I really enjoyed Excerpts from a Natural History (Pokeno: Titus Books, 2015) by Holly Painter. A beguiling collection: witty, warm and smart. A beautifully designed book, too.
John Dennison’s Otherwise (Auckland: AUP, 2015) contains gentle, serious work. It’s refreshing for its calm and formal tone, as well as for its dedication to contemplation and celebration, both.
Recently I’ve been reading Mary Ruefle’s collected lectures: Madness, Rack, and Honey (Seattle/New York: Wave Books, 2012). Much here that fruitfully sustains, and just as much that fruitfully unsettles: “I suppose, as a poet, among my fears can be counted the deep-seated uneasiness surrounding the possibility that one day it will be revealed that I consecrated my life to an imbecility.”
‘I thought we could start with talking about Madness, Rack, and Honey. It seems that book has had a rich life even outside the poetry world. I know a number of non-poets who love and teach that book.
That is absolutely true. Madness, Rack, and Honey has sold more copies than any book of poetry or prose I’ve ever written. It goes to prove a point that I make in the book, which is that people would rather talk about poetry than read it or write it!
It’s circular, though. The real strength of those essays is the way they sort of behave like poems. They have that associative movement.
They do, they do.
Can you talk about writing prose, writing nonfiction that way?
I’m a very nervous, perfectionist type of person and when I had to deliver lectures I was not comfortable just standing up and doing something spontaneous, and I was not comfortable just giving an audience of graduate students exercises, which they love and crave. They don’t like formal written things, which is bizarre to me since they are writers! I simply faced the fact that I had to do something that was interesting for me and was off the cuff in my own way. So I sat down and composed them. I mean, it was all done out of nervousness.’
Rest of interview see here.