Chad Sweeney Recommends...

“Seeing is an act of imagination. When I am stuck in writing, it means that I have stopped seeing, that I have reduced the myriad forms to irrelevant background shapes like extras in a film, that I have closed off the sense doors to dwell in an anxious hermitage of bills and paperwork. Taking a walk is helpful, but no matter where I am, I can shift over to this alert mode of experience and feel changed by it: exhilarated by gradations of the violet whirl of bushes, the intricate mazes of wood grain in the table, the slapping of a child’s sandals, the whirring shadows of the ceiling fan against kitchen tile. Rather than feel pressure to complete a poem, I merely write perceptions, compositions in motion, textures, contrasts, distances, sounds, frames, traceries and scatterings, as if the world were a cubist painting or sculpture garden. From these prima causa observations—and in a state of gratitude and excited receptivity—the words begin to rise or fracture into liminal spaces quivering with mystery and potential. These are the poems that tell the most surprising truths, of me and beyond me, in collaboration with these parrots turning above the orange grove and a coal barge on the Mississippi of my own distant childhood.”
—Chad Sweeney, author of Little Million Doors (Nightboat Books, 2019)