Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Mini Q & A: Karen Volkman

Adam Fieled: I’m struck by the manner in which you manage the sonnet form. You manage to balance the formalist’s impulse to craft and the post-modernist’s impulse to abstract. I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about how this balance was achieved.

Karen Volkman: I'm afraid it's a bit difficult to say how I came to the "balance" —the sonnet project was a very unexpected development in my work, and took me by surprise — continues to, in fact. I can say my touchstones through the writing have been the trinity of Hopkins, Mallarme, and Rilke. (Valery has also been a reference for some of the most recent poems.) I of course deeply revere the great sequences of the Renaissance, but it was reading Mallarme in French and Rilke's sonnets in German that really pushed me to try the form — something about the intense materiality of sound impacting through the foreign words and syntax.

I hope to continue this conversation at some point in the future...

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