Seven Questions for Andrew Nye / October 2008


1. How long have you been writing? 

I have been as long and chewy as stretched saltwater taffy in the hands of two friends (distant cousins really) vying for the biggest piece.

2. Do you feel like you're a part of any particular tradition? 

Lyric poetry, concrete poetry, skepticism, and expressionism.

3. Who are your influences, your favorite poets, writers, art, etc., that inform your work? 

Dziga Vertov, Denise Levertov, Louis Zukofsky, Zbigniew Herbert, John Dos Passos, Guillaume Apollinaire, William Blake, Franz Wright, Flannery O’Connor.

4. What's your writing process like?

Now that I have quit smoking cigarettes, I have no idea how to proceed.

5. When do you know that a particular poem is finished? 

A poem is finished when I stop changing it. The poems I can’t stop changing end up in the scrape pile. My mind will spin in circles, round and round, on the same line or stanza to the point that I am no longer functional. I just have to throw the whole poem out the window.

6. How do you make a poem? 

I have to find a way into the poem. Sometimes a phrase from a newspaper or a magazine or a conversation will strike me as poetic, and I will use that as a starting point. I rarely begin from a desire to write about a subject. The content is always floating around in my head and in the air. The starting lines suggest, and sometimes dictate, the words to follow. Once you have begun a path, it is about the limitations of where you can go. Being an anxious person, I usually don’t go very far before I start looking for a way out.

7. Where did you grow up? 

I grew up in downtown Wilmington, NC in 80s when everyone had moved to the suburbs. My brother, my friend Edwin, and I had free reign among the abandoned buildings and back alleys. Now everyone has moved back downtown, and I don’t like it so much.