Quantcast

Interview With Poet Matthew Roth

Poet Matthew Roth

This week at the Poetry Blog of 32 Poems Magazine my interview with poet Matthew Roth was posted. He’s a contributor to the magazine and was a delight to interview.

First, let me tantalize you with a bit from the interview, and then you can go on over and check the rest out for yourself.

Without further ado, here’s the interview.

How would you introduce yourself to a crowded room eager to hang on your every word? Are you just a poet, what else should people know about you?

I am perfectly content to claim the mantle of poet, if only because saying so might inspire me to write something. Power of suggestion, etc. I also teach at a great little school in central Pennsylvania, Messiah College. Add to that husband and father, fledgling Mennonite, tender of illegal backyard chickens, bread enthusiast, and now we’re well into the archipelago of mundane islands barely worth a visit.

Poetry is often considered elitist or inaccessible by mainstream readers. Do poets have an obligation to dispel that myth and how do you think it could be accomplished?

Labeling readers as mainstream or non-mainstream seems as unhelpful as trying to judge which Americans are more “real.” To then try to write for one imaginary group or another seems like a waste of energy. To those poets who want to return to the 19th century, I invite you to read a month’s worth of poems from the daily newspapers in 1877. When you’re finished gouging out your eyes, give me a call.

How do you stay fit and healthy as a writer?

Sonnets + Hip Hop Abs!

Check out a sample poem from Matthew Roth:

No Mark

There was a high stone wall
separating our land—the small yard,
half sand, where my father grew

tomatoes—from the royal preserve.
Years ago, I was told, the king himself
hunted there among well-ordered trees,

made camp by the stream that coils
through its heart. There was even—
still it’s there, though overgrown—

a small orchard of sweet peaches
and apricots. Now thickets
lie stripped by a tangle of deer,

the high wall my father disappeared
behind one day, overthrown
by slow degrees of frost and thaw.

Many days, I have stepped through
a breach, found myself in that
odd, forbidden state, my own

and not my own. And once,
beneath the government
of a twin row of sycamores,

I found the hoofprints of a horse,
each shallow C filled in
with tarnished bronze. Amazed,

I followed, until the hooves
stopped short in a clearing
by the edge of a small reflecting pool.

A stone in its middle made it look
like a human eye. To one side
a thick-trunked magnolia leaned.

This must have been April,
the water clotted with pink,
fleshy petals. I stood wondering

when all at once the surface cleared
a moment, and I started
at the sudden flare of my face

peering into the pool, or well,
or deep oubliette, where I lay
staring up at the shadowed face,

which hovered like a stone
in the sky’s open eye. Somehow
I knew, whoever it was,

he had not come to save me.

–published in Bird Silence.

Please check out the rest of the interview on 32 Poems Blog.

  • bookworm

    ‘tender of illegal backyard chickens’…very cool 🙂

    I like this image:
    beneath the government
    of a twin row of sycamores,

    I found the hoofprints of a horse
    bookworm´s last blog post ..Short Story- The Necklace

  • I loved this quote: “To those poets who want to return to the 19th century, I invite you to read a month’s worth of poems from the daily newspapers in 1877. When you’re finished gouging out your eyes, give me a call.” LOL
    Anna´s last blog post ..Guest Post- Ann Wertz Garvin- Author of On Maggie’s Watch

    • I loved that quote too!

  • Why didn’t he include a picture of his hip hop abs?

    • I was wondering the same thing. Perhaps he’s shy about them?!

  • Beth Hoffman

    This is a great interview. I loved the “Sonnets + Hip Hop Abs!” … ROTFL!

    • Don’t you just love when writers express those little gems?!