Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Turner Canty Interviews Four Way Books Author Kevin Prufer For OmniVerse

Turner Canty, a poet and a new writer at Omnidawn interviews a Four Way Books writer, Kevin Prufer.

"On 9/11/01, I was living in a little town in west-central Missouri, about ten miles from an air force base. My students were frequently military or, if not, came from military families. They were also smart and, like a lot of people in the service who have had to think about the real-life repercussions of going to war, they had complex feelings about all of this. Some of them went off to fight, while others returned from fighting to take classes.

It was a strange place to be during that time–surrounded by farms, unfathomably far from the idea of battle … and, at the same time, the B2 bomber flew over my house almost every day, two billion dollars worth of graceful, lovely killing.

So I read Ancient Roman histories—Livy, Tacitus, Suetonius, Procopius—and thought about the ends of empires, about the porosity of borders, about the way a nation or an administration can, like a person, seem suddenly to change its mind, to go nuts. What, exactly, are our borders anyway, I wondered, when we can send a bomber from the middle of Missouri all the way to Baghdad, a city where our Hollywood movies are already playing?

I think it was these sorts of dizzying thoughts–and accompanying feelings of frustration, rage, a sort of harrowing historical vertigo—that led me to the poems in National Anthem.

And, yeah, that had diminished a bit by the time I got to work on In a Beautiful Country, which has been discussed elsewhere, also, as a sort of zonked-out sequel to National Anthem. After a while, my despair turned to numbness or, worse, a feeling of enormous ironic (or theological) distance, a sort of grinning skullishness beneath which that same despair wouldn’t go away. So, yes, the book’s a little less cosmic and, in ways, angrier. I think that’s true. I don’t imagine that it’s resigned to some normalcy of living with war, though. I hope not."

To read more of the interview and a poem by Prufer, click here. To learn more about his books National Anthem and In a Beautiful Country and to purchase them, visit Four Way Books.