I’d like to use it to encourage public libraries in our state to purchase poetry published by small presses in the U.S.
I noticed there was a poem for E. E. Cummings, what do you think poetry that refers to the great poets is trying to say? Is it merely a tribute? Or does the poet in some way see themselves in the shadow of that other poet?
I think poets are born, and ready or not at a young age, they have a creative connection to their unconscious, from which all poetry is borne upward. I wrote a brief tribute to E.E. Cummings but wouldn’t presume to stand near his shadow.
This is your fourth book, can you talk about the process of publishing a book please? The ups and downs? What would your recommendation to younger poets striving towards books be?
Publishing poetry is problematic in the United States especially. [pullquote] The reader deserves a book that has been reviewed and then accepted as valid by his/her peers. [/pullquote] The American reading public does not have an interest in reading contemporary poetry. Only 7% of Americans have read a poem in the last year. Poets have to be marketers, and be partners with their publishers in making their works known. Whenever possible, a book of poetry should be in Spanish / English to appeal to the Latin market, both here and in South America. China Mobile.com reaches millions of English- reading Chinese (English is mandatory in Chinese grammar schools), and the Chinese have a long cultural history of respecting poets. I’d add that I don’t believe in self-publishing. The reader deserves a book that has been reviewed and then accepted as valid by his/her peers.
Do poems come to you in quick bursts, or clean from the spoon, or are they a labour of love?
My poetry comes-and I love the expression- usually clean from the spoon. The feeling wells inside prior and it’s a race to keep up with the outpouring and, while you’re writing, order the words into sense and edit. I had tremendous confidence after reading Shakespeare’s sonnets as a boy and discovering that he pauses about three- quarters of the way through the poem. It’s almost imperceptible, but the stop is there–before his burst of speed down the last furlong.
I noticed your poems are very concerned with love and intimacy – is this something you do consciously, or that just speaks to you?
[pullquote] romantic relationships were the ideal setting for exploring the truth of ourselves and even farther [/pullquote] I found as I wrote my poems that –for me personally– romantic relationships were the ideal setting for exploring the truth of ourselves and even farther. I was worried for a while that I would be labelled merely a “romantic poet”. Then I stopped worrying and got on with it. By expressing the deepest feeling we can store for another, I look for the widest arc. And I’ve been very, very lucky in that critics have caught it, my intention.
Who are the poets you love?
There is an “old guard” of American poets: past U.S. Poet Laureates Donald Hall and Richard Wilbur who I’ve corresponded with and who are-ironically- far more accessible than far younger, trendier poets. I never refuse a blurb, because both the late Anthony Hecht and Karl Shapiro were paternal and kind to me. I keep Elizabeth Bishop’s Geography III by my bedside. I think she was America’s finest poet of the twentieth century.
There’s enormous sexism being leveled at fourth wave feminist poets like Claudia Rankine and Matthea Harvey who are creating a golden age of poetry written exclusively by women, and who are being ignored (you can read an interesting article that Charles provided the link for by clicking here).
But the opportunity has never been better for Americans, and the globe, to read exciting new voices and I want to call attention to them.
When is the book out?
My new book, ” The Ends Of The Earth: Collected Poems” will be available from Transcendent Zero Press on September 15th.
You can find out more about Charles Bane Jr. and his many books at this website.