Interview With Poet H. L. Hix

Welcome to another 32 Poems Blog and Savvy Verse & Wit interview. This time, we have Harvey L. Hix, author of Legible Heavens and other poetry volumes.

1. Not only are you a contributor to 32 Poems, you are also a professor of English at the University of Wyoming. What “hat” do you find most difficult to wear and why?

The teaching, definitely. In my writing, I feel accountable, certainly, but to myself, to standards of integrity that feel as though they come from inside. In my job as a professor, though, I am accountable to the University that employs me (and ultimately to the citizens of the state whose university it is), and — more importantly — accountable to the students. I find those forms of accountability, which feel as though they impose themselves from outside, more difficult.

We live in a world populated by forces that conspire to reduce us to consumers (in which capacity it is crucial that we not think and that we not establish a unique identity), and, rightly or wrongly, I see the university as one of the few counter-forces resisting that conspiracy. Because the responsibility of resistance seems so vast, so far beyond the capacity of any one person to effect, teaching feels very oppressive to me. In the moment, conversing with students in the classroom, it is joyful, almost ecstatic, but as an ongoing fact and a duty, I find it intimidating, even overwhelming.

2. Do you see spoken word, performance, or written poetry as more powerful or powerful in different ways and why? Also, do you believe that writing can be an equalizer to help humanity become more tolerant or collaborative? Why or why not?

I myself have more interest in written poetry, because I want to be able to slow down, to re-read, to find my own path and pace through the work. And I do trust the expanded and clarified logic of the written, the complexity of thought it makes possible, which means that, yes, I think writing can/does invite tolerance and collaboration, can/does advance equality and liberty, in principle, though for various reasons I’m less certain of its doing so in fact. I’m influenced on this issue by Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death, by Eric Havelock’s Preface to Plato, and other works.

3. Do you have any obsessions that you would like to share?

My poetry results from my obsessions, but surely the world is a better place if I don’t find any additional ways to enact or announce my obsessions.

To check out the rest of my interview with Harvey, go here. Harvey will tell you about his friendships, how he stays healthy as a writer, his writing space, and his current projects. Check out the 32 Poems Blog while your there, too.

About the Poet:

Recent Poetry Collections include God Bless: A Political/Poetic Discourse, Chromatic, which was a finalist for the 2006 National Book Award in Poetry, and Shadows of Houses, all from Etruscan Press. Translations include On the Way Home: An Anthology of Contemporary Estonian Poetry, translated with Jri Talvet. Other books include As Easy As Lying: Essays on Poetry (Etruscan) and Spirits Hovering Over the Ashes: Legacies of Postmodern Theory.

Honors & Distinctions: NEA Fellowship, KCAI Teaching Excellence Award, and the T.S. Eliot Prize