Larry Sawyer – “The Next Big Thing” Interview
What is the working title of the book?
Vertigo Diary. I’m excited by the thought of it. It’ll be available very soon: this spring.
Where did the idea for the book come from?
There is really a vast range of ideas in the book. Some of it is autobiographical but my preoccupations with the machinations of language itself are also obvious. I think writing poetry allows me to put clothes on abstractions and see them hop. Some of what I do involves skewering one’s sense of the self. My poems are sometimes self-destructive little machines, however. Art should provoke. The trick is like what I believe William Carlos Williams once wrote: If it’s working there aren’t any redundant parts. So, as for ideas: There is quite a cast of characters in this one. Media culture was one theme in my first book, Unable to Fully California. But I think in this one I’ve come out the other side. I’m primarily interested in creating images that resonate. I hope the reader visualizes what I’ve written and fully weighs the import of the poem by considering all its multiplicities. I’m also always very attuned to sound. Poetry is sound. It’s music, even when dissonant. As for context: There’s an entire Greek chorus of characters in Vertigo Diary—Freud, Paul Eluard, Hecate, Novalis, Caravaggio, Frank O’Hara, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Lewis & Clark, Cortez & Cabrillo, Bo Diddley, Gertrude Stein, Guillaume Apollinaire, Francis Picabia, Aram Saroyan. It’s kind of a crazy EKG of my life these past few years. I’m very thankful that Andrei Codrescu recently wrote: “Larry’s poetry gives me the best kind of vertigo: the kind where you’re afraid of falling, but when you do you fall into a soft, meaty, sensual, smart ravine that shakes you pretty good, but instead of killing you it turns you into a Thinking Cocktail. What a scary and fine artist Mr. Sawyer is!”
What genre does your book fall under?
All evidence points to poetry!
What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
I would probably pick poets but as for actors, maybe Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Taye Diggs. Aubrey Plaza is really cool. David Lynch should make a cameo.
What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?
Merciless and unknown/the whiskey breath of realism/still crouches there incognito, bleeding/quiet country thunderstorms/from every pore.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript? It’s about 2 or 3 years of work. These are poems that first lived in journals like Big Bridge, The Boston Review, Forklift Ohio, Court Green, Esque, Exquisite Corpse, National Poetry Review, Seven Corners, Shampoo, and Verse Daily. I’m indebted to those editors for their support of my work. Placing all this work together under one cover allows the poems to finally be in conversation with one another. Putting a book together is a kind of joyful madness.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
The continual struggle to place oneself in this difficult world—admitting that it’s all quicksand and we’re just nomadic travelers on a rock hurtling through space. These poems are space graffiti.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Let’s just say it’s wild.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I’m very pleased that Vertigo Diary will be published by BlazeVox Books. Thank you Geoffrey Gatza. I’m honored to join the long list of amazing poets you’ve published on your press.