Monday, February 15, 2010

E. Ethelbert Miller's 1 Question Interview with Jan Beatty

The Little e-Note is 2008 featured poet and Split This Rock Advisory Board Member E. Ethelbert Miller's blog. The following is his 1 Question Interview with Jan Beatty, 2010 Split This Rock featured poet, and author of Red Sugar. Reposted with permission.

THE QUESTION: What are the politics behind the sex in your poetry?

I’m writing poems about eating the world, about stripping off the easy—down to the metal inside us. I’m writing the inside of the body as the ultimate domestic space. I’m writing a football field, what football is: it’s the hitting, the loving the game, the brutality and the intimacy of my body against yours. I’m writing poems to other writers, poems to musicians who drive me: George Clinton walking through Houston, the restaurant he’s in, the black history there that’s now a gated community—I’m continuing this: after the narrowing, the map & the rope, I cross the lake into view. What comes after the lake of the body? I want Frankie Lymon, P-Funk, and Spanka-Vision. I’m writing the stripping of easy moves, the familiar, a moving into, inside of the new thing seen: what is it? It feels like landscape, not machine, but land, sky, view—organic, not man-made. The long view, seeing far. I’m writing life, the integration of movement, pressure, hydraulics—rather than either/or—manic or relaxed. I’m finding a place, a speed I can live with, but still, always, time away for big sky. I’m writing the big, radiant failures, the tower falling, the new world. The muscle car and the body inside. I’m writing the vast, lonely spaces of the American West that tattoo me, fill my empty spaces. I’m writing poems to send out, poems to publish, I’m stuck in the Charlotte airport. I’m writing the airport trash talk with the construction workers there. The sex is the politics in my poems. It’s the speaking it, bold & varied in its representations. It’s about putting the body in, putting the body of a woman on the page, but writing it complicated: in a range of voices, with different looks and levels of intensity. With cunts and deep voices and vulnerabilities. It’s political in that a woman is writing a woman on the page, and she’s sexual, alive, not always sweet—in fact, rarely sweet and nice. She’s brought out her tools and she’s butch and she’s building new worlds on the page.

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