On September 23, 2004, Blackbird editors
Gregory Donovan and Jeff Lodge met with Chilean poet and activist
Marjorie Agosín on the campus of Virginia Commonwealth
University. Agosín visited VCU to deliver a lecture titled "Poetry
and Human Rights," opening "Crossing Boundaries: Global
Perspectives," a year-long lecture series sponsored jointly
by the VCU School of World Studies and the University Honors Program.
In February of 2004, painter Sally Bowring spoke with Susan Glasser in the Blackbird office
on the VCU campus. In a wide-ranging conversation, Bowring, who appears in the
documentation of Pivot Points: Three Generations of American Painters & Poets in
the current Gallery section, talked about abstraction, her own processes, the
Pivot Points exhibition, and more.
Susan Glasser is director of the Boyden Gallery of
Art at St. Mary's College of Maryland. She interviewed art critic Peter
Schjeldahl for Blackbird, Vol. 3 No. 1, and contributed an introductory
essay for Richard Carlyon's video "Flight Song" in Blackbird,
Vol. 1 No. 1.
On September 16, 2004, David Pandolfe, a second-year fiction student in Virginia
Commonwealth University's MFA Program in Creative Writing, met with writer
Michael Byers in the Blackbird office on the VCU campus. Byers was
in Richmond to receive the third VCU First Novelist Award for his novel Long
for This World, published by Houghton Mifflin in 2003. Their conversation
focused primarily on Long for This World—where it began, how
it took shape, the way it changed from words on a page into an award-winning
In September of 2004, David Wojahn and Blackbird editor
met with David Daniel in the Blackbird offices at Virginia Commonwealth
University. In the first part of the conversation, Daniel, recipient of the Seventh
Annual Levis Reading Prize for his collection Seven-Star Bird, spoke
primarily about the making of the book and its poems. In the second part, the
focus shifted to his role as poetry editor at Ploughshares and how that
experience has influenced his own writing.
On September 23, 2004, poet Philip Levine
met with students and faculty of the MFA Program in Creative Writing
at Virginia Commonwealth University to talk about his long-time relationship
with poet Larry Levis and, more generally, about his own
life as a poet. Levine had come to Richmond to give a reading
at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts as part of Poetic Principles,
series sponsored by the Virginia Museum and New Virginia Review,
Inc., that brings to the Richmond area the best poets, writers,
critics, and translators at work today.
Matthews with David Wojahn and James Harms
James Harms and David Wojahn conducted this
interview in William Matthews's New York City apartment in October
of 1995, two years before the poet's death. Matthews had just published Time & Money,
his ninth collection of verse, which went on to win the National
Book Critics' Circle Award in poetry for that year. As this and other
published interviews with Matthews attest, he was a brilliantly gifted
conversationalist—loquacious, genial, and witty, not someone
who loved to hear himself talk, but a man whose talk made the same
sorts of playful imaginative leaps and serendipitous discoveries
that characterize his poems. It was a spacious apartment, but Matthews'
study was fairly small, and, as Matthews mentions in the interview,
his desk faced one of its walls, not its windows. The apartment contained
a large number of books, and an astonishing collection of jazz and
opera CDs. Opera was one of the abiding passions of Matthews's later
life, and he had recently begun to write reviews of New York productions—in
part, he told us, to make money to spend on more CDs.
Matthews was working on
several projects, but mainly on the poems which would comprise his
posthumously published collection, After All, and on the translations
of Horace, which would also be published after his death.
In December of 2004, writer Wesley Gibson (You Are Here: A Memoir
of Arrival), met with Richard McCann in Washington,
D.C. They talked about Mother of Sorrows, McCann's latest
collection of short stories, but they also talked about the themes
that run through McCann's poetry, essays, and fiction, about his
approaches to writing in different genres, about the effect his family
life has had on his work, and more. McCann's story "My Brother
in the Basement" appears in this issue of Blackbird.
In August of 2004, Blackbird editor Gregory Donovan met with poet Ellen
Bryant Voigt at Voigt's home near Marshfield, Vermont. They talked about Voigt's
ten-part poem "The Feeder," which appears in this issue of Blackbird,
and about the lyric poem as well as other forms and hybrids. The accompanying
snapshots were taken at Voigt's home and in the surrounding area.
Interviews are added as they become available. Interviews
appear in different sections of Blackbird but are organized
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An "Interviews" menu link may be
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