I took a summer weekend workshop at the University of Iowa a few years ago. It was flash fiction, and I was the only guy among 12 writers. The instructor, Kyle Beachy, did a great job facilitating us through the strange genre that sits on the edge of all the big-named others. And because of the notorious setting, there was time on campus to fantasize about the writers paths who’d crossed through the Iowa Writer’s Workshop: John Irving, Michael Cunningham, Jayne Anne Phillips, John Cheever, James Tate, and so many literary lions. Iowa City is also home to Prairie Lights, a great bookstore, and Literary Walk Home.
It was there, cruising through Prairie Lights on a lunchbreak, that I discovered the writer Andrew Michael Roberts. He is a unique writer, and his poems in something has to happen next, grew out of his obsessions with time and catastrophe, love and abandonment- what is always possible, almost attained, but lost at the last minute. This felt very familiar.
Today I read his poem, “the moments before the crash landing are clearest”:
When was the last time you crashed? The first? What did it feel like?
I have a poem in Microtones called “The Upswing of Falling.” It originally appeared at Metazen, and feels like it could be a sibling to Andrew’s poems. (The Lost Bookshelf Homepage)
So, for writers, when do you use abstraction in your poems? Do you ever play with leaving the door open? The lights off? No sound idea of where you are headed?