Contributor Questionnaire: Christopher Prewitt
Can you remember the first poem you ever wrote? Read?
I was in fourth grade, and I had to write a poem about trees. We had just been made to memorize and recite Walt Whitman’s “O Captain! My Captain!” So I wrote “Trees, Trees!” It was a modest effort for a nine-year-old whose choices in literature typically included Goosebumps and comic books. An incredibly didactic and rather unimagistic poem, but it’s where I first started thinking about the music of language, or some such, and I guess it’s where I started writing about nature.
What misconception about poetry bothers you most?
I have a few issues with poetics, but those all come down to poets speaking in generalizations, as though every poet and every poem had to follow the same rules. It’s when poets start telling me that I need to write things in a certain way or that one poetic mode is superior to every other mode that I feel vexed and annoyed. BUT, in terms of misconception, it’s that “no one reads poetry.” What a terrible thing to call ourselves, no ones. If one person in the world read or wrote a poem, then someone is involved with poetry. And, yes, I know most people who say that don’t literally mean “no one” reads poetry, but I also can’t stand this notion that just because most poets’ works don’t sell like novels, no one reads poetry. They do read poetry. And even if they didn’t, who cares? If poetry makes you happy, that should be enough.
Favorite word? Least favorite?
Tangential and “Common Man,” respectively.
Considering the poems you write, what about yourself would surprise readers most?
I’m actually a happy person.
Favorite writing environment (place, lighting, music, etc.)?
I usually like mostly unoccupied restaurants. I’m also fond of writing on my bed—with the air conditioner on. I need something of a steady noise and little distractions. I also prefer college ruled notebooks as I tend to write in various genres, and I sometimes jump between genres in the same writing session.
If every poet in history were forced into a cage-style death match, who would walk out alive?
This is a tough question. This would be a huge ring with a huge cage. Hmm. Well, I have a few ideas. Percy Shelley, in terms of brute force and grace in escaping close calls, is my overall pick. I’d also give the nod to Abu Nuwas as being able to somehow disguise himself and sneak out of the cage unscathed.