Who’s the lovely person who wrote this for CV2? I might LOVE you!
“Stevie Howell’s poetry collection ^^^^^ [Sharps] is upfront and unsentimental. The book takes its title from an Egyptian hieroglyph which is used interchangeably to represent “waters,” the letter N, and all prepositions within a sentence. Howell’s poetry is all of the above: fluid and rhythmically dynamic like water, sharp like the points of the letter N, and as abrupt and biting as prepositions. As Howell explains in her interview with The Toronto Quarterly, ^^^^^ [Sharps] embraces the poignancy of the word ‘no.’ She resists fantasizing the ordinary, but she also denies the mundanity of the everyday. She says no to violence, but embraces it in her imagery: ‘You crush by moving, mulch / the recently fallen autumn leaves, snap branches, / snag open the tear in your jeans. / Your panting. / His panting. / It’s a kind of transfusion.'”
Where does a poem usually begin for you? Are you an author of short pieces that end up combining into a larger project, or are you working on a “book” from the very beginning?
Honestly, many of my poems begin with me ranting in bed at night.
Are public readings part of or counter to your creative process? Are you the sort of writer who enjoys doing readings?
I can’t manage to feel one way about readings. The vibes are so variable and I can’t be the mountain. If someone sneezes, I say, “Oh no! They don’t care at all!” Then I say, “They can’t help it, it’s a reflex! Get over yourself!” And it feels like I’m Richard E. Grant in How to Get Ahead in Advertising, fighting with my giant boil co-head in the middle of a dinner party.
Do you have any theoretical concerns behind your writing? What kinds of questions are you trying to answer with your work? What do you even think the current questions are?
I don’t have a lot of patience for theory. But I have many concerns. I get this line in my head from some daytime TV talk show I saw, when they had a cook on as a guest. She’s shoving onions around in a frying pan, and he host asks her, “How did you start cooking? Did you go to culinary school?” And she hollers: “I went to the school of MAMA!” That’s pretty much my background with theory.
I’m with C. Wright Mills on this — “Let every man be his own methodologist.”
Don McKay: “So our publisher Goose Lane sent us on this tour and the idea was, it’s a study in contrasts. You know.
I’m male. Stevie’s female. Stevie’s young and hip. I’m old and…really, really hip.”
^^^^^^ ^^^^^^ ^^^^^ is the ancient Egyptian hieroglyph that represented “n,” water, and all prepositions in a sentence. You can see it in the image (inside the cartouches, the rounded rectangles above). And it was the most recurrent hieroglyph on the Rosetta Stone.
Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.
Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.
He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.
The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
For nothing now can ever come to any good.
— W.H. Auden