LASKY: I do. Black Life has “gross” moments, but Thunderbird is truly
nihilistic. And I see nihilistic ideas as a form of evil because it’s hard to
go from there.
KOO: This idea of the multivalent, open “I”—was that at all behind your
stylistic choice to start dropping punctuation in Black Life Was that a
choice you made consciously, and did that help you tap into this “
LASKY: I think so. Because then you’re not containing anything with
punctuation. But it also has to do with sound. Probably not everyone
sees the end of a line like this, but a period to me is an extra little notation—it creates a hard stop plus another stop. You know Merwin’s The
Vixen I was teaching that to little kids as a Writers in the Schools fellow,
and one little kid said, It has no punctuation! And to myself I was like,
You know that because you’re just learning punctuation, and punctuation is a kind of wonder, a kind of awe. When you’re learning it, you see
KOO: You name many people in your poems: friends, lovers, ex-lovers,
crushes, from Laura Solomon in AWE to “sweet Robbie Wood” in Black
Life. Is this something that you always did, or were you influenced in this
regard by the New York School?
LASKY: I was influenced by the New York School, especially Frank
O’Hara. When Peter Gizzi came to my MFA program, he brought all
these great poets for us to read, and I was just like, Yeah, I’m going to do
that, that’s awesome. And Catullus was a poet I had always loved, from
the time I was little, and he does that. He’s like, “Yeah, you screwed me
in real life, I’m going to screw you for all time.” I always had the sense
growing up that there was so much power in writing poems, especially
in using a name.
KOO: When you read the New York School poets for the first time, were
there certain ones that you gravitated toward?