Iconic Canadian poet, classicst and translator Anne Carson is an enigma. Her work has been described as inscrutable, impossible, brilliant, and towering. Carson’s poetry is mythic, and speaks to longing, despair, sexuality, and desire. She is the brightest blaze of our time.
With nearly 20 published books of poetry, essays, opera libretto, short talks, and shot lists, including; Eros the Bittersweet (1986), Short Talks (1992), Plainwater (1995), Autobigraphy of Red : A Novel in Verse (1998), Men in the Off Hours (2001), If Not, Winter : Fragments of Sappho (2002), Decreation : Poetry, Essay, Opera (2005), Grief Lessons : Four Plays (2006), NOX (2010), Antigonick (2012), and Red Doc> (2013).
Carson received the Guggenheim Fellowship, MacAthur Fellowship, T.S. Eliot Prize, PEN Award for Poetry in Translation, Folio Prize, an honourary degree from University of Toronto, and has won the Griffin Poetry Prize twice.
Memorial University’s 2015-2016 Pratt Lecture presents On the History of Skywriting with Carson and long-time artistic collaborator Robert Currie March 11. Currie will also direct Carson, along with local actor Mike Butler and MUN students, in a staged reading of Antigonick, her first translation and adaptation of Sophocles at the Rocket Room March 12.
What is skywriting?
wait and see?
You’ve said Currie is a problem-solver but your writing remains unresolved, or becomes another medium – dance, theatre, non-fiction, prose, criticism, etc. How does collaboration change, or shift your perspective on your work?
we collaborate chiefly on problems of performance, not writing. Currie has a spatial imagination, i have a textual imagination; both aspects are needed for performance
How does your relationship to a text change after translation? What aspects of the original work still resonates?
translation allows a deepening of any reading experience, and something like a going round the back of the words to see what they’re hiding. the text (if it is Sophokles) remains (for me) bottomless. you can always keep going down into his words.
I’m interested in the relationship to poetry’s role as both public and private, as well as the position/role of the intellectual in our society. Where does your work end, and your self begin? Are they even related?
you already know the answer to this, i think. inside and outside are related to one another at the skin. what skin is for.
Poetry is a vehicle, and it distills. The same could be said of criticism. What drew you to poetry initially? What holds you now as a poet?
i don’t think of myself as a poet, just a maker.
making things is for me the best way to feel alive.
What are you currently working on?
finishing galleys for a new book to be published Oct 2016.
also working on a lecture series for Cambridge on the topic of “stillness.”