P. Scott Cunningham
July 2012

 

Scott CunninghamP. Scott Cunningham is the co-founder and director of the O, Miami Poetry Biennial and the author of Chapbook of Poems for Morton Feldman (Floating Wolf Quarterly, 2011). A graduate of Wesleyan University, he is also the founder and director of the University of Wynwood, a faux-institution dedicated to advancing contemporary literature that was named one of Fast Company Magazine’s 51 Brilliant Urban Ideas for 2011. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Harvard Review, Court Green, Sou’wester, Pool, PANK, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Abe’s Penny, and elsewhere. Born and raised in Boca Raton, he lives in Miami, FL.
 

Statement of Poetics

Reading is primary for me: if I’m not reading deeply (as in, with notebook at hand) then I can’t do any writing. But when I’m writing I don’t make the work into a text (as in, something readable). The unfinished poem for me is a self-sculpture that I have to create and finish from my own psyche, which is the only truth. Yet because the poem is in fact a replica of my psyche, I listen to the poem itself, not myself. My friend Campbell McGrath says there are two egos in the poem: the poet’s and the poem’s, and to write a good poem, the poet has to stop listening to his own ego and listen directly to the poem’s. I think I’d go one step further and say that the poem is actually the true self, and the poet’s ego is her personality attempting to please the world  (as personalities are formed to do). And because the self stands in opposition to the world (the world is going to kill you after all) the great poem doesn’t please the world, but gnaws at it.

That said, if you write a poem based on a Craig’s List posting, you’re probably trying to charm someone. So I also believe in Whitman: the self does contain multitudes.

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