Kevin Prufer is the author of five books of poetry and the editor of four anthologies, most recently In a Beautiful Country (Four Way Books, 2011) and Until Everything is Continuous Again: Essays on the Work of W. S. Merwin (WordFarm Editions, 2012; with Jonathan Weinert). His poetry collection Churches is forthcoming from Four Way Books in 2014. He is also Editor-at-Large of Pleiades: A Journal of New Writing and Professor in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Houston. Find him at www.kevinprufer.com.
1. What is your writing process?
I only write very late at night. (It’s very late now, as I type.) Most of that time I spend pacing around my office, flipping through books. The amount of time I spend actually typing is much smaller that the amount of time I spend thinking about what I’m going to type. After I finish a first draft, I reread it and ask myself: now what’s this all about? And when I can answer that question, I rewrite the poem.
2. Have you had to sacrifice anything in the rest of your life to write?
Aside from a great deal of time, money and energy, I have not sacrificed much. My entire professional life, though, has been dictated by my moving to places where I could find the time and resources to write. I spent a few years in Cloverdale, VA and St. Louis, MO learning how to do it well. Then I spent 15 years in a very small town in west-central Missouri, teaching and editing a literary magazine, writing in the evenings. Now I’m in Houston. Poetry has taken me to all these places, and away from the places that I might otherwise have lived. But I don’t consider that a sacrifice. It’s more interesting than that.
3. Do you think writing helps you to understand more about yourself and the world, or is advancing as a writer more about learning how to communicate the things you already know?
A little of both. I do find that I discover what I want to mean through the act of composing a poem, and that the poems I like most are those that create the illusion of a mind at work on an unsolvable, complex problem — whatever that problem may be! At the same time, I think poems do much more than merely enact thought or feeling … or (heaven forbid!) help me understand myself. I wouldn’t inflict my poems on the world if that was all I wanted for them. I believe that poetry is a very effective way that we communicate with each other, that poems are wonderful containers for the communication of complex ideas or for truths that are larger than we are.
|This interview is part of Intermittent Visitors: a multi-author blog tour.|