The Sandy Crimmins National Prize for Poetry draws to a close tonight at midnight (http://www.philadelphiastories.org/sandy-crimmins-national-prize-poetry-2011), 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.