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Biannual Online Edition with John Reinhart, September 8, 2015

 

Two Poems by John Reinhart

sentries

three stones stacked beside the road

a dandelion’s shadow parallel to the pillar

a dog stops to pee, owner sighs

wind appears upstage, ill, weak

seeds drift skyward, alight on asphalt

fault lines in the frontal lobe

hot air balloons forgetful of dreams

asphalt sky groans, cracks, falls

breathless melodies falter

leash strains against time

a sun illuminates prismatic earth

a road unobserved by stones

writing with goats
Photo credit: Coco Reinhart

as if
for Abigail and Richard

only at the end do we see the beginning
for what it is

I reach into my pocket to find a bean left on the piano
by my children

there is a root, crossing the path, mischievously
dedicated

in forgetfulness we wake, to dream technicolor wonders –
coffee scalds the tongue

I have only a few stolen moments, heart pressed to heart,
as if…

and tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow
today

stars hint direction, beating inaudibly
in the dark

a child, covered in mud, races inside,
exhilarated

tripping over shoelaces, over tongues, over tree roots
going somewhere

hesitant notes harmonize the space between words
connecting us

we glance cautiously across the chasm of earth,
breathless

reflections
Photo Credit: John Reinhart

 

Interview with John Reinhart

What is the role of form in your poetry?

Stephen Fry, in The Ode Less Traveled, mocks several poetic forms that seem more fitting to “some weekend puzzle magazine.” I think this is a fair reaction to the dogmatic repetition of form in modern poetry. From the Romantics to Whitman to cummings, poets have peeled back traditional expectations for poetry over the last two hundred years to reach its heart.

However, most pop songs still rhyme, rhythm is clearly important, and we all grow up listening to nursery rhymes in specific poetic forms. There is definitely a yearning for form in this chaotic whirligig.

Form is not entirely lost in modern poetry. Sound, repetition, image, rhythm. These remain key factors in strong poetry. Iambic pentameter sonnets may not be so popular, but form is not lost, even while it takes the back seat of a tandem bicycle steered by individual whimsy.

I was fascinated to learn of a new form of haiku, the hay(na)ku, invented in 2003, which has since invigorated my experience of the haiku. I have experimented with freer forms of the villanelle with moderate success. I appreciate the wisdom inherent in form, while I sidestep almost all classical directions of form.

“as if” is an example of what I will call a mirror form, though I purposely work to keep the reflection a reflection, not a repetition, which may initially disguise the repetitive nature of the imagery. “sentries” follows this same form.

Who are Abigail and Richard?

Dedications fascinate me, and I meticulously explore every dedication I find attached to poems. I picked up A Three Dog Life, by Abigail Thomas, at a free corner library, then devoured every beautiful fragile story of her dealing with life after her husband, Richard, suffered a traumatic brain injury. This poem developed as I finished the book. I sent it to Abigail (who then had a peculiar dream about the bean) because I felt and still feel as if I know her and Rich, though I only met them in the pages of her book.

flower
Photo Credit: John Reinhart

You stated in a previous interview that you felt it was your duty as a poet to “observe the world’s nuances and express the understanding of [the] physical environment in the context of universal truth.” What other duties do you feel you have that are specific to a poet, either within the poem, or as an identity?

In a binary world rife with emotion and reaction, the poet’s role is to open portals from that bilious existence into the realm of heartfeeling.

Poets are explorers and discoverers of the supersensible undercurrents that exist within all physical phenomena. We are all clothed in primeval paradise, but it takes conscious effort to recognize that creation in which we continually participate. Poetry is an exercise in strengthening this perception.

When we examine worldly existence through new artistic word formations, we can uncover previously hidden connections. Essentially, the poet’s duty is to recreate the tissues of humanity in a world increasingly antagonistic to being human.

What creative projects–poetry or otherwise–are you currently working on?

I have recorded three albums of traditional fiddle music and am in the process of recording a new album that has nothing to do with traditional fiddle music, although it is a play on the meeting of old and new, form and experimentation, sacred and profane.

I think of my varied artistic pursuits as reflections of the same inner beacon. I collect “junk,” primarily metal, that has been refused and discarded, left on the street. I aim to redeem these artifacts of a society’s obsolescence by discovering their beauty, re-forming them in the same manner in which I re-form words to create a picture that in form or abstract describes and re-envisions humanity’s relationship to the world.

refuse –
garbage –          trash –
litter –                         junk –
discovery –            recognition –
placement –           picture –
beauty

Poetry-wise, I am working on a collection of speculative poems on the theme of punctuation (examples of which have been published in Star*Line and Leading Edge), a collection of poems of uncategorizable shape or form (published most notably in Interfictions, FishFood Literary Magazine, Fleurs du Mal, and Of/with), and a collection of poems about the people who encircle me.

handwritten
Photo Credit: John Reinhart

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