Interview with SWP Guest Chris Pusateri

The Colorado Poet, #23, Summer 2013

Bob King: Chris, the first thing that strikes me is your table of contents. It’s not aligned in the left-margin, appearing almost like a poem itself, the way, for example, I can read: “first is the story (63) you do not know (64) as it takes shape (65) through the shadow of all possibly (66)” as a single unit. And the “titles” aren’t printed at the head of the poem but are bold-faced phrases inside the poem. What this tells me is that you’re experimenting with traditional formats, that you’re putting more of an emphasis on discrete phrases than traditional poetry, and you’re working against the grain of conventional writing and, for that matter, of reading. What else should it tell me?

Chris PusateriChris Pusateri: In my view, innovative work tends to challenge received wisdom about literature more rigorously than its formalist variants. I’ve long thought that one of the virtues of avant-garde movements is that they tend to view the stuff of poetry as physical material, in much the same way that a carpenter might size up the wood, saws, hammer, and nails he’s using for a particular project. In the case of Common Time, I hope the book’s unconventional use of titles will get the reader to think about the role of a title: what it is, what it’s good for, and perhaps most importantly, what it could do.

Read the full interview here.