Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Souvankham Thammavongsa

I've been reading Souvankham Thammavongsa's books in preparation for a review. I'm digging her work far more than I expected to. She is the quintessential minimalist and my own predilections tend to be for the maximalist. But what she's doing is so damn precise and ruthless. I wasn't surprised to find, in various interviews, that she's very smart and has uncommonly keen insights into the hows and whys of her work.

Thought I'd share some of the fruits of my internet trawling. Below are choice quotations with links to the interviews whence they came. Below those, various links to her work in various formats on the web. Enjoy.

I don’t really like poets. They are awfully boring and not honest about anything at all. [From an interview in The New Quarterly, which is, alas, not available online]



Choosing favourites has less to do with fairness and more to do with pride. I think you should be proud of what you make. You should have favourites. Favourites are the result of having a standard, a sense of what you want your work to be. I am skeptical of writers who love everything they write. There’s something wrong [t]here. When I like a poem, it is the same as a carpenter knowing and seeing how well a table is built. I know and see all the things I did right. It feels sturdy and no matter what anyone does to it or says of it, it doesn’t wobble.



ST reading at the Test Series

ST's austere desk space

ST's even more austere blog

Short talk about self-publication given by ST

Two poems of ST's (PDF)

Review of a performance piece by ST and others, with a link to a recording

Video adaptation of an ST poem, by Kat Burns

Another video poem

CBC audio interview with ST


GM said...

I quite like her and her work. Glad you do too. She reminds me, not stylistically, but in terms of essence and undercurrent, of Don Coles. Deceptively plain.

Brenda Schmidt said...

Zach, there's an excellent feature on Thammavongsa in The New Quarterly 105 that includes an interview with Amanda Jernigan and an essay by Thammavongsa. The issue is well worth tracking down.

Brenda Schmidt said...

Oops, I didn't notice your TNQ quote last night when I read this. So I guess you already know.