Will Barnes – “Next Big Thing” Interview
It’s a long story…. I began writing poetry in earnest when my first child was born in 1990. In those years, I struggled a lot to find any sort of narrative voice. My language was fractured, splintered, in layers. I was told that I was an “ecstatic” poet, which to me meant that no one could understand what I was trying to say. I found that I wrote most often and best off other people’s language, that I could hardly speak my own words. I relied on the voices of others for inspiration. I stole language; I collaged. but it made me uncomfortable because I felt like I needed a narrative, a spine.
This is a book of poetry.
This question is so funny to me; I am bad at remembering actors names… But Anne Hathaway should be in it, just because. There is a love story. And there should be a kind of grizzled handsome cowboy type, not really Paul Newman, but nice like him, and a little funny and quizzical like Dustin Hoffman, with something lean and more tough and lonely and down to earth like… I have no idea.
This is a book about landscape, memory, trauma, language and love.
I’ve been working on this as a coherent project since 1998, so about 15 years.
Just trying to understand what it means to live here in the west in the 21st century. Writing has been my lifeline and the mechanism by which I have tried to understand who I am, and what I am supposed to be doing here. The poems really lead me. So, it’s a discovery. The best poems, I think, see into things, and take the reader somewhere hidden, previously unrevealed. I think this book has written me, and the book was written by this place, and the texts and voices that come out of this place. It’s inspired by love and heart break and stories of people living deeply in the land. So many poets I admire whose voices are replicated here: Emily Dickinson, Carolyn Forche, TS Eliot, Jorie Graham, Robert Hass, among many others.
It is full of botany! And the wild west, and explorers! It’s lyric and associative and layered. I think there is a lot to be discovered in it. I think it is a sensual book; it was certainly written with a lot of desire under the surface.
I don’t know. It is out there in the contest world, looking for a home. I have certain hopes, but best not to say.
Jon Davis and Greg Glazner.