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MPR: Leaving the Atocha Station

Over at Minnesota Public Radio, poet Ben Lerner is interviewed about his debut novel, Leaving the Atocha Station, among other writerly things.

Here’s a brief highlight from the interview, part of Lerner’s response to why people hate and/or attack poetry and—more specifically, here—why people have a more tumultuous or love-hate relationship with poetry than other genres of creative writing:

That tension of celebration and disavowal is as old as poetry itself. I think part of it has to do with the fact that poetry is in some sense impossible. Poetry is a word we use to denote the perfect linguistic object. That’s the poem. It’s supposed to be better than prose, it’s supposed to be deeper and more precise and more beautiful.

And of course, you never get the perfect poem. There’s no such thing. So there’s this structure of frustration built into poetry.

At HTMLGIANT, Ben Mirov says listening to the interview is similar to obtaining an MFA in poetry. I’m not sure if Mirov is being snarky about the MFA or incredibly generous to Ben Lerner—maybe he’s doing both—but I certainly think there’s plenty to gain here for a poet any writer in or out of the MFA.

It’s a 30+ minute interview, so it’ll take a small chunk out of your busy day, but it’s good ‘til the last drop (where Ben actually reads from the novel!). Hit play and do the dishes or clean the house or re-alphabetize your bookshelf—whatever you decide to do, if you must mutli-task, please take time to listen to this insightful interview, fellow writer. Lerner has so many interesting ideas about art, poetry, impossibilities in writing, and our daily relationship with art—you will not regret it.

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