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Resettling America with a Focus on Land Use: An Interview with Mary Berry

Resettling America with a Focus on Land Use: An Interview with Mary Berry


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In creating the Berry Center, Mary Berry employed her family’s farming knowledge, policy experience, and orientation toward sustainability. The Center works with local organizations to change agriculture and promote good land use and healthy food economies.


Interview: Mary Kane

It’s no secret that we’re huge fans of Mary Kane. We invited her to be one of the headlining readers for our first Poetry & Pie and our admiration for her has only grown since then. Mary is a kind person and a good friend. She’s also a fiercely good writer.

We knew early on that Mary’s work would be a perfect candidate for our Little Dipper series, and we were right. Reading Mary’s poetry always feels a bit like we’re unscrewing the tops of our heads and letting a fresh breeze in to stir around forgotten memories.

The stories in On Tuesday, Elizabeth, are no different. In them, we are invited inside the characters and, along with them, we roam their interiors, discovering hidden rooms, strange winds, coyotes yipping. It’s an exciting exploration. You never know what’s around the next corner. But you’re in safe hands with Mary.

Congratulations to Mary on the publication of On Tuesday, Elizabeth! We feel so lucky that she agreed to make a Little Dipper book with us and has allowed us to share in the joy of putting her stories out into the world. We can’t wait for you to fall in love with her stories too.

A beech tree is a novel in which characters come and go in rooms darkened by wide planned wooden floors, worn tables. Where light travels across a wallpaper made of faint roses.

I like to sit in the shade of your beech tree. I like to take a sandwich from a waxed paper bag, eating while I read.

When you are finished with an idea, the tree disappears. Like that. Sun falls everywhere.

Literary North: The pieces in On Tuesday, Elizabeth balance gently between poetry and short fiction. Do you see them as more one than the other, or as a hybrid form?

Mary Kane: I guess I just see them as prose. They aren’t really stories in any traditional sense since they really haven’t any plots. And they don’t tend to have much dialogue or action. Mainly, in many of my pieces, someone is either lying in bed or on a sofa or maybe walking. So, maybe the pieces are closer to prose poems, which rely more on images than on plots and more on image than on the traditional music of some poetry, with its rhythms and assonance and consonance and rhyme. For a long time, I have found myself wanting to write lines that felt anti-poetic, meaning, for me, stripped of lyricism, flat, matter of fact. Like actors who refrain from any emoting.

LN: What led you to begin writing pieces in this form after writing mainly more traditional poetry?

MK: It sort of crept in. First, I started writing longer, end-stopped lines. Lines that didn’t even fit on a single line. The first poems I ever got published were in the Beloit Poetry Journal. I remember they called me on the phone to say they couldn’t fit my lines on a single line given the page width and could they carry them over to the next line and indent. And we had this conversation then, about should the next line start on a new line or continue from the carried over line. At the time, I wanted the long line to have a clear stop. For there to be space before a new sentence began. And you can see that happening even in some of the pieces in On Tuesday, Elizabeth.

After the long lines, I found myself writing more prose poems. I’m sure it had a lot to do with reading. I mean, I read a lot of poetry and a lot of fiction and a lot of writers whose work doesn’t neatly fit anywhere. And I tend to fall in love with writers and fall under their influence and talk with them in my writing until I can incorporate what I need and make it my own. I wrote a whole manuscript I jokingly called Eating John Ashbery for Breakfast. The title is a joke, but also, I really did read him for breakfast every day one summer, aloud on my deck, and I played with sentences in the way he did and I looked at the way he combined high and low diction and how he could be so funny in a very quiet way, and it felt like consuming him poem by poem.

And then, I remember back in the mid-90s when I first found Anne Carson’s books like Short Talks and Glass, Irony and God, and Plainwater and I just fell in love with her. And I called her work poetry I guess because it was in the poetry section of the library and because it took off the top of my head. But then mixed in there was all the reading aloud of Tolstoy and Proust and Gertrude Stein and James Joyce and Thomas Mann, those big fat novels that my friend Jill and I read together over the last twenty years of reading aloud together. And then Lydia Davis and Mary Ruefle, two more writers I fell for. So somewhere in all of that, and also Italo Calvino (especially Mr Palomar) and Sherman Alexie’s You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me, and Anna Burns’ Milkman, I found the shape of what I was writing changing, and I still find it changing today. In fact, I think I am probably a wanna-be novelist but I haven’t gotten there yet.

LN: We know that you’re a big fan of Gertrude Stein. How has her writing influenced you and your writing?

MK: Well, it’s true I went a little crazy when I read The Making of Americans. I mean, I grew up with this list of books that seems to come down to one from the gods about what books one must read. And The Making of Americans wasn’t on that list. But one year Jill and I read The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas and liked it (though we weren’t gaga over it) and I thought I’d buy her another Gertrude Stein book for her birthday or Christmas or something and I bought The Making of Americans. I really knew nothing about it. And then it wasn’t until another couple years passed that we finally decided, hey let’s try that book. And when we started reading it, we both found ourselves so delighted. It was hypnotic and insane and repetitive and filled with people at all stages of their being with all kinds of being in them. We found that whenever we talked about the book or read it, we were overcome with joy. It was unlike any reading experience I had ever had. And the thing is, there are books that make you want to write. And that was one of those books. But of course, for a long time, it was so powerful I found I had to write like the book. And that won’t do for too long. I’m not Gertrude Stein. I had to consume her too. To take her deep enough inside so that she stopped dominating me. It was one of the hardest tasks as a writer. That sounds sort of silly. Anyway, she uses a lot of words like the being in one’s being in one’s middle middle being. Not many concrete nouns. Not many images. She’s very sound oriented. And I’m a person for whom images have a powerful pull. So I think, without really thinking about it, I became obsessed with the being inside of each of us, the space inside each of us, and I read Bachelard’s Poetics of Space too and thinking about our intimate immensity and interior space and started meditating and reading spiritual books, and so I began to concretize that being inside of beings in their early middle being and their late middle being and the visions of what inside were my own, no longer Gertrude’s. And it all seemed to fit and I just kept seeing things and still do. Plus, her joy in repetition really sang to me.

LN: What other writers or artists have inspired your work?

MK: Back in college though, I remember how I fell in love with the Talking Heads. And in the little booklet that went with the Stop Making Sense album, there was a line about how if you always wear the same clothes people will remember you better. I got a kick out of that. And it’s about repetition as well. And permission. There are artists who give you permission to go new places. Lorca did that for me early on. And Neruda. I think I read from permission to permission. Gertrude Stein sounded like no one else, which is a huge kind of permission. And I can see that still in what I fall for. People whose work doesn’t neatly fit anywhere, but feels like they just had to do it. Fairly recently I read Kate Briggs’ book This Little Art on translation, especially on translating Roland Barthes’ lecture series The Preparation of the Novel. It’s a terrific book, as is her translation of Barthes’ lectures. But This Little Art is one of those books, an essay sort of, a memoir sort of, a series of linked thoughts. I like that kind of thing. I love Agnes Martin’s work and went to a retrospective of her work at the Guggenheim a couple of years ago that moved me very deeply so I ended up reading a couple of biographies about her and took that in, and then last year I went to the Hilma af Klint show at the Guggenheim, another show that really spoke to me, in part because of the way her work took such a radical shift when she felt like spirits were asking her to do something new and she went with it. I love that willingness to go where work takes one, that deep listening. That plays an essential role for me in life and writing.

LN: We love the slow revelation of the interiors of your characters and the way these interiors resemble real places and objects (a train platform, a lemon tree, the sky, Elizabeth’s cabinet). How did this idea of concrete interiority come to you?

MK: It’s exciting and difficult to talk about where an idea comes from, isn’t it? I mean, there’s usually a coming together of a bunch of threads in just some particular order and you find yourself spending time with an idea. One of the places the concrete interiority came to me from is walking as a spiritual practice, or part of my spiritual practice. I have been walking for years and years, but, in the past several years, as I walk, and while I focus on my breath, I often envision a channel opening through my core. I’m not sure how that came about exactly. I guess I listened and listened and then it came to me. It’s funny, because I used to see an opening in my mind, like a forest clearing where ideas like deer would step in one by one if it were quiet and still enough, but somewhere along the way, the opening moved from my head to my heart and what I see running through is sometimes a river or thread of light of love or water passing, like the Tao, I think, also, and often, in learning not to hold too tightly to anything, I see objects floating through, in that river—shoes, cups, sofas, trees, some of my dead people, the occasional truck. And sometimes the opening is a door that leads to vast space inside, a cosmos, while other times, it’s like the same door opens into a house or onto a city street. Like I can open the same door but never know exactly what space it will open to on the other side.

Bachelard talks not only about intimate immensity with regard to our interiority but also about how inhabited space transcends geometrical space, and that idea also really appeals to me. I think interior space also totally transcends geometrical space, but bringing geometrical space into interior space makes for some exciting explorations and discoveries. Then, combined with Gertrude Stein’s obsession in The Making of Americans with the types of being being in one in one’s middle middle being, as well as Freud’s and Jung’s notions about the contents of the unconscious, and Milosz’s lines from “Ars Poetica?” about how the purpose of poetry is to remind us of how difficult it is to remain just one person (“for our house is open, there are no keys in the doors, / and invisible guests come and go at will”), and Whitman’s line about containing multitudes, well it all, in no specific order I can actually record, sort of came together into this need I felt to explore concrete interior spaces and to let them open imaginatively. And also, at the same time, since the units of poetry that have somehow most appealed to me are the image and the sentence, the practice came together not just in my walking and envisioning but also in my writing.

LN: What is your writing practice like?

MK: My writing practice is very much a practice, and it involves a lot of walking. Much of the time, and during my best writing times, I wake up and read and write in bed before I do anything else, and then I walk and open space inside myself. And sometimes I write while I walk, holding a sentence in a space over my head, like a little cloud or thought bubble, revising as I go along, seeing how I can grow it and revise it and continue to hold it.

Over much of the past year I have been involved in a collaborative project with an artist. It started because she sent me a photo of a drawing via text message, and I really liked the drawing so I said, I feel like responding to that drawing in a single sentence. So I walked and wrote a sentence and sent it to her via text. Then I said, hey let’s try this for a week. So her next drawing responded to my sentence and my sentence responded to that drawing and so on, and it ended up going on for 122 days. I liked that because, even when I didn’t have all day to write, I could write and revise a single sentence and send it, and it turns out if you write one sentence a day, they accumulate. I bet you could write a novel that way. I also like to make up parameters like that, only giving myself the space of a single sentence. Or borrowing a structure. Or writing along to a novel. All of that said, I also teach and sometimes I get so consumed with teaching that I don’t write. Fortunately for me, I get time off in winter and summer, and while it’s not so great for my financial situation, I love that time for reading and writing. In the past few months, I must say, I have found it next to impossible to write. I actually couldn’t even read until mid June. So I’m thankful that I can read again.

LN: Are there any books coming out this year that you are looking forward to?

MK: I have to say I have been a bit out of it in terms of what is coming out. But I am very excited about Ali Smith’s Summer.

LN: As you know, we’re launching your book on what would have been our fourth annual Poetry & Pie celebration. Do you have a favorite pie recipe that you could share with us?

MK: I feel totally deficient here. I don’t. I’m not much of a baker. I love to eat pie though and am so sad that I won’t be there in Vermont with you, eating Rebecca’s apple pie.

LN: What is currently bringing you joy?

MK: Walking, always, and the two swans I see in the morning with their five cygnets, and the bullfrogs and tree frogs and snapping turtles and painted turtles and otters and rosa rugosa and fish jumping and coyotes and foxes and being able to read again, walking at dawn and walking at night especially, and friendship, and Lionel, our cat. And reading – I am currently reading Magda Szabo’s Iza’s Ballad and rereading Roland Barthes’ The Preparation of the Novel, which is filled with delights. And floating in Buzzards Bay. And watermelon.


Interview: Mary Kane

It’s no secret that we’re huge fans of Mary Kane. We invited her to be one of the headlining readers for our first Poetry & Pie and our admiration for her has only grown since then. Mary is a kind person and a good friend. She’s also a fiercely good writer.

We knew early on that Mary’s work would be a perfect candidate for our Little Dipper series, and we were right. Reading Mary’s poetry always feels a bit like we’re unscrewing the tops of our heads and letting a fresh breeze in to stir around forgotten memories.

The stories in On Tuesday, Elizabeth, are no different. In them, we are invited inside the characters and, along with them, we roam their interiors, discovering hidden rooms, strange winds, coyotes yipping. It’s an exciting exploration. You never know what’s around the next corner. But you’re in safe hands with Mary.

Congratulations to Mary on the publication of On Tuesday, Elizabeth! We feel so lucky that she agreed to make a Little Dipper book with us and has allowed us to share in the joy of putting her stories out into the world. We can’t wait for you to fall in love with her stories too.

A beech tree is a novel in which characters come and go in rooms darkened by wide planned wooden floors, worn tables. Where light travels across a wallpaper made of faint roses.

I like to sit in the shade of your beech tree. I like to take a sandwich from a waxed paper bag, eating while I read.

When you are finished with an idea, the tree disappears. Like that. Sun falls everywhere.

Literary North: The pieces in On Tuesday, Elizabeth balance gently between poetry and short fiction. Do you see them as more one than the other, or as a hybrid form?

Mary Kane: I guess I just see them as prose. They aren’t really stories in any traditional sense since they really haven’t any plots. And they don’t tend to have much dialogue or action. Mainly, in many of my pieces, someone is either lying in bed or on a sofa or maybe walking. So, maybe the pieces are closer to prose poems, which rely more on images than on plots and more on image than on the traditional music of some poetry, with its rhythms and assonance and consonance and rhyme. For a long time, I have found myself wanting to write lines that felt anti-poetic, meaning, for me, stripped of lyricism, flat, matter of fact. Like actors who refrain from any emoting.

LN: What led you to begin writing pieces in this form after writing mainly more traditional poetry?

MK: It sort of crept in. First, I started writing longer, end-stopped lines. Lines that didn’t even fit on a single line. The first poems I ever got published were in the Beloit Poetry Journal. I remember they called me on the phone to say they couldn’t fit my lines on a single line given the page width and could they carry them over to the next line and indent. And we had this conversation then, about should the next line start on a new line or continue from the carried over line. At the time, I wanted the long line to have a clear stop. For there to be space before a new sentence began. And you can see that happening even in some of the pieces in On Tuesday, Elizabeth.

