Vincent Katz interviewed for The Brooklyn Rail
Both Vincent Katz and Carter Ratcliff have recently published new books: Katz’s Swimming Home (Nightboat Books) in May, and Ratcliff’s Tequila Mockingbird in June. The two interviewed one another for the Rail on the subjects of poetry, novels, the audience, and the point of writing in the first place.
VK: I want my poetry to be impacted by things external to myself. I don’t want to be in control of the poem. I want the poem to be a vehicle for experiencing the world—in particular, other people and the contingency of things appearing and disappearing in my environment. I get a buzz from being on the street, and it’s my favorite place to write. I’ve approached the task in different ways: sometimes returning to the same block or neighborhood over several days or weeks to compose a poem, sometimes registering specific external stimuli paratactically, sometimes, as in the poem you quote from, “Sidewalk Poem,” by attempting to construct a more generalized, or abstracted, field from the experience of being on the street (this is helped by the compositional technique of composing by phrase, rather than by traditional syntax), and in even more experimental poems, by waiting for several minutes and trying to compress everything I see during that time into one word, then another.