On Interests

William Keckler appears to have liked my new chapbook, Interests. Thank you, William: I’m glad you enjoyed it!

He writes:

The poems in Interests seem to consist of lists of interests (insert a “Duh!” of whatever coloration you choose here) which compose portraits of some disparate individuals.

Of course, there is a possibility these are all one person’s lists, but then this person would most likely be afflicted with multiple personality disorder, since the personalities tend to be distinct, if not always altogether consistent in their interests. But then who is?

One wonders whether the poet asked friends to list their interests and she worked from that, or whether she just did these “shorthand portraits” of friends, acquaintances or strangers (or the lesser-known kook, oddball or perceived enemy or frenemy which drew her attention or ire).

Some of these are rather bilious portraits and a few are clearly poison-pen works of The School of SmartAssitude. Gordon, like her partner Gary Sullivan, is a natural literary satirist. When seen in this light, the title Interests takes on a different shading, and would seem to encourage an interpretation along the (critical) lines of “vested interests”. But, mercifully, the book doesn’t skew overmuch in that tiresome direction.

Here’s how I wrote the book, actually: Have you ever noticed that if you list your interests on your blogger profile, your interests become links? If you click on the links, you can find other bloggers who have listed the same interests on their profiles. The first page of my chapbook is my list of interests. Every other page is a purloined list from someone who was automatically linked to me. I did choose from the lists, selecting those that were most prosodic and quirky, and I did edit the lists internally a tiny bit.

It’s very much a conceptual work, I think, but it’s interesting that it comes off as so New-York-School-y, as, yes, it functions as a collection of list poems.

Here’s what I realized reading other people’s lists: we are so much defined by our enthusiasms. In a way, we are what we like.

Also, of course, enthusiasm is contagious. There is a great deal of joie de vivre in the lists, isn’t there?

I should add that something that William thought was deliberate (“When she places “the world” all by itself on one page, we know as readers she’s doing this to break up the monotony of poetic forms which are too repetitive.”) was actually not. The list just spilled over to the next page in layout.

The alphabetical ordering, which WK saw as potentially tiresome if it had been consistent throughout the lists, only depended on whether the original bloggers had alphabetized their lists or not.

It was more or less “insta-poetry.”

I thank all the bloggers who (willy-nilly) contributed to my book. And again I thank Andrew Lundwall, who made such a cool cover for it. Thank you! Thank you!

3 thoughts on “On Interests

  1. Hi Nada.

    I went back to the book several times.

    It is a pleasurable read.

    The elucidations on composition here were interesting to me.

    I knew it had to sift through your mind as well, because of the artistry (i.e. it didn't come across as stochastic or desultory).

    It's a fun book too, which is a rare thing in poetry.

    I would have quoted from it in the review, but you know how that book form doesn't allow for cut-and-paste and I figured it was just as well to tell readers to go read and enjoy it for themselves.

    Props to the maker.


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