After the long lines, I found myself writing more prose poems. I’m sure it had a lot to do with reading. I mean, I read a lot of poetry and a lot of fiction and a lot of writers whose work doesn’t neatly fit anywhere. And I tend to fall in love with writers and fall under their influence and talk with them in my writing until I can incorporate what I need and make it my own. I wrote a whole manuscript I jokingly called Eating John Ashbery for Breakfast. The title is a joke, but also, I really did read him for breakfast every day one summer, aloud on my deck, and I played with sentences in the way he did and I looked at the way he combined high and low diction and how he could be so funny in a very quiet way, and it felt like consuming him poem by poem.

And then, I remember back in the mid-90s when I first found Anne Carson’s books like Short Talks and Glass, Irony and God, and Plainwater and I just fell in love with her. And I called her work poetry I guess because it was in the poetry section of the library and because it took off the top of my head. But then mixed in there was all the reading aloud of Tolstoy and Proust and Gertrude Stein and James Joyce and Thomas Mann, those big fat novels that my friend Jill and I read together over the last twenty years of reading aloud together. And then Lydia Davis and Mary Ruefle, two more writers I fell for. So somewhere in all of that, and also Italo Calvino (especially Mr Palomar) and Sherman Alexie’s You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me, and Anna Burns’ Milkman, I found the shape of what I was writing changing, and I still find it changing today. In fact, I think I am probably a wanna-be novelist but I haven’t gotten there yet.

LN: We know that you’re a big fan of Gertrude Stein. How has her writing influenced you and your writing?

MK: Well, it’s true I went a little crazy when I read The Making of Americans. I mean, I grew up with this list of books that seems to come down to one from the gods about what books one must read. And The Making of Americans wasn’t on that list. But one year Jill and I read The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas and liked it (though we weren’t gaga over it) and I thought I’d buy her another Gertrude Stein book for her birthday or Christmas or something and I bought The Making of Americans. I really knew nothing about it. And then it wasn’t until another couple years passed that we finally decided, hey let’s try that book. And when we started reading it, we both found ourselves so delighted. It was hypnotic and insane and repetitive and filled with people at all stages of their being with all kinds of being in them. We found that whenever we talked about the book or read it, we were overcome with joy. It was unlike any reading experience I had ever had. And the thing is, there are books that make you want to write. And that was one of those books. But of course, for a long time, it was so powerful I found I had to write like the book. And that won’t do for too long. I’m not Gertrude Stein. I had to consume her too. To take her deep enough inside so that she stopped dominating me. It was one of the hardest tasks as a writer. That sounds sort of silly. Anyway, she uses a lot of words like the being in one’s being in one’s middle middle being. Not many concrete nouns. Not many images. She’s very sound oriented. And I’m a person for whom images have a powerful pull. So I think, without really thinking about it, I became obsessed with the being inside of each of us, the space inside each of us, and I read Bachelard’s Poetics of Space too and thinking about our intimate immensity and interior space and started meditating and reading spiritual books, and so I began to concretize that being inside of beings in their early middle being and their late middle being and the visions of what inside were my own, no longer Gertrude’s. And it all seemed to fit and I just kept seeing things and still do. Plus, her joy in repetition really sang to me.

LN: What other writers or artists have inspired your work?

MK: Back in college though, I remember how I fell in love with the Talking Heads. And in the little booklet that went with the Stop Making Sense album, there was a line about how if you always wear the same clothes people will remember you better. I got a kick out of that. And it’s about repetition as well. And permission. There are artists who give you permission to go new places. Lorca did that for me early on. And Neruda. I think I read from permission to permission. Gertrude Stein sounded like no one else, which is a huge kind of permission. And I can see that still in what I fall for. People whose work doesn’t neatly fit anywhere, but feels like they just had to do it. Fairly recently I read Kate Briggs’ book This Little Art on translation, especially on translating Roland Barthes’ lecture series The Preparation of the Novel. It’s a terrific book, as is her translation of Barthes’ lectures. But This Little Art is one of those books, an essay sort of, a memoir sort of, a series of linked thoughts. I like that kind of thing. I love Agnes Martin’s work and went to a retrospective of her work at the Guggenheim a couple of years ago that moved me very deeply so I ended up reading a couple of biographies about her and took that in, and then last year I went to the Hilma af Klint show at the Guggenheim, another show that really spoke to me, in part because of the way her work took such a radical shift when she felt like spirits were asking her to do something new and she went with it. I love that willingness to go where work takes one, that deep listening. That plays an essential role for me in life and writing.

LN: We love the slow revelation of the interiors of your characters and the way these interiors resemble real places and objects (a train platform, a lemon tree, the sky, Elizabeth’s cabinet). How did this idea of concrete interiority come to you?

MK: It’s exciting and difficult to talk about where an idea comes from, isn’t it? I mean, there’s usually a coming together of a bunch of threads in just some particular order and you find yourself spending time with an idea. One of the places the concrete interiority came to me from is walking as a spiritual practice, or part of my spiritual practice. I have been walking for years and years, but, in the past several years, as I walk, and while I focus on my breath, I often envision a channel opening through my core. I’m not sure how that came about exactly. I guess I listened and listened and then it came to me. It’s funny, because I used to see an opening in my mind, like a forest clearing where ideas like deer would step in one by one if it were quiet and still enough, but somewhere along the way, the opening moved from my head to my heart and what I see running through is sometimes a river or thread of light of love or water passing, like the Tao, I think, also, and often, in learning not to hold too tightly to anything, I see objects floating through, in that river—shoes, cups, sofas, trees, some of my dead people, the occasional truck. And sometimes the opening is a door that leads to vast space inside, a cosmos, while other times, it’s like the same door opens into a house or onto a city street. Like I can open the same door but never know exactly what space it will open to on the other side.

Bachelard talks not only about intimate immensity with regard to our interiority but also about how inhabited space transcends geometrical space, and that idea also really appeals to me. I think interior space also totally transcends geometrical space, but bringing geometrical space into interior space makes for some exciting explorations and discoveries. Then, combined with Gertrude Stein’s obsession in The Making of Americans with the types of being being in one in one’s middle middle being, as well as Freud’s and Jung’s notions about the contents of the unconscious, and Milosz’s lines from “Ars Poetica?” about how the purpose of poetry is to remind us of how difficult it is to remain just one person (“for our house is open, there are no keys in the doors, / and invisible guests come and go at will”), and Whitman’s line about containing multitudes, well it all, in no specific order I can actually record, sort of came together into this need I felt to explore concrete interior spaces and to let them open imaginatively. And also, at the same time, since the units of poetry that have somehow most appealed to me are the image and the sentence, the practice came together not just in my walking and envisioning but also in my writing.

LN: What is your writing practice like?

MK: My writing practice is very much a practice, and it involves a lot of walking. Much of the time, and during my best writing times, I wake up and read and write in bed before I do anything else, and then I walk and open space inside myself. And sometimes I write while I walk, holding a sentence in a space over my head, like a little cloud or thought bubble, revising as I go along, seeing how I can grow it and revise it and continue to hold it.

Over much of the past year I have been involved in a collaborative project with an artist. It started because she sent me a photo of a drawing via text message, and I really liked the drawing so I said, I feel like responding to that drawing in a single sentence. So I walked and wrote a sentence and sent it to her via text. Then I said, hey let’s try this for a week. So her next drawing responded to my sentence and my sentence responded to that drawing and so on, and it ended up going on for 122 days. I liked that because, even when I didn’t have all day to write, I could write and revise a single sentence and send it, and it turns out if you write one sentence a day, they accumulate. I bet you could write a novel that way. I also like to make up parameters like that, only giving myself the space of a single sentence. Or borrowing a structure. Or writing along to a novel. All of that said, I also teach and sometimes I get so consumed with teaching that I don’t write. Fortunately for me, I get time off in winter and summer, and while it’s not so great for my financial situation, I love that time for reading and writing. In the past few months, I must say, I have found it next to impossible to write. I actually couldn’t even read until mid June. So I’m thankful that I can read again.

LN: Are there any books coming out this year that you are looking forward to?

MK: I have to say I have been a bit out of it in terms of what is coming out. But I am very excited about Ali Smith’s Summer.

LN: As you know, we’re launching your book on what would have been our fourth annual Poetry & Pie celebration. Do you have a favorite pie recipe that you could share with us?

MK: I feel totally deficient here. I don’t. I’m not much of a baker. I love to eat pie though and am so sad that I won’t be there in Vermont with you, eating Rebecca’s apple pie.

LN: What is currently bringing you joy?

MK: Walking, always, and the two swans I see in the morning with their five cygnets, and the bullfrogs and tree frogs and snapping turtles and painted turtles and otters and rosa rugosa and fish jumping and coyotes and foxes and being able to read again, walking at dawn and walking at night especially, and friendship, and Lionel, our cat. And reading – I am currently reading Magda Szabo’s Iza’s Ballad and rereading Roland Barthes’ The Preparation of the Novel, which is filled with delights. And floating in Buzzards Bay. And watermelon.


Interview: Mary Kane

It’s no secret that we’re huge fans of Mary Kane. We invited her to be one of the headlining readers for our first Poetry & Pie and our admiration for her has only grown since then. Mary is a kind person and a good friend. She’s also a fiercely good writer.

We knew early on that Mary’s work would be a perfect candidate for our Little Dipper series, and we were right. Reading Mary’s poetry always feels a bit like we’re unscrewing the tops of our heads and letting a fresh breeze in to stir around forgotten memories.

The stories in On Tuesday, Elizabeth, are no different. In them, we are invited inside the characters and, along with them, we roam their interiors, discovering hidden rooms, strange winds, coyotes yipping. It’s an exciting exploration. You never know what’s around the next corner. But you’re in safe hands with Mary.

Congratulations to Mary on the publication of On Tuesday, Elizabeth! We feel so lucky that she agreed to make a Little Dipper book with us and has allowed us to share in the joy of putting her stories out into the world. We can’t wait for you to fall in love with her stories too.

A beech tree is a novel in which characters come and go in rooms darkened by wide planned wooden floors, worn tables. Where light travels across a wallpaper made of faint roses.

I like to sit in the shade of your beech tree. I like to take a sandwich from a waxed paper bag, eating while I read.

When you are finished with an idea, the tree disappears. Like that. Sun falls everywhere.

Literary North: The pieces in On Tuesday, Elizabeth balance gently between poetry and short fiction. Do you see them as more one than the other, or as a hybrid form?

Mary Kane: I guess I just see them as prose. They aren’t really stories in any traditional sense since they really haven’t any plots. And they don’t tend to have much dialogue or action. Mainly, in many of my pieces, someone is either lying in bed or on a sofa or maybe walking. So, maybe the pieces are closer to prose poems, which rely more on images than on plots and more on image than on the traditional music of some poetry, with its rhythms and assonance and consonance and rhyme. For a long time, I have found myself wanting to write lines that felt anti-poetic, meaning, for me, stripped of lyricism, flat, matter of fact. Like actors who refrain from any emoting.

LN: What led you to begin writing pieces in this form after writing mainly more traditional poetry?

MK: It sort of crept in. First, I started writing longer, end-stopped lines. Lines that didn’t even fit on a single line. The first poems I ever got published were in the Beloit Poetry Journal. I remember they called me on the phone to say they couldn’t fit my lines on a single line given the page width and could they carry them over to the next line and indent. And we had this conversation then, about should the next line start on a new line or continue from the carried over line. At the time, I wanted the long line to have a clear stop. For there to be space before a new sentence began. And you can see that happening even in some of the pieces in On Tuesday, Elizabeth.

After the long lines, I found myself writing more prose poems. I’m sure it had a lot to do with reading. I mean, I read a lot of poetry and a lot of fiction and a lot of writers whose work doesn’t neatly fit anywhere. And I tend to fall in love with writers and fall under their influence and talk with them in my writing until I can incorporate what I need and make it my own. I wrote a whole manuscript I jokingly called Eating John Ashbery for Breakfast. The title is a joke, but also, I really did read him for breakfast every day one summer, aloud on my deck, and I played with sentences in the way he did and I looked at the way he combined high and low diction and how he could be so funny in a very quiet way, and it felt like consuming him poem by poem.

And then, I remember back in the mid-90s when I first found Anne Carson’s books like Short Talks and Glass, Irony and God, and Plainwater and I just fell in love with her. And I called her work poetry I guess because it was in the poetry section of the library and because it took off the top of my head. But then mixed in there was all the reading aloud of Tolstoy and Proust and Gertrude Stein and James Joyce and Thomas Mann, those big fat novels that my friend Jill and I read together over the last twenty years of reading aloud together. And then Lydia Davis and Mary Ruefle, two more writers I fell for. So somewhere in all of that, and also Italo Calvino (especially Mr Palomar) and Sherman Alexie’s You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me, and Anna Burns’ Milkman, I found the shape of what I was writing changing, and I still find it changing today. In fact, I think I am probably a wanna-be novelist but I haven’t gotten there yet.

LN: We know that you’re a big fan of Gertrude Stein. How has her writing influenced you and your writing?

MK: Well, it’s true I went a little crazy when I read The Making of Americans. I mean, I grew up with this list of books that seems to come down to one from the gods about what books one must read. And The Making of Americans wasn’t on that list. But one year Jill and I read The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas and liked it (though we weren’t gaga over it) and I thought I’d buy her another Gertrude Stein book for her birthday or Christmas or something and I bought The Making of Americans. I really knew nothing about it. And then it wasn’t until another couple years passed that we finally decided, hey let’s try that book. And when we started reading it, we both found ourselves so delighted. It was hypnotic and insane and repetitive and filled with people at all stages of their being with all kinds of being in them. We found that whenever we talked about the book or read it, we were overcome with joy. It was unlike any reading experience I had ever had. And the thing is, there are books that make you want to write. And that was one of those books. But of course, for a long time, it was so powerful I found I had to write like the book. And that won’t do for too long. I’m not Gertrude Stein. I had to consume her too. To take her deep enough inside so that she stopped dominating me. It was one of the hardest tasks as a writer. That sounds sort of silly. Anyway, she uses a lot of words like the being in one’s being in one’s middle middle being. Not many concrete nouns. Not many images. She’s very sound oriented. And I’m a person for whom images have a powerful pull. So I think, without really thinking about it, I became obsessed with the being inside of each of us, the space inside each of us, and I read Bachelard’s Poetics of Space too and thinking about our intimate immensity and interior space and started meditating and reading spiritual books, and so I began to concretize that being inside of beings in their early middle being and their late middle being and the visions of what inside were my own, no longer Gertrude’s. And it all seemed to fit and I just kept seeing things and still do. Plus, her joy in repetition really sang to me.

