Expand AU Menu

Questions?

  • Literature
    202-885-2971
    Fax: 202-885-2938
    lit@american.edu
    Battelle Tompkins, Room 237

    Rangel-Mullin, Rebecca
    Sr. Administrative Assistant

Mailing Address

David Keplinger Q & A

In Capital Letters: Are there any authors, poets, books, poems, stories, that you discovered or re-discovered over the last year that you would recommend to students or colleagues, and why?

I started reading William Matthews again. Matthews died in the late 90s, and at the time he was, in his mid-fifties, at the height of his powers. His SEARCH PARTY: Selected Poems shows off his range and sense of timing; I find that when I pick up a new poet there's an inevitable injection of alternate rhythms in my work. I have him to thank for a big portion of the new poems I've written.

ICL: Can you please tell us a little about any writing and/or creative projects that you have been working on over the past year?

I'm working on three collections right now. A new collection of translations from the Danish, House Inspections, is due out from Boa in November, 2011. Carsten Rene Nielsen and I did the work together in Denmark last summer. Secondly, I have a collection of prose poems called, Anatomies, which are poems that zero in on parts of the body, of my body, specifically. It was inspired by something Octavio Paz said about Tantrism, how the universe is seen as a body, how each of its parts is a living organism connected to the whole. The third is a book called Slowness, a more conventional, lineated book like some of my previous ones. It's a meditation on mindfulness.

ICL: What was your most exciting writing-related development this year?

I've just received an invitation to live for a month at 11 Rue de Max Jacob, which is a cottage at Abbey St. Benoit-sur-Loire, south of Paris, where Jacob once lived. I've written poems in response to Jacob's The Dice Cup, so this was an enormously wonderful bit of news for me.

ICL: Have certain techniques and themes endured as central to your writing?

To achieve descriptive elegance despite the falling down nature of things. To describe how everything is rising and collapses, and affirm that, with elegance.

ICL: If you weren't focused on writing, what would you be doing?

I would be playing music and aspiring to write songs like Johnny Cash's.

ICL: If you had to Tweet (in 140 characters or less) about one thing you learned about yourself through your art, what would you write?

Tweet others as you would like to be tweeted. OK, no, how about: I've learned there aren't any categories. I've learned that people have depths beyond even their own understanding. I've learned that words are living things. I've learned that there is something under the words, when you get the words right, something deeper and bigger than the mere meanings of words, which the words carry. I've learned what James Wright once affirmed for me in speech, "Above the horror there rises a musical ache which is beautiful."

David Keplinger