Adam Dickinson in e-conversation with Nnorom Azuonye continued from previous page
NA: Does the relationship between the various animate and inanimate entities in the world and you as a poet exist on an objective observational environment or at a metaphysical level? How do these define the psychodynamics of the development of your poetics, and for whom do you seek these sublime meanings - yourself or your readers?
AD: At some point all physics is metaphysics, isn't it? What other choice do we have than to turn to metaphor, to image to describe the unobservable elements of matter -- the atom is an image, after all. Nonetheless, to answer your question, I am interested in those moments when the physical world presents us with seemingly insignificant obstacles to our casual and systematic thinking. Say, for example, losing your keys. Or a loud bird in the morning that has built a nest near your window. These are moments where you have no control over the material circumstances of your life. There is a Canadian poet named Don McKay who thinks of these moments as encounters with "wilderness." I like that notion very much. Wilderness doesn't have to be something far away, divorced from humans. It is around us, in us; you can think of illness perhaps as the expression of wilderness - a body no longer behaves in an organized, expected way. I think poetry is a way of standing in relation to these moments precisely because it does not possess the object of its inquiry. A poem potentially participates in the wilderness. To answer the second part of your question: I'm not sure I would say that I seek a meaning per se, or that I seek to be didactic with regards to any meaning I may be interested in with the poem. I think there are different ways to mean. How do you tell someone you love them? How do you parcel that meaning into language in a way that the meaning is complete? I don't think you can. By necessity we often come at meaning outside of logic - through metaphor, for example. But then how do you talk about what that meaning is in linguistic terms? All I think my poems offer are structural potentials. That is, I think they offer examples (not necessarily right or wrong) of being in relation to unknowing.
NA: Well if you love somebody, then say 'I love you' that should suffice, unless you cannot be sure that what you feel is indeed love and not another exhilarating emotion that human language is yet to name. Do you perhaps in dealing with this 'wilderness', in capturing and articulating those 'insignificant (but important) obstacles' present some kind of linguistic photography - elements of which appreciators may be at liberty to utilize in creating their own meanings and solutions? Are you afraid of the responsibility for people's thoughts and actions in response to your work? Why not go beyond examples and instigate solutions?
AD: It seems like you are asking me if my work is political.
NA: I am yet to read one poem that is not political. It is your point of attack I am trying to nail. You see, whenever somebody says to me that something is but is not, I scream 'damn it Dickens, was it the best of times or was it the worst of times?'
AD: I believe my work is very political but not in the way you might expect.
First, I definitely do not want to give the impression that I am interested in poetry as "linguistic photography." I am less interested in presenting a picture than I am in questioning relationships.
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