Poet Of The Week

Dorothea Lasky

     March 11–17, 2013

Dorothea Lasky is the author of three full-length collections of poetry, Thunderbird (Wave, 2012), Black Life (Wave, 2010) and Awe (Wave, 2007), as well as five chapbooks: Poetry Is Not a Project (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2010), Tourmaline (Transmission Press, 2008), The Hatmaker’s Wife (Braincase Press, 2006), Art (H_NGM_N Press, 2005) and Alphabets and Portraits (Anchorite Press, 2004). Her poems have appeared in the New Yorker, Paris Review and Boston Review, among other journals. She holds an MFA in poetry from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, an EdM in Arts in Education from Harvard and an EdD in Creativity and Education from the University of Pennsylvania. She is an assistant professor of poetry at Columbia University’s School of the Arts and lives in Bed-Stuy.

It is quiet

 
It is quiet when we go
And no no
Nothing is anything if you say that it is
It is quiet and not a sound
But before that: the music
And the hats with their off colors
Marching down the road in a line
In a line of things
Away from us

Tell us about the making of this poem.

I have been thinking about Jack Spicer’s “A Book of Music” a lot for the past few years. I am interested in how much emotional and image-heavy tension you can create in a short poem. This poem is one of a few I have been working on lately that experiment with this kind of awful tension.

What are you working on right now?

I am working on a series of lectures about poetry that I will present this fall as part of a new lecture series, two new poetry books, a verse horror play featuring colors, and academic articles on creativity.

How long have you lived in Brooklyn? What neighborhood do you live in? What do you like most about it?

I have lived in Brooklyn since September 2012. I live in Bed Stuy. I absolutely love Brooklyn! Prior to moving to Brooklyn, I lived in Sunnyside/Woodside Queens for four years. I felt like my experiences there were blighted with bad luck and so, I never felt quite at home. What I like most about Brooklyn is how friendly and generally accommodating everyone is to each other. It reminds me a lot of St. Louis, where I am from originally.

Favorite Brooklyn poet(s), dead and/or alive?

It feels impossible to address this question in terms of living poets although my brain is spilling over with names, so I will just say the simplest answer: Biggie.

Favorite Brooklyn bookstore?

BookCourt

Favorite places to read and write in Brooklyn (besides home, assuming you like to be there)?

I only write at home or on the subway. When I have more time in my life, I intend to write all of the time in museums.

Favorite places to go in Brooklyn not involving reading or writing?

The Brooklyn Bridge

Last awesome book(s) you read?

Quentin Meillassoux’s The Number and the Siren

Rewrite these lines by Whitman:

I celebrate you,
And what I don’t know you should too,
For every green and forgotten thing withstands me as good
     as it withstands you.

Write a nine-line poem using these end-words (in whatever order) from Jay Z’s “Brooklyn Go Hard”: father, Dodger, jack, rob, sin, pen, love, Brooklyn, Biggie.

I love
To rob
The pen
From Biggie
And also from Jack
Biggie, Biggie, my father
In the other world, there is no sin
I walk along and for you, I spot the dodger
I go along and for you, I bring the placid sea animals to Brooklyn

Why Brooklyn?

My mother and grandmother were born here.