Mather Schneider

Interview with a Poet

He begs his host and the audience
to be so gracious as to forgive him
because he’s “rather hung-over”
from staying up all night reading Nietzsche

and drinking Maker’s Mark
and hasn’t had the fortune
of nipping off to the cappuccino stand yet.

Plus he’s “positively exhausted”

from his two month reading tour
and needs to take a break
and let the
“well fill up.”

A font of incomparable input
we sup it up like burros
in a cultural desert:
he tells us if you don’t want to take the bus

on your reading tour
you can always take the train
or you could fly in an airplane
or drive in a car
and if you want to save money on food
it is best to eat in cheap restaurants
rather than expensive ones
(although occasionally it’s nice to splurge).

He tells us the best way to get “free in your mind”
is to stop worrying about money
and it is assumed the subject of how his bills are paid

is either a matter of mystical serendipity
a rich woman
or a government check each month.

When he’s not cutting poems
“to the bone”
he does fantasy football
supports angry women on social media
buys new headphones
alerts the populace to the presence
of Tom Waits and this strange new music

called the blues
acts as curator of newsboy caps
and guidance counselor
for hipsters.

He tells us his “ironclad character”

was “arduously attained”
and it took him “years of suffering”
to find his “voice”
which is odd because he’s 26
and sounds like every other stoner
who ever rode a pony in the small press parade.

His fourth “full length” is coming out soon.
He has a “primary publisher” but he writes so “feverishly”

that he is obliged to occasionally “let”
other people publish his work.

He mentions 38 poets by name and then reiterates

how he detests name-dropping
and groups
MFA programs too
well maybe not DETESTS because not ALL groups are bad
a poet needs to have a community
“To generalize is to be an idiot”
and hate is simply not a word
in his vocabulary
suffice it to say he is on
the fence
when it comes to groups and MFA programs
while the evidence is still being tallied.

He reminds us that poetry
is something one must do in isolation

with a pen
or a typewriter
or a computer
or a magic marker
or a stick in the sand
he himself has written poems in the margins
of sky-mall magazines
and on cocktail napkins
which proves a poet will write
because a poet must write,

He advises youngsters to get back to nature
but not the roses and trees and deer and waterfalls

kind of nature
in other words, “write what you don’t know”
except sometimes it is also good to
“write what you know.”

His most recent book opens
with a Whitman quote
and if you don’t know who Whitman is well

then you’re still shitting yellow
in mama’s wam-wam.

He tells us it is best to eventually get down
to prose writing
because the world just doesn’t take poets seriously

due to the fact that civilization has been in decay
since the time of Bukowski
and perhaps even a bit before that.

He says he thinks it is important to
“keep literature dangerous”
and to illustrate this he explains that one of his chapbooks

is bound with birch bark
and stitched with tea-bag strings.

In closing
if you have even “the remotest interest in modern literature”

you will not miss his latest collection
though what it’s called
I can’t for the life of me remember—

something with “blood” in it.

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