Mike Puican, whose "Poem With Many Endings" is featured in ACM50.1, is interviewed by Dzanc Books here. It's an interesting short interview, mostly about the composition and writing techniques used by Puican in a poem called "As Though Someone Else Has Praised This Night and These Are Her Words" that recently appeard in the March issue of The Collagist. Perhaps the most compelling part is when Puican discusses the influece of Muriel Dockendorff Navarrete on his poem and the literally breath-taking power of her committment to poetry as a vital form of expression in the face of torture and ultimate death:
She was arrested as General Pinochet began eliminating anyone who was thought to be in opposition to his rule. Thousands of students were rounded up, taken to a soccer stadium and murdered. Muriel was one of those tortured and eventually killed. But while in prison, she still wrote poetry. She wrote it on the back of cigarette papers.
What compels a person undergoing torture, who knows she is going to be killed, to write poetry? What does her commitment to writing say to a poet who writes in more comfortable and privileged circumstances? These are the questions I wanted my poem to ask.
And these are powerful questions. In a time when turture and murder in the name of politics are far too common, there is a growing need for political poetry and for poets to address questions of the relevance of art in the face of torture. Hopefully more writers will tackle these difficult themes and take on some of the issues that American writers mostly sidestep or disregard entirely.