The Na/GloPoWriMo Interview with Abraham Smith

Abraham Smith’s book-length poem, Destruction of Man, is just out from Third Man Books. His four prior poetry collections are: Ashagalomancy (Action Books, 2015), Only Jesus Could Icefish in Summer (Action Books, 2014), Hank (Action Books, 2010), and Whim Man Mammon (Action Books, 2007).  Smith’s creative work has been recognized with fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center, Provincetown, MA, and the Alabama State Council on the Arts

1. Why did you start writing poetry? Why do you still?

For love of sound; to alembic or to brackish my emotional responses to the world around me. I Lear-y: I see the world feelingly always.

2. What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve gotten? The worst?

Goodly: If the bird flies into the poem, don’t kill the bird.

Vinegarly: Make sense.

3. How did your new book come into being? 

Beers with Bill Pfalzgraf. All of the old Rusk County bucolic yarns frothing forth. The fact that diesel exhaust was sleeping like a bat on the roof of my mouth when I woke. Therefore, how could I not sing tractor tractor tractor. Tractor! Destruction of Man is my pastoral screech & glee.

4. Is there a generative prompt, practice or ritual that you find particularly helpful, or that you would recommend to students, friends, or other poets?

I am a diurnal-matutinal writer. If only for a few moments, I tend to vote for sitting down for a quick visit with the embodied noggin. I love that Blake line, the senses the inlets to the soul. So, I advocate for a practice of return: sit at the same place each day and get quiet, quieter—until the ants roll epic a la Thoreau.


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