Interview with Liam Day
1/You often meld science with personal recollections in your poems. Is it natural for you to apply these learned applications to the everyday? Do you think that will change your work moving forward (i.e., will your poetry eventually make reference to technological advances as they appear)?
I’m an inveterate reader. A reader of pretty much anything—from fiction and poetry, to history, science, philosophy, economics, management theory. Anything. I also read a lot of rather dry public policy, because that, in addition to poetry, is what I’ve been doing for the past six years. So, yes, it is natural for me to apply learned applications to the everyday, in how I manage the organization I now run, in my public policy work, and in my poetry. I’m always looking to make connections between things whose connections might not otherwise be obvious. I think that’s what lies at the heart of metaphor.
Whether my poetry will eventually make reference to technological advances, though, I don’t know. Though I am fascinated by technology and its impact on our world, particularly within the sphere of public policy how technology can improve government services, I am personally something of a Luddite. For example, I can’t ever imagine mentioning a Kindle in a poem.
2/The turn that lies in waiting at the end of Come to the Window draws the reader emotionally closer to the narrator. Is narrative voice a regular presence in your work? Is there an overarching narrator or do characters change from poem to poem?
I can’t imagine a poem that doesn’t in some way employ a narrative voice. It may be stronger in some poems than in others, but I think it’s always there. Now, as to the question of whether there is an overarching narrator that connects all my poems, that’s a harder question to answer. For the most part, I would say, yes. Though I might modulate the voice from poem to poem, in the end the voice is essentially mine.
The two exceptions it might be worth noting, or at least the two ways in which I stretch my voice the furthest, are when I write in the second person, which I do a fair amount of the time, and when I write poems from opposite perspectives, which I’ve done a couple of times, though I don’t know with how much success.
I think I took the habit of writing in the second person from Ashbery. I went through an Ashbery kick about four or five years ago and tore through seven or eight of his collections, as well as some of his art criticism, which is fascinating to read in the light of his poetry. One of the things that Ashbery seems very conscious of as an art critic is his role as both subject, the viewer of the art he is reviewing, and object, the author of a review intended to be read by an external audience. I think for Ashbery that consciousness solidified a certain level of comfort with the second person. For whatever reason, I am also really comfortable in the second person. I just can’t imagine not having recourse to it. My wife would probably say it’s because I think I’m right about everything and therefore more than comfortable assuming someone else’s voice.
3/Archeopteryx spans years in just a few pages. Would you ever consider writing a long-form verse novel?
I hadn’t considered it, but, if apt throws down a gauntlet, how can I not accept the challenge.
4/Sum up your pieces in apt in five words: go!
I feel they’re getting better.
Liam Day’s poems, Come to the Window and Archeopteryx, appeared in the first print issue of apt, which can be purchased here.