CoCoPoPro: Read This to Prevent Cancer of the Soul

April 7, 2013

I'll admit I was a little intimidated to come up with questions for the poets we're featuring here on our. I mean, I'm no poet. What if my questions don't make sense? Who am I to ask, even wonder, what it is that inspires or otherwise gets a poet's motor running? But I asked the questions anyway, and the answers I received are gracious, funny, and profound. Read Stephen Bett's Q&A below and you'll know what I mean (the title for this post is a direct quote); Bett is an accomplished poet, and he couldn't be more down to earth.

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I'll admit I was a little intimidated to come up with questions for the poets we're featuring here on our Coast-to-Coast Poetry Project. I mean, I'm no poet. What if my questions don't make sense? Who am I to ask, even wonder, what it is that inspires or otherwise gets a poet's motor running? But I asked the questions anyway, and the answers I received are gracious, funny, and profound. Read Stephen Bett's Q&A below and you'll know what I mean (the title for this post is a direct quote); Bett is an accomplished poet, and he couldn't be more down to earth. Here's a poem from his newest collection, Sound Off, from Thistledown Press. —TB


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Q&A with Stephen Bett

What are you reading right now?

Right now I've got the usual three books on the go (poetry, fiction, non-fiction): Phil Hall's Killdeer, Martin Amis' Lionel Asbo, and Frank Davey's bio of bpNichol.

If you wrote a memoir what would it be called?

I've recently written a memoir: "I Was Encouraged to Sue My PhD Supervisor, Robin Blaser" (and it's humourous too!). 

Where is the oddest place you have ever written (or been inspired to write) a poem?

I wrote the entire book Extreme Positions: The Soft-core Industry Exposed, in a hotel room (alone!), and I wrote Nota Bene on a journey listening to absolutely nothing except Keith Jarrett solo recordings (stunningly gorgeous improv jazz pianist—very inspirational).

Why should people read poetry?

People should read poetry for one major reason: to prevent cancer of the soul.

Who are your favourite poets?

Robert Creeley, Ed Dorn, Anselm Hollo, and, nowadays, Rae Armantrout.

What’s one poem everyone should read?

"I Know A Man," by Robert Creeley, the most compacted poem I know (it even inspired an indie movie!).

What’s your must-read literary magazine or website?

Karl Jirgens' Rampike

What’s your guilty pleasure (when it comes to reading)? 

Blogs on Tottenham Hotspur Football Club 

When did your interest in reading/writing start?

I started writing poetry at age fifteen, was first published in Rolling Stone magazine at twenty-two, and thought I had it made. Boy, was I wrong … first book published at age thirty-five!

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Stephen Bett has thirteen books of poetry published internationally, with four more books set to come out in the next two years. His personal papers have been purchased by the Simon Fraser University Library, and are archived in their Contemporary Literature Collection. Get to know him better on his website, and follow him on Twitter @StephenBett1.

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*Edited from the original post, published on the LPG blog


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