Awful Interview: Mark Neely

3 Oct

Mark Neely is a careful creature. His ability to revise and see something new even newer has always impressed me. His chapbook, Four of a Kind, contains poems I’ve read years earlier, but in such different shape as to appear altogether new to me, but yet the same poem. He’ll be reading tomorrow at Vouched Presents: a Night of Book Releases to celebrate his forthcoming collection Beasts of the Hill. It is where you should be.

In your recent chapbook, Four of a Kind, all your poems seem to have the shape of a window, or the negative space of a crucifix. If you had to decide, which image would you rather have ascribed to the visible structure of the poems?

I’m going to have to go with window on that one. Maybe a window that’s been boarded up and graffitied. Although any of the poems can work like a crucifix if you ever need to ward off a succubus.

So, you think succubi can recognize negative space? How much do you know about succubi? What aren’t you telling us, Mr. Neely?

I’d rather not talk about my knowledge of succubi, but let me tell you, they absolutely abhor negative space!

Your reticence unnerves me, but I’ll continue. What’s this I hear about a new book coming out from Oberlin?

My first full-length book, Beasts of the Hill, won the Field Poetry Prize, and will be published by Oberlin College Press in 2012, probably in February or early March. I’m really excited to be working with the editors at Oberlin, David Young and David Walker, who have dedicated much of their lives to poetry. They’ve published a lot of poets I love–Marianne Boruch, Russell Edson, Vasko Popa, Angie Estes, and Miroslav Holub to name a few. Ecstatic is too dull a word to describe my feelings about all this.

That is pretty fantastic. Who are some of your other influences, not published by Oberlin?

James Wright, Elizabeth Bishop, Dinosaur Jr., Paul Westerberg, Sesame Street, Raising Arizona, Richard Serra, Martina Navratilova and William “Refrigerator” Perry

Oh, man! I used to to have a William Perry jersey as a kid. Were/are you a Bears fan?

Yes, big Bears fan. I’ve suffered a lot since 1985.

The Fridge taught me one important lesson: if life puts an obstacle in your path, eat it.

What sorts of obstacles have you eaten?

In high school I ate Mr. Shaw, my high school English teacher, who said I didn’t have what it took to be a writer, that I should do something with brighter career prospects, like road building or accounting.

I once ate a hole in the Rocky Mountains (this was in the early 1990’s before they starting building roads over the mountains). I was trying to get to Bellingham, WA, where there had been sightings of Walt Whitman trying to board the Alaska Ferry.

Just yesterday I ate a box of Cheese Nips that was looking at me funny.

Sometimes the audience members at the Vouched readings can look a little shifty. Just thought I’d warn you, or perhaps, should I warn them? I wouldn’t want you to swallow one down.

Is there anything else you’d like to say to people coming, or thinking of coming, to the reading?

I’ll be nice, I promise.

Come on out people! Every Vouched Presents event I’ve been to has been absolutely electric. Christman! Martone! Henley! It’ll be worth your time.

One Response to “Awful Interview: Mark Neely”

  1. Jeremy Bauer October 4, 2011 at 12:41 pm #

    That was great! Can’t wait to check out that book.

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