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Alex Burford is the co-editor of Pinch Pinch Press. His work has appeared in Cannot Exist, Listenlight, NOÖ Journal, Pindeldyboz, and is forthcoming in Lamination Colony and Robot Melon. He lives in Ashland, OR.
1) Can you talk about your history with poetry? How did you get started?
Four years ago actually, when I met you and Bryan Coffelt. You joked about Billy Collins, so I went out and bought a copy as soon as I could. I was surprised by how much it sucked. And like everybody else I started by writing really trite, cutesy poems that left me feeling like a lifeless hack. Luckily I had good friends who kept pushing me forward. I think the collaboration between our friends really helped get my feet soggy in that old poetic stew. Having Kasey Mohammad as my poetry professor / friend didn't hurt either.
2) Your poem "The Ghost of Wells" in NOÖ Journal [eight] is, ostensibly, a poem about language degradation, but in a fun and actually degraded way. Can you talk some about its inceptions, its furniture, or funny things that happened before/after you wrote it?
This poem went against how I like write poetry actually. I've always been a big proponent of Jack Spicer, the idea of making yourself a kind of radio receiver for "green martians" that rearrange the language furniture in my brain, and this poem began like that, but I found myself injecting little bits of my own opinion against, what felt like, my own will. I was forcing my own hand in a way. I was really surprised when I read it a few days later because what I meant to say didn't really come across in a recognizable way, which was wonderful.
3) Recommend for us a recent book of poetry, blog, or web site, and why.
I just read the Collected Poems of Ted Berrigan and I can't recommend that book enough. His use of collage and false translations are wicked cool, and there's a real beauty in the disjointed language and associations he pulls together in some of his prose poems. We kind of have the same beard too. Other than that... I'm really in love with Gawker. I feel weird about it but I check the site, like, 10 times a day. And the online journal Spooky Boyfriend. Really great writers and really great name.
4) Give us some news on current projects or publications.
I was recently published in Cannot Exist #3, online at Pindeldyboz, and self-published an e-chapbook called Elocutioneering which can be found on my blog. I'm working on a few chapbooks, I just need people to publish them (I suck big time at design). Also I co-edit Pinch Pinch Press and are SO CLOSE to printing our lit mag Barnaby Jones issues 1&2.
5) Where do you see your writing in five years?
I've always wanted to move to Chicago.
6) I taught twelve year olds last summer. How would you explain poetry to someone half that age, a six year old?
Write something pretty, then make it ugly, and then make it pretty again. Try not to talk about yourself in a way anyone would ever understand it is you. And please try not to cry.
7) What are your interests beyond writing?
I enjoy flannel, Spanish, beards, music, Westerns, publishing, collaborating, reading.
8) Word association game with words from your poem. Say whatever comes to mind:
Breathing = felt-lips
Knee = functions
Bee = vessel
Sex = Youngstown
Only = oregano
Dumb = blow dryer