rosanna warren on writing


Fantastic interview of poet Rosanna Warren in the Kenyon Review

Here’s a few lines on her schizophrenic (something we know a little about here at orgtheory) writing process:

When I have my own free time, that’s when I’m in a process. I love to start slowly in the morning by reading the TLS while I’m sipping my tea and cranking up the slow wheels of my brain, and so slide into my study. From there I move to, sort of, initiatory reading. I like to read, I think of it as vitamins—read a letter by Flaubert or Henry James or somebody very intelligent to wake me up—and from there things start clicking a little bit. I’m a very magpie sort of writer. I depend a lot on my intense love for other writing. I often have a stack of poetry books near my desk, books that are for right now and are a source of electric current for me.

On any particular day, I might be looking at something older, like George Herbert, or it might be I absolutely need Lowell that day or Louise Glück or Geoffrey Hill. Then at a certain moment—it could be after just a half an hour of this predatory reading—I put the other books away and I’m alone with my papers. What I’m describing is a really oblique approach back to the core of my struggle, which was with whatever vision I was trying to wrest into shape on the page. I get there by way of other voices. The big question for me is about hearing voices, it’s almost a form of schizophrenia, and by that I may no longer mean I’m hearing Herbert or Lowell. I’m listening for another voice—that’s the voice in me. In times of depression, in times of exhaustion, in times when I’m too given over to external needs, the anguish is that I can no longer hear the other voice. If I can’t hear that voice, I think I’ll go mad. These are all exercises that I’m describing to you that allow me to hear my own voices. Without them, I truly cannot work.

Written by teppo

September 27, 2006 at 8:21 am

Posted in research, teppo

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  1. […] Orgtheory strongly recommends this interview with Rosanna Warren in the Kenyon Review. […]


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