The Doors performing "When the Music's Over"
and "Love Me Two Times" from
The Doors Live in Copenhagen 1968.
"[Our algorithm] periodically checks the New York Times home page for newly published articles. Then it scans each sentence looking for potential haikus by using an electronic dictionary containing syllable counts. We started with a basic rhyming lexicon, but over time we've added syllable counts for words like “Rihanna” or “terroir” to keep pace with the broad vocabulary of The Times."Not every haiku our computer finds is a good one. The algorithm discards some potential poems if they are awkwardly constructed and it does not scan articles covering sensitive topics. Furthermore, the machine has no aesthetic sense. It can't distinguish between an elegant verse and a plodding one. But, when it does stumble across something beautiful or funny or just a gem of a haiku, human journalists select it and post it on this blog."
This interview with poet Ada Limón, first published on Knuckle Twenty-Nine (a now-extinct blog) in December 2010, is the first in a new series I'm beginning called Interviews with Poets.
Now, more than three years later, Ada is working on a book of essays and a novel, and her new collection of poems, Bright Dead Things, is forthcoming from Milkweed Editions. She works as a freelance writer and creative writing instructor while splitting her time between Lexington, Kentucky and Sonoma, California (with a great deal of New York in between).
She also keeps a great blog.
Below is my interview with Ada in its original form.
"To achieve an order that maximizes strengths and minimizes weaknesses, it’s crucial to gain the editorial distance necessary to self-evaluate, to think like an editor. An exercise for achieving this is listing a minimum of two strengths and weaknesses per poem, as if preparing criticism for poetry workshop fellows. Some things to assess are syntax, diction, and voice; either too much or not enough description; the balance of abstract to concrete imagery or symbolism; the flow or rhythm; the presence or lack of tension or risk (narrative, dramatic, linguistic, formal, emotional); the capacity to surprise; line breaks; word choice (the best, most accurate, evocative choice for context); point of view; and the use (or misuse) of dialogue. Noting as many strengths and weaknesses as possible allows for the most objective evaluation of which poems are strongest and why."