KIRPAL GORDON: First off, let me say congratulations to the two of you. You are celebrating your second year of doing 100Thousand Poets for Change. You’ve organized, sponsored, promoted and created events all over the globe traveling widely and meeting all kinds of activists, writers and musicians. What kind of impact has this project had on your own creativity? I know you both work multi-genres: poetry, fiction, nonfiction, songs, collaborations with other writers, editing, translating and photography. What did I leave out? I’ve also seen you both on tour and know that you do many readings and collaborations with musicians. Did you both start out this way, open to all forms of writing, or did this evolve over time or in response to the nutty way the lit game is set up in the
TERRI CARRION: My main interest was always telling stories and it didn’t really matter what form that took. I had trouble trying to put my writing into categories from the start. I found it all too constraining and boring really. I guess I always felt that making art or expressing your reality creatively, whether through writing poetry or taking photographs or singing a song or doing a dance, was pretty much the same to me. I find it hard when artists separate themselves into these “disciplines” for the sake of specialization and career. I think it creates a stagnant and predictable arts culture if people aren’t mixing it up and learning from each other more often. I remember a fellow
MFA student who was
working on a novel saying to me that he didn’t
like poetry at all. I couldn’t believe that as a writer, he felt this way. It
was really disappointing to me. And I thought, Wow, he shouldn’t even be a
writer if this is how he feels! As far
as 100 TPC, there is a lot more collaboration and
interaction going on between the artists involved. Overall, I think they get it
a lot more in other countries that musicians and poets and painters, etc. are
supposed to work together. They understand that it’s natural to do this. It
definitely makes me feel better to see it happen. And hopefully, being able to interact with
artists like this through 100 TPC will help artists
in this country want to expand their creative horizons. That is part of the
idea, anyway, to create a more interconnected and diverse global arts
KIRPAL GORDON: Hey, when I was in graduate school in the Seventies, forms of (post) modernism still ruled. I’m talking about the writer as the cloistered hero, working away in her private woodshed, producing work that had to pass muster with mentors-professors, agents, editors and publishers before it would see print on page or performance on stage. That’s a crazy way of doing things, and both of you seem to have produced an alternative model that accentuates the individual voice but without the scaffolding and hierarchy that has dominated and limited the American lit scene. Is this by design or by accident?
TERRI CARRION: I rejected pretty much all of it when I was in my
MFA program. I
rejected the notion of first book contests, and all that ponzi scheme nonsense.
I refused to follow the rules of plot in fiction classes, so I ended up writing
memoir, and then that got way too structured and predictable as well, so I
ended up writing poetry, but in the end, I was writing prose poems, which were
really stories, which were really memoirs, which were really well, whatever
they were/are … so there you go. I was having a really hard time my last
semester, and that is actually when I met Michael, who helped me a lot by
exposing me to writers they would never teach in a typical MFA program. It helped
me realize why I was uncomfortable with the way the MFA program was
designed, that it wasn’t there to nurture creativity or give artists a place to
come together, which is what I naively thought at first. It was there to
produce aspiring best selling novelists and poet laureates and adjunct
instructors. So, I just did what I had to do and moved on. That is really it.
KIRPAL GORDON: You also both edit Big Bridge, a monster e-magazine that I have been following since 1997. At first it focused on the many “schools” or tribes that comprise the New American Poetics as put forth by Don Allen in his anthology of the same name in 1960 which was great because they have been so under-represented. More recent issues have focused on what I would call an international version of
NAP and beyond. Is
this the result of 100T Poets for Change, reading more in translation or just
the globalization of the literary village?
ow does HHTERRI CARRION: Yes, of course, 100
KIRPAL GORDON: You both have a
that how you met? You now live in northern Miami in the redwood
forest? What’s that ride been like? California
TERRI CARRION: Yes, we met in
. I wanted to come back to the West coast, (I
grew up in LA) so we made that plan. It is an amazing place to live, among the
Redwoods, but it is a bit isolated and I do miss being able to walk down the
street for a real Cuban sandwich or a late night slice of Miami style pizza! I
think that is what I miss the most about the “big” city, the cultural diversity
on all levels, and how people do tend to mix it up more because they have no
choice, they have to live together. I really took that for granted before I
moved to New York Northern California.
KIRPAL GORDON: Terri, you’re working with Occupied Press/Prensa Ocupada. What’s happening with that? You’re studying accordion? Mike, you’ve recently been editing poetry volumes for Penguin. Is that still happening? Are you working with Elya Finn and other singers?
To both of you: what’s your next literary project, when will it be out and how we find out more?
TERRI CARRION: I just recently joined the editorial collective of a new publication, OP/PO. The goal is to produce a completely bilingual, alternative to the mainstream, news source for the
area. North Bay has become quite a
desired retirement area for some of the powerful banksters (see banker-gangsters) and CEO’s that caused the 2008
financial crisis. We want to educate and inform both the Latino and white
communities here which seem to live in different worlds completely about what
is going on in their neighborhood. The idea is to bridge the cultural gap by
presenting local stories from and for both communities, in both languages. I am
mainly working as translator and I am also putting together the Culture
section, which will include poetry, art, etc. The online edition should be out
by the end of August. The print will have to wait until we get some funding,
but we will definitely be doing a print edition that we can put in people’s
hands. Not everyone is on the internet, believe it or not! Sonoma County
KIRPAL GORDON: If a writer, musician or performer happened to be interested in 100T for Change, what should she do? If interested in Big Bridge, where would she go? If interested in both of your lists of titles and where to buy them, where would she shop?
TERRI CARRION &
MIKE ROTHENBERG: If someone wants to
organize an event for 100 TPC all they have to
do is write us at firstname.lastname@example.org
or go to the signup page at the 100tpc website www.100tpc.org.
Once we hear from participants we will create an event page for them at the
site. Each event page is archived by Stanford University, so we encourage and
assist organizers to post poems, event details, times, locations, event photos,
videos, etc. to their event page so that together we can tell our collective
story for Stanford archives. That’s it!
, go to www.BigBridge.org and help yourself to all
that is there to read. It’s free. If you want to submit work please check the
guidelines in the SUBMIT menu. Big Bridge
If you want to buy a book, just write to me. Some items are on Amazon. But you can write to me too at Michael Rothenberg,
Box 870, Guerneville, CA 95446.