3 Questions and a Poem–in which one of my favorite poets is interviewed and shares a poem.
What do you consider the three most important elements of a poem?
Imagery, sound/music, and syntax are, at this moment in time, my picks for most important elements. If you were to ask me again next week, my answer would probably change depending on what I’m reading or studying, and I think that’s the beauty of poetry. Anytime I read a poem though, I’m looking to see what the poet is doing with those three things each time.
What’s your best advice for writing poetry?
I think the best advice I can give is to always look for surprise. Surprise often is a way of discovering and deepening what the poem wants to/can say. Surprise also keeps us, as writers, invested in the composition of our work and, for those on the other side of the poem (i.e. the audience), it should keep them invested in hearing or reading it until the piece concludes.
What’s the one poem that everyone should read today?
Off the top of my head, I think everyone should stop what they’re doing and go read “On Confessionalism” by John Murillo. It’s a phenomenal poem from his second collection, and it does so many things well. I think it’s a masterclass piece for people interested in long poems that don’t feel long, tone, pace, etc.
Christian J. Collier’s poems of witness have the kind of keen insight that slices to the heart of the subject. The Gleaming of the Blade examines Black masculinity in the contemporary American South, alongside the lingering ghosts of the past, and how it feels to be Black in a country whose divisions and struggles could signal the end of civilization. These poems never shy away, interrogating harsh injustices and contending with the truth of today’s America, a truth sometimes beautiful, sometimes biting.
About the Author
Christian J. Collier is a Black, Southern writer, arts organizer, and teaching artist who resides in Chattanooga, TN. He is the author of Greater Ghost (Four Way Books, 2024), and the chapbook The Gleaming of the Blade, the 2021 Editors’ Selection from Bull City Press. His works have appeared in December, North American Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, The Michigan Quarterly Review, and elsewhere. A 2015 Loft Spoken Word Immersion Fellow, he is also the winner of the 2022 Porch Prize in Poetry and the 2020 ProForma Contest from Grist Journal. More about him and his work can be found at www.christianjcollier.com
~You can share this post on social media or have new posts delivered directly to your email inbox by clicking one of the buttons below~