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With PEN’s Poetry Relay, a series of readings and conversations, we hope to trace the topography of influence that connects contemporary poets to their peers and predecessors. Each leg of the relay will feature a podcast reading by a poet, a conversation that covers that poet’s inspiration and influences, and then a hand-off to a peer.

In this week’s relay, Ishion Hutchinson passes the baton to Dante Micheauxauthor of Amorous ShepherdBelow, Micheaux discusses Eros, the legacy of homosexuality, and the so-called ancient quarrel between poetry and scholarship. Listen to Micheaux read his poem, “Good Kisser,” here.

On Inspiration

I turn to particular poems for inspiration, but if I had to choose a book, it would be Carl Phillips’s Pastoral.

Favorite Line of Poetry—Ever.

“or so I say, and know I lie,” from Jay Wright‘s poem “Inscrutability“—though there are many more lines from Wright that are my favorite lines of poetry ever; and also many from Édouard Glissant.

On Contemporary Poets

On a personal level, Carl Phillips‘s poetry goes beyond mere interest! His work is invaluable for the intellectual and spiritual metamorphosis I experience every time I read it—the culmination of a millennia-long erotic, syntactical, and imaginative project that is a legacy of homosexuality. I am also interested in its antithesis, which is best demonstrated in the poetry of Valzyhna Mort. The level of association in her work is more plausible than any poet I’ve encountered since Pessoa (and his heteronyms) and that it manages to survive in several vastly different languages is the astonishing feat. Her images are exacting as a scalpel yet whimsical. If I had to compare the two, Phillips takes one’s breath away and Mort leaves one panting.

Click here to read the full interview

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