An Interview with Jeff Baker, "Lineal"


Can you discuss the meaning of the title?

The title came late to this piece. I wanted something that spoke to its ancestral qualities, the sense of a (perhaps problematic) lineage, but also liked the idea of lineal meaning consisting of lines, a gesture towards the compositional and fictive qualities of a personal mythology.

You're on a deserted island with only one poem.  Which one is it and why?

That's tough. Very tough. Probably "13 Ways of Looking at a Blackbird." Seems like too obvious a choice, maybe, but that poem feels new each time I read it. The lyricism, movement, breath, and variability of it make it kind of endless for me.

Who has been influential in your development as a poet?

Working with Rae Armantrout and Ben Doller has been instrumental in expanding the field of my work.

Where do you find your inspiration?

Atmospheres. Music. Painting. Textures. Bad dreams. Insomnia. Distortions. The small and unexpected. Other poems.

What have you learned about the craft of writing poetry?

That it's hard. And gets harder. But I find something like solace in Paul Valery's idea that a poem is never finished but abandoned.

Would you rather have the power of invisibility or the power of flight. Why?

Flight. I hate driving.