inkwell.vue.287 : Mary Mackey, Breaking the Fever
permalink #101 of 150: Mary Mackey (mm) Sat 25 Nov 06 10:54
    

I do think poetry matters. If a reader connects with a poem at the right
moment, the experience can be life-changing. For example, at certain
critical times, reading and writing poetry has been the only tool people
have had to protest against injustice and evil. In part, this is because
poetry is often ambiguous enough to slide by the censors. It's interesting
to note that some of the people who have taken poetry most seriously are
dictators who fear its power. Stalin, (who had been educated in a monastery
and who knew the power of the written word) sent many of the greatest
Russian poets of the 1930's to the Gulag prison camps where they died. For
instance, in 1934 Osip Mandelstam was arrested for writing a short poem
critical of Stalin. Released and then re-arrested, he was last seen alive
reading the poetry of Puskin to ordinary criminals who were so moved by it
that they drew aside to give him a warm place by the bonfire (thus putting
themselves in danger of freezing to death). In other words, there are people
who have cared about poetry so intensely that they were willing to die for
it.
  
inkwell.vue.287 : Mary Mackey, Breaking the Fever
permalink #102 of 150: Mary Mackey (mm) Sat 25 Nov 06 10:55
    

As for the question "have my poems changed me", I have to say no, because
the change took place in the creative moment *before* I actually put words
down on paper. I write poems because I have been changed; they are the
results of my own transformation, not the transformers. My goal as a poet is
give my readers access to the changes I have already experienced.
  
inkwell.vue.287 : Mary Mackey, Breaking the Fever
permalink #103 of 150: rubi (rubicon) Sat 25 Nov 06 11:14
    

Of course, the poem is the result of a change, not the cause. How
interesting. And, I'm thinking of the way nursery rhymes were really
once political statements, sung in the street.
  
inkwell.vue.287 : Mary Mackey, Breaking the Fever
permalink #104 of 150: rubi (rubicon) Sat 25 Nov 06 11:25
    
Let’s take a little turn in a different direction.  Could you describe
for us your “ideal” audience.
  
inkwell.vue.287 : Mary Mackey, Breaking the Fever
permalink #105 of 150: Cupido, Ergo Sum (robertflink) Sat 25 Nov 06 13:04
    
>I write poems because I have been changed; they are the
results of my own transformation, not the transformers. My goal as a
poet is give my readers access to the changes I have already
experienced.<

This brought to mind the idea that "the pen is mightier than the
sword". A further thought: have transformations associated with
writings had bad consequences and, if so, does the writer have any
culpability?
  
inkwell.vue.287 : Mary Mackey, Breaking the Fever
permalink #106 of 150: Mary Mackey (mm) Sat 25 Nov 06 17:09
    

My personal take on culpability is that it depends on intention. If you
write something intended to arouse hate and cause violence, then you are
guilty. If, on the other hand, someone takes what you wrote and changes in
ways no one could have reasonably predicted, then I think the writer has no
part in the guilt. For example, someone taught Hitler how to read and write
when he was little Adolph. I'm sure this transformed him and that he never
would have risen to power if he had been illiterate, but the teacher is not
to blame. This is a mundane example, but I believe it holds true all along
the line. If Charles Manson, a nut case if there ever was one, hears a
Beatles song and decides it is a sign from God that he should slaughter
people, I don't think that makes the Beatles accessories to murder. That is
not to say that there may not be some border-line cases, but in general the
key lies, as I said, in intention.
  
inkwell.vue.287 : Mary Mackey, Breaking the Fever
permalink #107 of 150: Mary Mackey (mm) Sat 25 Nov 06 21:34
    

My ideal audience? Actually, I don't want an ideal audience. I want a
varied, human audience with all the strange, individual quirks that make
people complex, interesting, and unpredictable. I want a hundred people to
respond in a hundred different ways.
  
inkwell.vue.287 : Mary Mackey, Breaking the Fever
permalink #108 of 150: rubi (rubicon) Sun 26 Nov 06 09:17
    
So that would be your idea, that hundred different surprises brought
on by your poem. perfect!


Looking at your interests and influences. What poets did you read as a
young person? When you were a kid, did you memorize any poems?  What
poets do you read now? What influences you now?  Who are you reading
now? 
  
inkwell.vue.287 : Mary Mackey, Breaking the Fever
permalink #109 of 150: Hoping to be a goddess, but settling for guru (paris) Sun 26 Nov 06 09:58
    
IJWTS that I wish I'd had either one of you teaching poetry when I was in 
school.  Your obvious love of the medium and your deep and insightful 
understanding of both the process and the product are so helpful.
  
inkwell.vue.287 : Mary Mackey, Breaking the Fever
permalink #110 of 150: asparagus before librarians (katecat) Sun 26 Nov 06 16:20
    
I am sorry I disappeared from this topic over the holidays, but catching up
has been delightful, reading everything at once. I realy look forward to
hearing Mary's answer abouther influences, and who she reads now.
  
inkwell.vue.287 : Mary Mackey, Breaking the Fever
permalink #111 of 150: Caro (rubicon) Sun 26 Nov 06 21:25
    <scribbled by rubicon Sun 26 Nov 06 21:28>
  
inkwell.vue.287 : Mary Mackey, Breaking the Fever
permalink #112 of 150: Mary Mackey (mm) Sun 26 Nov 06 22:14
    

