ARDOR Literary Magazine

ARDOR Literary Magazine - Issue One, Jan. 2013

Issue One, Published January 2013

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AN INTERVIEW WITH PETER MCNAMARA In each issue the editor selects one prose writer and one poet to feature, offering readers a short interview with these writers. Peter McNamara, author of our featured poems (Mountain Tarn: Autumn, Languor, Blood Pulse and After Bastille Day) was kind enough to respond to a few questions. ARDOR: Which of these poems was the most challenging to write? Which came easiest? PM: Occasionally--rarely-a poem comes almost fully drafted to the mind. This was true of "After Bastille Day." At the opposite extreme, "Mountain Tarn: Autumn" had a lengthy gestation as I tried to evoke a place, time, and season. Of course all poems require exacting, self-critical revision, sometimes over months. ARDOR: What can you tell us about your writing process? Has it evolved over time? PM: When a prospective subject for a poem comes to me, I need it to gestate until I can see a way into its expression, its form. This gestation often leads to drafting groups of lines (openings and endings are particularly challenging). I draft by hand on a legal pad -- never on a computer, until the poem has taken form. My approach hasn't changed in years: I sit a few hours each morning and attempt; some days my effort winds up as scrap. The process of daily writing, priming the pump--as many others have observed--is essential. ARDOR: Can you tell us a bit about the process of translating poetry? PM: Translation attempts to convey the original author's idiom and spirit. I'm prepared for this attempt only if I've immersed myself in a poet's work, reading a good deal of it, trying to envision his/her strategies, habits of mind. Of one thing I'm convinced: no literal translation is successful. Paraphrase allows a translator flexibility to convey a poet's vision, idiom and strategies (if imperfectly) across the language gulf. ARDOR: How do you spend your time when you aren't writing? PM: I do a great deal of reading of others' poetry, from which I derive considerable pleasure (and, I hope, growth). I also love to visit

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