“Tangible Wonder Display Case,” “Night Manual,” “Pop Blasted,” “A Stand of Pine,” “North,” “Refraction,” and “Submarine” are poems by David Hornibrook published in the winter 2018 issue of Orange Quarterly (OQ 6), released February 17, 2018.
What inspired you to write this these poems?
Poems come from so many different places!
“Pop Blasted!” is made up of recycled portions of an article by Randy Kennedy (originally published in the NYT), about pop culture and the space race. I wrote “Tangible Wonder Display Case” while looking at some collages by the artist and musician Robert Pollard. I finished in one sitting and had so much fun doing it. “Night Manual” started out while I was in a map library and noticed that the patterns on the marble floor were reminiscent of waves. I had a dollar in my pocket. I’m sure there was more I’m not remembering. Sand dunes form over time when a little bit of sand catches in some grass or a stone and begins to accumulate. Language does this too. Fortunately poems don’t take as long as dunes.
Why do you make art, and why write poetry in particular?
I don’t really know what else to do with myself! For me, poetry is THE way to process a truly bewildering, wonderous, and frightening world.
What do you like about reading or performing your work for an audience?
I absolutely love doing readings. There’s something really special about being able to partake in the energy of a group of people—maybe even direct that energy. Communication is everything and I think reading/performing is best when it’s an exchange—the poet is engaging the audience but also listening to the audience and responding. I also like the attention.
In what ways do you think art and poetry are vital to society today?
Every society needs prophets, mirrors, oracles, and listeners. Artists are any and all of these things. There’s so much damage going on all the time, especially now that we’re aware of what’s happening 24 hours a day via the internet and the constant news cycle. We lose our ability to focus and truly care about anything when we’re pressured to care about everything at once. Poems help us slow down, consider things, take on new perspectives. Lots of people have said this in better ways.
Who are some of your favorite poets, writers, musicians, filmmakers, or other artists?
This is always the toughest question—it changes all the time. Music has been an incredible influence on my writing. I love Alice Coltrane, Robert Pollard/Guided by Voices, Neil Young. Poets that I come back to again and again include Ann Lauterbach, Laura Kasischke, Dorianne Laux, Bridget Pegeen Kelly, W.S. Merwin. I would probably give you a different list tomorrow.
Who were some of your biggest influences coming into your own as an artist?
The first poet I read was W.H. Auden. I came across his selected poems in a used bookstore and was immediately drawn to it. “September 1, 1939” is one of the first poems I loved. It was quite some time before I discovered any contemporary poets and when I did they were no longer very contemporary! Music had probably the strongest influence on my early exploration with poetry. I was listening to bands like The Promise Ring, Jets to Brazil—stuff with lots of wordplay and coincidentally, quite a few references to american poetry. It was years before I realized how strongly influenced I was.
What are working on next, and what excites you most about the future?
Well, I have this manuscript I feel very good about called Night Manual. It’s travelling around a little, trying to find a good home. Most recently, I’ve been working on a project about what it might be like to live underwater crossed with a roadtrip across Michigan interspersed with psalms . . . is one way to describe it, I think? I’m in the thick of it, whatever it is.
David Hornibrook‘s work has appeared in Thrush Poetry Journal, PANK, SiDEKiCK LiT, Rogue Agent, Five Quarterly, The Baltimore Review, The Columbia Review, Flyway, and elsewhere. He is a Pushcart Prize recipient and holds an MFA from the Helen Zell Writer’s Program at the University of Michigan.