Sunday, January 13, 2008

This weekend I read Christopher Hennessy’s book, Outside the Lines: Interviews with Contemporary Gay Poets.* It’s a great read including interviews with Thom Gunn, Frank Bidart, Reginald Shepherd, and Carl Phillips. There are twelve interviews in all. Christopher is a thoughtful and insightful interviewer. That is part of the joy of this book. He has clearly thoroughly read and studied the poets work and so asks questions that really delve into their work and plumb their psyches. It’s an interesting book to think about what are contemporary gay male poetics. Christopher writes a good blog as well, titled, Are you outside the lines? Add it to your reader if your interested in gay male poetics. I only hope that Christopher is working on a longer discursive study of the poets that he interviewed and the themes and images shaping contemporary gay male poetics.

Reading this book also made me think about how fabulous it would be to read a similar book of interviews with lesbian poets. Who would I interview to construct such a book? Adrienne Rich, Minnie Bruce Pratt, Robin Becker, Judy Grahn (I’m reading her book, The Golden Apple, and will write more about that later) Marilyn Hacker, Sina Queyras, Joan Larkin, Mary Oliver, Eloise Klein Healy, Terry Wolverton, Cheryl Clarke, and Judith Barrington. That list is subject to revision, those are my first thoughts on the topic. It would be a great project!

*It’s published by the University of Michigan Press; I feel as though I’m collecting everything they are publishing in their poets on poetry series!


Christopher Hennessy said...


Reginald Shepherd said...

Dear Julie Enszer,

I'm pleased to be mentioned in your list of poets Christopher interviews in his excellent book Outside the Lines. I must point out, though, that my last name is "Shepherd," not "Shepard."

Since you are collecting books in the University of Michigan Press Poets on Poetry series, I might mention that my own book of essays, Orpheus in the Bronx, in which I grapple, among other things, with the relationship of identity to writing, is forthcoming very soon in that series.

I also maintain a blog on poetry and poetics at, though it is not particularly identity-oriented.

All best and take good care.

Reginald Shepherd

Julie R. Enszer said...

Christopher - always a pleasure.

Reginald - oh, many apologies for misspelling your name. I tend to be very sensitive to that with the S and Z combination myself. I've corrected it on the main blog entry now too.

I saw that your book of essays is forthcoming. I look forward to reading it, and I subscribe to your blog on Google reader and note that you are blogging at the Poetry Foundation blog, Harriet, as well for the next few months.

Good reading to you both!