I don’t have a specific earliest memory of reading, but I know how reading made me feel in those early days of it – brave enough to be alone, traveling to new worlds that were sometimes just different layers of the same world I was already living in and sometimes so alien and strange and vividly weird. Either way, it gave me a deeper understanding of my daily motions, a context. I became myself when reading, through reading.
(9.2017) @ The Reading Lists
Poetry is something I make out of language to convey an essence, an opening, that is beyond logic and language, deeper than image and information. I don’t think of poetry, or poems, as a literary form but as a discipline, an awareness practice, to wake my spirit up, to connect into a vital ecology of energies. I find myself traveling new roads, new pathways in my mind, new perspectives on my experience, deeper interiors of the heart.
(7.2017) "Why I Write Poetry" @ Writer's Digest
A poet isn’t just someone who writes a poem, or even a bunch of poems. Poetry is not merely a craft or a skill, and it’s not a path to an all-caps CAREER – though poetry can be those things, or lead to those things, for some people. To me, however, being a poet is something richer than a single action, even if it’s a repeated action, and requires deep love for poetry, which is all at once a method of communion, a habit of mind and a discipline for how to live. It’s the last purely human creative act we have that offers direct connection to the consciousness of someone else unfettered by online social categorizations or the trappings of commerce.
(6.2017) interview with Nikki Barnhart @ The Review Review
When I first started writing, seriously writing, with a disciplined attentiveness, I did so outside—perched atop a rock on the bank of a lake, in an open field under a yawning blue sky, lurking among the trunks of trees.
I still feel that our awareness is most fluent and flexible in context, made athletic through the a style of perception by which we reconcile our inner lives with the outer landscape. We see and feel, we taste and experience and then we ruminate, we ponder… some of us write. We attune our awareness. And, as we do, we hear something beyond ourselves—the voice of the wilder world.
(9.2016) essay, "The Voice of the Wilder World: On Writing Outdoors" @ Passages North
Poetry restored to me a sensitivity to, and appreciation for, my own actual life, the surroundings and the emotions, the locations and the associations. And it helped me find my first authentic voice, my early true concerns and callings in language, which has been a boon both to my writing and my life. Because, for the first time, I understood how inextricable those things were. I saw the whole shape of what I was doing.
(9.2014) essay, "Origin Stories" @ Passages North
(7.2014) essay, "Self Help for Aliens Like Us...or The Universal Quest for a Meaningful Life" on creativity, sacrifice and the Silver Surfer @ Entropy
(3.2014) essay, "The Sentimentalist: In Defense of Feeling" in Poets & Writers (Mar/Apr)
It seems to me that everything we read creates a field that can help us think more clearly, better, differently. It’s as if the words on the page hold two kinds of energy. There’s the intentional energy, the denotation of the words that create an array of meanings and ideas, the plot, the information. It seems like, these days, it’s tough enough to apprehend even this surface layer of any text. But this is only one stop on the descent into a deeper entanglement with the text in front of us.
I prefer the residual energy, the lingering sparks. Fueled by the rhythms of the sentence, the plot and the word choice, the ideas and their associations, I use the author’s words to guide my own meditation, to embark on a reading that is speculative, discursive.
(1.2014) essay, "Dear Reader(s): The Art of Generative Reading" @ Passages North
What matters more than a turn of phrase are the lines that lead up to it, or that fall away from it. The context. It’s those riffs and apperceptions. It’s the way it falls or the way it falls flat.
What I love most about poetry is the way words can transmute the environment – create a transcendental fire out of the tinder and timber of the world we live in. How do we do this? Image, word choice, line break. Yes, yes, yes. But it’s something else as well. It’s the way we interconnect / interchange objective data with subjective perception.
(8.2013) essay, "Undelivered Letters & Unanswered Questions" @ Passages North
I’m a sentimentalist, a nostalgic, always looking backward twice for every time I squint into the distance. As such, I will never give up on the power of paper, the way the printed word in someone’s hands can prompt creative & reflective action. Pixellated verse can / should have the same effect on people but, for me (& many people of my generation, as well as the younger generations) it doesn’t seem to. The online world is primarily a PUBLIC, or social, one, rife with the riches of an entire populace coming together, a town square, a place where jittery attention & fluid transitions seem to be the qualities most prized. The internet is a machine designed to help us connect with other people.
A book (or chapbook, or paper in the hand) is an older technology, a different kind of device.
(9.2012) @ LitBridge, on PhD programs
Pritts, whose latest poetry collection is Sweet Nothing (Lowbrow Press, 2011), is hopeful that H_NGM_N will continue to help keep poetry relevant. “In our culture, where writing is being reduced to a transaction delivered in online bursts, I think poetry is all that can save us,” he says. “It’s a style of language, a mode of empathy that can provide unadulterated access to our souls.”
What’s at stake for me is POETRY over the POEM, that I am much more interested now in developing an askesis of living, a process whereby I can breathe and feel. I don’t think of myself as writing a poem. For me, it’s time to focus on POETRY—the poetry of living, of thinking, of being human. Many people are writing poems, and I’m so glad for that. But I want to write poetry, I want to write my life, I want to write a place for my soul. Poems result from that, sure, but that’s not the goal, that’s not what I’m aiming for. CASUAL, a word, which wears khaki pants to work on Friday, becomes something closer to CAUSAL for me, a causal system.
(4.2012) @ BOMB, conducted by Gregory Lawless
There’s this anthropological term that I’ve gotten really excited about called “pattern exhaustion,” which is what happens when a particular tribe would start making these intricate designs on their pottery and at a certain point we can document where they stopped because they’d been making the same patterns over and over again. They forgot to explore, they forgot to grow, they forgot to try something new, and we call this pattern exhaustion. It’s the reason why sometimes very crude archaeological finds will come after really intricate archaeological finds. Not because we’re wrong with our dating, but because the particular people we’re examining sort of got sick of themselves.
(2.2012) essay, "Man and Mega Man: Better Living Through Retro Game Demos on YouTube" @ PopMatters
(3.2011) @ the PANK blog
Humanities Iowa has created a council conducted program in partnership with the Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature, titled "On the Fly". The program features interviews with great American writers connected to Iowa.
(10.2010) review/preview @ Daily Iowan
(8.2010) essay, "You Are What I Am: Objective Data & Subjective Sensation in Larry Eigner’s Air the Trees" @ Octopus
(6.2010) interview @ We Are Homer, conducted by Traci Brimhall, with Matt Hart
(3.2010) review/preview @ Kalamazoo Gazette
(2.2010) interview @ Bookslut on Honorary Astronaut, conducted by Elizabeth Hildreth
(12.2009) interview @ Writer’s Digest on Honorary Astronaut, conducted by Robert Lee Brewer