Some Notes on the Poems

A sort of interview with, and by, Bill Carty

A sort of interview with, and by, Bill Carty

Last month we published three new poems by Bill Carty. This week poetry editor Ed Skoog asked him a few questions about his work. Here are the answers.

I see these poems have been tagged “America,” which seems accurate. They are a “3 min read.”

In either case, I don’t think I stake out particularly unique ground in saying I’m concerned about the future.

Right now, 39K people are talking about Crohn’s Disease. 25K people are talking about Gregg Popovich. 12K: Dilbert.

Today, I saw the perfect headline: “Humans: Unusually Murderous Mammals, Typically Murderous Primates.”

A few winters ago, after a lonely walk through the sandscape of the Outer Cape, I stood on the observation deck above Shank Painter Pond. A stranger, an older woman, pointed across the water toward what she termed “the American vernacular landscape.” We could see the roofs of some apartments and condominiums. Beyond them and barely out of sight: Stop & Shop, the gym, an animal hospital, Citizens (sic?) Bank. Development stopped there, she said, because she fought to stop it.

She said, “The fight of money vs. none.”

In the moments before and after sunset, when houses have their lights on yet before they the blinds are closed, it doesn’t seem a performance to dance before the window, nor voyeuristic to stare from the street.

Teaching a writing workshop, I made my students break a self-imposed rule. I did the same: I wrote about Caravaggio, of whom I’d sworn too much had been written. Already, however, I’d written a poem about that fact.

“Very well, then I contradict myself.”

First, I typed: “I contract myself.”

In “Working Space,” Frank Stella writes: “But most important, [Caravaggio] changed the way artists would have to think about themselves and their work; he made the studio into a place of magic and mystery, a cathedral of the self.”

And then: “We want to build a pictorial space that accommodates all our gestures, imaginative as well as physical.”

As a surface, fashion isn’t so far from its economic agreement. Blue shoes. Bare skin. Vintage styles. Sackcloth for gown.

“In vain the razor-bill’d auk sails far north to Labrador,
I follow quickly, I ascend to the nest…”

To not love silently, or —

Bill Carty lives in Seattle. He was a 2013–14 Poetry Fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, MA, and a 2016 Literary Fellowship recipient from Artist Trust. His chapbook Refugium was published by Alice Blue Books, and his poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in The Boston Review, The Iowa Review, Willow Springs, Conduit, Pleiades, The Volta, Oversound, and other journals. He is an Associate Editor at Poetry Northwest.

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