“One thing I did while writing this book was to try to imagine what it would mean if this world—with all its horrors, sufferings, reasons to turn away—were Paradise. That’s not a logical thought or a purely “positive” one. Among other places, it took me to Blake, in whose work affirmation and annihilation often mix.”
In Ann Arbor, I’d been known as “the Alaska guy,” which now felt like a pose. Feeling too Alaska for the MFA book-world had supplanted how much of my life I’d felt too book for Alaska. Maybe that was why I’d been unable to progress on my novel. I’d left this place, after all. Had I ever really loved it, or just the way it let me represent myself?
I want to think about distance and Jane Gregory’s new book of poems, Yeah No. Or something more like gapping. A space between concepts charged with those concepts’ distance, what holds discourse together (and molecules, and planets).
The thing about identity is, people are always trying to define who you are for you, to tell you what you mean. And we should be interrogating our positions in society, our privilege relative to our oppression, but we should also be skeptical of those who insist we are definitively one thing or another.
“What both the book and the project have taught me is that when you realize you’re not the only one experiencing your specific pain, it is a relief.”