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Six Poets, Six Questions: Randall Mann in Conversation

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Randall Mann

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September 18, 2012


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Timothy Donnelly, Randall Mann, and Ben Mirov presented a panel titled "Poetry in the Age of Social Media" at the sixth annual Poets Forum in New York City, October 18-20, 2012.

Poets.org: How do you know when you've finished writing a poem?

Randall Mann: A poem is finished, I guess, when each successive stanza, line, word, and punctuation mark adds up to an argument—for lack of a better word—that is clear yet compellingly elusive.

Poets.org: What word are you proud of sneaking into a poem? What word would you never put in a poem?

Mann: I snuck the word "snuggle," one of the most appalling in the language, into a recent poem. I like that. I don't think I can afford to ban words.

Poets.org: What do you see as the role of the poet in today's culture?

Mann: The poet should shut the door and write poems, and then, after much time and care, show the world. If this goes well, the role-playing will take care of itself.

Poets.org: Which poet's work do you continually go back to?

Mann: Philip Larkin.

Poets.org: Are you on Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr? How does that fit into your writing life, if at all?

Mann: I'm on Facebook, and I'm on Twitter when I remember I'm on Twitter. They exist on the virtual edge of my lit life, i.e., the sharing of a poem or article here, the congratulatory exclamatory here, the benign self-promotion and low-grade narcissism there. Etc.

Poets.org: What are you reading right now?

Mann: I'm kind of obsessed with the fashion designer Halston right now, so I'm reading a trashy biography, Simply Halston, as well as Steven Bluttal's gorgeous pictorial, Halston. I'm also re-reading Michael Hofmann's books, including Corona, Corona and Approximately Nowhere, as I am writing a piece on studying with him and want to revisit his work. He's an absolutely brilliant writer.

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