Interviewed by Lisa Vihos via email, October 20, 2015
The relationship between poetry and change is important. The Polish poet Czesław Miłosz said that “poetry is the language of the future.” Poetry asks us for our opinions but in a fragmentary form, that also includes observation, description, learning, memories, contradiction, impressions of others. In this way, a poem suggests reality but with it a sense of the new and the possible.
I would say that poetry doesn’t impose itself on reality but rather tries to express its miraculous nature. Reality moves, but it doesn’t change. Our understanding of it changes, increases. Poetry is often stormy and critical, but I don’t think it tyrannically imposes an idea, a form on what is ahead. I really believe in the ideas in my poetry. Poetry is often about ideas. At the same time, I’m cautious to toss in a phrase or word that takes the poem in an unintended direction.
Since childhood I’ve been influenced by Impressionism. Written poems infuse the interesting qualities of language, sometimes lapsing into visual displays, which put the poem on a fundamental existential or archeological level. But, in general, my poetry began with a feeling of wanting to “say something.” That’s where it starts for me; language was intended for people to get involved. If we try to do too much, language itself shuts down, becomes dull and confusing. Perhaps, it’s about sincerity or identity.
“Wisconsin Poetry Activists” is a flash interview series by Lisa Vihos, which grew out of research that she conducted for an article in Wisconsin People & Ideas, Turning on the Lights, Spring 2016.