An Interview Series
To read the full interview, order Issue 7. Question 5 is excerpted here.
5. What does the world need right now?
I couldn't guess. There is a LOT of psychic damage engendered by Western financial and political imperialism which continues to this day. The USAmerican pattern of military and paramilitary intervention into the world's democratic processes (beginning with the betrayal and colonization of the Filipino people at the beginning of the century and continuing through to the sad sad history of US involvement in the contemporary Middle East) has made the world a very unstable and dangerous place. There is no accounting for the amount of damage to peace and prosperity. A lot of work will need to be done both in the US and abroad to start to unravel some of the worst damage and move forward productively and democratically.
I do honestly believe that paying attention to our creative powers and cultural productions can be a huge part of "humanizing" ourselves once again. Having physical practice like yoga or other body practices can teach us the connection between our own bodies and the planet is an interdependent one. Nap time and play time ought to be a part of every person's life. Adopting a vegan lifestyle will go a LONG way toward addressing our current climate crisis as well as the current public health crisis.
We need to radically restructure our current food production and distribution systems as well as making sure access to clean and dependable and sustainable water supply is a BASIC HUMAN RIGHT that should be available to all people.
Would you like me to go on?
Many things, of course. Among the most urgent is the Black Lives Matter movement.
Free and unfettered access to clean water.
Jesus. I’m dead serious about that. I know that will sound disingenuous to many readers – like I’m going to hand them a tract on the subway – but it’s the only answer I have. I’m sorry that so many people have heard that only from men with bad suits and worse intentions, but I believe it is the truth. The Prince of Peace. A Love Supreme.
More: freedom; kindness; authenticity; support for LGBTQI communities and Indigenous peoples; new music by The Cure. A cure for HIV/AIDS. To put the brakes on homogeneity! Second full-length collections from Natalie Diaz, Benjamin Dodds, Tarfia Faizullah, Emma Jones, and Felicity Plunkett. ●
Kazim Ali's most recent book of poetry is Sky Ward (Wesleyan, 2013). His other recent books include a book of essays, Resident Alien, and the forthcoming book of short stories, Uncle Sharif's Life in Music.
Chloe Honum is the author of The Tulip-Flame (CSU, 2014), which was a finalist for the PEN Center USA Literary Award and the winner of Foreword Review’s Book of the Year Award and the Texas Institute of Letters Best First Book of Poetry Award. Her Chapbook, Then Winter, is forthcoming from Bull City Press in 2017. Her honors include a Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowship, a Pushcart Prize, and a MacDowell Colony Fellowship. Raised in Auckland, New Zealand, Honum currently teaches at Baylor University.
Laura Mullen is the author of eight books: Complicated Grief, Enduring Freedom, The Surface, After I Was Dead, Subject, Dark Archive, The Tales of Horror, and Murmur. Recognitions for her poetry include Ironwood’s Stanford Prize, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, and a Rona Jaffe Award. Recent work has appeared in Poetry and The Nation.
Benjamin Myers is the 2015-2016 Poet Laureate of the State of Oklahoma and the author of two books of poetry: Lapse Americana (New York Quarterly Books, 2013) and Elegy for Trains (Village Books Press, 2010). His poems may be read in The Yale Review, Ninth Letter, 32 Poems, Image, and other journals. He has been honored with an Oklahoma Book Award from the Oklahoma Center for the Book and with a Tennessee Williams Scholarship from the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. His prose appears in World Literature Today, Books and Culture, This Land, and other magazines. Myers teaches poetry writing and literature at Oklahoma Baptist University, where he is the Crouch-Mathis Professor of Literature.
Stuart Barnes' first book, Glasshouses, won the 2015 Arts Queensland Thomas Shapcott Poetry Prize. He lives in Queensland, Australia, and is poetry editor for Tincture Journal.