Recent Comments

    Poetry in Motion

    michelleMichele Karlsberg: How does a poem begin for you? Is it with an idea, a form, or an image? Why is poetry important?

    Michael Broder: A poem usually begins for me with a thought in response to an experience, perhaps a momentary experience like seeing a beautiful boy on the subway, or a memory of a sexual encounter in my bedroom, or an ongoing experience like having ulcerative proctitis secondary to an outbreak of genital herpes. Notice there is a recurring theme here of desire, sex, and their consequences, sometimes negative or destructive consequences.

    BT 3.24 fix_Page_21_Image_0006BT 3.24 fix_Page_21_Image_0007

    It is difficult to speak of the importance of poetry because poetry is not one thing. Different poetries are important for different reasons. And some poetry perhaps may not really be important at all. What is important to me, in general, in terms of my values, is making a difference–in society, in communities, in the lives of individual people. I believe poetry can be a means to, and a medium for, making that kind of difference. That’s why I started the HIV Here & Now Project, which started as a poetry anthology, and then became an online poem-a-day countdown to 35 years of AIDS in 2016, and now threatens to live on as a literary and artistic production company with an ongoing HIV/AIDS advocacy agenda.

    Michael Broder is the author of “Drug and Disease Free” (Indolent Books, 2016) and “This Life Now” (A Midsummer Night’s Press). He is a finalist for the 2015 Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry, and lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., with his husband, the poet Jason Schneiderman, and a backyard colony of stray and feral cats.

    David Groff: I have to surprise myself into writing a poem. If I sit down and grit my teeth and announce, “I’m creating verses,” the blank page will just lie there like a beached shark. But if I just play around with language, an image, a fragment of an incident that bugs me, then line by line I’ll figure out what it is I must say–and the light of the poem will break through the clouds.

    BT 3.24 fix_Page_21_Image_0009 BT 3.24 fix_Page_21_Image_0010

    In my poems for (the book) Clay, I knew I wanted to explore my bond with my husband, who lent his name to my book. My relationship with Clay animated everything I wanted to explore about love, life, death, and how we connect in our bodies and over time. But all that is enormous. I knew I had to start with our specifics. I wrote a poem about how we got attacked by biting flies on Fire Island. In another poem I just depict Clay’s face; in one more, I describe the music that plays as we make love. Finally, I was able to complete the book with a poem explaining all the big, lovely reasons I had to marry him.

    A lot of us–including many poets–resist poetry, because we felt we never got issued the decoder ring required to understand it. But if we patiently read a poem the way we look at a painting or listen to music–being radically open to its pleasures without judgment–then we can experience sensations so resonant that they vibrate deep inside us.

    David Groff is a New York-based poet and editor. His book “Clay” was selected for the Louise Bogan Award and was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award.

    Michele Karlsberg Marketing and Management specializes in publicity for the LGBT community. This year, Karlsberg celebrates twenty-seven years of successful book campaigns.