Sunday, 10 February 2013

Sharon Olds--Enigmatic Queen of Conceptual Poetry

Sharon Olds--TS Eliot Poetry Prize Winner & Enigmatic Queen of Conceptual Poetry

G'Morning Poetry: It's a great pleasure to speak with you, Sharon.

Sharon Olds: It's a real pleasure to chat with you, too.

GP: And congratulations on receiving this year's TS Eliot Poetry Prize!

SO: Oh, thank you so much!

GP: Were you surprised that a radical conceptual poet like yourself should win such a mainstream  poetry award?

SO: Oh--I was very surprised... But I haven't often been described as a "conceptual poet." That's a new one!

GP: You are thought of as one of the founders of conceptual poetry. Can you explain conceptual poetry to our readers?

SO: I'm--well... I am certainly not one of the founders and hardly an expert in conceptual poetry and so--

GP: In your latest collection--Stag's Leap--we notice that you have merely cut and pasted (from the IMDB site) all 2000 or so audience reviews of Bambi. Why did you do this?

SO: Stag's Leap is actually a collection of individual poems that speak--in diverse ways--about the agony of lost love.

GP: In terms of the history of your movement, however, why did you and Kenny decide to embark on a radical poetics of appropriation and plagiarism?

SO: Kenny?

GP: How do you respond to critics that suggest that the pervasive "I" of the confessional poets (that "I" that you conceptualists seek to detourne) has in fact merely reconstituted itself either in the marketing apparatus or the "heroics of labour" or the generally anxious, anti-I ego-work that surrounds so many of your fellow conceptualists/their projects?

SO: I believe you are mistaking me for someone else. I don't think I'm a conceptual poet.

GP: Is the refusal to acknowledge a "labelled poetics" another tactic of radical conceptualism?

SO: I don't know.

GP: What is poetry?

SO: The poetry that I know and seek to practice is a form of communication that happens between souls.

GP: Is that a lifted quotation from Barbara Walters' recent interview with Elton John?

SO: No--those are my own words.

GP: When you "wrote" The Father, in 1992, you were way ahead of the conceptual poetry game. Our understanding is that that book is comprised entirely of internet-gleaned anecdotes about Robert Young. Genius.

SO: Wrong.

GP: Sharz, you are on record as saying that "the iPad is more important than Robert Lowell." Can you elaborate on this audacious claim?

SO: Wrong. Wrong again. Goodbye.

GP: Thank you so much.

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