LN: What other writers or artists have inspired your work?

MK: Back in college though, I remember how I fell in love with the Talking Heads. And in the little booklet that went with the Stop Making Sense album, there was a line about how if you always wear the same clothes people will remember you better. I got a kick out of that. And it’s about repetition as well. And permission. There are artists who give you permission to go new places. Lorca did that for me early on. And Neruda. I think I read from permission to permission. Gertrude Stein sounded like no one else, which is a huge kind of permission. And I can see that still in what I fall for. People whose work doesn’t neatly fit anywhere, but feels like they just had to do it. Fairly recently I read Kate Briggs’ book This Little Art on translation, especially on translating Roland Barthes’ lecture series The Preparation of the Novel. It’s a terrific book, as is her translation of Barthes’ lectures. But This Little Art is one of those books, an essay sort of, a memoir sort of, a series of linked thoughts. I like that kind of thing. I love Agnes Martin’s work and went to a retrospective of her work at the Guggenheim a couple of years ago that moved me very deeply so I ended up reading a couple of biographies about her and took that in, and then last year I went to the Hilma af Klint show at the Guggenheim, another show that really spoke to me, in part because of the way her work took such a radical shift when she felt like spirits were asking her to do something new and she went with it. I love that willingness to go where work takes one, that deep listening. That plays an essential role for me in life and writing.

LN: We love the slow revelation of the interiors of your characters and the way these interiors resemble real places and objects (a train platform, a lemon tree, the sky, Elizabeth’s cabinet). How did this idea of concrete interiority come to you?

MK: It’s exciting and difficult to talk about where an idea comes from, isn’t it? I mean, there’s usually a coming together of a bunch of threads in just some particular order and you find yourself spending time with an idea. One of the places the concrete interiority came to me from is walking as a spiritual practice, or part of my spiritual practice. I have been walking for years and years, but, in the past several years, as I walk, and while I focus on my breath, I often envision a channel opening through my core. I’m not sure how that came about exactly. I guess I listened and listened and then it came to me. It’s funny, because I used to see an opening in my mind, like a forest clearing where ideas like deer would step in one by one if it were quiet and still enough, but somewhere along the way, the opening moved from my head to my heart and what I see running through is sometimes a river or thread of light of love or water passing, like the Tao, I think, also, and often, in learning not to hold too tightly to anything, I see objects floating through, in that river—shoes, cups, sofas, trees, some of my dead people, the occasional truck. And sometimes the opening is a door that leads to vast space inside, a cosmos, while other times, it’s like the same door opens into a house or onto a city street. Like I can open the same door but never know exactly what space it will open to on the other side.

Bachelard talks not only about intimate immensity with regard to our interiority but also about how inhabited space transcends geometrical space, and that idea also really appeals to me. I think interior space also totally transcends geometrical space, but bringing geometrical space into interior space makes for some exciting explorations and discoveries. Then, combined with Gertrude Stein’s obsession in The Making of Americans with the types of being being in one in one’s middle middle being, as well as Freud’s and Jung’s notions about the contents of the unconscious, and Milosz’s lines from “Ars Poetica?” about how the purpose of poetry is to remind us of how difficult it is to remain just one person (“for our house is open, there are no keys in the doors, / and invisible guests come and go at will”), and Whitman’s line about containing multitudes, well it all, in no specific order I can actually record, sort of came together into this need I felt to explore concrete interior spaces and to let them open imaginatively. And also, at the same time, since the units of poetry that have somehow most appealed to me are the image and the sentence, the practice came together not just in my walking and envisioning but also in my writing.

LN: What is your writing practice like?

MK: My writing practice is very much a practice, and it involves a lot of walking. Much of the time, and during my best writing times, I wake up and read and write in bed before I do anything else, and then I walk and open space inside myself. And sometimes I write while I walk, holding a sentence in a space over my head, like a little cloud or thought bubble, revising as I go along, seeing how I can grow it and revise it and continue to hold it.

Over much of the past year I have been involved in a collaborative project with an artist. It started because she sent me a photo of a drawing via text message, and I really liked the drawing so I said, I feel like responding to that drawing in a single sentence. So I walked and wrote a sentence and sent it to her via text. Then I said, hey let’s try this for a week. So her next drawing responded to my sentence and my sentence responded to that drawing and so on, and it ended up going on for 122 days. I liked that because, even when I didn’t have all day to write, I could write and revise a single sentence and send it, and it turns out if you write one sentence a day, they accumulate. I bet you could write a novel that way. I also like to make up parameters like that, only giving myself the space of a single sentence. Or borrowing a structure. Or writing along to a novel. All of that said, I also teach and sometimes I get so consumed with teaching that I don’t write. Fortunately for me, I get time off in winter and summer, and while it’s not so great for my financial situation, I love that time for reading and writing. In the past few months, I must say, I have found it next to impossible to write. I actually couldn’t even read until mid June. So I’m thankful that I can read again.

LN: Are there any books coming out this year that you are looking forward to?

MK: I have to say I have been a bit out of it in terms of what is coming out. But I am very excited about Ali Smith’s Summer.

LN: As you know, we’re launching your book on what would have been our fourth annual Poetry & Pie celebration. Do you have a favorite pie recipe that you could share with us?

MK: I feel totally deficient here. I don’t. I’m not much of a baker. I love to eat pie though and am so sad that I won’t be there in Vermont with you, eating Rebecca’s apple pie.

LN: What is currently bringing you joy?

MK: Walking, always, and the two swans I see in the morning with their five cygnets, and the bullfrogs and tree frogs and snapping turtles and painted turtles and otters and rosa rugosa and fish jumping and coyotes and foxes and being able to read again, walking at dawn and walking at night especially, and friendship, and Lionel, our cat. And reading – I am currently reading Magda Szabo’s Iza’s Ballad and rereading Roland Barthes’ The Preparation of the Novel, which is filled with delights. And floating in Buzzards Bay. And watermelon.


Interview: Mary Kane

It’s no secret that we’re huge fans of Mary Kane. We invited her to be one of the headlining readers for our first Poetry & Pie and our admiration for her has only grown since then. Mary is a kind person and a good friend. She’s also a fiercely good writer.

We knew early on that Mary’s work would be a perfect candidate for our Little Dipper series, and we were right. Reading Mary’s poetry always feels a bit like we’re unscrewing the tops of our heads and letting a fresh breeze in to stir around forgotten memories.

The stories in On Tuesday, Elizabeth, are no different. In them, we are invited inside the characters and, along with them, we roam their interiors, discovering hidden rooms, strange winds, coyotes yipping. It’s an exciting exploration. You never know what’s around the next corner. But you’re in safe hands with Mary.

Congratulations to Mary on the publication of On Tuesday, Elizabeth! We feel so lucky that she agreed to make a Little Dipper book with us and has allowed us to share in the joy of putting her stories out into the world. We can’t wait for you to fall in love with her stories too.

A beech tree is a novel in which characters come and go in rooms darkened by wide planned wooden floors, worn tables. Where light travels across a wallpaper made of faint roses.

I like to sit in the shade of your beech tree. I like to take a sandwich from a waxed paper bag, eating while I read.

When you are finished with an idea, the tree disappears. Like that. Sun falls everywhere.

Literary North: The pieces in On Tuesday, Elizabeth balance gently between poetry and short fiction. Do you see them as more one than the other, or as a hybrid form?

Mary Kane: I guess I just see them as prose. They aren’t really stories in any traditional sense since they really haven’t any plots. And they don’t tend to have much dialogue or action. Mainly, in many of my pieces, someone is either lying in bed or on a sofa or maybe walking. So, maybe the pieces are closer to prose poems, which rely more on images than on plots and more on image than on the traditional music of some poetry, with its rhythms and assonance and consonance and rhyme. For a long time, I have found myself wanting to write lines that felt anti-poetic, meaning, for me, stripped of lyricism, flat, matter of fact. Like actors who refrain from any emoting.

LN: What led you to begin writing pieces in this form after writing mainly more traditional poetry?

MK: It sort of crept in. First, I started writing longer, end-stopped lines. Lines that didn’t even fit on a single line. The first poems I ever got published were in the Beloit Poetry Journal. I remember they called me on the phone to say they couldn’t fit my lines on a single line given the page width and could they carry them over to the next line and indent. And we had this conversation then, about should the next line start on a new line or continue from the carried over line. At the time, I wanted the long line to have a clear stop. For there to be space before a new sentence began. And you can see that happening even in some of the pieces in On Tuesday, Elizabeth.

After the long lines, I found myself writing more prose poems. I’m sure it had a lot to do with reading. I mean, I read a lot of poetry and a lot of fiction and a lot of writers whose work doesn’t neatly fit anywhere. And I tend to fall in love with writers and fall under their influence and talk with them in my writing until I can incorporate what I need and make it my own. I wrote a whole manuscript I jokingly called Eating John Ashbery for Breakfast. The title is a joke, but also, I really did read him for breakfast every day one summer, aloud on my deck, and I played with sentences in the way he did and I looked at the way he combined high and low diction and how he could be so funny in a very quiet way, and it felt like consuming him poem by poem.

And then, I remember back in the mid-90s when I first found Anne Carson’s books like Short Talks and Glass, Irony and God, and Plainwater and I just fell in love with her. And I called her work poetry I guess because it was in the poetry section of the library and because it took off the top of my head. But then mixed in there was all the reading aloud of Tolstoy and Proust and Gertrude Stein and James Joyce and Thomas Mann, those big fat novels that my friend Jill and I read together over the last twenty years of reading aloud together. And then Lydia Davis and Mary Ruefle, two more writers I fell for. So somewhere in all of that, and also Italo Calvino (especially Mr Palomar) and Sherman Alexie’s You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me, and Anna Burns’ Milkman, I found the shape of what I was writing changing, and I still find it changing today. In fact, I think I am probably a wanna-be novelist but I haven’t gotten there yet.

LN: We know that you’re a big fan of Gertrude Stein. How has her writing influenced you and your writing?

MK: Well, it’s true I went a little crazy when I read The Making of Americans. I mean, I grew up with this list of books that seems to come down to one from the gods about what books one must read. And The Making of Americans wasn’t on that list. But one year Jill and I read The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas and liked it (though we weren’t gaga over it) and I thought I’d buy her another Gertrude Stein book for her birthday or Christmas or something and I bought The Making of Americans. I really knew nothing about it. And then it wasn’t until another couple years passed that we finally decided, hey let’s try that book. And when we started reading it, we both found ourselves so delighted. It was hypnotic and insane and repetitive and filled with people at all stages of their being with all kinds of being in them. We found that whenever we talked about the book or read it, we were overcome with joy. It was unlike any reading experience I had ever had. And the thing is, there are books that make you want to write. And that was one of those books. But of course, for a long time, it was so powerful I found I had to write like the book. And that won’t do for too long. I’m not Gertrude Stein. I had to consume her too. To take her deep enough inside so that she stopped dominating me. It was one of the hardest tasks as a writer. That sounds sort of silly. Anyway, she uses a lot of words like the being in one’s being in one’s middle middle being. Not many concrete nouns. Not many images. She’s very sound oriented. And I’m a person for whom images have a powerful pull. So I think, without really thinking about it, I became obsessed with the being inside of each of us, the space inside each of us, and I read Bachelard’s Poetics of Space too and thinking about our intimate immensity and interior space and started meditating and reading spiritual books, and so I began to concretize that being inside of beings in their early middle being and their late middle being and the visions of what inside were my own, no longer Gertrude’s. And it all seemed to fit and I just kept seeing things and still do. Plus, her joy in repetition really sang to me.

LN: What other writers or artists have inspired your work?

MK: Back in college though, I remember how I fell in love with the Talking Heads. And in the little booklet that went with the Stop Making Sense album, there was a line about how if you always wear the same clothes people will remember you better. I got a kick out of that. And it’s about repetition as well. And permission. There are artists who give you permission to go new places. Lorca did that for me early on. And Neruda. I think I read from permission to permission. Gertrude Stein sounded like no one else, which is a huge kind of permission. And I can see that still in what I fall for. People whose work doesn’t neatly fit anywhere, but feels like they just had to do it. Fairly recently I read Kate Briggs’ book This Little Art on translation, especially on translating Roland Barthes’ lecture series The Preparation of the Novel. It’s a terrific book, as is her translation of Barthes’ lectures. But This Little Art is one of those books, an essay sort of, a memoir sort of, a series of linked thoughts. I like that kind of thing. I love Agnes Martin’s work and went to a retrospective of her work at the Guggenheim a couple of years ago that moved me very deeply so I ended up reading a couple of biographies about her and took that in, and then last year I went to the Hilma af Klint show at the Guggenheim, another show that really spoke to me, in part because of the way her work took such a radical shift when she felt like spirits were asking her to do something new and she went with it. I love that willingness to go where work takes one, that deep listening. That plays an essential role for me in life and writing.

LN: We love the slow revelation of the interiors of your characters and the way these interiors resemble real places and objects (a train platform, a lemon tree, the sky, Elizabeth’s cabinet). How did this idea of concrete interiority come to you?

MK: It’s exciting and difficult to talk about where an idea comes from, isn’t it? I mean, there’s usually a coming together of a bunch of threads in just some particular order and you find yourself spending time with an idea. One of the places the concrete interiority came to me from is walking as a spiritual practice, or part of my spiritual practice. I have been walking for years and years, but, in the past several years, as I walk, and while I focus on my breath, I often envision a channel opening through my core. I’m not sure how that came about exactly. I guess I listened and listened and then it came to me. It’s funny, because I used to see an opening in my mind, like a forest clearing where ideas like deer would step in one by one if it were quiet and still enough, but somewhere along the way, the opening moved from my head to my heart and what I see running through is sometimes a river or thread of light of love or water passing, like the Tao, I think, also, and often, in learning not to hold too tightly to anything, I see objects floating through, in that river—shoes, cups, sofas, trees, some of my dead people, the occasional truck. And sometimes the opening is a door that leads to vast space inside, a cosmos, while other times, it’s like the same door opens into a house or onto a city street. Like I can open the same door but never know exactly what space it will open to on the other side.

Bachelard talks not only about intimate immensity with regard to our interiority but also about how inhabited space transcends geometrical space, and that idea also really appeals to me. I think interior space also totally transcends geometrical space, but bringing geometrical space into interior space makes for some exciting explorations and discoveries. Then, combined with Gertrude Stein’s obsession in The Making of Americans with the types of being being in one in one’s middle middle being, as well as Freud’s and Jung’s notions about the contents of the unconscious, and Milosz’s lines from “Ars Poetica?” about how the purpose of poetry is to remind us of how difficult it is to remain just one person (“for our house is open, there are no keys in the doors, / and invisible guests come and go at will”), and Whitman’s line about containing multitudes, well it all, in no specific order I can actually record, sort of came together into this need I felt to explore concrete interior spaces and to let them open imaginatively. And also, at the same time, since the units of poetry that have somehow most appealed to me are the image and the sentence, the practice came together not just in my walking and envisioning but also in my writing.

