SR72 Contributor Interviews: Laton Carter

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carterWhat is it about the genre or cross-genre you write in that interests you/draws you in?

I’m drawn to how a poem is an act of compression — that is, how an experience or a statement can be compressed into essential parts. When a poem breathes, all those parts — and only those parts — work together like a beautiful machine.

How does this published piece fit in with the larger thematic concerns that you see in your overall work?

The poem you’ve kindly published is one in a series of sonnets I’m currently working on. I don’t yet know what thematic concerns are present, or emerging, in the series, and this, to me, is one of the exciting elements of writing!

What are you influenced by? 

I try to let myself be influenced by whatever I notice. Lately this has been the birds in my backyard, the reading assignments my 4th grade daughter brings home, the piano playing of Lennie Tristano, and any number of writers — Marianne Moore, Louise Bogan, Chika Sagawa, Fernando Pessoa.

What does your typical writing schedule look like? What aspects of working do you look forward to? What aspects frustrate you?

I wish I had a writing schedule! When I’m inside a poem — working on it — I love the feeling of time falling away. When the poem comes to its natural conclusion, and I have to re-enter time and get out a different lens (i.e. the critical one) to view the work — well, I love that too. I’m frustrated at my impatience for the next poem.

For fun, if you could pick one meal that matches the piece we published, what would it be and why?

The poem you’ve published is about a non-native bird. Starlings were introduced to North America from England in 1890 by a man named Eugene Schieffelin, who released 60 of the birds into Central Park. So, I guess the meal I’d pick would have to be something English — perhaps a root vegetable pie of some sort. Something seemingly un-American that becomes American.

LATON CARTER’s Leaving received the William Stafford-Hazel Hall Book Award. Poems recently appear, or are forthcoming in, Brooklyn Review, The Citron Review, concīs, The Inflectionist Review, and Sycamore Review.