Richard McCann 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?
First and above all, I'd recommend Amy Bloom's new book of stories, Where the God of Love Hangs Out, which comes out in paperback this month—these are great stories and of course Amy Bloom will be visiting our MFA Program in March. With great delight, I've been reading Matthew Dickman's debut collection of poems, All-American Poem, which Tony Hoagland selected as the winner of the 2008 APR Honnickmen First Book Prize; I've also been rereading Coleman Barks' The Essential Rumi, which remains hands-down the very best translation I've read of the 13th-century poet and mystic Jalal ad-Din Mu?ammad Balkhi. I'd also strongly recommend a small book that Myra Sklarew gave to me last year: You Alone Are Real to Me: Remembering Rainer Maria Rilke, Lou Andreas-Salomé's remembrance of the great poet, written in the year following his death.
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 a collection of linked autobiographical essays that takes as its epigraph the first line of Ovid's Metamorphoses: "My intention is to tell of bodies changed to different forms." The material of this book derives largely from my experience as a liver transplant recipient and from my former partner's death from HIV-related complications in 1995, just prior to the advent of protease inhibitors.
I'm also working on two essays, the larger of which is about the painful and protracted death of the man who had become for me a kind of second father.
ICL: What was your most exciting writing-related development this year?
Having dinner with the great British director Terence Davies, who optioned Mother of Sorrows for a feature film and then later receiving a copy of Anjelica Huston's official agreement to play the role of the mother, if the development producer gets funding for the film.
ICL: Have certain techniques and themes endured as central to your writing?
Perhaps more than ever, I work toward precision and clarity in an effort to discover the authentic and the beautiful within the realities I am attempting to investigate and describe; more than ever, I am trying to reveal through dialogue what remains unsaid within that which people say aloud.
ICL: If you weren't focused on writing, what would you be doing?
I'd have to go back too far in the narrative of my life to imagine an answer to this. In high school, I wanted to be an actor or psychiatrist.
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?
That I love Facebook but loathe Twitter.