In anticipation of the 2012 Poets Forum, our friends at the Academy of American Poets will conduct a series of six-question interviews featuring six different poets leading up to their event this month, October 18–20. BOMB is excited to be able to share the first interview in this series, a conversation with Randall Mann.
Poets.org How do you know when you’ve finished writing a poem?
Randall Mann A poem is finished, I guess, when each successive stanza, line, word, and punctuation mark adds up to an argument—for lack of a better word—that is clear yet compellingly elusive.
Poets.org What word are you proud of sneaking into a poem? What word would you never put in a poem?
Mann I snuck the word “snuggle,” one of the most appalling in the language, into a recent poem. I like that. I don’t think I can afford to ban words.
Poets.org What do you see as the role of the poet in today’s culture?
Mann The poet should shut the door and write poems, and then, after much time and care, show the world. If this goes well, the role-playing will take care of itself.
Poets.org Which poet’s work do you continually go back to?
Mann Philip Larkin.
Poets.org Are you on Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr? How does that fit into your writing life, if at all?
Mann I’m on Facebook, and I’m on Twitter when I remember I’m on Twitter. They exist on the virtual edge of my lit life, i.e., the sharing of a poem or article here, the congratulatory exclamatory here, the benign self-promotion and low-grade narcissism there. Etc.
Poets.org What are you reading right now?
Mann I’m kind of obsessed with the fashion designer Halston right now, so I’m reading a trashy biography, Simply Halston, as well as Steven Bluttal’s gorgeous pictorial, Halston. I’m also re-reading Michael Hofmann’s books, including Corona, Corona and Approximately Nowhere, as I am writing a piece on studying with him and want to revisit his work. He’s an absolutely brilliant writer.
Read more about Randall Mann on Poets.org here.