Who is your favorite living poet?
There is no way to have one answer for this question. I love Billy Collins because he is approachable- he’s the kind if poet that non-poets and poets alike can read and enjoy. I also love the dark humor in Jennifer L. Knox‘s poetry, and the careful wording in Jill Alexander Essbaum‘s poems.
Who is your favorite dead poet?
Sister Syl. I cannot get enough Sylvia Plath. I’ve read every single thing by her that I’ve been able to get my hands on– her fiction, her children’s stories, her poems, her letters, her journals. I even argued in my thesis that her collection The Colossus is more technically advanced than Ariel.
What is your favorite poem of all time?
“I Knock at the Door of the Rock” by Wislawa Szymborska. Don’t need to think twice about that one.
Current book of poetry you can’t get out of your
I just got Barbara Ungar’s Immortal Medusa in the mail and I love it. A little funny, a little sad, and extraordinarily observant. It’s earnest and touching and I don’t think you can ask for more than that.
Best live, or audio, poetry reading you can remember.
My answer here is tempered by three things: location, starstruck-ness (not a word, I know) and pregnancy hormones. I was three months pregnant when my husband and I saw Billy Collins read at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington D.C. The turn out was bigger than they expected so we ended up across the street at a church, which made the whole thing kind of surreal. Afterwards I was hungry (all food expect white rice was gross to me), tired, and starstuck when I asked him sign my book. I remember yammering on and on about the high school students I taught who loved his poetry and would ask me (honestly) to play is 92nd St Y reading. He was so kind and personable and didn’t seem to mind chatting with a sweaty, stammering lady in a dress that was a little too tight.
Lindsey Lewis Smithson has her MFA from UC Riverside’s Palm Desert Low Residency MFA. She has served as the Poetry Editor and the Managing Editor for The Coachella Review, in addition to having read for Hobart and The Whistling Fire. Some of her poetry has appeared on The Nervous Breakdown, This Zine Will Change Your Life, The Cossack Review, and Every Writer’s Resource: Everyday Poems.