blackbird online journal spring 2002 vol.1 no. 1

A joint venture of the Department of English at Virginia Commonwealth University and New Virginia Review, Inc.


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Marjorie Agosín  
On September 23, 2004, Blackbird editors Gregory Donovan and Jeff Lodge met with Chilean poet and activist Marjorie Agosín on the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University. Agosín visited VCU to deliver a lecture titled "Poetry and Human Rights," opening "Crossing Boundaries: Global Perspectives," a year-long lecture series sponsored jointly by the VCU School of World Studies and the University Honors Program.

Sally Bowring  
In February of 2004, painter Sally Bowring spoke with Susan Glasser in the Blackbird office on the VCU campus. In a wide-ranging conversation, Bowring, who appears in the documentation of Pivot Points: Three Generations of American Painters & Poets in the current Gallery section, talked about abstraction, her own processes, the Pivot Points exhibition, and more.

Susan Glasser is director of the Boyden Gallery of Art at St. Mary's College of Maryland. She interviewed art critic Peter Schjeldahl for Blackbird, Vol. 3 No. 1, and contributed an introductory essay for Richard Carlyon's video "Flight Song" in Blackbird, Vol. 1 No. 1.

Michael Byers  
On September 16, 2004, David Pandolfe, a second-year fiction student in Virginia Commonwealth University's MFA Program in Creative Writing, met with writer Michael Byers in the Blackbird office on the VCU campus. Byers was in Richmond to receive the third VCU First Novelist Award for his novel Long for This World, published by Houghton Mifflin in 2003. Their conversation focused primarily on Long for This World—where it began, how it took shape, the way it changed from words on a page into an award-winning novel.

David Daniel 
In September of 2004, David Wojahn and Blackbird editor Gregory Donovan met with David Daniel in the Blackbird offices at Virginia Commonwealth University. In the first part of the conversation, Daniel, recipient of the Seventh Annual Levis Reading Prize for his collection Seven-Star Bird, spoke primarily about the making of the book and its poems. In the second part, the focus shifted to his role as poetry editor at Ploughshares and how that experience has influenced his own writing.

Philip Levine 
On September 23, 2004, poet Philip Levine met with students and faculty of the MFA Program in Creative Writing at Virginia Commonwealth University to talk about his long-time relationship with poet Larry Levis and, more generally, about his own life as a poet.  Levine had come to Richmond to give a reading at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts as part of Poetic Principles, a series sponsored by the Virginia Museum and New Virginia Review, Inc., that brings to the Richmond area the best poets, writers, critics, and translators at work today.

William Matthews with David Wojahn and James Harms 
James Harms and David Wojahn conducted this interview in William Matthews's New York City apartment in October of 1995, two years before the poet's death. Matthews had just published Time & Money, his ninth collection of verse, which went on to win the National Book Critics' Circle Award in poetry for that year. As this and other published interviews with Matthews attest, he was a brilliantly gifted conversationalist—loquacious, genial, and witty, not someone who loved to hear himself talk, but a man whose talk made the same sorts of playful imaginative leaps and serendipitous discoveries that characterize his poems. It was a spacious apartment, but Matthews' study was fairly small, and, as Matthews mentions in the interview, his desk faced one of its walls, not its windows. The apartment contained a large number of books, and an astonishing collection of jazz and opera CDs. Opera was one of the abiding passions of Matthews's later life, and he had recently begun to write reviews of New York productions—in part, he told us, to make money to spend on more CDs.

Matthews was working on several projects, but mainly on the poems which would comprise his posthumously published collection, After All, and on the translations of Horace, which would also be published after his death.

Richard McCann 
In December of 2004, writer Wesley Gibson (You Are Here: A Memoir of Arrival), met with Richard McCann in Washington, D.C. They talked about Mother of Sorrows, McCann's latest collection of short stories, but they also talked about the themes that run through McCann's poetry, essays, and fiction, about his approaches to writing in different genres, about the effect his family life has had on his work, and more. McCann's story "My Brother in the Basement" appears in this issue of Blackbird.

Ellen Bryant Voigt 
In August of 2004, Blackbird editor Gregory Donovan met with poet Ellen Bryant Voigt at Voigt's home near Marshfield, Vermont. They talked about Voigt's ten-part poem "The Feeder," which appears in this issue of Blackbird, and about the lyric poem as well as other forms and hybrids. The accompanying snapshots were taken at Voigt's home and in the surrounding area.

Interviews are added as they become available. Interviews appear in different sections of Blackbird but are organized in this alternative menu to allow easy navigation.

An "Interviews" menu link may be found on every interview-related page. Use it to return to this menu.