— a poetry interview series by Christine Klocek-Lim
S. Abbas Raza
(Founding Editor of 3 Quarks Daily)
1. What is your favorite poem that you've written? Read?
"Learning By Heart" and much as I would like to pretend to be more erudite than I am by choosing something a little more obscure for my favorite of all poems I have read, I'm going to be honest and go with "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird" by Wallace Stevens.
2. Do you think there is a disconnect between academic poets/poetry and online poets/poetry?
I have no idea.
3. Has the rise of the poetry MFA been positive or detrimental to the art?
I have no idea.
4. Do you write for yourself or for an audience/reader?
For an audience, sometimes a specific reader.
5. How much of what you write is inspiration vs. perspiration?
Mostly inspiration for me, which is why I write so seldom. For example, the imagery of the last stanza in the poem I have given above as my favorite of any I have written came to me in a dream (a faceless man dressed in a dark suit was explained to be the evening itself by a friend in the dream, who then went on to suggest we put a bright tie on him). The rest of the poem was worked backwards from there.
6. Bonus question! Answer any one of the following:
a. Do you ever include the works of others in your readings? If not, why not? If so, who and why?
I've never done a reading.
b. If you were a Celtic bard, carrying poems from place to place as if they were the last flame, which ones would you sing?
Waiting for the Barbarians by Cavafy.
c. Why do you read or write poetry?
For fun and also sometimes to impress girls.
d. How has the way you write changed (or not changed) over time?
e. What did you have for breakfast this morning?
A Coke Zero, which is my breakfast everyday.
f. Anything else you'd like to say?
Christine, I'll add this: I have written MANY, MANY poems over the years for friends and family to commemorate special occasions like weddings (at one point I was in some demand as a wedding poet!), birthdays, graduations, etc. These are, obviously, not literary efforts. They talk about the specific people present and tend to be funny and are usually quite crowd-pleasing! I wish more people would put poetry to such less-serious uses and stop trying to be so damn profound!
Originally from Karachi, Pakistan, Abbas has an undergraduate degree in electrical engineering & computer science from Johns Hopkins University, and a graduate degree in philosophy from Columbia University. He lives with his wife, Margit Oberrauch, and their feline friend, Frederica Krueger, in the small, very beautiful city of Brixen in the Italian Alps.
Upper Rubber Boot Books is coordinating a book blog tour for April, to help promote poetry and poets for National Poetry Month. Check back here for updates throughout the month of April (we’ll also post updates to our blog, and so will many of the participating poets).
- 4 April 2012: Couplets Blog Tour: Carol Berg Hosts Peg Duthie (at Ophelia Unraveling)
- 4 April 2012: Christina Nguyen (at Angie Werren’s feathers: micropoetry (and tinyprose))
- 4 April 2012: National Poetry Month: Guest Post #4, Christina Nguyen(at Margaret Dornaus’ Haiku-doodle)
- 4 April 2012: Featured “Couplets” Poet: Margaret Dornaus (at Christina Nguyen’s A wish for the sky…)
- 4 April 2012: Start with a number . . . (Sonja deVries, Yael Flusberg, Janine Harrison, Jaime Lee Jarvis, and Margaret Rozga at JoAnne Growney’s Intersections — Poetry with Mathematics)
- 3 April 2012: Couplets: a multi-author poetry blog tour — Marty Smith(at Shiteki Na Usagi [T.A. Smith/Yousei Hime])
- 3 April 2012: Translation in poetry: thorny problems — a guest post by Sue Burke (at Heather Kamins: fiction, poetry, and other necessities)
- 3 April 2012: Yousei Hime (at Angie Werren’s feathers: micropoetry (and tinyprose)).
- 3 April 2012: National Poetry Month: Guest Post #3, Cara Holman . . .(at Margaret Dornaus’ Haiku-doodle)
- 3 April 2012: how will we translate ourselves? (Deirdre Dwyer at Joanne Merriam).
- 3 April 2012: Inquiring Minds and Other Clichés – Hannah Stephenson(at Christine Klocek-Lim’s November Sky Poetry).
- 2 April 2012: National Poetry Month: Guest Post #2, Jenny Ward Angyal . . . (at Margaret Dornaus’ Haiku-doodle)
- 2 April 2012: Margaret Dornaus (at Angie Werren’s feathers: micropoetry (and tinyprose)).
- 1 April 2012: Kristine Ong Muslim on Arlene Ang’s “Living Without Water” (guest post) (at Peg Duthie’s zirconium).
- 1 April 2012: Gillena Cox (at Angie Werren’s feathers: micropoetry (and tinyprose)).
- 1 April 2012: Inquiring Minds and Other Clichés – Neil Aitken (at Christine Klocek-Lim’s November Sky Poetry).
- 1 April 2012: National Poetry Month: Guest Post #1, Stella Pierides . . .(at Margaret Dornaus’ Haiku-doodle)
- 1 April 2012: National Poetry Month: Margaret Dornaus (at Stella Pierides: Literature, Art, Culture, Society).
- 1 April 2012: what we make waiting for death (Lyn Lifshin at Joanne Merriam).
- A wish for the sky… (Christina Nguyen)
- Caught In The Stream (Francis Scudellari)
- feathers: micropoetry (and tinyprose) by angie werren
- Finding Your Voice (Michele Fischer)
- Haiku-doodle: a haiku journal by margaret dornaus
- Heather Kamins: fiction, poetry, and other necessities
- Intersections — Poetry with Mathematics (JoAnne Growney)
- Joanne Merriam
- Kristine Ong Muslim
- Mary Alexandra Agner
- Miriam’s Well: Poetry, Land Art, and Beyond (Miriam Sagan)
- Mount Orégano (Sue Burke)
- November Sky Poetry (Christine Klocek-Lim: also see her updates at thepoets.org forums)
- Old Fart Rambles (Steve Vernon)
- Ophelia Unraveling (Carol Berg)
- Poet 2.0 (Iris Jamahl Dunkle)
- Sabra Wineteer: writing in bloom
- Scattered Showers in a Clear Sky: Poetry, Gardening, Birding, and other reflections on life (Anne Higgins)
- Sherry Chandler
- Shiteki Na Usagi (T.A. Smith/Yousei Hime)
- Stella Pierides: Literature, Art, Culture, Society
- Sunslick Starfish: chronicling the amazing ideas and adventures of Ching-In Chen: Writer & Community Organizer
- Wendy’s Muse (Wendy Brown-Baez)
- What I Meant to Say (Wendy Babiak)
- The Wordsmith’s Forge: The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette (coordinating post)
- Writing with Celia (Celia Lisset Alvarez)
- zirconium (Peg Duthie)