Tuesday, June 15, 2010

6 questions with Reb Livingston

1) How long have you been writing poetry? When did you realize it was something you "couldn't avoid"?

Since college, so almost 20 years. I could avoid writing poems, but I'd have to find something else to make in its place. I become depressed when I'm not creating something.

2) Have dreams always been central to your writing? Is it the imagery or the surrealist nature of dreams that most affect you?

I only occasionally incorporate dreams into my poetry. In my most recent book, God Damsel, I think there are two phrases that come directly from dreams and there's only one poem in Your Ten Favorite Words, "No Bra Required," that's influenced by a dream. I'm trying to incorporate more dream material into my current project, but I'm not so sure how well that's working. Perhaps it's because dreams are much more than "writing material." I get a lot of advice and guidance from my dreams, in writing and in everyday life. Dreams are our connection with our oracle. I take them very seriously.

3) What was your motivation in starting No Tell Motel?

I always wanted to edit a magazine. Seven years ago I noticed poets my age or younger launching their own publications and I felt both jealous and smug (because I thought they were "doing it wrong.") Finally it occurred to me that I didn't have to be jealous or smug, I could start my own magazine and show everyone how it's done.

4) Who have been your influences along the way?

Anne Sexton was my first major influence as an undergrad. Later Nicholas Christopher, Amy Gerstler, Federico Garcia Lorca. Now, I don't know, I feel lost. Maybe there's some influence from Alice Notely and Fanny Howe? I'm influenced by C.G. Jung, Marie-Louise von Franz, fairy tales, tarot and certainly dreams.

5) How has parenthood affected your writing?

Time. What happened to it? I also find that I tend to repeat things in my poems like I repeat myself in daily life. "What did I just say?!?"

6) What was the first book of poetry you bought for yourself?

The first poetry books I purchased were for an introductory poetry course, Cornelius Eady's The Gathering of My Name and The Best American Poetry 1990 (edited by Jorie Graham). Eady's poems were probably the first that I ever felt any connection. The first book of poetry I purchased for myself voluntarily was The Complete Poems: Anne Sexton.

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