Poet CA Conrad grew up in Pennsylvania, where they helped to support their single mother during Conrad's difficult youth. Influenced by Eileen Myles, Audre Lorde, Alice Notley, and Emily Dickinson, Conrad writes poems in which stark images of sex, violence, and defiance build a bridge between fable and confession. In a 2010 interview with Luke Degnan for BOMB Magazine’s BOMBlog, Conrad discussed their approach to poetry, which focuses on process and on engaging the permeability of the border between self and other. “Ultimately, I want my (Soma)tic poetry and poetics to help us realize at least two things. That everything around us has a creative viability with the potential to spur new thinking and imaginative output and that the most necessary ingredient to bringing the sustainable, humane changes we need and want for our world requires creativity in all lives, every single day.” In a 2010 review of The Book of Frank for Jacket Magazine, poet Eileen Myles observes, “In Conrad’s world the parameters are deliberately unknowable because that is the nature of our time. In piecing together, configuring and releasing [their] extreme miniatures—agonized fables, poems about America. CAConrad includes us all in the enormous outside of [their] heart. Which is the world in all its possibility.”
Conrad is the author of seven books, the latest is titled While Standing in Line for Death (Wave Books, 2017). They are a 2015 Headlands Art Fellow, and has also received fellowships from Lannan Foundation, MacDowell Colony, Banff, Ucross, RADAR, and the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage. They conduct workshops on (Soma)tic Poetry and Ecopoetics.
Interview with Emily HuntEmily Hunt is the author of the poetry collection Dark Green (The Song Cave, 2015). Her poems have appeared in the PEN Poetry Series, The Academy of American Poets Poem-a-Day Feature, The Poetry Society of America’s “In Their Own Words” Series, The Iowa Review, TYPO, The Volta, Diagram, and elsewhere. In 2013, Brave Men Press published This Always Happens, a book of her drawings, and she has provided cover art for several poetry collections. She currently lives in Oakland, CA and posts links to new work at ehunt.tumblr.com.
You are given the power to make one solid object elastic for a day, what do you choose and why? What will you do with it in its elastic state until dusk when it hardens again? Does it enter or inform a poem, if so how?
I would make the walls of my small room elastic, and then push them outward to make my room much larger. This would absolutely inform my poems, because feeling a little claustrophobic while writing affects the mood, pacing, and content of whatever I come up with. My room has one window, and it looks out onto a tall fence. The dresser in my room is too large, and the bottom drawer fell out after I bought it from a Craigslist stranger, so my pants are folded and crammed into piles on the floor, under the lowest functioning drawer. My bookshelf is far too tall for a little room and sometimes I imagine it falling forward, toward me. My desk is a square table that I found on the sidewalk, and its surface area just barely qualifies it as a desk; it's more like a place one vase of flowers could go in someone's huge house, like a table they don't actually need but bought on a whim to break the flow of molecules and bodies through an enormous room, then scratched up over the course of several years, and finally dragged out to the street for someone to take, and it's nudged right up against the window that looks at the fence. I also have a bedside table that my thigh will occasionally hit as soon I enter the room, but I can't get rid of that because it's where I put my book piles. I write mostly on my phone these days.
If you were commissioned to share one poem on a gallery wall of a poet living or dead, what would you choose? What color would you paint the wall? What color would you use to paint the poem with? What refreshments for the opening? What activities at the opening?
Hard to choose, but I'll say Elizabeth Willis's amazing poem “Friday."
The walls would be this color
and the poem would be pale green. The refreshments would be full meals, and there would be many cats of all ages wandering around, and we would simply admire the cats, moving, interacting, being happy, cute, and free, pawing at furniture and sleeping while we struggle to chat.
“Amspreat” is a brand new word. You are given the task to give it a definition. Is it a noun, verb, adjective, what? What does it mean? Please use it in a sentence.
amspreat: n. a nonsentient, genderless orb that generates – exerting no energy and spending no money – nutritious, delicious meals for its corresponding human on a nightly basis.
Your amspreat is now following you on Twitter.
What can poets do to change the destructive path we are all walking on together?
At this moment I do not feel I am walking on a destructive path. This excites me, and this makes me calm. I can find myself on a destructive path one minute and then not at all the next. The sense that I'm on a destructive path is ever-shifting; it arrives far, far less frequently than it did about 10 years ago, and possibly more frequently than it did when I was say, 5 years old.
Nothing is just negative and nothing is just positive, so it's hard and fun to be a person walking on many paths at once. Anger, for instance, has been constructive for me, but anger can come from horrible sources and lead to horrible things, which sounds like destruction. Empathy has been constructive for me, but empathy can lead me astray. Listening can be constructive, and listening can be destructive, depending on content and context and actions that precede or follow.
I think, though, to stay off of destructive paths, people can aim to balance a looking inward (cultivating self-awareness, self-respect, warmth toward the self, an understanding of what you've experienced, escaped, embraced) with a looking and acting outward (observation, bold and honest conversations, generosity within personal interactions, curiosity about various individuals, warmth toward others, doing work that feels like a positive contribution). People can be at all times aware that they have no idea what others have experienced or imagined until they ask them, and people can see these potential scenarios of inquiry as exciting, path-changing, constructive opportunities.
Are there any links you would like to share?
artist Laura Hunt's, upcoming show: http://usblu.es/upcoming
Hannah Brooks-Motl's second book, M: http://songcavebooks.tumblr.com/post/132942841511/m-by-hannah-brooks-motl-presale-1795-the-first
Ben Estes's photographs: http://ben-estes.tumblr.com/
WHAT IS YOUR SPIRIT ANIMAL