Tuesday 22 January 2008

The Transatlantic Poet

A week Thursday I'll be talking at the AWP conference about an issue I've faced as a transatlantic writer, but the difficulty is in narrowing the paper down to one issue! For example, just this morning I was writing an email to Alan at Leafe, listing the corrections I'd made to the attached file of Yet. I began to write that in "The Occupation of Iraq" I'd changed a spelling from American to British English when I recalled that the poem has an American speaker; this identification is crucial to the piece, so in the end I restored the American spelling.

There are larger issues as well. Perhaps the most significant decision I've made relative to this position has been to bring out The Tethers first (though Divining for Starters was already accepted), given the polarization of avant garde and mainstream poetries in the UK. Or is that not so much about my being a transatlantic writer as my having produced two rather different manuscripts in this polarized landscape?

The only benefit I see is my participation in two countries' poetry cultures. In 2003 and '04 I focused my submissions almost exclusively on UK magazines, to enter the conversation, as it were, and now I think the submissions are about 60/40 or 70/30 UK/US--though that may change a bit after I raid the AWP bookfair (my idea of heaven) for interesting magazines!

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