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.


Katherine Beaman


Katherine Beaman