Monthly Archives: June 2016


graffiti city (1)

June 3 Friday night,  6pm, a garage off Little Collins Street, a woman waiting

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Blind to our habits

I remember when my first book came out a good friend of mine wrote to me praising it, praising it probably more than it deserved, and he noted that I used certain words a lot, words like “wind.” He, in fact, pointed out that often my poems ended with some gesture involving the wind, which I was completely unaware of. And when I went back to check this out I was appalled at how often the wind would sweep in at the end of a poem. Why hadn’t I noticed this?  Wind, silence, stone (that was a big word when I started writing). . . And my friend Jonathan Aaron, who’s a wonderful poet himself, said, “You might want to try using words that you’ve never used in a poem before. For example,” he wrote, “how about ‘machine gun’?”

And I realized with a shock, and I suppose even a kind of a thrill, that not only had I never written a poem with a machine gun in it, I’d never written a poem in which a machine gun could conceivably have appeared. So it seemed exciting to do that. Actually the poem that arose–“Attack of the Crab Monsters”– has a flamethrower rather than a machine gun.

That led to other aspects of a poem that I had been avoiding without my knowing it, like using dialogue. The first time I did that I thought, ‘Gee, you can really have people talk just as though this were a short story.”  It surprised me. Of course, there are lots of poems where that happens, and I had read many of them, but I’d never done it. Conversation also led to a certain kind of humor that started to find its way into my poems.

Lawrence Raab,

Amanda Fagan, Interview with Lawrence Raab, Booth:A Journal 29 Oct 2010 (from here) 

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