Photo: courtesy of the artist
Your "must read" summer (or any season) list better include books by Forrest Gander. It’ll do you good. His “sinewy and strenuous language” is what caught the attention of the Boston Review. Many other tough critics have shown their softer side after reading Forrest Gander’s work that is rich and enriching on so many levels. For that reason alone, pick a book of your choice and dwell on it until the end of time or something like that. There is a rich collection of his poetry books such as Science & Sleepflower or go for one of his novels such as the Trace or one of his numerous and excellent translations such as Fungus Skull Eye Wing: Selected Poems of Alfonso D’Aguino.
Just read, read, and read some more of Forrest Gander. You’ll get why the New York Times called him an “unflinchingly curious mind.” In the meantime, enjoy excerpts of his work and a few thoughts Forrest Gander shared with HocTok.
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Yukio Mishima telephoned Kajuko Shiraishi a week before his death, flirting, she tells me as we walk along the Summer Palace lake. Like Allen Ginsberg, whom Shiraishi also knew, Mishima spent his final days calling friends. Although it's muggy and we're sweating, smog diffuses the direct sun and we don't cast shadows. Not now, and not any time while we're in Bejing. We stop beside a gnarled juniper to stare at what looks, incredibly, like a Mississippi casino boat on the lake. Columned, canopied, the interiors painted with delicate floral patterns, the whole thing has been carved from ocherous marble. Yang Lian ambles over, telling the story: Instead of buying the armaments her militia requested, the Empress Dowager drained the treasury and built them a beautiful stone boat. Now Emran Salahi joins us, nodding toward the useless boat docked forever at the shore. He tries out his minimal English.
That thing, he
Says, it is
Like a poem.
Says, it is
Like a poem.
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Dear Forrest, what colors depict the life of a modern poet and writer?
I see bright flashes trapped beneath the eyelid and tadpoles in a puddle iridescent with oil.
Do you agree that poetry lives in all of us, but only the bravest capture and are captivated by its magic?
I think people write and read with many motivations disconnected from bravery. But with words, we can try to offer our worlds to each other.
Your works, travels, meetings with people from around the world reaffirm your belief that humanity is…
…not as evolved as we imagine.
What is the essence of our shared reality that inspires you in your subject and thematic choices?
We live in an exigent time that demands from us an attentiveness we can’t sustain.
What is a life long goal that you continuously work to achieve as a poet/writer?
To transcend, by some combination of accident, luck, and diligence, my crippling limitations.