Robert Mittenthal


About the Poet

It doesn't make sense to me to propose any model which would explain how poetry does or should work. It's more interesting to talk about how language is used. Meaning? Meaning meanly. When I visit the used language store, I pay discounted prices. Perhaps derivative is the adjective we've been denying ourselves. It's the appropriate word for what I have to say.

I'm interested in how language means. This is probably why I'm interested in poetry that explores possibilities of meaning. Rather than a poetry that aims at transparency to facilitate smoother communication -- backgrounding the physical nature of language -- my vision is of a poetry which actively means. As both reader and writer, I want to be intimately aware of how language is using me, as well as how I am using it.

Since the meanings of words are literally pointed out to us. I would argue that our use of language can never be purely our own. In other words, language makes its way through us with or without our knowledge and consent. Choosing to deal with this as a condition of writing, I am interested in exploring how language can present itself in a way which speaks both to the larger structures that inform it, and to the reader who wants to be free to construct meaning.

Composition against explanation? Probably. The problem with Seattle is that it rarely snows & when it does, it almost never accumulates.


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