LN: What is your writing practice like?

MK: My writing practice is very much a practice, and it involves a lot of walking. Much of the time, and during my best writing times, I wake up and read and write in bed before I do anything else, and then I walk and open space inside myself. And sometimes I write while I walk, holding a sentence in a space over my head, like a little cloud or thought bubble, revising as I go along, seeing how I can grow it and revise it and continue to hold it.

Over much of the past year I have been involved in a collaborative project with an artist. It started because she sent me a photo of a drawing via text message, and I really liked the drawing so I said, I feel like responding to that drawing in a single sentence. So I walked and wrote a sentence and sent it to her via text. Then I said, hey let’s try this for a week. So her next drawing responded to my sentence and my sentence responded to that drawing and so on, and it ended up going on for 122 days. I liked that because, even when I didn’t have all day to write, I could write and revise a single sentence and send it, and it turns out if you write one sentence a day, they accumulate. I bet you could write a novel that way. I also like to make up parameters like that, only giving myself the space of a single sentence. Or borrowing a structure. Or writing along to a novel. All of that said, I also teach and sometimes I get so consumed with teaching that I don’t write. Fortunately for me, I get time off in winter and summer, and while it’s not so great for my financial situation, I love that time for reading and writing. In the past few months, I must say, I have found it next to impossible to write. I actually couldn’t even read until mid June. So I’m thankful that I can read again.

LN: Are there any books coming out this year that you are looking forward to?

MK: I have to say I have been a bit out of it in terms of what is coming out. But I am very excited about Ali Smith’s Summer.

LN: As you know, we’re launching your book on what would have been our fourth annual Poetry & Pie celebration. Do you have a favorite pie recipe that you could share with us?

MK: I feel totally deficient here. I don’t. I’m not much of a baker. I love to eat pie though and am so sad that I won’t be there in Vermont with you, eating Rebecca’s apple pie.

LN: What is currently bringing you joy?

MK: Walking, always, and the two swans I see in the morning with their five cygnets, and the bullfrogs and tree frogs and snapping turtles and painted turtles and otters and rosa rugosa and fish jumping and coyotes and foxes and being able to read again, walking at dawn and walking at night especially, and friendship, and Lionel, our cat. And reading – I am currently reading Magda Szabo’s Iza’s Ballad and rereading Roland Barthes’ The Preparation of the Novel, which is filled with delights. And floating in Buzzards Bay. And watermelon.


Interview: Mary Kane

It’s no secret that we’re huge fans of Mary Kane. We invited her to be one of the headlining readers for our first Poetry & Pie and our admiration for her has only grown since then. Mary is a kind person and a good friend. She’s also a fiercely good writer.

We knew early on that Mary’s work would be a perfect candidate for our Little Dipper series, and we were right. Reading Mary’s poetry always feels a bit like we’re unscrewing the tops of our heads and letting a fresh breeze in to stir around forgotten memories.

The stories in On Tuesday, Elizabeth, are no different. In them, we are invited inside the characters and, along with them, we roam their interiors, discovering hidden rooms, strange winds, coyotes yipping. It’s an exciting exploration. You never know what’s around the next corner. But you’re in safe hands with Mary.

Congratulations to Mary on the publication of On Tuesday, Elizabeth! We feel so lucky that she agreed to make a Little Dipper book with us and has allowed us to share in the joy of putting her stories out into the world. We can’t wait for you to fall in love with her stories too.

A beech tree is a novel in which characters come and go in rooms darkened by wide planned wooden floors, worn tables. Where light travels across a wallpaper made of faint roses.

I like to sit in the shade of your beech tree. I like to take a sandwich from a waxed paper bag, eating while I read.

When you are finished with an idea, the tree disappears. Like that. Sun falls everywhere.

Literary North: The pieces in On Tuesday, Elizabeth balance gently between poetry and short fiction. Do you see them as more one than the other, or as a hybrid form?

Mary Kane: I guess I just see them as prose. They aren’t really stories in any traditional sense since they really haven’t any plots. And they don’t tend to have much dialogue or action. Mainly, in many of my pieces, someone is either lying in bed or on a sofa or maybe walking. So, maybe the pieces are closer to prose poems, which rely more on images than on plots and more on image than on the traditional music of some poetry, with its rhythms and assonance and consonance and rhyme. For a long time, I have found myself wanting to write lines that felt anti-poetic, meaning, for me, stripped of lyricism, flat, matter of fact. Like actors who refrain from any emoting.

LN: What led you to begin writing pieces in this form after writing mainly more traditional poetry?

MK: It sort of crept in. First, I started writing longer, end-stopped lines. Lines that didn’t even fit on a single line. The first poems I ever got published were in the Beloit Poetry Journal. I remember they called me on the phone to say they couldn’t fit my lines on a single line given the page width and could they carry them over to the next line and indent. And we had this conversation then, about should the next line start on a new line or continue from the carried over line. At the time, I wanted the long line to have a clear stop. For there to be space before a new sentence began. And you can see that happening even in some of the pieces in On Tuesday, Elizabeth.

After the long lines, I found myself writing more prose poems. I’m sure it had a lot to do with reading. I mean, I read a lot of poetry and a lot of fiction and a lot of writers whose work doesn’t neatly fit anywhere. And I tend to fall in love with writers and fall under their influence and talk with them in my writing until I can incorporate what I need and make it my own. I wrote a whole manuscript I jokingly called Eating John Ashbery for Breakfast. The title is a joke, but also, I really did read him for breakfast every day one summer, aloud on my deck, and I played with sentences in the way he did and I looked at the way he combined high and low diction and how he could be so funny in a very quiet way, and it felt like consuming him poem by poem.

And then, I remember back in the mid-90s when I first found Anne Carson’s books like Short Talks and Glass, Irony and God, and Plainwater and I just fell in love with her. And I called her work poetry I guess because it was in the poetry section of the library and because it took off the top of my head. But then mixed in there was all the reading aloud of Tolstoy and Proust and Gertrude Stein and James Joyce and Thomas Mann, those big fat novels that my friend Jill and I read together over the last twenty years of reading aloud together. And then Lydia Davis and Mary Ruefle, two more writers I fell for. So somewhere in all of that, and also Italo Calvino (especially Mr Palomar) and Sherman Alexie’s You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me, and Anna Burns’ Milkman, I found the shape of what I was writing changing, and I still find it changing today. In fact, I think I am probably a wanna-be novelist but I haven’t gotten there yet.

LN: We know that you’re a big fan of Gertrude Stein. How has her writing influenced you and your writing?

MK: Well, it’s true I went a little crazy when I read The Making of Americans. I mean, I grew up with this list of books that seems to come down to one from the gods about what books one must read. And The Making of Americans wasn’t on that list. But one year Jill and I read The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas and liked it (though we weren’t gaga over it) and I thought I’d buy her another Gertrude Stein book for her birthday or Christmas or something and I bought The Making of Americans. I really knew nothing about it. And then it wasn’t until another couple years passed that we finally decided, hey let’s try that book. And when we started reading it, we both found ourselves so delighted. It was hypnotic and insane and repetitive and filled with people at all stages of their being with all kinds of being in them. We found that whenever we talked about the book or read it, we were overcome with joy. It was unlike any reading experience I had ever had. And the thing is, there are books that make you want to write. And that was one of those books. But of course, for a long time, it was so powerful I found I had to write like the book. And that won’t do for too long. I’m not Gertrude Stein. I had to consume her too. To take her deep enough inside so that she stopped dominating me. It was one of the hardest tasks as a writer. That sounds sort of silly. Anyway, she uses a lot of words like the being in one’s being in one’s middle middle being. Not many concrete nouns. Not many images. She’s very sound oriented. And I’m a person for whom images have a powerful pull. So I think, without really thinking about it, I became obsessed with the being inside of each of us, the space inside each of us, and I read Bachelard’s Poetics of Space too and thinking about our intimate immensity and interior space and started meditating and reading spiritual books, and so I began to concretize that being inside of beings in their early middle being and their late middle being and the visions of what inside were my own, no longer Gertrude’s. And it all seemed to fit and I just kept seeing things and still do. Plus, her joy in repetition really sang to me.

LN: What other writers or artists have inspired your work?

MK: Back in college though, I remember how I fell in love with the Talking Heads. And in the little booklet that went with the Stop Making Sense album, there was a line about how if you always wear the same clothes people will remember you better. I got a kick out of that. And it’s about repetition as well. And permission. There are artists who give you permission to go new places. Lorca did that for me early on. And Neruda. I think I read from permission to permission. Gertrude Stein sounded like no one else, which is a huge kind of permission. And I can see that still in what I fall for. People whose work doesn’t neatly fit anywhere, but feels like they just had to do it. Fairly recently I read Kate Briggs’ book This Little Art on translation, especially on translating Roland Barthes’ lecture series The Preparation of the Novel. It’s a terrific book, as is her translation of Barthes’ lectures. But This Little Art is one of those books, an essay sort of, a memoir sort of, a series of linked thoughts. I like that kind of thing. I love Agnes Martin’s work and went to a retrospective of her work at the Guggenheim a couple of years ago that moved me very deeply so I ended up reading a couple of biographies about her and took that in, and then last year I went to the Hilma af Klint show at the Guggenheim, another show that really spoke to me, in part because of the way her work took such a radical shift when she felt like spirits were asking her to do something new and she went with it. I love that willingness to go where work takes one, that deep listening. That plays an essential role for me in life and writing.

LN: We love the slow revelation of the interiors of your characters and the way these interiors resemble real places and objects (a train platform, a lemon tree, the sky, Elizabeth’s cabinet). How did this idea of concrete interiority come to you?

MK: It’s exciting and difficult to talk about where an idea comes from, isn’t it? I mean, there’s usually a coming together of a bunch of threads in just some particular order and you find yourself spending time with an idea. One of the places the concrete interiority came to me from is walking as a spiritual practice, or part of my spiritual practice. I have been walking for years and years, but, in the past several years, as I walk, and while I focus on my breath, I often envision a channel opening through my core. I’m not sure how that came about exactly. I guess I listened and listened and then it came to me. It’s funny, because I used to see an opening in my mind, like a forest clearing where ideas like deer would step in one by one if it were quiet and still enough, but somewhere along the way, the opening moved from my head to my heart and what I see running through is sometimes a river or thread of light of love or water passing, like the Tao, I think, also, and often, in learning not to hold too tightly to anything, I see objects floating through, in that river—shoes, cups, sofas, trees, some of my dead people, the occasional truck. And sometimes the opening is a door that leads to vast space inside, a cosmos, while other times, it’s like the same door opens into a house or onto a city street. Like I can open the same door but never know exactly what space it will open to on the other side.

Bachelard talks not only about intimate immensity with regard to our interiority but also about how inhabited space transcends geometrical space, and that idea also really appeals to me. I think interior space also totally transcends geometrical space, but bringing geometrical space into interior space makes for some exciting explorations and discoveries. Then, combined with Gertrude Stein’s obsession in The Making of Americans with the types of being being in one in one’s middle middle being, as well as Freud’s and Jung’s notions about the contents of the unconscious, and Milosz’s lines from “Ars Poetica?” about how the purpose of poetry is to remind us of how difficult it is to remain just one person (“for our house is open, there are no keys in the doors, / and invisible guests come and go at will”), and Whitman’s line about containing multitudes, well it all, in no specific order I can actually record, sort of came together into this need I felt to explore concrete interior spaces and to let them open imaginatively. And also, at the same time, since the units of poetry that have somehow most appealed to me are the image and the sentence, the practice came together not just in my walking and envisioning but also in my writing.

LN: What is your writing practice like?

MK: My writing practice is very much a practice, and it involves a lot of walking. Much of the time, and during my best writing times, I wake up and read and write in bed before I do anything else, and then I walk and open space inside myself. And sometimes I write while I walk, holding a sentence in a space over my head, like a little cloud or thought bubble, revising as I go along, seeing how I can grow it and revise it and continue to hold it.

Over much of the past year I have been involved in a collaborative project with an artist. It started because she sent me a photo of a drawing via text message, and I really liked the drawing so I said, I feel like responding to that drawing in a single sentence. So I walked and wrote a sentence and sent it to her via text. Then I said, hey let’s try this for a week. So her next drawing responded to my sentence and my sentence responded to that drawing and so on, and it ended up going on for 122 days. I liked that because, even when I didn’t have all day to write, I could write and revise a single sentence and send it, and it turns out if you write one sentence a day, they accumulate. I bet you could write a novel that way. I also like to make up parameters like that, only giving myself the space of a single sentence. Or borrowing a structure. Or writing along to a novel. All of that said, I also teach and sometimes I get so consumed with teaching that I don’t write. Fortunately for me, I get time off in winter and summer, and while it’s not so great for my financial situation, I love that time for reading and writing. In the past few months, I must say, I have found it next to impossible to write. I actually couldn’t even read until mid June. So I’m thankful that I can read again.

LN: Are there any books coming out this year that you are looking forward to?

MK: I have to say I have been a bit out of it in terms of what is coming out. But I am very excited about Ali Smith’s Summer.

LN: As you know, we’re launching your book on what would have been our fourth annual Poetry & Pie celebration. Do you have a favorite pie recipe that you could share with us?

MK: I feel totally deficient here. I don’t. I’m not much of a baker. I love to eat pie though and am so sad that I won’t be there in Vermont with you, eating Rebecca’s apple pie.

LN: What is currently bringing you joy?

MK: Walking, always, and the two swans I see in the morning with their five cygnets, and the bullfrogs and tree frogs and snapping turtles and painted turtles and otters and rosa rugosa and fish jumping and coyotes and foxes and being able to read again, walking at dawn and walking at night especially, and friendship, and Lionel, our cat. And reading – I am currently reading Magda Szabo’s Iza’s Ballad and rereading Roland Barthes’ The Preparation of the Novel, which is filled with delights. And floating in Buzzards Bay. And watermelon.


Interview: Mary Kane

It’s no secret that we’re huge fans of Mary Kane. We invited her to be one of the headlining readers for our first Poetry & Pie and our admiration for her has only grown since then. Mary is a kind person and a good friend. She’s also a fiercely good writer.

