Dorothea Lasky is the author, most recently, of the poetry collection Black Life.
For our readers who may not be familiar with your work, what’s the most accurate thing someone else has said about it?
I like what Robbie Dewhurst said about my new book, Black Life, in the latest issue of ON Contemporary Practice, in which he wrote:
“While [Lasky] is thus endlessly confused by reviewers surprised at her “earnest sincerity” with the allegedly self-absorbed “confessional” poets of mid-century, for me Lasky has most in common with a stylistically diverse line of usually forgotten and mostly soulsick writers who’ve inhabited language literally, and risked using the poem as a kind of depersonalizing, radically signifying material.”
I think that’s about right. When it comes to my poems, I am definitely writing with an instinct to depersonalize versus a desire to say something sincere.
What have you read/watched/listened to/looked at/ate recently that will permanently change our readers’ lives for the better?
Last New Year’s Eve, I watched a movie called Ikiru (1952), which means “To Live” in Japanese. In the movie, the main protagonist is living a bureaucratic nightmare. He has a kind and gentle (and also very strangely familiar) soul. When he finds out he has terminal stomach cancer and only a little bit more to live, he undertakes a project that gives his life meaning. Anyway, I think everyone should watch this movie. We should never forget how important it is to make meaning in our lives.
Whose ghostwritten celebrity tell-all (or novel) would you sprint to the store to buy (along with a copy of The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius so that the checkout clerk doesn’t look at you screwy)?
Whoa, I love this question. There are so many possibilities here. I’d hunt down a copy of tell alls about Cyndi Lauper, Angelina Jolie (especially if it covered just from birth through age 16), Stephen King, Prince, Puffy/P-Diddy, Sully Sullenberger, and Linda Goodman. But, wait, wouldn’t the checkout clerk be interested in these books, too?
Have you ever been a Starving Artist, and did it make you brilliant, or just hungry?
I think I might still be some sort of starving artist. I think not being wealthy has made me the opposite of brilliant, because I am always worrying about money. I hate the idea that artists need to starve to make art. Who thought up that line? It’s a load of crap. I think artists and writers and musicians should make a decent wage doing their art, if not a whole lot of money.
What would you characterize as an ideal interaction with a reader?
I love when readers talk to me after a reading and tell me that they like my poems. And then give me a drawing they made for me. That’s my favorite part.
Have you ever written anything that you’d like to take back?