21 November 2009

Marilyn Hacker

[from "A Conversation with Marilyn Hacker," an Annie Finch interview of Marilyn Hacker, in Multiformalisms: Postmodern Poetics of Form, eds. Annie Finch and Susan M. Schultz, Textos, 2008]

MH: When Tom Disch and I were doing sonnets, we were doing Shakespearean sonnets where, except for the couplet, you were rhyming with yourself. I wrote the a line and he would write the b line; however, you didn't see the line that was going before yours, you were just told by the other person that "I wrote a line that ends with a preposition indicating direction," or "I have given a proper noun. Follow it with a verb." or "I have given a prepositional phrase that requires a direct object. Provied a direct object." And go on from there. For the couplet, whoever wrote the first line had to give the second person the rhyme. The couplet of one of these sonnets -- and one person wrote one line and the other person wrote the second line without having seen the other line was, "The road reels by in millions of white flashes / like checks from out of state that no one cashes," which I think is a great American couplet. It's published in a tiny little chapbook that we brought out, called Highway Sandwiches.

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