Sunday, March 15, 2009

Dan Albergotti

Dan Albergotti is a poet I e-met at and in person, briefly and by chance, at the 2009 AWP conference in Chicago. I had enough time to congratulate him on his recent publication, The Boatloads, with BOA Editions. He generously talked with Brian Brodeur of the "How a Poem Happens" blog about his poem "The Vestibule". Here's the poem:

by Dan Albergotti

I sometimes wish I could find Cindy
to thank her for agreeing with my fine idea
that we sneak into the university chapel
late one night in 1983 to make love.
I don't just want to thank her for giving me
the trump card — “house of worship”—
I hold in every stupid party game that begins,
“Where's the strangest place you've ever . . . ?”
No, I want to thank her for the truth of it.
For knowing that the heart is holy even when
our own hearts were so frail and callow.
Truth: it was 1983; we were nineteen years old;
we lay below the altar and preached a quiet sermon
not just on the divinity of skin, but on the grace
of the heart beneath. It was the only homily
we knew, and our souls were beatified.
And if you say sentiment and cliché, then that
is what you say. What I know is what is sacred.
Lord of this other world, let me recall that night.
Let me again hear how our whispered exclamations
near the end seemed like rising hymnal rhythm,
and let me feel how those forgotten words came
from somewhere else and meant something.
Something, if only to the single moth
that, in the darkened air of that chapel,
fluttered its dusty wings around our heads.

Here is an excerpt from Brian Brodeur's interview with Dan Albergotti:

BB: Do you believe in inspiration? How much of this poem was “received” and how much was the result of sweat and tears?

DA: I certainly don’t believe there’s a magic wind floating out there biding its time before willfully flowing through me to produce a divine text. But at the same time, I don’t think creating a poem is a purely mechanical, conscious process. I believe in trusting the subconscious mind. I think it’s an essential part of realizing yourself as a poet (or as any other sort of artist). If your art is entirely within the realm of your articulation, I don’t believe you’ve begun to tap your potential. As for how much of this poem is “received,” I’ll just say that I have no idea where the dusty-winged moth came from. I don’t know why it flew into my poem, but I’m very happy it’s there now.

Read the full interview here.

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