Thursday, July 17, 2008

Reader Meet Author

Christopher Major

If a poem is essentially an observation of everyday life with a slight and sometimes not so slight piece of insight thrown in, then why can't humor play a role. There are always moments in life that can be taken in one of two ways, you can either drown in the complexity or smile, comment, and advance. Who is to say that a poem can't be just as humorous as it is insightful.

Believe it or not the first thing that I noticed about Christopher Major was not his structure or his uses of symbols, and really all of the keys on the keyboard, it was his strong sense of humor. A humor that seems to be lacking in modern poetry, and one that is at the core of most of Major's work. It is not that he does take himself seriously as an artist, and it is more in the way he views the world.

Recently, Christopher was kind enough to answer a few of my questions.

Orange Alert (OA): How did you first become interested in Concrete Poetry? What about it has retained that interest?
Christopher Major (CM): I started to write my first concrete/visual poems almost as soon as I began writing more traditional poetry.I had very little idea of what concrete poetry even was. More lately i've been searching out and reading various concrete and visual poets such as Mary Webb, Alan Ridell, Ellen Mary Solt and the calligrams of Apollinaire. I enjoy the obvious visual impact of the poems, their immediacy, I try to include visual or text 'twists', but i also try to keep them accessible.

OA: When working in the format what is more important, the image or the content? Are they equally important? Would you consider this to be more art then poetry?
CM: They should definitely be equally important. I think that if I'm honest occasionally the image overtakes the importance of the text to the detriment of the whole piece. I started out publishing more traditional work, so i consider myself a poet. The poetry/art question doesn't matter to me, as long as people appreciate some of the work.

OA: You seem to be limited by technology and the range of the keyboard. Do you feel limited in anyway? Is it this structure that allows you to create or restricts you from really creating what is in your mind?

CM: Yeah, I'm restricted by technology and the keyboard, but that's fine.Different font sizes and formats is about as far as I want to push the form.If I can't create a piece doing this, I tend to not bother.To be honest, I'm not really that accomplished at using a computer.

OA: Humor seems to play a major role in your work. This seems to be a rare quality in poetry, but lends itself well to concrete poetry. Do you feel humor is more effective in concrete poetry as oppose to more traditional forms?
CM: I read a vast amount of traditional poetry, and humour is rare.It is rare in many of the more traditional poems i wrote/write. Concrete poetry lends itself to visual 'gags',funny juxtaposition of text/image.As the old saying goes 'Light writes White', the seedy side,drugs, drink, fist fights always seems to stir the creative juices.Concrete work hopefully seasons with a dash of humour even when dealing with the darker side of life.

OA: Last fall you had a free chapbook released by Why Vandalism? What are your thoughts on .pdf chapbooks in general. Do you feel that printed work feels more legitimate then on-line work?
CM: I'm grateful to Why Vandalism for taking a chance on this sort of work, and think they produced a nice looking product. I had a chapbook of traditional poems published in 2006, it recieved one or two good reviews, but only having a print run of a couple of hundred its 'reach' is obviously limited. 'Concrete & Calligram' has the opportunity of being read by a far wider audience, and I've been contacted by a number of people saying they enjoyed it and offering to do write ups. I've had a number of concrete poems published in print mags, and its satisfying to have a tangible product to hand, but when I read quality poetry on line in magazines such as Snakeskin,Words Myth, Zygote, Word Riot, Ink Sweat & Tears, Thieves Jargon to name a few, I cant help thinking this is the way of the poetry presses, and that it's no bad thing.

OA: What's next for Chris Major?
CM: Ive got a collection of another 40 concrete poems to find a home for, and a 'thankyou' to say to you, Jason, for your interest in my stuff.

Bonus Questions:
Coffee? If yes, what is your favorite type of coffee, and where do you like to go to drink it?
CM: Definitely Black. And although i'm ashamed to admit it -McDonalds.

OA: What type of music do your enjoy?
CM: Lou Reed, Patti Smith, Joy Division, Velvet Underground.

1 comment:

Nobius said...

Thanks for publishing this Jason. He's great, I love his work.

As for our own interview, I apologize a lot going on now, I'm so sorry, I have Calliope on temporary hiatus until I get things straightened out. Hopefully issue 17 will see light of day in August and I plan to launch a blog to go with the mag too.

Type at you soon, hectic times.

God bless.