illusionary terrain

Poetry and Poetics

“The Next Big Thing” Self-Interview with Conrad Wells

I want to thank Edric Mesmer for tagging me. I also want to thank everyone who allowed me to tag them for next week.

What is the working title of the book?


 Where did the idea come from for the book?

While I was writing Uglystick I was not thinking about writing a book. I had a barrelful of ideas that stimulated me to write poems so I was “just” writing poems to start. That lovely E. M. Forster quote applied, “How do I know what I mean until I see what I say?”

After I had a chance to see what I had said I begin to see the ideas, words, phrases, puns  and references that appeared to appear in my poems again and again. Reading over what I had written certain poems seem to reinforce each other, echo each other. These are the poems I banded together to create Uglystick. The title makes reference to the organic nature of the book’s creation. I could have also called it “Bundle of Unintentionally Similar Sticks”.

What genre does your book fall under?

Lyric incantation or re-appropriated lyric.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

I am not sure who the stars would be but I know what it would look like. There is a Monty Python piece about a football game between Germany and Greece in which all the players are relatively well known philosophers. Wittgenstein and Nietzsche are back line defenders, Plato is a striker and so on. I love that sort of thing. I would want the film of my book to recreate that contest, only opened up to include writers from other genres. And instead of playing football they would be playing Botticelli.

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

“Where are all the people?” or “I’ll trade one red sucker for two blue ones.”

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

It took about four years to write and edit.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

There are a number of ideas that sparked my desire to write poetry in the first place and these ideas still drive my writing today.  Some ideas fill me with an urge to game, an urge to respond not in a direct or even useful way, but in a way that is in some way  inappropriate. I call this inappropriateness gameplay.

Richard Rorty’s Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity, James P. Carse’s Finite and Infinite Games, Calvino’s If On A Winter’s Night a Traveller and writings on Lightness, Julie Dash’s Daughters of the Dust, John Ashbery’s “The System” , Auden’s great poemIn Praise of Limestone”…these and many others act as starting points for me, “rulebooks” from which I can create the gameplay of my writing

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

I have been told by readers that when my poems are recited backwards secret messages are revealed in the sky.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I have just starting looking for a publisher. We shall see.

My tagged writers for next Wednesday are:

Sheila Maldonado

Jenna Cardinale


Next Week

A Next Big Thing is coming…