Wednesday, October 11, 2006

A Conversation with Victor Hernández Cruz & Quincy Troupe

On This Tortured But Beautiful Planet

From: Quincy Troupe

To: Victor Hernandez Cruz

I started writing poetry in my early 20’s, in the early 1960’s, and have always felt I had a lot of catching up to do: I still feel that way. I started writing poetry after I suffered a traumatic knee injury that ended my promising basketball career: I was living in Metz, France, playing on an Army basketball team and a French one. I was always a voracious reader and while I was recovering from my knee injury I read some poems by Arthur Rimbaud, the French poet, that caught my attention. I already knew about Langston Hughes, Edgar Allen Poe, and Emily Dickenson and a few other American poets I read when I was younger, but none of them made any impact on me at the time because I wasn’t into poetry. Rimbaud caught my attention for some reason. But the first poet who I really loved was Pablo Neruda, the great Chilean poet, after I read his poem, “Only Death.” That poem just floored me and I started trying to write poetry seriously after that. I also loved music at the time, especially Miles Davis, and other so-called jazz musicians, so music had a profound impact on me and my poetry. I wanted my poetry also to be musical, flexible, fluent, magical, mysterious like great music is, and I wanted it to be image based, and full of surprises running through the way the language was fashioned, and the manner in which images were woven throughout the texts. But in order to do all of this I first had to learn to write well and that took a long time.


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