Interview at New Books in Poetry


I had a fabulous conversation with Jen Fitzgerald at New Books in Poetry about the Refusal of Suitors. It was so enriching to find myself having this conversation about my work in the context of American letters more largely conceived, to field her fascinating inquiries into form and continuity of voice, to talk about my childhood, the wilderness versus the urban, the virtues of listening to ska in different seasons, and of course, to read large swaths of the collection, which she expertly (and thankfully) curated.

Does form make the poem?

Robert Frost claimed that writing free verse poetry was ‘like playing tennis without a net.’ Ryo Yamaguchi‘s poetry challenges the notion of imposing our will and wonders after the permeability of content. This poet understands the subjectivity of perception and does not insist on form, but instead loosely allows the verse to be contained.

These are the experiences of a wandering poet–one who has known many containers, natural and man-made, who knows how little the natural world tolerates containment; how felled redwoods will sprout new life from up from their horizontal trunks and wisteria will climb and reach with the wide berth of the sun’s rays.

But Yamaguchi does not write rainforests and plains, he writes the internal life, the interactions, the ‘urban sublime’ and gives it the reach the natural world. He finds amazement in all versions of beauty.

Listen to the conversation at New Books In Poetry

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