Interview with Dorothea Lasky


The Sandy Crimmins National Prize for Poetry draws to a close tonight at midnight (, I thought it would be interesting to talk with the judge of this year’s prize. Below is our interview.

Wittle: What books are you reading right now?

Lasky: Today I am re-reading W.C. Williams’ Spring and All. Yesterday I re-read The Bernadette Mayer Reader.

Wittle: What books do you feel help poets write poetry?

Lasky: I feel that grounding poetry-writing in experiences helps poets write poetry. My favorite thing to do is write poetry in museums.


Wittle:  What is the key element that makes a poem a poem?

Lasky: The connection between a specific and the universal.


Wittle: In your opinion, what is the most difficult form of poetry to write?

Lasky: I am not sure that I think any form is more difficult than any other. I think fiction is extremely difficult to write. I have the deepest respect for fiction writers.


Wittle:  How do you find inspiration for a poem?

Lasky: In the visual world and the things people say.


Wittle: How do you know when an idea is a poem?

Lasky: I think all ideas are poems.


Wittle: What types of craft constructs in a poem really impress you (I’m thinking a “sneak attack” alliteration or something like that.)

Lasky: When the persona morphs into something I never would have expected.


Wittle: What types of craft constructs do you think are overdone?

Lasky: I think all can be fresh with the right poem.


Wittle:  How has technology helped and hurt poetry?

Lasky: It has helped poetry, because it has brought more poetry-readers together.


Wittle: What advice do you wish someone would’ve given you as you started your career in poetry?

Lasky: To relax. As Ice Cube says, “Life ain’t a track meet no it’s a marathon.” Writing poetry is a lifelong endeavor.


Dorothea Lasky is the author of AWE, Black Life, and Thunderbird, all out from Wave Books. She can be found online here and here