We knew early on that Mary’s work would be a perfect candidate for our Little Dipper series, and we were right. Reading Mary’s poetry always feels a bit like we’re unscrewing the tops of our heads and letting a fresh breeze in to stir around forgotten memories.

The stories in On Tuesday, Elizabeth, are no different. In them, we are invited inside the characters and, along with them, we roam their interiors, discovering hidden rooms, strange winds, coyotes yipping. It’s an exciting exploration. You never know what’s around the next corner. But you’re in safe hands with Mary.

Congratulations to Mary on the publication of On Tuesday, Elizabeth! We feel so lucky that she agreed to make a Little Dipper book with us and has allowed us to share in the joy of putting her stories out into the world. We can’t wait for you to fall in love with her stories too.

A beech tree is a novel in which characters come and go in rooms darkened by wide planned wooden floors, worn tables. Where light travels across a wallpaper made of faint roses.

I like to sit in the shade of your beech tree. I like to take a sandwich from a waxed paper bag, eating while I read.

When you are finished with an idea, the tree disappears. Like that. Sun falls everywhere.

Literary North: The pieces in On Tuesday, Elizabeth balance gently between poetry and short fiction. Do you see them as more one than the other, or as a hybrid form?

Mary Kane: I guess I just see them as prose. They aren’t really stories in any traditional sense since they really haven’t any plots. And they don’t tend to have much dialogue or action. Mainly, in many of my pieces, someone is either lying in bed or on a sofa or maybe walking. So, maybe the pieces are closer to prose poems, which rely more on images than on plots and more on image than on the traditional music of some poetry, with its rhythms and assonance and consonance and rhyme. For a long time, I have found myself wanting to write lines that felt anti-poetic, meaning, for me, stripped of lyricism, flat, matter of fact. Like actors who refrain from any emoting.

LN: What led you to begin writing pieces in this form after writing mainly more traditional poetry?

MK: It sort of crept in. First, I started writing longer, end-stopped lines. Lines that didn’t even fit on a single line. The first poems I ever got published were in the Beloit Poetry Journal. I remember they called me on the phone to say they couldn’t fit my lines on a single line given the page width and could they carry them over to the next line and indent. And we had this conversation then, about should the next line start on a new line or continue from the carried over line. At the time, I wanted the long line to have a clear stop. For there to be space before a new sentence began. And you can see that happening even in some of the pieces in On Tuesday, Elizabeth.

After the long lines, I found myself writing more prose poems. I’m sure it had a lot to do with reading. I mean, I read a lot of poetry and a lot of fiction and a lot of writers whose work doesn’t neatly fit anywhere. And I tend to fall in love with writers and fall under their influence and talk with them in my writing until I can incorporate what I need and make it my own. I wrote a whole manuscript I jokingly called Eating John Ashbery for Breakfast. The title is a joke, but also, I really did read him for breakfast every day one summer, aloud on my deck, and I played with sentences in the way he did and I looked at the way he combined high and low diction and how he could be so funny in a very quiet way, and it felt like consuming him poem by poem.

And then, I remember back in the mid-90s when I first found Anne Carson’s books like Short Talks and Glass, Irony and God, and Plainwater and I just fell in love with her. And I called her work poetry I guess because it was in the poetry section of the library and because it took off the top of my head. But then mixed in there was all the reading aloud of Tolstoy and Proust and Gertrude Stein and James Joyce and Thomas Mann, those big fat novels that my friend Jill and I read together over the last twenty years of reading aloud together. And then Lydia Davis and Mary Ruefle, two more writers I fell for. So somewhere in all of that, and also Italo Calvino (especially Mr Palomar) and Sherman Alexie’s You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me, and Anna Burns’ Milkman, I found the shape of what I was writing changing, and I still find it changing today. In fact, I think I am probably a wanna-be novelist but I haven’t gotten there yet.

LN: We know that you’re a big fan of Gertrude Stein. How has her writing influenced you and your writing?

MK: Well, it’s true I went a little crazy when I read The Making of Americans. I mean, I grew up with this list of books that seems to come down to one from the gods about what books one must read. And The Making of Americans wasn’t on that list. But one year Jill and I read The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas and liked it (though we weren’t gaga over it) and I thought I’d buy her another Gertrude Stein book for her birthday or Christmas or something and I bought The Making of Americans. I really knew nothing about it. And then it wasn’t until another couple years passed that we finally decided, hey let’s try that book. And when we started reading it, we both found ourselves so delighted. It was hypnotic and insane and repetitive and filled with people at all stages of their being with all kinds of being in them. We found that whenever we talked about the book or read it, we were overcome with joy. It was unlike any reading experience I had ever had. And the thing is, there are books that make you want to write. And that was one of those books. But of course, for a long time, it was so powerful I found I had to write like the book. And that won’t do for too long. I’m not Gertrude Stein. I had to consume her too. To take her deep enough inside so that she stopped dominating me. It was one of the hardest tasks as a writer. That sounds sort of silly. Anyway, she uses a lot of words like the being in one’s being in one’s middle middle being. Not many concrete nouns. Not many images. She’s very sound oriented. And I’m a person for whom images have a powerful pull. So I think, without really thinking about it, I became obsessed with the being inside of each of us, the space inside each of us, and I read Bachelard’s Poetics of Space too and thinking about our intimate immensity and interior space and started meditating and reading spiritual books, and so I began to concretize that being inside of beings in their early middle being and their late middle being and the visions of what inside were my own, no longer Gertrude’s. And it all seemed to fit and I just kept seeing things and still do. Plus, her joy in repetition really sang to me.

LN: What other writers or artists have inspired your work?

MK: Back in college though, I remember how I fell in love with the Talking Heads. And in the little booklet that went with the Stop Making Sense album, there was a line about how if you always wear the same clothes people will remember you better. I got a kick out of that. And it’s about repetition as well. And permission. There are artists who give you permission to go new places. Lorca did that for me early on. And Neruda. I think I read from permission to permission. Gertrude Stein sounded like no one else, which is a huge kind of permission. And I can see that still in what I fall for. People whose work doesn’t neatly fit anywhere, but feels like they just had to do it. Fairly recently I read Kate Briggs’ book This Little Art on translation, especially on translating Roland Barthes’ lecture series The Preparation of the Novel. It’s a terrific book, as is her translation of Barthes’ lectures. But This Little Art is one of those books, an essay sort of, a memoir sort of, a series of linked thoughts. I like that kind of thing. I love Agnes Martin’s work and went to a retrospective of her work at the Guggenheim a couple of years ago that moved me very deeply so I ended up reading a couple of biographies about her and took that in, and then last year I went to the Hilma af Klint show at the Guggenheim, another show that really spoke to me, in part because of the way her work took such a radical shift when she felt like spirits were asking her to do something new and she went with it. I love that willingness to go where work takes one, that deep listening. That plays an essential role for me in life and writing.

LN: We love the slow revelation of the interiors of your characters and the way these interiors resemble real places and objects (a train platform, a lemon tree, the sky, Elizabeth’s cabinet). How did this idea of concrete interiority come to you?

MK: It’s exciting and difficult to talk about where an idea comes from, isn’t it? I mean, there’s usually a coming together of a bunch of threads in just some particular order and you find yourself spending time with an idea. One of the places the concrete interiority came to me from is walking as a spiritual practice, or part of my spiritual practice. I have been walking for years and years, but, in the past several years, as I walk, and while I focus on my breath, I often envision a channel opening through my core. I’m not sure how that came about exactly. I guess I listened and listened and then it came to me. It’s funny, because I used to see an opening in my mind, like a forest clearing where ideas like deer would step in one by one if it were quiet and still enough, but somewhere along the way, the opening moved from my head to my heart and what I see running through is sometimes a river or thread of light of love or water passing, like the Tao, I think, also, and often, in learning not to hold too tightly to anything, I see objects floating through, in that river—shoes, cups, sofas, trees, some of my dead people, the occasional truck. And sometimes the opening is a door that leads to vast space inside, a cosmos, while other times, it’s like the same door opens into a house or onto a city street. Like I can open the same door but never know exactly what space it will open to on the other side.

Bachelard talks not only about intimate immensity with regard to our interiority but also about how inhabited space transcends geometrical space, and that idea also really appeals to me. I think interior space also totally transcends geometrical space, but bringing geometrical space into interior space makes for some exciting explorations and discoveries. Then, combined with Gertrude Stein’s obsession in The Making of Americans with the types of being being in one in one’s middle middle being, as well as Freud’s and Jung’s notions about the contents of the unconscious, and Milosz’s lines from “Ars Poetica?” about how the purpose of poetry is to remind us of how difficult it is to remain just one person (“for our house is open, there are no keys in the doors, / and invisible guests come and go at will”), and Whitman’s line about containing multitudes, well it all, in no specific order I can actually record, sort of came together into this need I felt to explore concrete interior spaces and to let them open imaginatively. And also, at the same time, since the units of poetry that have somehow most appealed to me are the image and the sentence, the practice came together not just in my walking and envisioning but also in my writing.

LN: What is your writing practice like?

MK: My writing practice is very much a practice, and it involves a lot of walking. Much of the time, and during my best writing times, I wake up and read and write in bed before I do anything else, and then I walk and open space inside myself. And sometimes I write while I walk, holding a sentence in a space over my head, like a little cloud or thought bubble, revising as I go along, seeing how I can grow it and revise it and continue to hold it.

Over much of the past year I have been involved in a collaborative project with an artist. It started because she sent me a photo of a drawing via text message, and I really liked the drawing so I said, I feel like responding to that drawing in a single sentence. So I walked and wrote a sentence and sent it to her via text. Then I said, hey let’s try this for a week. So her next drawing responded to my sentence and my sentence responded to that drawing and so on, and it ended up going on for 122 days. I liked that because, even when I didn’t have all day to write, I could write and revise a single sentence and send it, and it turns out if you write one sentence a day, they accumulate. I bet you could write a novel that way. I also like to make up parameters like that, only giving myself the space of a single sentence. Or borrowing a structure. Or writing along to a novel. All of that said, I also teach and sometimes I get so consumed with teaching that I don’t write. Fortunately for me, I get time off in winter and summer, and while it’s not so great for my financial situation, I love that time for reading and writing. In the past few months, I must say, I have found it next to impossible to write. I actually couldn’t even read until mid June. So I’m thankful that I can read again.

LN: Are there any books coming out this year that you are looking forward to?

MK: I have to say I have been a bit out of it in terms of what is coming out. But I am very excited about Ali Smith’s Summer.

LN: As you know, we’re launching your book on what would have been our fourth annual Poetry & Pie celebration. Do you have a favorite pie recipe that you could share with us?

MK: I feel totally deficient here. I don’t. I’m not much of a baker. I love to eat pie though and am so sad that I won’t be there in Vermont with you, eating Rebecca’s apple pie.

LN: What is currently bringing you joy?

MK: Walking, always, and the two swans I see in the morning with their five cygnets, and the bullfrogs and tree frogs and snapping turtles and painted turtles and otters and rosa rugosa and fish jumping and coyotes and foxes and being able to read again, walking at dawn and walking at night especially, and friendship, and Lionel, our cat. And reading – I am currently reading Magda Szabo’s Iza’s Ballad and rereading Roland Barthes’ The Preparation of the Novel, which is filled with delights. And floating in Buzzards Bay. And watermelon.


Interview: Mary Kane

It’s no secret that we’re huge fans of Mary Kane. We invited her to be one of the headlining readers for our first Poetry & Pie and our admiration for her has only grown since then. Mary is a kind person and a good friend. She’s also a fiercely good writer.

We knew early on that Mary’s work would be a perfect candidate for our Little Dipper series, and we were right. Reading Mary’s poetry always feels a bit like we’re unscrewing the tops of our heads and letting a fresh breeze in to stir around forgotten memories.

The stories in On Tuesday, Elizabeth, are no different. In them, we are invited inside the characters and, along with them, we roam their interiors, discovering hidden rooms, strange winds, coyotes yipping. It’s an exciting exploration. You never know what’s around the next corner. But you’re in safe hands with Mary.

Congratulations to Mary on the publication of On Tuesday, Elizabeth! We feel so lucky that she agreed to make a Little Dipper book with us and has allowed us to share in the joy of putting her stories out into the world. We can’t wait for you to fall in love with her stories too.

A beech tree is a novel in which characters come and go in rooms darkened by wide planned wooden floors, worn tables. Where light travels across a wallpaper made of faint roses.

I like to sit in the shade of your beech tree. I like to take a sandwich from a waxed paper bag, eating while I read.

When you are finished with an idea, the tree disappears. Like that. Sun falls everywhere.

Literary North: The pieces in On Tuesday, Elizabeth balance gently between poetry and short fiction. Do you see them as more one than the other, or as a hybrid form?

Mary Kane: I guess I just see them as prose. They aren’t really stories in any traditional sense since they really haven’t any plots. And they don’t tend to have much dialogue or action. Mainly, in many of my pieces, someone is either lying in bed or on a sofa or maybe walking. So, maybe the pieces are closer to prose poems, which rely more on images than on plots and more on image than on the traditional music of some poetry, with its rhythms and assonance and consonance and rhyme. For a long time, I have found myself wanting to write lines that felt anti-poetic, meaning, for me, stripped of lyricism, flat, matter of fact. Like actors who refrain from any emoting.

LN: What led you to begin writing pieces in this form after writing mainly more traditional poetry?

MK: It sort of crept in. First, I started writing longer, end-stopped lines. Lines that didn’t even fit on a single line. The first poems I ever got published were in the Beloit Poetry Journal. I remember they called me on the phone to say they couldn’t fit my lines on a single line given the page width and could they carry them over to the next line and indent. And we had this conversation then, about should the next line start on a new line or continue from the carried over line. At the time, I wanted the long line to have a clear stop. For there to be space before a new sentence began. And you can see that happening even in some of the pieces in On Tuesday, Elizabeth.

After the long lines, I found myself writing more prose poems. I’m sure it had a lot to do with reading. I mean, I read a lot of poetry and a lot of fiction and a lot of writers whose work doesn’t neatly fit anywhere. And I tend to fall in love with writers and fall under their influence and talk with them in my writing until I can incorporate what I need and make it my own. I wrote a whole manuscript I jokingly called Eating John Ashbery for Breakfast. The title is a joke, but also, I really did read him for breakfast every day one summer, aloud on my deck, and I played with sentences in the way he did and I looked at the way he combined high and low diction and how he could be so funny in a very quiet way, and it felt like consuming him poem by poem.

