Steven W. Beattie: Do you consider the reader when you are writing? How do you balance thoughts about a work’s reception with your own investment in the material?
Sina Queyras: Yes, I totally, totally, think of the reader, and I want to create an experience for him or her. But I don’t think of the reader as “audience,” or as strangers, or as outside of myself. I think of the reader as someone I don’t necessarily know, but am speaking to directly. It’s very intimate; it can feel very vulnerable. But so much poetry – and I don’t just mean avant-garde or conceptual poetry – flattens, or evades, or makes short work of feelings, pinching them into a quaint “A-ha!” moment at the end, if it includes them at all.
And there is the habit of deflection. We are so ironic, and in Canada in particular, so focused on hip syllabics, that we forget what poems can do: really allow people to descend or ascend (as you wish) into feeling. There’s something very physical about a poem that goes all the way. If I read a Paul Celan poem in class, you can feel the air gather and swell, even if the poem is in German and the students can’t understand the words. They feel it.
- Sina Queyras, in conversation with Steven W. Beattie and Adam Sol over at Quill & Quire. You can read the whole thing here.