Getting to Know Wyn Cooper and his new book Mars Poetica
When did you first encounter poetry? How did you discover you wanted to write poems?
I started writing poems in fifth grade, which is when my first poem was published. I continued publishing in high school, and realized I was pretty good at it, so I continued.
Do you have a writing routine? A favorite time or place to write?
I write six days a week from 5 to 7 in the evening, in my favorite chair.
Where do your poems most often come from—an image, a sound, a phrase, an idea?
My poems always begin with sound, with the unconscious, and sense follows. As humans we are hard wired to make sense, so I don’t worry about that.
Which writers (living or dead) do you feel have influenced you the most?
I really have no answer for that. I don’t like to play favorites! I do go back to Larkin and Bishop more often than others, though.
What's the significance of the title?
Mars Poetica is a play on ars poetica, and the reference to Mars came from outer space.
Are there over-arching themes?
I don’t really see over-arching themes, but I do think the poems in this book both mourn and celebrate the people and places I love, and how to make that love balance the hate that’s in our world right now, and in me.
What was the process of assembling it? Was it a project book?
My most recent book was all loose sonnets, and the one before that was all postcards poems. This book was a relief from that in a way, because I was able to include as many kinds of poems as possible; I didn’t have to leave anything out because it didn’t fit into the program. But assembling it was hell, even though I work as an editor.
Read an excerpt from his book here:
How Silent the Trees
--for Liam Rector, 1949-2007
How the hell are you, I want
to ask but can’t—you’re dead.
How hard the snow fell,
how slowly it melts.
How to tie a knot big enough
to choke the wild pain.
How to listen carelessly
to words used carefully.
How answers to questions
often contain no answer.
How to wind a watch
so tight time stops.
How silent the trees, how
loud the shots of hunters.