An interview with Stephen Dunn

Thursday, September 20th, 2012 at 11:17 AM
By
An interview with Stephen Dunn by
psbehrend.psu.edu

Pulitzer-prize winning poet Stephen Dunn will be reading at Penn State Behrend on Thursday Sept. 20, starting off Behrend’s Creative Writers Reading Series.

Dunn is the author of 16 books of poetry, including his most recent, Here and Now. His work has appeared in The Atlantic, The Nation, The New Yorker, and The Georgia Review, among other places. Since 1974, he has taught at Richard Stockton College of NJ, where he is Distinguished Professor of Creative Writing. Using language that is beautiful both for its simple diction and complex thought, Dunn’s invites readers into his unique poetic model of feeling. 

Danielle DiCenzo: How might you best define your role as a poet in the grand scheme of literature?

Stephen Dunn: I don't know. It's really a question someone else should answer, perhaps George Looney.

DD: What necessity do you see in choosing poetry over other forms? So, in more base terms, why poetry?

SD: It's simply what I do best. I've written a poor novel, and a few decent stories, and I'm not a bad essayist. But poetry has become what I do; it's my job and my pleasure.

DD: What would you claim should be the significance of the young writer's experiencing/ witnessing of life in their writing?

SD: Getting it right. Finding language for what is not easily said.

DD: Is there a solution to a lack of inspiration?

SD: Yes, hard work. My inspiration, such as is, usually comes early or mid-poem. If I waited for external inspiration, I'd probably write no more than 3 or 4 poems a year.

DD: What is the writer’s best-kept secret?

SD: As Thomas Mann said, writing is more difficult for the writer.

DD: Any last words?

SD: I like Ibsen's last words on his deathbed. "On the contrary..."

 

The reading will be held in Behrend’s Larry and Kathryn Smith Chapel at 6 p.m. A reception for the author will be held at 5:30 p.m. The reading is free and open to the public.

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