Saturday, July 28, 2012
Kyle Knapp Interview
I was originally influenced by the life of Jim Morrison when I began writing because he was the first character in my life, or in a book, or in history that I was able to naturally and genuinely identify myself with as a young man. After Morrison grew out of fame and pop culture, he walked around a lot anonymously; in gardens and mazes and throughout some of the most remarkable cities in the world. He was determined to live up to his own identification with the greatest of the poets. I believe he wrote about 1600 poems in his life, and I think eventually a clearer visage of history will deign to adequately respect his achievements in literature. I’ve thought that the identity of a poet (or of my conception of the life of a poet) was a blessed and noble ideal since I was very young ... and part of that was inspired by Morrison.
It wasn’t until I began to read Vladimir Nabokov, and soon after Arthur Rimbaud, that I began to appreciate writing (and literature) “in itself” and devoid of any relationship to the formation of an identity or to a philosophical ideal or something like that. A girlfriend had left Lolita at my house when I was seventeen and I was obsessed with the fey solipsism of the character Humbert Humbert. Not so much for his horrid affinities, of course; but, in order to imitate the genius of Humbert’s hand, I had to greatly expand my use of the English language. I wrote all the time and studied literature feverishly for a couple years after that, and I really learned to love the art of language. Rimbaud’s “A Season in Hell” is something that I came across in that time. It’s one of the most originally brilliant, eccentric and exciting articles that I have ever read in my entire life. I think I’ve read all of Paul Schmidt’s translations of Rimbaud by now, and I have to assent that I’ve been irrevocably inspired, and maybe even to an extent complimented by my postured fidelity to Rimbaud’s work.
Why write poetry? It is known to be a hard sale, and, with the exception of a few chosen, most poets would go hungry trying to make a living from it.
I never really thought about that until after I had been writing poetry for many years. When I began writing I was a teenager, and an idealist, and I remember being passionately determined to learn about different ways that I could survive and be happy without living by money. I don’t want to make a living as a poet as much as I want to perfect myself as a writer for my own private joys. I like poetry the most as a form of expression because of any of the art forms that I know of, it offers your audience the greatest degree of participation on the part of their own mind. And not just their active consciousness. A great poem can access thoughts and feelings that you may not have been aware you had. Pieces of your life that aren’t always current or held together. For example, a poem can return to you dreams that you will never remember but have shaped you forever, once long ago, and you may or may not know why. I think it’s fascinating, exciting, and important to provoke and expand your mind, and reading and writing poetry is a fantastic way to do that.
A lot of your poetry touches on nature and your fondness for it. Where does that come from?
What’s next on your agenda?
Well, my plan is to organize a few more volumes of my earlier work and get it out there so that I can focus on the creative element of writing again ... the fun part.
Kyle Knapp’s Pluvial Gardens, edited by David Cranmer, can be found here.