Welcome back to Lyric Essentials! This week writer and educator Jory Mickelson has joined us to discuss Brian Teare’s poetry, learning from another’s work, and being grounded within a speaker’s body. Thank you for tuning in!
Ashley Hajimirsadeghi: Why did you choose these poems and how did you discover Teare’s work?
Jory Mickelson: Well for one, they are some of his shorter poems. Brian Teare has an incredible ability to write dozen-plus page, dazzling poems. I chose to focus on some smaller bites of his writing rather than read excerpts of longer pieces.
In Teare’s poem “Then I painted the two rectangles,” there is such a sweet resonance between reading the poem and seeing the poem on the page. Additionally, I love how he yokes the two windows above his sickbed in this poem and also the function of imagination in art, all in one go.
The poem “Perceiving is the same as receiving and it is the same as responding.” seems initially simple. It is made almost entirely of images. But it is also an explanation of the speaker’s mind on the page. I’ve read this one again and again, and it always causes me to pause and reconsider what is happening just below the surface.
AH: How has Teare’s work inspired you as a writer and creative?
JM: In a real way, Teare’s work teaches me something new in each of his book. There is a quote by Allen Ginsberg that says, “Poetry is the one place where people can speak their original human mind. It is the outlet for people to say in public what is known in private.” Minds don’t come more original than Teare’s. He is fearsome, persistent, and totalizing. What I mean to say is every book is different from his previous one. Some of the concerns repeat, but the language is always pushing itself into new avenues of thought and he is always taking received forms and adapting them. Stretching them. Making them serve new purposes. Who wouldn’t want to learn these lessons?
AH: In an interview with The New School, Teare said the following: “Our most vulnerable sites of selfhood are our bodies, our mortal naked selves. They ground us in mammalian experience, a welter of hormones and hungers.” He used this to describe how he wants the language and images of his poems to be for readers. Do you relate to this with your own work (if so, how?), or with what you typically read?
JM: I definitely relate to Teare’s work being grounded in the body, in what he calls “mammalian experience.” The poems in my first book Wilderness//Kingdom (Floating Bridge Press, 2019), are grounded in the bodies of the speakers and in the terrain they inhabit or pass through. The embeddedness or embodiment found in Teare’s work is something we share. Though we approach it or think about it on the page in differently.
In my new manuscript, I wrestle with the legacy of Western U.S. history and what it tells us about our contemporary issues of climate crisis, violence, waning empire, etc. These new poems brought me into the bodies, landscapes, and minds of the past in new ways. It was fascinating to see how their “welter of hormones and hungers” aligned or departed from our own today.
AH: What have you been up to lately? Got any exciting news to share (about life, writing, anything!)?
JM: Well, while I was at a writing residency in Taos last winter (Thank you Helene Wurlitzer Foundation of New Mexico!) My book Wilderness//Kingdom won the 2020 High Plains Book Award in poetry and it was fantastic. All of us residents had a tiny outdoor pandemic party to celebrate.
More recently, I taught the Master Class at our local writers’ conference about how poetry, meditation and mindfulness are interrelated. And just this week I was asked by Hugo House in Seattle to teach classes for their winter and spring schedule! I love the energy in the classroom that happens with writers. While I love writing poems, teaching is definitely my second joy.
Brian Teare received his BA from the University of Alabama and MFA from Indiana University. Teare has received fellowships from the the National Endowment of the Arts, the MacDowell Colony, and was a previous Wallace Stegner Fellow in creative writing at Stanford University. He is the author of the collections Doomstead Days and Pleasure, among many others.
Find out more about his work at his website.
Read his poem “When we are on the right track we are rewarded with joy” here.
Learn more about his collection Doomstead Days here.
Jory Mickelson’s first book, WILDERNESS//KINGDOM, is the inaugural winner of the Evergreen Award Tour from Floating Bridge Press and winner of the 2020 High Plains Book Award in Poetry. Their publications include Court Green, Painted Bride Quarterly, Jubilat, Sixth Finch, and The Rumpus. They are the recipient of an Academy of American Poets Prize and were awarded fellowships from the Lambda Literary Foundation, Winter Tangerine, and the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation of New Mexico.
You can learn more about them and their writing at http://www.jorymickelson.com
Find their books here.
Read their poem “Float” at PANK.
Ashley Hajimirsadeghi is a multimedia artist and writer. She has had work appear, or forthcoming, in Barren Magazine, DIALOGIST, Rust + Moth, and The Shore, among others. She is the Co-Editor in Chief at both Mud Season Review and Juven Press, and reads for EX/POST Magazine. More of her work can be found at ashleyhajimirsadeghi.com