Interview With Poet Stephen Cushman

Poet Stephen Cushman

Poet Stephen Cushman

This week at the Poetry Blog of 32 Poems Magazine my interview with poet Stephen Cushman was posted. He’s a contributor to the magazine and was a delight to interview. His answers are very short and to the point, but I’m intrigued by those who play Frisbee golf.

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?

People should know I play a mean game of Frisbee golf, am fluent in Maineglish (ayuh), am told I can make anything naughty with the lift of one eyebrow, and am the go-to person for old school drinking songs.

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?

If I am elected Miss America, I vow to work for world peace, mostly on the written page, although I’m happy to perform or do spoken word, if I can wear my overalls. Poetry is 4,300 years old; if it could help humanity become more tolerant and collaborative, it would have done so by now. And perhaps it has. Who knows? If it weren’t for poetry, we might be even worse than we are.

In terms of friendships, have your friendships changed since you began focusing on writing? Are there more writers among your friends or have your relationships remained the same?

As a writer I fly least turbulently below the radar. Luckily, therefore, my friendships are not related to or dependent on my writing life.

How do you stay fit and healthy as a writer?

I’m currently co-editing the new edition of the Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics, so hoisting the page proofs of that around keep me pretty buff.

He also included a poem, originally published in 32 Poems, for readers to check out:

Supposing Him to Be the Gardener

Supposing this to be the sun
And this to be the rain,
Supposing clouds to be caviar
And wind to be champagne,
How can one tell divinity
From a tree turned red
Or Do not hold me from what else
Its leaves might well have said?

About the Poet:

Stephen Cushman is Robert C. Taylor Professor of English at the University of Virginia. He has published four collections of poetry, Riffraff (LSU, 2011), Heart Island (David Robert Books, 2006), Cussing Lesson (LSU, 2002), and Blue Pajamas (LSU, 1998). He is also the author of Bloody Promenade: Reflections on a Civil War Battle (University Press of Virginia, 1999) and two books of criticism, Fictions of Form in American Poetry (Princeton University Press, 1993) and William Carlos Williams and the Meanings of Measure (Yale University Press, 1985).

Also find him at Public Poetry, The Writer’s Almanac, Drunken Boat, interLitQ.org, The Cortland Review, University of Virginia Department of English, Amazon.com, and Archipelago.

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


  1. Some of his answers are hilarious! Great interview!

  2. Christina Carabini says

    His first book of poetry The Newly Fallen was published by s Totem Press in 1961..In 1965 with the photographer Leroy Lucas Dorn spent the summer visiting Indian reservations for a book commissioned by William Morrow Co. Other important publications include The Collected Poems 1956-1974 1975 Recollections of Gran Apacheria 1975 Abhorrences 1989 High West Rendezvous A Sampler 1997 and Way More West New and Selected Poems 2008 ..Popular horror novelist admired Dorn describing his poetry as talismans of perfect writing and even naming the first novel of The Gunslinger in honor of Dorns poem.

  3. My Masters thesis/project advisor! How cool to see him on this site. Thanks for the tease here and for the full interview, Serena. And thanks to Cushman for the excellent poem here and many more.

  4. He sounds like quite a character! What a fun interview!