“The Inexact Nature” by Eric Higgins was published in the January Issue. Now, Eric discusses prostitution, restraining orders, and illegalities.
1. Who would you prostitute? What would be your pimp name?
I wouldnâ€™t prostitute anyone. To prostitute someone seems deeply despicable.
2. Who would you beatify and pray to?
Beatify, pray to, and pray for ecosystems. (If a corporation can be a who, then I see no reason why an ecosystem canâ€™t be one, too.
3. How do you put a restraining order on desire?
Iâ€™m not sure itâ€™s possible; quite a few governments, religions, and social institutions have been rendered inconsequential in the course of attempting to do just that. But if I had to put a restraining order on one of my own desires for one reason or another, I suppose Iâ€™d attempt to remind myself of some greater good I would be inhibiting if I slaked that desire. Iâ€™m a fan of self-imposed restraint and moderation, so that approach might work.
4. What is the most illegal thing you have profited from? What did you spend the money on?
Great question. If we each asked ourselves this, wouldnâ€™t the world be better for it? The most illegal thing I have profited from is probably corporations that participate in environmental degradation. I have a very small amount of money invested in the S&P 500 through a 403(b) account from the brief period before I began graduate school, and I havenâ€™t spent the money. Itâ€™s not illegal to do what I have done, but my conscience tells me it is. And probably in thirty years it will be illegal to use plastic sandwich bags, which I have used this week.
5. How does poetry keep itself separate from fiction when telling a story?
Well, it probably depends on the type of poem. As far as I understand them, narrative poems donâ€™t separate themselves from a story. It seems like the story is the trellis for the narrative poem; you donâ€™t always notice the lattice, but without it, the snaking vines are not held up to behold. A more dissociative poem might poke (or stab) at the orderliness of a narrative, perhaps by engulfing the story in filigree or pumping in so much fugue that the narrative itself is disrupted to the point of being unrecognizable. I like both types of poem, but in either case it seems to me a poem always contends with the idea of story, even if it chooses not to narrate in a familiar or traditional manner.
But I suspect that wasnâ€™t really the question you were asking. I think when both poetry and fiction intend to tell a story, readers of poetry expect â€œrunsâ€ or flourishes of ornate, improbable language which are less expected by readers of fiction. That, plus poems tend to compress narratives. So, in general, contemporary poetry differentiates itself from fiction by two relatively small stylistic differences is what I think Iâ€™m saying, though I realize this answer is problematic (and woefully incomplete) within our present genre-bending culture.
6. What would you perform surgery on? What would you fix?
My wife, Sophie Rosenblum, has terrible TMJ that causes her quite a lot of pain and lessens her enjoyment of certain dense foods which she happens to love. If I could fix anything by surgery, it would be that. No word yet on if sheâ€™d want me looming at her bedside with a bone saw, though.