afterward // 30 poems in 30 days // questions from charis caputo

how did this year compare to years that you’ve done it in the past

Different venue – Facebook, vs. tumblr and live journal in the past. Easier in certain ways because of other people around doing it. Knowing that other people were expecting to see your work enabled the production process.

what was your secret to completing it or to motivate yourself to keep going

Make time, sit down & do it. Also, honor my commitment to myself and the work. The first person to hear what I say is myself. Breaking my word affects my ability to trust myself, so that’s an important thing to consider.

what was a favorite/most surprising thing that you wrote during the month

A pair of villanelles. They turned out surprisingly well, and ended up influencing the list-like thing for the William S Burroughs-inspired “Contact us within 10 days if anything of the following changes”.

what was your favorite prompt/source of inspiration

I use “The Making of a Poem”, the Norton anthology of forms, to shake things up. I collect fragments of lines & cut lines & write when ideas strike, but when I’m writing habitually I make room to write and show to the page regardless if I have an idea or not.

anything else you want to say about it

Remember, no matter what you do other people have their own point of view on your work. That’s life, that’s how we are. Have your own relationship with it. Know it well. Love it. It is yours. It is also not who you are, you are way more valuable than a bunch of words. Cut your favorite lines, edit the hell out of yourself. I saw a lot of apologizing in the online communities. FUCK APOLOGY. Value your own voice. Who are you trying to please?

refreshing the the poetics of annihilation

Sometimes the mistake comes from seeing it all the way through to the end, without having begun.

The ease of overplanning facilitated by computers kills work the cradle. Once the imagination knows what the trip is going to be like, it doesn’t want to take it.

The drafting process is the first third of the path to having the work exist outside the mind/body. Editing is the second third. The audience meets the work, ‘publication’. The last third.

Each stage has its own demands, its own peculiar kind of sweat.


I live in a culture steeped in violence. There is violence in the work. Or there is consideration of recovering from violence, contending with it. I have made work that is psychologically or spiritually violent, yet I sit on it. Right now, I do not want to inflict it on an audience.

I am an American. Like other Americans I walk around with the blood of indiginous people on my feet, with the blood of slaves on my feet, with the blood of domestic violence on my feet. History soaked our nation’s birth with blood. We consume images and stories soaked with violence.

We can create peace. How do we create peace from a violent fabric? How does the transformation happen? Does it start with forgiving the past we have inherited, in order to simply let it drop, in order to make something new?

The poetics of annihilation are my name for looking at the violent stories of the 20th century, looking at our inheritance, and figuring out what to do with those stories. There is so much: the US government infecting african-americans with siphilus. The German government killing millions of civilians. The US dropping atomic bombs on Japan. The hundreds of millions of acts of war that individuals perpetrated at the behest of their governments.

How do we choose to witness this? We have our methods of recording, our films, our books, our internet. How can we face the weight of that violent fabric woven by those who went before us, and move forward without re-making that?

How can we, the talking monkeys, see, but not do?