Julie Kane
February 2014

 

Julie KaneJulie Kane, a native of Boston and longtime resident of Louisiana, was the 2011-2013 Louisiana Poet Laureate. Her most recent poetry collection is Paper Bullets (White Violet Press, 2014). She is also the author of Jazz Funeral (Story Line Press, 2009), the winner of the Donald Justice Poetry Prize; Rhythm & Booze (University of Illinois Press, 2003), a National Poetry Series winner and Poets’ Prize finalist; and Body and Soul (Pirogue, 1987), as well as two poetry chapbooks. She was the co-editor, with Grace Bauer, of the anthology Umpteen Ways of Looking at a Possum: Critical and Creative Responses to Everette Maddox (Xavier Review Press, 2006), which became a finalist for the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance Book Prize in Poetry. She was also the associate editor for 20th century poetry of the Longman anthology of Southern literature, Voices of the American South (2005). Recently she also wrote the historical introductions for the anthologies Villanelles (Everyman’s Library, 2012), and Contemporary Lithuanian Poetry: A Baltic Anthology (University of New Orleans Press, 2013). Her poems have appeared in such journals as Prairie Schooner, Rattle, and The Southern Review and have been featured on Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, and The Writer’s Almanac with Garrison Keillor.

A former George Bennett Fellow in Writing at Phillips Exeter Academy, New Orleans Writer in Residence at Tulane University, and Fulbright Scholar to Vilnius Pedagogical University (Lithuania), Julie is a Professor of English at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana. She has also taught on the faculty of the West Chester Poetry Conference.


 

Statement of Poetics

I have been fascinated with poetry ever since I was a small child, and I have been writing it ever since I could grip a pencil and print letters on a page. It is magical stuff to me, and I don’t pretend to know (or even want to know) why it has always held such power over me.

I am not a poetry snob: I like to think that I appreciate virtually every kind of poetry there is, from nursery rhymes through Spoken Word to experimental verse. Well, maybe not Flarf! But the kind of poetry that I am drawn toward writing myself is musical to the ear, and has an emotional charge to it, and operates from an underlying belief that language can attempt to capture the feel or quality of human experience. Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton were tremendous influences upon me during my formative years, when I was a college student, and I was one of Anne’s graduate students at Boston University at the time of her death—so, of course, you can trace a strong Confessional influence on my work. You could also categorize me as a New Formalist, since I lean toward writing in form and I have taught on the faculty of the West Chester Poetry Conference (and won its Donald Justice book prize). I love the line from the Gnostic Gospel of John that “if you bring forth what is within you, it will save you; if you do not bring forth what is within you, it will kill you.” A poem is, for me, a bringing forth into the light of something that has not been voiced or has not been voiced in quite that way before. Writing is a process of discovery for me, and it is my hope that the little glints of meaning that I uncover can also resonate with certain readers and be meaningful to them.

Ever since I performed at the Poetry Spring International Festival in Vilnius, Lithuania, where a dozen of us poets from as many different countries read in our own languages and heard our poems translated into both Lithuanian and English (as applicable), I have been haunted by the notion of writing poems that would lend themselves to translation. I believe that the poem itself is a translation from a pre-linguistic thought process. My most recent poetry collection is the complete opposite of this, a collection of light verse—and light verse is, of course, dependent upon the resources of one language, its rhymes and connotations and puns and popular cultural allusions and so forth. But that is where I would like to go with my poetry, toward a more transparent kind of lyric.

 

 

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