And then, I remember back in the mid-90s when I first found Anne Carson’s books like Short Talks and Glass, Irony and God, and Plainwater and I just fell in love with her. And I called her work poetry I guess because it was in the poetry section of the library and because it took off the top of my head. But then mixed in there was all the reading aloud of Tolstoy and Proust and Gertrude Stein and James Joyce and Thomas Mann, those big fat novels that my friend Jill and I read together over the last twenty years of reading aloud together. And then Lydia Davis and Mary Ruefle, two more writers I fell for. So somewhere in all of that, and also Italo Calvino (especially Mr Palomar) and Sherman Alexie’s You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me, and Anna Burns’ Milkman, I found the shape of what I was writing changing, and I still find it changing today. In fact, I think I am probably a wanna-be novelist but I haven’t gotten there yet.

LN: We know that you’re a big fan of Gertrude Stein. How has her writing influenced you and your writing?

MK: Well, it’s true I went a little crazy when I read The Making of Americans. I mean, I grew up with this list of books that seems to come down to one from the gods about what books one must read. And The Making of Americans wasn’t on that list. But one year Jill and I read The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas and liked it (though we weren’t gaga over it) and I thought I’d buy her another Gertrude Stein book for her birthday or Christmas or something and I bought The Making of Americans. I really knew nothing about it. And then it wasn’t until another couple years passed that we finally decided, hey let’s try that book. And when we started reading it, we both found ourselves so delighted. It was hypnotic and insane and repetitive and filled with people at all stages of their being with all kinds of being in them. We found that whenever we talked about the book or read it, we were overcome with joy. It was unlike any reading experience I had ever had. And the thing is, there are books that make you want to write. And that was one of those books. But of course, for a long time, it was so powerful I found I had to write like the book. And that won’t do for too long. I’m not Gertrude Stein. I had to consume her too. To take her deep enough inside so that she stopped dominating me. It was one of the hardest tasks as a writer. That sounds sort of silly. Anyway, she uses a lot of words like the being in one’s being in one’s middle middle being. Not many concrete nouns. Not many images. She’s very sound oriented. And I’m a person for whom images have a powerful pull. So I think, without really thinking about it, I became obsessed with the being inside of each of us, the space inside each of us, and I read Bachelard’s Poetics of Space too and thinking about our intimate immensity and interior space and started meditating and reading spiritual books, and so I began to concretize that being inside of beings in their early middle being and their late middle being and the visions of what inside were my own, no longer Gertrude’s. And it all seemed to fit and I just kept seeing things and still do. Plus, her joy in repetition really sang to me.

LN: What other writers or artists have inspired your work?

MK: Back in college though, I remember how I fell in love with the Talking Heads. And in the little booklet that went with the Stop Making Sense album, there was a line about how if you always wear the same clothes people will remember you better. I got a kick out of that. And it’s about repetition as well. And permission. There are artists who give you permission to go new places. Lorca did that for me early on. And Neruda. I think I read from permission to permission. Gertrude Stein sounded like no one else, which is a huge kind of permission. And I can see that still in what I fall for. People whose work doesn’t neatly fit anywhere, but feels like they just had to do it. Fairly recently I read Kate Briggs’ book This Little Art on translation, especially on translating Roland Barthes’ lecture series The Preparation of the Novel. It’s a terrific book, as is her translation of Barthes’ lectures. But This Little Art is one of those books, an essay sort of, a memoir sort of, a series of linked thoughts. I like that kind of thing. I love Agnes Martin’s work and went to a retrospective of her work at the Guggenheim a couple of years ago that moved me very deeply so I ended up reading a couple of biographies about her and took that in, and then last year I went to the Hilma af Klint show at the Guggenheim, another show that really spoke to me, in part because of the way her work took such a radical shift when she felt like spirits were asking her to do something new and she went with it. I love that willingness to go where work takes one, that deep listening. That plays an essential role for me in life and writing.

LN: We love the slow revelation of the interiors of your characters and the way these interiors resemble real places and objects (a train platform, a lemon tree, the sky, Elizabeth’s cabinet). How did this idea of concrete interiority come to you?

MK: It’s exciting and difficult to talk about where an idea comes from, isn’t it? I mean, there’s usually a coming together of a bunch of threads in just some particular order and you find yourself spending time with an idea. One of the places the concrete interiority came to me from is walking as a spiritual practice, or part of my spiritual practice. I have been walking for years and years, but, in the past several years, as I walk, and while I focus on my breath, I often envision a channel opening through my core. I’m not sure how that came about exactly. I guess I listened and listened and then it came to me. It’s funny, because I used to see an opening in my mind, like a forest clearing where ideas like deer would step in one by one if it were quiet and still enough, but somewhere along the way, the opening moved from my head to my heart and what I see running through is sometimes a river or thread of light of love or water passing, like the Tao, I think, also, and often, in learning not to hold too tightly to anything, I see objects floating through, in that river—shoes, cups, sofas, trees, some of my dead people, the occasional truck. And sometimes the opening is a door that leads to vast space inside, a cosmos, while other times, it’s like the same door opens into a house or onto a city street. Like I can open the same door but never know exactly what space it will open to on the other side.

Bachelard talks not only about intimate immensity with regard to our interiority but also about how inhabited space transcends geometrical space, and that idea also really appeals to me. I think interior space also totally transcends geometrical space, but bringing geometrical space into interior space makes for some exciting explorations and discoveries. Then, combined with Gertrude Stein’s obsession in The Making of Americans with the types of being being in one in one’s middle middle being, as well as Freud’s and Jung’s notions about the contents of the unconscious, and Milosz’s lines from “Ars Poetica?” about how the purpose of poetry is to remind us of how difficult it is to remain just one person (“for our house is open, there are no keys in the doors, / and invisible guests come and go at will”), and Whitman’s line about containing multitudes, well it all, in no specific order I can actually record, sort of came together into this need I felt to explore concrete interior spaces and to let them open imaginatively. And also, at the same time, since the units of poetry that have somehow most appealed to me are the image and the sentence, the practice came together not just in my walking and envisioning but also in my writing.

LN: What is your writing practice like?

MK: My writing practice is very much a practice, and it involves a lot of walking. Much of the time, and during my best writing times, I wake up and read and write in bed before I do anything else, and then I walk and open space inside myself. And sometimes I write while I walk, holding a sentence in a space over my head, like a little cloud or thought bubble, revising as I go along, seeing how I can grow it and revise it and continue to hold it.

Over much of the past year I have been involved in a collaborative project with an artist. It started because she sent me a photo of a drawing via text message, and I really liked the drawing so I said, I feel like responding to that drawing in a single sentence. So I walked and wrote a sentence and sent it to her via text. Then I said, hey let’s try this for a week. So her next drawing responded to my sentence and my sentence responded to that drawing and so on, and it ended up going on for 122 days. I liked that because, even when I didn’t have all day to write, I could write and revise a single sentence and send it, and it turns out if you write one sentence a day, they accumulate. I bet you could write a novel that way. I also like to make up parameters like that, only giving myself the space of a single sentence. Or borrowing a structure. Or writing along to a novel. All of that said, I also teach and sometimes I get so consumed with teaching that I don’t write. Fortunately for me, I get time off in winter and summer, and while it’s not so great for my financial situation, I love that time for reading and writing. In the past few months, I must say, I have found it next to impossible to write. I actually couldn’t even read until mid June. So I’m thankful that I can read again.

LN: Are there any books coming out this year that you are looking forward to?

MK: I have to say I have been a bit out of it in terms of what is coming out. But I am very excited about Ali Smith’s Summer.

LN: As you know, we’re launching your book on what would have been our fourth annual Poetry & Pie celebration. Do you have a favorite pie recipe that you could share with us?

MK: I feel totally deficient here. I don’t. I’m not much of a baker. I love to eat pie though and am so sad that I won’t be there in Vermont with you, eating Rebecca’s apple pie.

LN: What is currently bringing you joy?

MK: Walking, always, and the two swans I see in the morning with their five cygnets, and the bullfrogs and tree frogs and snapping turtles and painted turtles and otters and rosa rugosa and fish jumping and coyotes and foxes and being able to read again, walking at dawn and walking at night especially, and friendship, and Lionel, our cat. And reading – I am currently reading Magda Szabo’s Iza’s Ballad and rereading Roland Barthes’ The Preparation of the Novel, which is filled with delights. And floating in Buzzards Bay. And watermelon.


Interview: Mary Kane

It’s no secret that we’re huge fans of Mary Kane. We invited her to be one of the headlining readers for our first Poetry & Pie and our admiration for her has only grown since then. Mary is a kind person and a good friend. She’s also a fiercely good writer.

We knew early on that Mary’s work would be a perfect candidate for our Little Dipper series, and we were right. Reading Mary’s poetry always feels a bit like we’re unscrewing the tops of our heads and letting a fresh breeze in to stir around forgotten memories.

The stories in On Tuesday, Elizabeth, are no different. In them, we are invited inside the characters and, along with them, we roam their interiors, discovering hidden rooms, strange winds, coyotes yipping. It’s an exciting exploration. You never know what’s around the next corner. But you’re in safe hands with Mary.

Congratulations to Mary on the publication of On Tuesday, Elizabeth! We feel so lucky that she agreed to make a Little Dipper book with us and has allowed us to share in the joy of putting her stories out into the world. We can’t wait for you to fall in love with her stories too.

A beech tree is a novel in which characters come and go in rooms darkened by wide planned wooden floors, worn tables. Where light travels across a wallpaper made of faint roses.

I like to sit in the shade of your beech tree. I like to take a sandwich from a waxed paper bag, eating while I read.

When you are finished with an idea, the tree disappears. Like that. Sun falls everywhere.

Literary North: The pieces in On Tuesday, Elizabeth balance gently between poetry and short fiction. Do you see them as more one than the other, or as a hybrid form?

Mary Kane: I guess I just see them as prose. They aren’t really stories in any traditional sense since they really haven’t any plots. And they don’t tend to have much dialogue or action. Mainly, in many of my pieces, someone is either lying in bed or on a sofa or maybe walking. So, maybe the pieces are closer to prose poems, which rely more on images than on plots and more on image than on the traditional music of some poetry, with its rhythms and assonance and consonance and rhyme. For a long time, I have found myself wanting to write lines that felt anti-poetic, meaning, for me, stripped of lyricism, flat, matter of fact. Like actors who refrain from any emoting.

LN: What led you to begin writing pieces in this form after writing mainly more traditional poetry?

MK: It sort of crept in. First, I started writing longer, end-stopped lines. Lines that didn’t even fit on a single line. The first poems I ever got published were in the Beloit Poetry Journal. I remember they called me on the phone to say they couldn’t fit my lines on a single line given the page width and could they carry them over to the next line and indent. And we had this conversation then, about should the next line start on a new line or continue from the carried over line. At the time, I wanted the long line to have a clear stop. For there to be space before a new sentence began. And you can see that happening even in some of the pieces in On Tuesday, Elizabeth.

After the long lines, I found myself writing more prose poems. I’m sure it had a lot to do with reading. I mean, I read a lot of poetry and a lot of fiction and a lot of writers whose work doesn’t neatly fit anywhere. And I tend to fall in love with writers and fall under their influence and talk with them in my writing until I can incorporate what I need and make it my own. I wrote a whole manuscript I jokingly called Eating John Ashbery for Breakfast. The title is a joke, but also, I really did read him for breakfast every day one summer, aloud on my deck, and I played with sentences in the way he did and I looked at the way he combined high and low diction and how he could be so funny in a very quiet way, and it felt like consuming him poem by poem.

And then, I remember back in the mid-90s when I first found Anne Carson’s books like Short Talks and Glass, Irony and God, and Plainwater and I just fell in love with her. And I called her work poetry I guess because it was in the poetry section of the library and because it took off the top of my head. But then mixed in there was all the reading aloud of Tolstoy and Proust and Gertrude Stein and James Joyce and Thomas Mann, those big fat novels that my friend Jill and I read together over the last twenty years of reading aloud together. And then Lydia Davis and Mary Ruefle, two more writers I fell for. So somewhere in all of that, and also Italo Calvino (especially Mr Palomar) and Sherman Alexie’s You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me, and Anna Burns’ Milkman, I found the shape of what I was writing changing, and I still find it changing today. In fact, I think I am probably a wanna-be novelist but I haven’t gotten there yet.

LN: We know that you’re a big fan of Gertrude Stein. How has her writing influenced you and your writing?

MK: Well, it’s true I went a little crazy when I read The Making of Americans. I mean, I grew up with this list of books that seems to come down to one from the gods about what books one must read. And The Making of Americans wasn’t on that list. But one year Jill and I read The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas and liked it (though we weren’t gaga over it) and I thought I’d buy her another Gertrude Stein book for her birthday or Christmas or something and I bought The Making of Americans. I really knew nothing about it. And then it wasn’t until another couple years passed that we finally decided, hey let’s try that book. And when we started reading it, we both found ourselves so delighted. It was hypnotic and insane and repetitive and filled with people at all stages of their being with all kinds of being in them. We found that whenever we talked about the book or read it, we were overcome with joy. It was unlike any reading experience I had ever had. And the thing is, there are books that make you want to write. And that was one of those books. But of course, for a long time, it was so powerful I found I had to write like the book. And that won’t do for too long. I’m not Gertrude Stein. I had to consume her too. To take her deep enough inside so that she stopped dominating me. It was one of the hardest tasks as a writer. That sounds sort of silly. Anyway, she uses a lot of words like the being in one’s being in one’s middle middle being. Not many concrete nouns. Not many images. She’s very sound oriented. And I’m a person for whom images have a powerful pull. So I think, without really thinking about it, I became obsessed with the being inside of each of us, the space inside each of us, and I read Bachelard’s Poetics of Space too and thinking about our intimate immensity and interior space and started meditating and reading spiritual books, and so I began to concretize that being inside of beings in their early middle being and their late middle being and the visions of what inside were my own, no longer Gertrude’s. And it all seemed to fit and I just kept seeing things and still do. Plus, her joy in repetition really sang to me.

LN: What other writers or artists have inspired your work?

