The Verse Book of Interviews

By Brian Henry and Andrew Zawacki

Publication Date: August 1, 2005

ISBN# 9780974635354 (6x9 352pp, paperback)

  • In-depth interviews with poets were a popular feature of Verse magazine—and this volume collects many favorites, along with new interviews commissioned especially for this book. The poets represent a wide range of aesthetics, ethnicities and politics. Although a particular focus of the book is emerging and innovative American poets, the collection also features interviews with Australian, Scottish, Irish, Czech, Slovenian and Kashmiri poets. A vital record of contemporary poetry.

    Interviewed: Tomaž Šalamun, Charles Wright, Christine Hume, Laura Solomon, Matthew Rohrer, Edward Dorn, Dara Wier, Martin Espada, Tessa Rumsey, Medbh McGuckian, Hayden Carruth, Reginald Shepherd, Miroslav Holub, Agha Shahid Ali, Heather Ramsdell, Claudia Rankine, John Kinsella, Marjorie Welish, Kate Fagan, Don Paterson, Kevin Hart, Ales Debeljak, Anselm Berrigan, Marcella Durand, John Yau, August Kleinzahler, Lisa Jarnot

  • These substantial interviews with poets of many different countries, ages, and aesthetics are always in-depth and shy away from the “where do you write and how” questions that lead to banal and boring interviews. From talking about the joy of memorizing poems: “it’s wonderful to memorize poetry. . . . It’s a pleasurable thing, and especially if it is fostered in the home” (August Kleinzahler), to frustration with the canon: “I had the canon pointed at me. I got Ezra Pounded” (Martin Espada), to poetry as pleasure: “I don’t care so much about being understood now, but I want to give pleasure” (Medbh McGuckian), and “poetry has to be able to give pleasure before it’s understood; that’s why you want to understand it” (Reginald Shepherd); from praise for difficult poetry: “Why should everything be immediately accessible?” (Agha Shahid Ali) to mixed emotion about collective efforts: “There needs to be some collective efforts to do certain things, like get a press going or get a reading series going . . . but it takes poets to write poems . . . I actually don’t give a shit about collaboration because I want to write my own poems” (Anselm Berrigan), it is evident that this collective effort between Brian Henry and Andrew Zawacki is a good thing. They bring us a collection of interviews that engage the reader in questions of contemporary poetry; these are poets who all “add something to the world that wasn’t there before" (Reginald Shepherd).
    Lilah Hegnauer, Virginia Quarterly Review

    What I find interesting about this collection is precisely the fact that I haven’t heard of most of the authors, and those that I have heard of, I’ve only actually spent time in the work of two of them; what becomes interesting is the process of discovery. ... If these are most of the interviews the magazine has published over the past few years, it speaks very well for the magazine. One of the interviews I’ve enjoyed most has been with New York poet John Yau; the great strength of an interview, I think, has to be in engaging a reader who has no previous knowledge of the subject, and this interview made me want to start looking up Yau’s work.
     Rob McLennan

    Each interview offers spontaneous, passionate talk, reminding one of the intimacy of a poetry reading. Poets are alive and well in this discussion. Much information about craft is offered to younger writers, along with implicit support.
    John Mann, World Literature In Review

  • Brian Henry has published numerous books of poetry, most recently Lessness and Wings Without Birds. Other titles include The Stripping Point, In the Unlikely Event of a Water , Quarantine, Graft, Astronaut, and American Incident. He has translated Tomaž Šalamun’s Woods and Chalices as well as Ales Steger’s The Book of Things. He teaches English at the University of Richmond.

    Andrew Zawacki is the author of the poetry books Petals of Zero Petals of One (Talisman House, 2009), Anabranch (Wesleyan, 2004), and By Reason of Breakings (Georgia, 2002), as well as of five chapbooks: Arrow’s shadow (Equipage, due ’09); Roche limit (Track & Field, due ’08); Bartleby’s Waste-book (Particle Series, due ’08); Georgia (Katalanché, due ’08), co-winner of the 1913 Prize; and Masquerade (Vagabond, 2001), recipient of the Alice Fay Di Castagnola Award from the PSA. A former fellow of the Slovenian Writers’ Association, he edited Afterwards: Slovenian Writing 1945-1995 (White Pine, 1999). He is currently Assistant Professor of English at the University of Georgia.

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