As soon as you say that you do one thing, you end up wanting to do something else
A poem could be a..sonnet until the last minute when I just find it's too polite & suddenly I'll smash it
A short poem has to last as long as a long poem. That's what I love. It has to be infinite in the same way
If you haven't ever seen her read, the first 30 minutes are a joy, less of a reading than, as the interviewer says, some sort of invocation. And then there's a Q&A. I went out after watching this and have been thinking about what she said about her own poems and her writing - and rhythms. She says: "The stronger your rhythms, the more disturbing things you see...You can navigate around your own brain by means of rhythm". This speaks to me because I have tended to write my own poems aloud - they are both a bit song-like, to me, and also a completely physical experience. I always read my short stories aloud too, but getting them on the page happens first. Rhythm is always important to me, and I will be thinking for a while about what Oswald has said about rhythm and my brain - and perhaps rhythm and the reader/listener's brain!
I feel she has also has given me a shot of permission - something I will always need as a writer but especially as a quite new poet - in terms of the legitimacy of the short poem. I love short poems, but wondered (perhaps an echo of the battle I had to fight over flash fiction and its place in the world) that they seem unsubstantial. Yet look at this short poem I just read in the New Yorker, which is sublime, and would you want more? It's about allowing me - and perhaps you? - to say what I need to say in as many words as I feel I need to say it.
I also like what Oswald says about not wanting to be called a "nature poet", which she very very often is.
"I think it's important not to sit too comfortably in a category, and that's why I get annoyed when people call me a nature poet. I mean, it's so tempting to be a nature poet. Then you know what you are writing about, you know what you think, you just do it and roll it out. For me, it's important not to know what kind of a poet I am, and each time I write... could be a science fiction poem. It hasn't yet been, but it could be!"
This gives me another shot of permission on the road I have been travelling for a while now, of not labelling anything I am writing - poem, flash fiction, prose, story, non-fiction... I like her twist about how tempting it would be to feel comfortable under one label! But do we want to be comfortable? I don't think that's where the real work gets done. What do you think?
Here's the full video - enjoy!