We interviewed Joe Milazzo, author of the novel Crepuscule W/ Nellie (Jaded Ibis Press) and two collections of poetry: The Habiliments (Apostrophe Books) and the forthcoming Of All Places In This Place Of All Places. He co-edits the online interdisciplinary arts journal [out of nothing], is a Contributing Editor at Entropy, curates the Other People’s Poetry reading series, and is also the proprietor of Imipolex Press. He has taught creative writing at Southern Methodist University, the University of Texas at Dallas, Writing Workshops Dallas, and The Writer’s Garret.
What you’re reading right now:
2 books: Moving Kings, the new novel from Joshua Cohen (one of Granta’s current crop of “Best Young American Novelists”) and the experimental memoir Ostinato by Louis-René des Forêts, as translated into English by Mary Ann Caws, a book that is quite famous in its native France but virtually unknown here… although the Dallas Public Library system does own a copy.
What moves you most in a work of literature:
Language that does something I’ve not seen or heard language do before. In a word: surprise.
You’re organizing a literary dinner party. Which three authors, dead or alive, do you invite?
As many pseudonymous and heteronymous authors as I can think of, just to see which of their “representatives” they might send in their stead: Lewis Carroll, Fernando Pessoa and JT LeRoy (Laura Albert).
A book everyone is raving about that you just can’t get into:
Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance. In my opinion, there are more interesting and rewarding books to be read on the constellation of important topics Vance covers, e.g., Nancy Isenberg’s White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America.
One book every student should read:
I Remember by Joe Brainard. For its ingenious use of constraint, its deceptive simplicity, and its playful rigor.
Favorite place to read:
Under a shady tree.
A book you return to again and again:
Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino (as translated into English by William Weaver).
Authors/books that have influenced your writing style the most:
My chief influences switch from project to project and day to day, but, at the moment, a partial list would include: Joseph McElroy, Nathalie Sarraute, Francis Ponge, Nathanael West, Bob Kaufman, Eugenio Montale, Clarice Lispector and Lewis Hyde.
What are you working on next?
I’m currently at work on three separate poetic sequences. I’m not sure how long or far they will go, though at least one I anticipate will grow into a full-length collection. I am also at work on a long-delayed essay on my experience, as a middle-aged adult, revisiting and playing the primitive video games (now called “twitch games” by some) of my youth.
What do you have coming up?
I curate the Other People’s Poetry reading series at Deep Vellum Books. We will be kicking off our second season in September with a reading of Philip Levine’s National Book Award-winning collection What Work Is. (You can learn more about OPP here: http://www.oppoetry.com/.) I also have a chapbook coming out later this year or early in 2018, courtesy of the journal and small press Reality Beach. @p_roblem_s began life as a pseudonymous Twitter account (since deactivated/annihilated ) I managed from 2010 through 2011. Excerpts from the chapbook can be read here.
This interview is the second in our Fall Series. Joe’s experimental poetry class, Digital Poetics & New Hybridities, will take place at The Writer’s Garret on Thursdays from October 19 to November 2. Find out more here.