MK: Back in college though, I remember how I fell in love with the Talking Heads. And in the little booklet that went with the Stop Making Sense album, there was a line about how if you always wear the same clothes people will remember you better. I got a kick out of that. And it’s about repetition as well. And permission. There are artists who give you permission to go new places. Lorca did that for me early on. And Neruda. I think I read from permission to permission. Gertrude Stein sounded like no one else, which is a huge kind of permission. And I can see that still in what I fall for. People whose work doesn’t neatly fit anywhere, but feels like they just had to do it. Fairly recently I read Kate Briggs’ book This Little Art on translation, especially on translating Roland Barthes’ lecture series The Preparation of the Novel. It’s a terrific book, as is her translation of Barthes’ lectures. But This Little Art is one of those books, an essay sort of, a memoir sort of, a series of linked thoughts. I like that kind of thing. I love Agnes Martin’s work and went to a retrospective of her work at the Guggenheim a couple of years ago that moved me very deeply so I ended up reading a couple of biographies about her and took that in, and then last year I went to the Hilma af Klint show at the Guggenheim, another show that really spoke to me, in part because of the way her work took such a radical shift when she felt like spirits were asking her to do something new and she went with it. I love that willingness to go where work takes one, that deep listening. That plays an essential role for me in life and writing.

LN: We love the slow revelation of the interiors of your characters and the way these interiors resemble real places and objects (a train platform, a lemon tree, the sky, Elizabeth’s cabinet). How did this idea of concrete interiority come to you?

MK: It’s exciting and difficult to talk about where an idea comes from, isn’t it? I mean, there’s usually a coming together of a bunch of threads in just some particular order and you find yourself spending time with an idea. One of the places the concrete interiority came to me from is walking as a spiritual practice, or part of my spiritual practice. I have been walking for years and years, but, in the past several years, as I walk, and while I focus on my breath, I often envision a channel opening through my core. I’m not sure how that came about exactly. I guess I listened and listened and then it came to me. It’s funny, because I used to see an opening in my mind, like a forest clearing where ideas like deer would step in one by one if it were quiet and still enough, but somewhere along the way, the opening moved from my head to my heart and what I see running through is sometimes a river or thread of light of love or water passing, like the Tao, I think, also, and often, in learning not to hold too tightly to anything, I see objects floating through, in that river—shoes, cups, sofas, trees, some of my dead people, the occasional truck. And sometimes the opening is a door that leads to vast space inside, a cosmos, while other times, it’s like the same door opens into a house or onto a city street. Like I can open the same door but never know exactly what space it will open to on the other side.

Bachelard talks not only about intimate immensity with regard to our interiority but also about how inhabited space transcends geometrical space, and that idea also really appeals to me. I think interior space also totally transcends geometrical space, but bringing geometrical space into interior space makes for some exciting explorations and discoveries. Then, combined with Gertrude Stein’s obsession in The Making of Americans with the types of being being in one in one’s middle middle being, as well as Freud’s and Jung’s notions about the contents of the unconscious, and Milosz’s lines from “Ars Poetica?” about how the purpose of poetry is to remind us of how difficult it is to remain just one person (“for our house is open, there are no keys in the doors, / and invisible guests come and go at will”), and Whitman’s line about containing multitudes, well it all, in no specific order I can actually record, sort of came together into this need I felt to explore concrete interior spaces and to let them open imaginatively. And also, at the same time, since the units of poetry that have somehow most appealed to me are the image and the sentence, the practice came together not just in my walking and envisioning but also in my writing.

LN: What is your writing practice like?

MK: My writing practice is very much a practice, and it involves a lot of walking. Much of the time, and during my best writing times, I wake up and read and write in bed before I do anything else, and then I walk and open space inside myself. And sometimes I write while I walk, holding a sentence in a space over my head, like a little cloud or thought bubble, revising as I go along, seeing how I can grow it and revise it and continue to hold it.

Over much of the past year I have been involved in a collaborative project with an artist. It started because she sent me a photo of a drawing via text message, and I really liked the drawing so I said, I feel like responding to that drawing in a single sentence. So I walked and wrote a sentence and sent it to her via text. Then I said, hey let’s try this for a week. So her next drawing responded to my sentence and my sentence responded to that drawing and so on, and it ended up going on for 122 days. I liked that because, even when I didn’t have all day to write, I could write and revise a single sentence and send it, and it turns out if you write one sentence a day, they accumulate. I bet you could write a novel that way. I also like to make up parameters like that, only giving myself the space of a single sentence. Or borrowing a structure. Or writing along to a novel. All of that said, I also teach and sometimes I get so consumed with teaching that I don’t write. Fortunately for me, I get time off in winter and summer, and while it’s not so great for my financial situation, I love that time for reading and writing. In the past few months, I must say, I have found it next to impossible to write. I actually couldn’t even read until mid June. So I’m thankful that I can read again.

LN: Are there any books coming out this year that you are looking forward to?

MK: I have to say I have been a bit out of it in terms of what is coming out. But I am very excited about Ali Smith’s Summer.

LN: As you know, we’re launching your book on what would have been our fourth annual Poetry & Pie celebration. Do you have a favorite pie recipe that you could share with us?

MK: I feel totally deficient here. I don’t. I’m not much of a baker. I love to eat pie though and am so sad that I won’t be there in Vermont with you, eating Rebecca’s apple pie.

LN: What is currently bringing you joy?

MK: Walking, always, and the two swans I see in the morning with their five cygnets, and the bullfrogs and tree frogs and snapping turtles and painted turtles and otters and rosa rugosa and fish jumping and coyotes and foxes and being able to read again, walking at dawn and walking at night especially, and friendship, and Lionel, our cat. And reading – I am currently reading Magda Szabo’s Iza’s Ballad and rereading Roland Barthes’ The Preparation of the Novel, which is filled with delights. And floating in Buzzards Bay. And watermelon.


Interview: Mary Kane

It’s no secret that we’re huge fans of Mary Kane. We invited her to be one of the headlining readers for our first Poetry & Pie and our admiration for her has only grown since then. Mary is a kind person and a good friend. She’s also a fiercely good writer.

We knew early on that Mary’s work would be a perfect candidate for our Little Dipper series, and we were right. Reading Mary’s poetry always feels a bit like we’re unscrewing the tops of our heads and letting a fresh breeze in to stir around forgotten memories.

The stories in On Tuesday, Elizabeth, are no different. In them, we are invited inside the characters and, along with them, we roam their interiors, discovering hidden rooms, strange winds, coyotes yipping. It’s an exciting exploration. You never know what’s around the next corner. But you’re in safe hands with Mary.

Congratulations to Mary on the publication of On Tuesday, Elizabeth! We feel so lucky that she agreed to make a Little Dipper book with us and has allowed us to share in the joy of putting her stories out into the world. We can’t wait for you to fall in love with her stories too.

A beech tree is a novel in which characters come and go in rooms darkened by wide planned wooden floors, worn tables. Where light travels across a wallpaper made of faint roses.

I like to sit in the shade of your beech tree. I like to take a sandwich from a waxed paper bag, eating while I read.

When you are finished with an idea, the tree disappears. Like that. Sun falls everywhere.

Literary North: The pieces in On Tuesday, Elizabeth balance gently between poetry and short fiction. Do you see them as more one than the other, or as a hybrid form?

Mary Kane: I guess I just see them as prose. They aren’t really stories in any traditional sense since they really haven’t any plots. And they don’t tend to have much dialogue or action. Mainly, in many of my pieces, someone is either lying in bed or on a sofa or maybe walking. So, maybe the pieces are closer to prose poems, which rely more on images than on plots and more on image than on the traditional music of some poetry, with its rhythms and assonance and consonance and rhyme. For a long time, I have found myself wanting to write lines that felt anti-poetic, meaning, for me, stripped of lyricism, flat, matter of fact. Like actors who refrain from any emoting.

LN: What led you to begin writing pieces in this form after writing mainly more traditional poetry?

MK: It sort of crept in. First, I started writing longer, end-stopped lines. Lines that didn’t even fit on a single line. The first poems I ever got published were in the Beloit Poetry Journal. I remember they called me on the phone to say they couldn’t fit my lines on a single line given the page width and could they carry them over to the next line and indent. And we had this conversation then, about should the next line start on a new line or continue from the carried over line. At the time, I wanted the long line to have a clear stop. For there to be space before a new sentence began. And you can see that happening even in some of the pieces in On Tuesday, Elizabeth.

After the long lines, I found myself writing more prose poems. I’m sure it had a lot to do with reading. I mean, I read a lot of poetry and a lot of fiction and a lot of writers whose work doesn’t neatly fit anywhere. And I tend to fall in love with writers and fall under their influence and talk with them in my writing until I can incorporate what I need and make it my own. I wrote a whole manuscript I jokingly called Eating John Ashbery for Breakfast. The title is a joke, but also, I really did read him for breakfast every day one summer, aloud on my deck, and I played with sentences in the way he did and I looked at the way he combined high and low diction and how he could be so funny in a very quiet way, and it felt like consuming him poem by poem.

And then, I remember back in the mid-90s when I first found Anne Carson’s books like Short Talks and Glass, Irony and God, and Plainwater and I just fell in love with her. And I called her work poetry I guess because it was in the poetry section of the library and because it took off the top of my head. But then mixed in there was all the reading aloud of Tolstoy and Proust and Gertrude Stein and James Joyce and Thomas Mann, those big fat novels that my friend Jill and I read together over the last twenty years of reading aloud together. And then Lydia Davis and Mary Ruefle, two more writers I fell for. So somewhere in all of that, and also Italo Calvino (especially Mr Palomar) and Sherman Alexie’s You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me, and Anna Burns’ Milkman, I found the shape of what I was writing changing, and I still find it changing today. In fact, I think I am probably a wanna-be novelist but I haven’t gotten there yet.

LN: We know that you’re a big fan of Gertrude Stein. How has her writing influenced you and your writing?

MK: Well, it’s true I went a little crazy when I read The Making of Americans. I mean, I grew up with this list of books that seems to come down to one from the gods about what books one must read. And The Making of Americans wasn’t on that list. But one year Jill and I read The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas and liked it (though we weren’t gaga over it) and I thought I’d buy her another Gertrude Stein book for her birthday or Christmas or something and I bought The Making of Americans. I really knew nothing about it. And then it wasn’t until another couple years passed that we finally decided, hey let’s try that book. And when we started reading it, we both found ourselves so delighted. It was hypnotic and insane and repetitive and filled with people at all stages of their being with all kinds of being in them. We found that whenever we talked about the book or read it, we were overcome with joy. It was unlike any reading experience I had ever had. And the thing is, there are books that make you want to write. And that was one of those books. But of course, for a long time, it was so powerful I found I had to write like the book. And that won’t do for too long. I’m not Gertrude Stein. I had to consume her too. To take her deep enough inside so that she stopped dominating me. It was one of the hardest tasks as a writer. That sounds sort of silly. Anyway, she uses a lot of words like the being in one’s being in one’s middle middle being. Not many concrete nouns. Not many images. She’s very sound oriented. And I’m a person for whom images have a powerful pull. So I think, without really thinking about it, I became obsessed with the being inside of each of us, the space inside each of us, and I read Bachelard’s Poetics of Space too and thinking about our intimate immensity and interior space and started meditating and reading spiritual books, and so I began to concretize that being inside of beings in their early middle being and their late middle being and the visions of what inside were my own, no longer Gertrude’s. And it all seemed to fit and I just kept seeing things and still do. Plus, her joy in repetition really sang to me.

LN: What other writers or artists have inspired your work?

MK: Back in college though, I remember how I fell in love with the Talking Heads. And in the little booklet that went with the Stop Making Sense album, there was a line about how if you always wear the same clothes people will remember you better. I got a kick out of that. And it’s about repetition as well. And permission. There are artists who give you permission to go new places. Lorca did that for me early on. And Neruda. I think I read from permission to permission. Gertrude Stein sounded like no one else, which is a huge kind of permission. And I can see that still in what I fall for. People whose work doesn’t neatly fit anywhere, but feels like they just had to do it. Fairly recently I read Kate Briggs’ book This Little Art on translation, especially on translating Roland Barthes’ lecture series The Preparation of the Novel. It’s a terrific book, as is her translation of Barthes’ lectures. But This Little Art is one of those books, an essay sort of, a memoir sort of, a series of linked thoughts. I like that kind of thing. I love Agnes Martin’s work and went to a retrospective of her work at the Guggenheim a couple of years ago that moved me very deeply so I ended up reading a couple of biographies about her and took that in, and then last year I went to the Hilma af Klint show at the Guggenheim, another show that really spoke to me, in part because of the way her work took such a radical shift when she felt like spirits were asking her to do something new and she went with it. I love that willingness to go where work takes one, that deep listening. That plays an essential role for me in life and writing.

LN: We love the slow revelation of the interiors of your characters and the way these interiors resemble real places and objects (a train platform, a lemon tree, the sky, Elizabeth’s cabinet). How did this idea of concrete interiority come to you?

MK: It’s exciting and difficult to talk about where an idea comes from, isn’t it? I mean, there’s usually a coming together of a bunch of threads in just some particular order and you find yourself spending time with an idea. One of the places the concrete interiority came to me from is walking as a spiritual practice, or part of my spiritual practice. I have been walking for years and years, but, in the past several years, as I walk, and while I focus on my breath, I often envision a channel opening through my core. I’m not sure how that came about exactly. I guess I listened and listened and then it came to me. It’s funny, because I used to see an opening in my mind, like a forest clearing where ideas like deer would step in one by one if it were quiet and still enough, but somewhere along the way, the opening moved from my head to my heart and what I see running through is sometimes a river or thread of light of love or water passing, like the Tao, I think, also, and often, in learning not to hold too tightly to anything, I see objects floating through, in that river—shoes, cups, sofas, trees, some of my dead people, the occasional truck. And sometimes the opening is a door that leads to vast space inside, a cosmos, while other times, it’s like the same door opens into a house or onto a city street. Like I can open the same door but never know exactly what space it will open to on the other side.

Bachelard talks not only about intimate immensity with regard to our interiority but also about how inhabited space transcends geometrical space, and that idea also really appeals to me. I think interior space also totally transcends geometrical space, but bringing geometrical space into interior space makes for some exciting explorations and discoveries. Then, combined with Gertrude Stein’s obsession in The Making of Americans with the types of being being in one in one’s middle middle being, as well as Freud’s and Jung’s notions about the contents of the unconscious, and Milosz’s lines from “Ars Poetica?” about how the purpose of poetry is to remind us of how difficult it is to remain just one person (“for our house is open, there are no keys in the doors, / and invisible guests come and go at will”), and Whitman’s line about containing multitudes, well it all, in no specific order I can actually record, sort of came together into this need I felt to explore concrete interior spaces and to let them open imaginatively. And also, at the same time, since the units of poetry that have somehow most appealed to me are the image and the sentence, the practice came together not just in my walking and envisioning but also in my writing.

LN: What is your writing practice like?

