July 8, 2020 - 6pm PST

Heavy Hitters July: Paul Tran

Paul Tran is the recipient of a Ruth Lilly & Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship from Poetry Magazine & the Poetry Foundation and a “Discovery”/Boston Review Poetry Prize. Their work appears in The New Yorker, Poetry Magazine, Good Morning America, NYLON, and elsewhere, including the RZA-directed movie Love Beats Rhymes (Lionsgate) alongside Azealia Banks, Common, and Jill Scott. Paul is Poetry Editor at The Offing Magazine, which won a Whiting Literary Magazine Prize from the Whiting Foundation.


The "Heart" of a Poem

A poem isn't a story. A poem isn't word play. A poem might use story and word play to enact what W.B. Yeats calls the quarrel with ourselves. This quarrel, this investigation of being human in a place and time, is also called interiority. Interiority is the heart of a poem, and like a heart, interiority has four "chambers": identity, personality, perspective, and subjectivity. Some think we get interiority into a poem by talking about feelings, thoughts, desires, and observations. I don't think so. We get interiority into a poem first by investigating such things and second by devising a form or shape for the poem that enacts our investigation. In this craft talk, I'll not only outline what interiority means and how to investigate deeply—rather than shallowly—the quarrel with ourselves. I'll also outline why I believe, above all else, a sense of deep interiority is the most important part of a poem and offer examples from diverse poets like Ada Limon, Suji Kwock Kim, Sharon Olds, and Louise Gluck.



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