“Urban life is dense and fast and requires flexible structures that can incorporate speed and information.”

KLEINZAHLER

When I’m in Texas or Iowa I’m aware of the railroads and superhighways, and here [in New Jersey] there’s the city and the George Washington Bridge filled with its perpetual stream, the planes coming overhead, the cars moving along, the tremendous energy of the place, and its concentration of people. Nothing is still here. It’s very dynamic. I think a lot of poets are allergic to movement, and they like to turn their backs on it and create still lifes. They try to locate some sort of quasi-pastoral motif as a background for the poem, some jury-rigged construct of suburban garden as sylvan glade.

Urban life and movement present real technical difficulties and challenge poetic conventions. Urban life is dense and fast and requires flexible structures that can incorporate speed and information. It’s tough to come up with a coherent, interesting structure. Most simply avoid the problem or take refuge in some rote “avant-garde” gesture like fridge-magnet indeterminism, i.e. spilling the language all over the floor and stomping on it like a three-year-old child.

August Kleinzahler, The Art of Poetry No. 93, The Paris Review, Fall 2007

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