Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Jacob McArthur Mooney and Paul Vermeersch talk about The Reinvention of the Human Hand

From the interview:

Jacob McArthur Mooney: The Reinvention of the Human Hand reads, in many parts, like the author is feeling out a human territory inside the animal world, trying to identify the parts of us that are ancient and imperative versus those that are cosmetic and fleeting. Obviously, this is a poetic concern with a lot of history and varied degrees of what we might dismissively call anthropocentric attitudes, from the animal-as-human metaphors of a Ted Hughes to the increasingly ethereal nature-speak of Canadian poets like Tim Lilburn or Robert Bringhurst or Roo Borson. There’s an attempt in this book, I think, to find a third way, a kind of rapprochement between the two. Where do you see yourself in this tradition?

Paul Vermeersch: It’s interesting that you should mention Hughes. I feel that I’m coming at the topic of the human/animal in a very different way than Hughes did. I’m more interested in the human-as-animal than the other way around. I think that’s an important distinction. Intellectually, I guess I wanted a kind of post-humanist approach to primitivism. But creatively, I didn’t want to set out to arrive at a predetermined conclusion with the poems in this book, so “feeling out” is a good way of putting it. I don’t like writing poems that exist merely to illustrate a theory. Like animals, poems have their own life; that is an idea I share with Hughes. So I wanted the book to evolve, in a manner of speaking, rather than force myself to write poems to fill pre-existing niches. In the end, I explored several poetic approaches to a few different ideas I have about the human/animal divide, and then I put them next to one another to see how they behaved.

Read the whole article.