Diane Seuss "Between Me and the Rabbit"

Diane Seuss "Between Me and the Rabbit"

an interview


  1. Have you recently found yourself in conversation with another writer or artist?

    I find myself always seeking a balance between talking about it—writing—and doing it. For me, the balance is 90/10—90% doing it, 10% talking about it. I have hermit tendencies and a substantial addiction to solitude. Given that I am a teacher, finding alone time to think my own thoughts and do my own work is the priority. Still, I have had very important conversations with other writers. Poet and translator Patrick Donnelly (Nocturnes of the Brothel of Ruin) is a person whose wisdom about writing and everything else has been very important to me.

    As with absinthe, less is more.

  2. How does geography or landscape influence your work? Do you need to be in a certain environment to write?

    As long as I have a room of my own, I can write, but my work is profoundly influenced by both geography and landscape. I think all poets are products of the geography that nurtured them (or spat them out), even if that geographical space is as broadly defined as “America,” or as particularized as Faulkner’s invented Yoknapatawpha County. The landscape of rural Michigan, where silos and outdoor movie screens represent the sublime, formed my aesthetic. Landscape isn’t a backdrop, nor is it, for me, about beauty (whatever that is). Every crime against a person or a people happened somewhere. Colonizers colonized via the river where picnickers now relish their deviled eggs. Every willow swings with the ghost of a noose. I find landscape compelling and terrifying. The bog floating with lily pads is a minefield.

  3. What is the poem you have always wanted to write, but have not been able to?

    There was a fire at the drive-in movie theater a block from my house when I was a kid. Elvis was on the screen riding a Ferris wheel and singing. I watched him burn. I don’t think I’ve written the poem that does justice to that moment. Add to that the fact that the drive-in was on stolen land still glittering with arrowheads. No, I never got that right.

  4. Describe the value of being a published poet in an increasingly digital literary landscape. What is the future of the published poem? 

    The problem for me with the digital landscape is that all things bear equal weight, or appear to. The beheading is in balance with the Kardashian ass shot is in balance with the impending extinction of the polar bear is in balance with somebody’s baby bump. There is so much language, so much incident, so much outrage, so much story; what can penetrate the barrage? I have little nostalgia for the past, for the good ole days when a few white men owned the page. I like the idea of access. I also like paper. I also like the difficult poem that requires a degree of attention that we are learning not to give much of anything. I know what holding a book meant to me when I was a kid. How a book felt like a personal, one-of-a-kind thing, with a yeasty smell like a mother. It was like bringing a baby rabbit in from the meadow and putting it in a box under the bed. No one knew. It was between me and the rabbit. The digital has opened the gates to so much good stuff. Invention. And crap; lots of crap. Will it ultimately numb us, or will we find a way to still value the rabbit? I don’t know. My crystal ball is dark.

  5. What is your biggest pet peeve about your own writing? Other writers’ writing?

    Hmmm…I like this question. That Diane Seuss. Her speakers are immature. They rebel—but against what or whom? She thinks the night is more meaningful than the day. She goes for shock value, but she’s not all that shocking. She’s teetering on dumb, with a mildly smart imagination.

    My peeve about other writers’ writing? Oh, when they beautify. When they seduce by batting their conceptual eyelashes. When they’re self-conscious anarchists. Banality. The nice poem about the lake. When they commit the sins I commit and make me aware of what a sinner I am.

  6. How do you know when a poem is done?

    When the dinner bell rings, which it never does. When I feel that “pop,” like the Pringles can lid in the commercials.

  7. If you had to give your life a title, what would it be?

    Government Cheese