In on the Joke: an Interview with Nick Sturm
The following interview is pieced together from a recorded interview with the poet, scholar, and educator Nick Sturm at the Lean Draft House in Atlanta, GA. It was made at a picnic table. Nick Sturm studies “second-generation” New York School poets, writes poetry, collects mimeographed literature, and is a Marion L. Brittain Postdoctoral Fellow in the School of Language, Media, and Communication at the Georgia Institute of Technology. He is the author of How We Light, published by H_NGM_N, and the forthcoming book Another Mona Bone Jakon. His poems, collaborations, and essays have appeared in Black Warrior Review, PEN, Fanzine, Chicago Review, The Best American Non-Required Reading 2014 and elsewhere.
Studying. It’s like what you’re doing, right?
They’re very tangible. That you get in
their head and you develop. People like
all of his friends. And I mean, all of them
are still alive. And you find yourself in
an overstatement, hyperbolic... but
so much work. Barely any work has been
done on the Second Generation. What?
My peers approached it--poets... writers. But
it tends to be belated forty years.
Meet, have a stand-off, kill each other… but,
but as a poet, it’s very very clear.
“In the next chapter they’re alive again”
is my relationship to Berrigan.
As I was listening to their voices and
them talking, and them making jokes, you know...
You obviously have come to know the man.
Left. Cramming things, like, in her backpack, though,
to be, and they became completely... po-
ets! There’s this underground and the mainstream
in my creative writing workshop. So
I started dreaming about them. And dream--
How, Alice? How I learned to trust those dreams!
What it means, what you have to sacrifice,
the ways he entered into the mainstream.
“You have Ted’s look.” He’s like, “It’s in the eyes.”
I came to when I started studying Ted.
I, I was studying someone who’d been dead.
It’s really interesting. One way to map
literary history could be,
had been collecting the mimeographs.
And Ted’s all about “GET THE MONEY”. He
sent me all the materials, actually,
because I have been studying things which were
out of the mimeograph. Like Ted, Ted’s “C”,
and Fuck You. And he’s what machines were for.
He’ll be talkin’ ‘bout Jane Freilicher.
And a mimeograph machine, I feel.
A lot of my teachers… some of them were
actually making things. And so I real-
ized before that, of course. It definitely was.
But it is, it’s very strange, because.
Because you want to be a little bit
objective and it’s unprofessional.
And she called me a “fanboy”. Because it,
and also it, it’s educational.
“It’s not like that…”, like, it’s devotional.
Very quickly those two things just closed.
“We’ve never even seen one functional”
with the gender roles that they’re supposed
to play as heroes. That was, like, the most...
most playful--that was the most serious. He
published an interview that was supposed-
ly with John Cage. Appropriated. Need
to highlight it again.... In on the joke.
The joke... you have to know that there’s a joke.