From an Interview of Paul Violi by Kemel Zaldivar:

 

 

As a young poet I found that in writing longer poems I could move around more freely, bring in or combine serious and comical turns. I also started adapting forms like an index, or an addendum, or footnotes and the like, for the same reasons. A lot of that grew out of what painters like Dine and Oldenburg were up to. It seems “old hat” to me now, of course this was over thirty years ago, though I still do it when an idea pops up. Adapting such forms, or animating one was like putting on a mask, impersonating a character, which is very liberating in a creative sense. The concept may be amusing but the effects can be serious and various. The mask changes, too. That’s what I like, to move within a form that changes along with the poem. The same goes for poems that have a conversational tone, it opens things up for me. Every syllable is deliberate; the naturalness, the immediacy but not the sloppiness of conversation is what I’m aiming for. And once a poem like that gets rolling, if I’m getting it right, there’s a freedom, an openness, an inclusiveness where even the interruptions are making connections and if the cadence, the imagery carry along and sustain the impulse that got things moving, then, well, I’m having a good time. Even if the poem is pretty grim…

It’s been said that before the invention of the arch we had great structures but not architecture, which existed only when the arch, like fiction or metaphor in writing, permitted interior space. I think a good poem allows us to enter an expanding interior, “a mental theatre”, to use Byron’s phrase for the unstageable plays he wrote. “Another dimension” is at least a good metaphor for what’s going on when the formative imagination shapes time the way an architect shapes space. Samuel Daniel and Dryden, don’t mean to get so quotey here, but both compare the pleasure and freedom of writing to a type of construction that allows them to change the building as they go along. I liked Daniel’s metaphor so much I pasted it on the end of “The Curious Builder”. Both in reading and making a poem we follow what seems an instinctual search, following not a dream the movement of a familiar dreamscape plot where in a long familiar place we find and enter a new dimension. Even asleep the mind is still at it, still building. The idea of a poet as maker goes at least as far back as Horace…

I like the idea of contemporaneity, poems that retain an intrinsic appeal no matter when or where they were written. If there is any point I was trying to make it was to link what I like in current poetry to a tradition. That is, for the most part, the poems I chose were all radically inventive. Knowing that these breakthrough poems are still in some canons gives poets who are interested in the truly innovative and adventurous something broader to draw on.