Interview with Tyrone Williams (page 2)
JMW: I'm curious about the gap between your first book, c.c., and On Spec, just out this Spring. How did the poems/sections for On Spec come together? Were you working towards a new book the whole time, or did you later go back and gather up the most vital pieces of the last six years since c.c. and arrange them?
TW: I wasn't thinking about a new book, but I'd been writing a little since completing the manuscript of c.c. in 2000. I continued to write poems while c.c. was in production—in particular, "Apocryph," "Mortal Facts," "Character," and "Little x Little." I quickly began to see these pieces as part of a book I was going to call p.s.: vocals by, an obvious follow-up to c.c. (I may still write that book), but then went on to another project that I was calling AAB. When Bill and Lisa Howe called and asked for new stuff for a chapbook for the Slack Buddha series I threw together some newer pieces and "gave" them that title, AAB. By then (2004) I was calling the manuscript pseudoeshuneutics—which wound up as the title of the second half of On Spec.
JMW: I'm struck by a number of things in On Spec, but firstly your insistence on a variety of forms—using the page in myriad ways (from vast open spaces to huge paragraphs, long lines and caesuras to terse couplets and tercets)—what determines the forms you take up? And secondly, the way you draw from influences: ranging from Kathy Acker and Cecil Taylor to Sly Stone and Jacques Derrida—how do these figures and their works play into the poems of On Spec?
TW: I think c.c. is, on a smaller scale, just as varied in its formal procedures. With the first book, however, the procedures were insistently purposeful, a lesson (or burden) I got from Eddie Hirsch when he was at Wayne State University. With On Spec I decided I didn't want all the forms as obviously teleological, but the fact is, I'm constitutionally adverse to free verse forms in my own writing (however much I may admire them in other writers)—most of the forms in On Spec are dictated by the subject matter. As for the various artists and thinkers that wind up in the poems, it's very much a situational matter, banal even—whatever I happen to be reading/listening to/viewing winds up finding its way into a piece. More important, the artist in question offers me new ways to imagine form and procedure in my work (e.g., the formal 19th c. greeting card format of four of the poems in c.c. ). Of course, it goes without saying that I'm huge fans of the people you mention.