Bringing together penetrating conversations between poets of different generations as they explore process and poetics, poetry’s influence on other art forms, and the political and social aspects of their work, 12 × 12 restores poesis to the center of poetry.

Christina Mengert and Joshua Marie Wilkinson have assembled an expansive and searching view of the world through the eyes of twenty-four of our most vital and engaging poets. Punctuated by poems from each contributor, 12 × 12 brings together an unparalleled range of poets and poetries, men and women from around the world, working poets for whom the form vitally matters.

“Almost all poets in one sense work alone, trying to do something new with the words on the page; in another sense, no poets do—all come from somewhere, learned their own styles from someone, found themselves moved to invention, propelled toward the energies in their own words, by the energies in preexisting poems. These twelve interviews—students and teachers, younger poets and faraway mentors, or near-contemporaries breaking ground together—show how some sharp, thoughtful poets of the rising generation think about their mentors; it also shows how both generations think about those preexisting poems, about words and verse and art, about such loaded abstractions as community and politics and such freighted practicalities as quilt-making, baseball, snowstorms. It shows how elder poets can listen to younger ones, how the enterprise of poetry is at once rebellion and continuation. If you like reading the kind of informal criticism that takes place in interviews, or if you simply want an introduction to some of our finest and strangest new writers, you won't be able to do much better than the instances—each with poems attached—that Mengert and Wilkinson assemble here.”—Stephen Burt, author, The Forms of Youth and Close Calls with Nonsense: Reading New Poetry
“Mengert and Wilkinson propose a vivid landscape of conversation that is also, beautifully, a temporal continuum—reaching across doctrines and generations, emphasizing a continuous newness in the ongoing discovery of and in poems. 12 × 12 dares to propose a living entirety. It urges its readers toward expansiveness, tolerance, and delight. It is a model—nay, it is a new standard of relevance.”—Donald Revell, author, Pennyweight Windows: New and Selected Poems and A Thief of Strings
12 × 12 is truly representative of the best in early twenty-first-century poetry. Because the poets, both younger and older, are particularly socially and intellectually dynamic, Mengert and Wilkinson’s volume presents poetry as socially and politically relevant and underscores the potential for poets to be important thinkers in society. The conversations show that poets think about much more than poetry itself and that their work is crucially informed by contemporary events, philosophy, and the realities of daily life. This book will pull in students who don’t think they are interested in poetry.”—Cole Swensen, author, Goest and Such Rich Hour

Jennifer K. Dick–Laura Mullen
Jon Woodward–Rae Armantrout
Sabrina Orah Mark–Claudia Rankine
Christian Hawkey–Tomaž Šalamun
Christian Hume–Rosmarie Waldrop
Srikanth Reddy–Mark Levine
Karen Volkman–Allen Grossman
Paul Fattaruso–Dara Wier
Mark Yakich–Mary Leader
Michelle Robinson–Paul Auster
Sawako Nakayasu–Carla Harryman
Ben Lerner–Aaron Kunin

xiii Introduction
Jennifer K . Dick | Laura Mullen
Poems by Jennifer K. Dick
Anatomy 2
In the Garden 3
Claudia 3
Jennifer K. Dick and Laura Mullen in Conversation
Poem by Laura Mullen
Wake 14

Jon Woodward | Rae Armantrout
Poems by Jon Woodward
from Rain: “newer sore spots blossomed open” 20
from Rain: “looking over the bomb inventory” 20
from Rain: “it’s not that he died” 21
Jon Woodward and Rae Armantrout in Conversation
Poems by Rae Armantrout
Sake 35
The Subject 36
Worth While 37

Sabrina Orah Mark | Claudia Rankine
Poems by Sabrina Orah Mark
The Dumb Show 40
The Song 41
In the Origami Fields 42
Sabrina Orah Mark and Claudia Rankine in Conversation
Poems by Claudia Rankine
from Don’t Let Me Be Lonely: “Or Paul Celan said that . . .” 51
from Don’t Let Me Be Lonely: “Or one meaning of here is . . .” 51
from Plot: of course. of course. 52

Christian Hawkey | Tomaž Šalamun
Poems by Christian Hawkey
Fräulein, can you 54
There is a Queen inside 55
Unhoused casements 56
Christian Hawkey and Tomaž Šalamun in Conversation
Poems by Tomaž Šalamun
19.IX.1982 67
Spring Street 69

Christine Hume | Rosmarie Waldrop
Poems by Christine Hume
Comprehension Questions 72
What Became of the Company You’ve Kept,
According to One Who Left 74
Christine Hume and Rosmarie Waldrop in Conversation
Poem by Rosmarie Waldrop
Music Is an Oversimplification of the Situation We’re In 89

Srik Anth Reddy | Mark Levine
Poems by Srikanth Reddy
Evening with Stars 96
Hotel Lullaby 97
Corruption (II) 98
Srikanth Reddy and Mark Levine in Conversation
Poems by Mark Levine
Work Song 114
Counting the Forests 115
Triangle 116

Karen Volkman |Allen Grossman
Poems by Karen Volkman
Sonnet (“I asked every flower”) 120
“Although the paths lead into the forest . . .” 121
“And when the nights . . .” 122
Karen Volkman and Allen Grossman in Conversation
Poems by Allen Grossman
Rain on a Still Pond 131
“Warble,” Says the Bird 132
I Am That I AM 133

Sawako Nakayasu | Carla Harryman
Poems by Sawako Nakayasu
9.19.2004 136
3.21.2004 137
6.21.2003 138
Sawako Nakayasu and Carla Harryman in Conversation
Poems by Carla Harryman
from Baby: “Now. Word. Technology.” 170
Fish Speech 170
Membership 171
Matter 173

Paul Fattaruso | Dara Wier
Poem by Paul Fattaruso
from The Submariner’s Waltz:
“I opened the brushed steel box” 176
Paul Fattaruso and Dara Wier in Conversation
Poems by Dara Wier
Hypnagogic 189
Corrosion 191

Mark Yakich | Mary Leader
Poems by Mark Yakich
Pretzels Come to America 196
An Untenable Nostalgia for Chernobyl 197
Mark Yakich and Mary Leader in Conversation
Poem by Mary Leader
When the Wind Ever Shall Be Like a Black Thread 217

Michelle Robinson | Paul Auster
Poems by Michelle Robinson
From This Miserable Mutineer a Stutter . . . 222
Keith 223
When Smithson Looked into the Salt Lake What He Saw 224
Michelle Robinson and Paul Auster in Conversation
Poems by Paul Auster
Narrative 234
from “White Spaces”: “Something happens,
and from the moment” 235

Ben Lerner | Aaron Kunin
Poems by Ben Lerner
from The Lichtenberg Figures: “We must retract our . . .” 238
from The Lichtenberg Figures: “I’m going to kill . . .” 238
from The Lichtenberg Figures: “The sky is a big . . .” 239
Ben Lerner and Aaron Kunin in Conversation
Poems by Aaron Kunin
Enclosed Please Find 251
Enclosed Please Find 252
The Sore Throat 253
Acknowledgments and Permissions

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294 pages, 6 x 9 inches