In this next instalment of my Dying poetry series, I have an interview with Thomas Lynch, an American poet and the author of Skating with Heather Grace and The Good Funeral on influences and poetry in the classroom.
BI: Could you tell us about yourself and how you got into poetry?
TL: I grew up hearing poetry and reading poetry and was always attracted to the memorable and memorizable configuration of words. Eventually I began to write poetry, sometime in college. Then took it up in earnest in my 30’s.
BI: Would you agree that interest in poetry outside the classroom is dying?
TL: Maybe the classroom helped to kill it?
BI: How do you feel that poetry could be promoted to a newer, younger audience?
TL: I would encourage younger readers to memorize bits and pieces of poetry from the earliest of school years. The sense of it as a spoken and heard art is better, I think, than a written and read art. But I don’t think it’ll ever be widely practiced. Popularity and celebrity are for rock stars. Writers keep to themselves, mostly.
BI: Who are your literary influences?
TL: Just about every writer I’ve read has some hand in what it is I write. “All poets borrow, great poets steal,” I think is what Eliot said. I think writers are simply readers who go karaoke — they hear things or read things that excite their senses and then they try to replicate such things, or take up their part in the general chorus of language.
More of Mr. Lynch’s work can be found at thomaslynch.com