When I was a small child I got a strong dose of "Mother Goose" combined with
Methodist hymns. Later I found out that some of the "Mother Goose" poems
were disguised political protests (as I believe Pamela pointed out earlier).
Later I read and memorized almost every poem A.A. Milne every wrote.
(Sometimes I still mutter to myself: "A bear, no matter how he tries/Grows
tubby without exercise . . . " a sentiment far ahead of its time). So I
liked rhyme, rhythm, covert politics, and wit from the get go.
  
inkwell.vue.287 : Mary Mackey, Breaking the Fever
permalink #113 of 150: Mary Mackey (mm) Sun 26 Nov 06 22:14
    

By the time I was ten or eleven, I was mad about the romantic poets. I
memorized a lot of Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron; and then (after I
started taking French in the 7th grade), Verlaine, Rimbaud, and Baudelaire.
In college, predictably, it was T.S. Elliot and crew. The last two things I
read were Jorie Graham's "The Dream of the Unified Field" and "Sir Gawain
and the Green Knight." As rubi knows, I'm also crazy about the poetry of Kay
Ryan.
  
inkwell.vue.287 : Mary Mackey, Breaking the Fever
permalink #114 of 150: Mary Mackey (mm) Sun 26 Nov 06 22:16
    

I get a lot of idea for poetry by reading prose. Right now I'm reading
"The Stone Woman" by Tariq Ali and several books on the Civil War.
  
inkwell.vue.287 : Mary Mackey, Breaking the Fever
permalink #115 of 150: Mary Mackey (mm) Sun 26 Nov 06 22:19
    <scribbled>
  
inkwell.vue.287 : Mary Mackey, Breaking the Fever
permalink #116 of 150: Mary Mackey (mm) Sun 26 Nov 06 23:16
    

(sorry about that scribble. For some reason 115 was a completely blank post)
  
inkwell.vue.287 : Mary Mackey, Breaking the Fever
permalink #117 of 150: Allegro ma non tofu (pamela) Mon 27 Nov 06 07:47
    
May I say how much "Blue" tickled me?  It's a lovely little story,
told as concisely as can be, with that superb, generous ending.
  
inkwell.vue.287 : Mary Mackey, Breaking the Fever
permalink #118 of 150: rubi (rubicon) Mon 27 Nov 06 08:35
    
Poetry coming into you from so many sources. No wonder your poems are
so chock full. And what other influences. What childhood experiences
influenced your poetry?
  
inkwell.vue.287 : Mary Mackey, Breaking the Fever
permalink #119 of 150: Mary Mackey (mm) Mon 27 Nov 06 09:16
    

Thanks, pamela. I am honored that you are tickled.
  
inkwell.vue.287 : Mary Mackey, Breaking the Fever
permalink #120 of 150: Mary Mackey (mm) Mon 27 Nov 06 09:23
    

Jane Hirshfield is another major influence on my work. I love her images,
lyricism, deft turn of phrase, the depth and complexity of her apparently
simple poems--just about everything about her work, actually. I'm also
particularly fond of Cyrus Cassell's "Beautiful Signor." Once again, it's
the lyricism and visual images of the poems that keep me coming back to
reread them.
  
inkwell.vue.287 : Mary Mackey, Breaking the Fever
permalink #121 of 150: Mary Mackey (mm) Mon 27 Nov 06 09:30
    

As for childhood influences, I have to say that the time I spent on the
family farm in Western Kentucky was a huge influence. There is a lyric,
metaphorical quality in every-day rural Southern speech that has a lot in
common with poetry. My grandfather used to say strange, cryptic things
worthy of the Delphic Oracle. For example, if a joke was funny he'd
exclaim: "That's hotter than a tree full of owls!" When my sweet-natured
Kentucky grandmother learned that I was getting divorced, all she said was:
"Someone's going around in a black overcoat with a white stripe down the
back." It took me a few seconds to figure out what she meant. Metaphor was
the coin of communication south of the Ohio River.
  
inkwell.vue.287 : Mary Mackey, Breaking the Fever
permalink #122 of 150: rubi (rubicon) Mon 27 Nov 06 12:14
    
Those are hilarious!  I could read a book-load of them. 

If you don't mind, could you answer some questions related to
publishing your poetry?  “Breaking the Fever” is published by Marsh
Hawk Press, a publisher based in New York.  What brought you to this
press? How did you get your manuscript accepted by this press?

And here’s a question that all beginning writers ponder.  How did your
get your first books of poems published? 
  
inkwell.vue.287 : Mary Mackey, Breaking the Fever
permalink #123 of 150: Donna Odierna (strega) Mon 27 Nov 06 15:57
    
I just heard you read on Cover to Cover on KPFA. It was wonderful!
  
inkwell.vue.287 : Mary Mackey, Breaking the Fever
permalink #124 of 150: Gail Williams (gail) Mon 27 Nov 06 16:11
    
Hooray!
  
inkwell.vue.287 : Mary Mackey, Breaking the Fever
permalink #125 of 150: Hoping to be a goddess, but settling for guru (paris) Mon 27 Nov 06 16:40
    

You were great, Mary!
  

More...



Members: Enter the conference to participate

Subscribe to an RSS 2.0 feed of new responses in this topic RSS feed of new responses

 
   Join Us
 
Home | Learn About | Conferences | Member Pages | Mail | Store | Services & Help | Password | Join Us

Twitter G+ Facebook