Saturday, July 28, 2012

Kyle Knapp Interview

Who are your primary influences and why?

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?

It’s very hard for me to reminisce genuine moments of happiness from my life, and the few that I can afford are from a childhood replete with explorations and adventures in the forests. That and much of my early work was written by the side of a large secluded pond on my parent’s property.

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.


Rick said...

Really enjoyed reading this post, David. Honest, thoughtful remembrances and thinking like this might tip the Internet balance toward the side of goodness and light.

Kieran Shea said...

A thoughtful nod to our better selves.

Charles Gramlich said...

gotta admire the poets. Not a lot of external reinforcement for doing it, but when you have to get the material out you get it out.

Mates said...

there is no doubt the family connection. it is one thing to have those thoughts, feelings and passion, but to be able to articulate, put them in writing that way, blows my mind.
When I read your stories I feel the same way.