Morgan Parker Recommends...

“I recommend overstimulation. If it’s too quiet, I find it’s hard to hear my voice. When I write, I overwhelm myself: The TV’s on in the background playing a movie or a reality show, I’m listening to music, I’m texting five friends, the window’s open and I’m eavesdropping on the conversations and arguments on my Bed-Stuy street below, the coffee table is stacked with books—art books, poetry collections, essays. Because I don’t know what stimulus will jumpstart a poem, which voice or atmosphere will turn me on, I douse myself in all of them at once. I’m endlessly curious (read: nosy), and approach my writing as an ethnographer: observing the behaviors, languages, impulses, and rituals of other people and myself. I take furious notes wherever I am, recording observations and thoughts. I hoard and collect. That’s how I compose poems—getting full on everything. Revision and rewriting I do in silence and without distraction. That’s when I read the poem out loud to find its music, sift through the other voices and tongues to find the poem’s original voice: a kind of collaged Frankenstein or melting pot. The poem’s energy comes from outside stimuli, allowing its own voice to be thrust up to the surface.”
—Morgan Parker, author of Other People’s Comfort Keeps Me up at Night (Switchback Books, 2015) 

Photo credit: Shante Cozier