Joseph Cooper, Arias Let Into (Spuyten Duyvil)
Disclosure: this book is dedicated to me, Joe being, after all, among my closest friends and poetry comrades.
Twenty-four favorite sentences from my interview with Joseph Cooper that appears as an afterward to Arias Let Into:
1. I wanted to write a story without beginning or ending, something without resolution, perhaps even without conflict, a kind of anti-narrative, one that simply aroused questions and curiosity.
2. The title Arias Let Into is an anagram of Aristotelian, and the subheadings are anagrams of various key points used in defining the plotline structure: introduction, rising action, climax, falling action, and denouement.
3. I think I’ve always been attracted to the sentence and the sentence fragment because during my adolescence I battled so relentlessly to actually speak one fluently.
4. When I was 11 I was diagnosed with a ‘speech block’, a type of speech impediment focused on the blocked airways, the tightening of the speech mechanism in a way that no sound could be emitted.
5. Formal constraint makes me feel safe somehow.
6. My father forbade me from seeing him, and from the traumatic thought of our friendship ending, I pulled out a spiral notebook from my math class and began writing poetry.
7. Whenever I write, I do so with the intention of reading it aloud.
8. As a reference to my body, it is perhaps a commentary on how I have never quite managed to live entirely in the present, which has always been an ongoing desire and struggle.
9. I worked nights and since I was single and otherwise unmotivated I spent the daylight hours writing.
10. Through Jim Morrison I discovered Rimbaud, Nietzsche, the Beat Movement.
11. Additionally, “unfolding crisis” surfaces from a constant internal quarrel to be, on the one hand, an experimentalist, and on the other, a more confessional narrator.
12. It was simply that Creeley was grand and Bukowski was shit.
13. The name goon papa, by the way, came from a stoned mispronunciation of nag champa incense, if that gives you a sense of the atmosphere.
14. The “you” that surfaces acts as reader, lover, friend, Other.
15. I’ve done it both ways.
16. After we left Boulder we continued collaborating via the telephone writing blind sonnets, taking turns not knowing what the other wrote before we issued our next lines.
17. [Arias] is contained in a subversive plot structure, each chapter containing 14 poems, 14 lines each as a further dissidence of the sonnet form.
18. For Arias I began with a select few and then exchanged them as I felt the first voices growing faint.
19. It was so quiet and secluded, especially at night.
20. I once saw my father perform in a show that took place entirely backstage.
21. You watch a person play after play, season after season, always themselves, always as the program states: So and So playing So and So.
22. Or are they?
23. I like to think that “I” is my collaboration with these various authors allowing that pronoun to act as more of a curator or tourist guide through experimentation.
24. The final word is always mine.