We asked David B. Goldstein five questions about his influences and how Lost Originals differs from his last poetry collection. You can find him at IFOA 2017.
IFOA: A lot of this book was written in the house you and your wife rented in Sintra, Portugal. Can you tell us how it influenced your writing process?
Goldstein: I had a list of things I planned to do, including a pressing deadline for a scholarly article. But the house was so noisy with objects—dolls, porcelain figurines, framed maps, Chinese heads, scissors, bronze door knockers, old keys, wooden chests, claw-foot tubs, towering glass vases—that I found I couldn’t concentrate on my own work. I’m a night owl by temperament, and I found myself sitting alone in the living room, long after our friends had gone to sleep, trying to get some traction on my work. But instead of writing, I ended up floating around the house (which had something like 20 small rooms), stopping at various objects and wondering if I could make something from them. Finally I gave myself a deadline—if I couldn’t finish the article by the end of the week, I would give myself over to the objects and become their amanuensis. I still haven’t finished the article.
IFOA: You have stated that you find your poetry to be an “art of listening”, can you elaborate?
Goldstein: Coleridge held that poets were like instruments responding to the wind of inspiration blowing across them. Yet, the Romantics are seen today as the first great enthusiasts of originality, champions of the notion that creativity comes more from the individual than from the world. I’m interested in that dichotomy. I hold with the Coleridge side of things—I think of artists as receivers and transformers of what the world offers.
IFOA: How does this book differ from Laws of Rest?
Goldstein: It’s very different. Laws of Rest was conceived as an extended exploration of a single form, the prose sonnet. Lost Originals is organized around ideas: of the poet as receiver, and of experience as a series of translations without sources. It tries all sorts of different routes into those ways of being and thinking.
IFOA: Who would you say influences you in terms of your writing and creative process?
Goldstein: I have a wide range of influences, and they change from project to project, but I keep going back to Sappho, Wyatt, Marvell, Keats, Dickinson, Rilke, Celan, and Ponge. I’m also motivated by a lot of contemporary experimental poets—Jen Bervin, Harryette Mullen, and Erín Moure spring to mind. And that’s just the poets.
IFOA: What can we expect from you next?
Goldstein: I’m working on two collections right now—one about recipes and loss, and one about parenting and space physics.
David B. Goldstein is the author of a previous poetry collection, Laws of Rest (BookThug, 2013), a book of criticism, Eating and Ethics in Shakespeare’s England (Cambridge, 2013), and two chapbooks, the most recent of which is Object Permanence (Ugly Duckling, 2015). His latest book is Lost Originals (BookThug, 2016). Goldstein is the recipient of numerous grants and awards, including the Shakespeare’s Globe Book Award. He lives with his family in Toronto, where he is Associate Professor of English at York University.