December 5, 2010

Wallace Shawn

The Lost Art of Conversation – Too often in our daily lives, conversation is turned into a twisted competitive sport with friends and colleagues knowingly and unknowingly mimicking the blustery dunderheads of cable television, elbowing one another in a sort of verbal roller derby to make a point about me, me, me. There is precious little listening, digesting, and asking further questions or offering informed opinions to reach greater mutual understanding. Perhaps that’s why the interview between Wallace Shawn and the great poet Mark Strand included in this book is so illuminating – and refreshing. It’s a joy to read the rich conversation between these two men. They speak of life, death and poetry. A snippet –

Shawn: “But you don’t find it sort of awful that our society doesn’t even respect poetry enough to allow poets to support themselves through their writing?”

Strand: “I think poetry would be different if people could make a living writing poetry. Then you would have to satisfy certain expectations. Instead of the inherited norms by which we recognize poems to be poems, there would be a whole new set of constraints, and not such enduring ones, having to do with the marketplace, having to do with what sells, or what engages people in the short run. So perhaps poetry is better off having no monetary value.”

And the value of this conversation? Priceless.


Blogger RunningWithStilettos said...

Michael, it was delightful to meet you at last night's Essay Fiesta! I can't wait to read a book that's going to tell me all that I don't know about men. And in a sidenote to Wallace Shawn's "Essays" book, I got a real kick earlier this year out of being on ForeWord Review's list of "finalsts" Book of the Year Awards with him. For a brief time I felt like I shared a dais--just in imagination--with somebody famous and recognizable!

December 21, 2010  
Blogger Michael Burke said...

Mary, what a pleasure to meet you -- and to hear you read. I'm looking forward to getting your book and reading more. And after the holidays pass (hhhhmmm, why can't I get the image of a "bloody Christmas axe" out of my head?) I'll be in touch to ask you a few things about the ever-exciting world of publishing. In the meantime, all the best to you.

December 21, 2010  

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