MK: My writing practice is very much a practice, and it involves a lot of walking. Much of the time, and during my best writing times, I wake up and read and write in bed before I do anything else, and then I walk and open space inside myself. And sometimes I write while I walk, holding a sentence in a space over my head, like a little cloud or thought bubble, revising as I go along, seeing how I can grow it and revise it and continue to hold it.

Over much of the past year I have been involved in a collaborative project with an artist. It started because she sent me a photo of a drawing via text message, and I really liked the drawing so I said, I feel like responding to that drawing in a single sentence. So I walked and wrote a sentence and sent it to her via text. Then I said, hey let’s try this for a week. So her next drawing responded to my sentence and my sentence responded to that drawing and so on, and it ended up going on for 122 days. I liked that because, even when I didn’t have all day to write, I could write and revise a single sentence and send it, and it turns out if you write one sentence a day, they accumulate. I bet you could write a novel that way. I also like to make up parameters like that, only giving myself the space of a single sentence. Or borrowing a structure. Or writing along to a novel. All of that said, I also teach and sometimes I get so consumed with teaching that I don’t write. Fortunately for me, I get time off in winter and summer, and while it’s not so great for my financial situation, I love that time for reading and writing. In the past few months, I must say, I have found it next to impossible to write. I actually couldn’t even read until mid June. So I’m thankful that I can read again.

LN: Are there any books coming out this year that you are looking forward to?

MK: I have to say I have been a bit out of it in terms of what is coming out. But I am very excited about Ali Smith’s Summer.

LN: As you know, we’re launching your book on what would have been our fourth annual Poetry & Pie celebration. Do you have a favorite pie recipe that you could share with us?

MK: I feel totally deficient here. I don’t. I’m not much of a baker. I love to eat pie though and am so sad that I won’t be there in Vermont with you, eating Rebecca’s apple pie.

LN: What is currently bringing you joy?

MK: Walking, always, and the two swans I see in the morning with their five cygnets, and the bullfrogs and tree frogs and snapping turtles and painted turtles and otters and rosa rugosa and fish jumping and coyotes and foxes and being able to read again, walking at dawn and walking at night especially, and friendship, and Lionel, our cat. And reading – I am currently reading Magda Szabo’s Iza’s Ballad and rereading Roland Barthes’ The Preparation of the Novel, which is filled with delights. And floating in Buzzards Bay. And watermelon.


Interview: Mary Kane

It’s no secret that we’re huge fans of Mary Kane. We invited her to be one of the headlining readers for our first Poetry & Pie and our admiration for her has only grown since then. Mary is a kind person and a good friend. She’s also a fiercely good writer.

We knew early on that Mary’s work would be a perfect candidate for our Little Dipper series, and we were right. Reading Mary’s poetry always feels a bit like we’re unscrewing the tops of our heads and letting a fresh breeze in to stir around forgotten memories.

The stories in On Tuesday, Elizabeth, are no different. In them, we are invited inside the characters and, along with them, we roam their interiors, discovering hidden rooms, strange winds, coyotes yipping. It’s an exciting exploration. You never know what’s around the next corner. But you’re in safe hands with Mary.

Congratulations to Mary on the publication of On Tuesday, Elizabeth! We feel so lucky that she agreed to make a Little Dipper book with us and has allowed us to share in the joy of putting her stories out into the world. We can’t wait for you to fall in love with her stories too.

A beech tree is a novel in which characters come and go in rooms darkened by wide planned wooden floors, worn tables. Where light travels across a wallpaper made of faint roses.

I like to sit in the shade of your beech tree. I like to take a sandwich from a waxed paper bag, eating while I read.

When you are finished with an idea, the tree disappears. Like that. Sun falls everywhere.

Literary North: The pieces in On Tuesday, Elizabeth balance gently between poetry and short fiction. Do you see them as more one than the other, or as a hybrid form?

Mary Kane: I guess I just see them as prose. They aren’t really stories in any traditional sense since they really haven’t any plots. And they don’t tend to have much dialogue or action. Mainly, in many of my pieces, someone is either lying in bed or on a sofa or maybe walking. So, maybe the pieces are closer to prose poems, which rely more on images than on plots and more on image than on the traditional music of some poetry, with its rhythms and assonance and consonance and rhyme. For a long time, I have found myself wanting to write lines that felt anti-poetic, meaning, for me, stripped of lyricism, flat, matter of fact. Like actors who refrain from any emoting.

LN: What led you to begin writing pieces in this form after writing mainly more traditional poetry?

MK: It sort of crept in. First, I started writing longer, end-stopped lines. Lines that didn’t even fit on a single line. The first poems I ever got published were in the Beloit Poetry Journal. I remember they called me on the phone to say they couldn’t fit my lines on a single line given the page width and could they carry them over to the next line and indent. And we had this conversation then, about should the next line start on a new line or continue from the carried over line. At the time, I wanted the long line to have a clear stop. For there to be space before a new sentence began. And you can see that happening even in some of the pieces in On Tuesday, Elizabeth.

After the long lines, I found myself writing more prose poems. I’m sure it had a lot to do with reading. I mean, I read a lot of poetry and a lot of fiction and a lot of writers whose work doesn’t neatly fit anywhere. And I tend to fall in love with writers and fall under their influence and talk with them in my writing until I can incorporate what I need and make it my own. I wrote a whole manuscript I jokingly called Eating John Ashbery for Breakfast. The title is a joke, but also, I really did read him for breakfast every day one summer, aloud on my deck, and I played with sentences in the way he did and I looked at the way he combined high and low diction and how he could be so funny in a very quiet way, and it felt like consuming him poem by poem.

And then, I remember back in the mid-90s when I first found Anne Carson’s books like Short Talks and Glass, Irony and God, and Plainwater and I just fell in love with her. And I called her work poetry I guess because it was in the poetry section of the library and because it took off the top of my head. But then mixed in there was all the reading aloud of Tolstoy and Proust and Gertrude Stein and James Joyce and Thomas Mann, those big fat novels that my friend Jill and I read together over the last twenty years of reading aloud together. And then Lydia Davis and Mary Ruefle, two more writers I fell for. So somewhere in all of that, and also Italo Calvino (especially Mr Palomar) and Sherman Alexie’s You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me, and Anna Burns’ Milkman, I found the shape of what I was writing changing, and I still find it changing today. In fact, I think I am probably a wanna-be novelist but I haven’t gotten there yet.

LN: We know that you’re a big fan of Gertrude Stein. How has her writing influenced you and your writing?

MK: Well, it’s true I went a little crazy when I read The Making of Americans. I mean, I grew up with this list of books that seems to come down to one from the gods about what books one must read. And The Making of Americans wasn’t on that list. But one year Jill and I read The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas and liked it (though we weren’t gaga over it) and I thought I’d buy her another Gertrude Stein book for her birthday or Christmas or something and I bought The Making of Americans. I really knew nothing about it. And then it wasn’t until another couple years passed that we finally decided, hey let’s try that book. And when we started reading it, we both found ourselves so delighted. It was hypnotic and insane and repetitive and filled with people at all stages of their being with all kinds of being in them. We found that whenever we talked about the book or read it, we were overcome with joy. It was unlike any reading experience I had ever had. And the thing is, there are books that make you want to write. And that was one of those books. But of course, for a long time, it was so powerful I found I had to write like the book. And that won’t do for too long. I’m not Gertrude Stein. I had to consume her too. To take her deep enough inside so that she stopped dominating me. It was one of the hardest tasks as a writer. That sounds sort of silly. Anyway, she uses a lot of words like the being in one’s being in one’s middle middle being. Not many concrete nouns. Not many images. She’s very sound oriented. And I’m a person for whom images have a powerful pull. So I think, without really thinking about it, I became obsessed with the being inside of each of us, the space inside each of us, and I read Bachelard’s Poetics of Space too and thinking about our intimate immensity and interior space and started meditating and reading spiritual books, and so I began to concretize that being inside of beings in their early middle being and their late middle being and the visions of what inside were my own, no longer Gertrude’s. And it all seemed to fit and I just kept seeing things and still do. Plus, her joy in repetition really sang to me.

LN: What other writers or artists have inspired your work?

MK: Back in college though, I remember how I fell in love with the Talking Heads. And in the little booklet that went with the Stop Making Sense album, there was a line about how if you always wear the same clothes people will remember you better. I got a kick out of that. And it’s about repetition as well. And permission. There are artists who give you permission to go new places. Lorca did that for me early on. And Neruda. I think I read from permission to permission. Gertrude Stein sounded like no one else, which is a huge kind of permission. And I can see that still in what I fall for. People whose work doesn’t neatly fit anywhere, but feels like they just had to do it. Fairly recently I read Kate Briggs’ book This Little Art on translation, especially on translating Roland Barthes’ lecture series The Preparation of the Novel. It’s a terrific book, as is her translation of Barthes’ lectures. But This Little Art is one of those books, an essay sort of, a memoir sort of, a series of linked thoughts. I like that kind of thing. I love Agnes Martin’s work and went to a retrospective of her work at the Guggenheim a couple of years ago that moved me very deeply so I ended up reading a couple of biographies about her and took that in, and then last year I went to the Hilma af Klint show at the Guggenheim, another show that really spoke to me, in part because of the way her work took such a radical shift when she felt like spirits were asking her to do something new and she went with it. I love that willingness to go where work takes one, that deep listening. That plays an essential role for me in life and writing.

LN: We love the slow revelation of the interiors of your characters and the way these interiors resemble real places and objects (a train platform, a lemon tree, the sky, Elizabeth’s cabinet). How did this idea of concrete interiority come to you?

MK: It’s exciting and difficult to talk about where an idea comes from, isn’t it? I mean, there’s usually a coming together of a bunch of threads in just some particular order and you find yourself spending time with an idea. One of the places the concrete interiority came to me from is walking as a spiritual practice, or part of my spiritual practice. I have been walking for years and years, but, in the past several years, as I walk, and while I focus on my breath, I often envision a channel opening through my core. I’m not sure how that came about exactly. I guess I listened and listened and then it came to me. It’s funny, because I used to see an opening in my mind, like a forest clearing where ideas like deer would step in one by one if it were quiet and still enough, but somewhere along the way, the opening moved from my head to my heart and what I see running through is sometimes a river or thread of light of love or water passing, like the Tao, I think, also, and often, in learning not to hold too tightly to anything, I see objects floating through, in that river—shoes, cups, sofas, trees, some of my dead people, the occasional truck. And sometimes the opening is a door that leads to vast space inside, a cosmos, while other times, it’s like the same door opens into a house or onto a city street. Like I can open the same door but never know exactly what space it will open to on the other side.

Bachelard talks not only about intimate immensity with regard to our interiority but also about how inhabited space transcends geometrical space, and that idea also really appeals to me. I think interior space also totally transcends geometrical space, but bringing geometrical space into interior space makes for some exciting explorations and discoveries. Then, combined with Gertrude Stein’s obsession in The Making of Americans with the types of being being in one in one’s middle middle being, as well as Freud’s and Jung’s notions about the contents of the unconscious, and Milosz’s lines from “Ars Poetica?” about how the purpose of poetry is to remind us of how difficult it is to remain just one person (“for our house is open, there are no keys in the doors, / and invisible guests come and go at will”), and Whitman’s line about containing multitudes, well it all, in no specific order I can actually record, sort of came together into this need I felt to explore concrete interior spaces and to let them open imaginatively. And also, at the same time, since the units of poetry that have somehow most appealed to me are the image and the sentence, the practice came together not just in my walking and envisioning but also in my writing.

LN: What is your writing practice like?

MK: My writing practice is very much a practice, and it involves a lot of walking. Much of the time, and during my best writing times, I wake up and read and write in bed before I do anything else, and then I walk and open space inside myself. And sometimes I write while I walk, holding a sentence in a space over my head, like a little cloud or thought bubble, revising as I go along, seeing how I can grow it and revise it and continue to hold it.

Over much of the past year I have been involved in a collaborative project with an artist. It started because she sent me a photo of a drawing via text message, and I really liked the drawing so I said, I feel like responding to that drawing in a single sentence. So I walked and wrote a sentence and sent it to her via text. Then I said, hey let’s try this for a week. So her next drawing responded to my sentence and my sentence responded to that drawing and so on, and it ended up going on for 122 days. I liked that because, even when I didn’t have all day to write, I could write and revise a single sentence and send it, and it turns out if you write one sentence a day, they accumulate. I bet you could write a novel that way. I also like to make up parameters like that, only giving myself the space of a single sentence. Or borrowing a structure. Or writing along to a novel. All of that said, I also teach and sometimes I get so consumed with teaching that I don’t write. Fortunately for me, I get time off in winter and summer, and while it’s not so great for my financial situation, I love that time for reading and writing. In the past few months, I must say, I have found it next to impossible to write. I actually couldn’t even read until mid June. So I’m thankful that I can read again.

LN: Are there any books coming out this year that you are looking forward to?

MK: I have to say I have been a bit out of it in terms of what is coming out. But I am very excited about Ali Smith’s Summer.

LN: As you know, we’re launching your book on what would have been our fourth annual Poetry & Pie celebration. Do you have a favorite pie recipe that you could share with us?

MK: I feel totally deficient here. I don’t. I’m not much of a baker. I love to eat pie though and am so sad that I won’t be there in Vermont with you, eating Rebecca’s apple pie.

LN: What is currently bringing you joy?

MK: Walking, always, and the two swans I see in the morning with their five cygnets, and the bullfrogs and tree frogs and snapping turtles and painted turtles and otters and rosa rugosa and fish jumping and coyotes and foxes and being able to read again, walking at dawn and walking at night especially, and friendship, and Lionel, our cat. And reading – I am currently reading Magda Szabo’s Iza’s Ballad and rereading Roland Barthes’ The Preparation of the Novel, which is filled with delights. And floating in Buzzards Bay. And watermelon.


Watch the video: Lawmaker Briefing: REIMAGINING REFUGEE RESETTLEMENT (June 2022).


Comments:

  1. Kenryk

    I can not take part now in discussion - it is very occupied. I will be free - I will necessarily express the opinion.

  2. Neuveville

    Where do I get my nobility from?

  3. Nilar

    I am sorry, not quite what is necessary to me.

  4. Udell

    Cool You could say it blew my brain!

  5. Fetilar

    And what that to say here?

  6. Pendaran

    Do not judge offtopic. But my Rss does not pick up your feed, I already and so and so, writes that the forbidden command. I have to visit you personally every day, just like I go to work. True, I have already read all of the new in a week. Themes you have are such that they take for the soul, and for the wallet too - and I want to do that, and use it. See you on Friday.



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