the loss of virginity
the awakening of the spirit
lying on soiled earth
toes curling in
holding a dying flower
in one hand
furred and panting
the sky still blue
mountains and grass
TSTmpj: To quote you, you say "In my work I juxtapose concrete images with abstract notions, often write in structures such as unrhyming couplets and triadic verse, stress economy, and utilize such literary conceits as the ekphrasis poem, parallel structure and the incorporation of mythology within my work." What do you consider to be the dominant societal mythology at the moment, and how, if at all, do you seek to express it in your poetry?
William Wright Harris: The dominant societal mythology in contemporary America; wow, great subject for an essay. There are so many. As a country, we are a theocracy in the guise of democracy; and the religious constructs that were so effective in evoking fear and submission from the masses of humanity (think Marx, saying, "Religion is the opiate of the masses") are largely irrelevant today. The church that for centuries has emphasized the blind aspect of "Blind Faith" has been proven to be filled with a history that turned a blind eye to the transatlantic slave trade, to the holocaust, and to the paedophiliac acts of their own members. Another mythology is in America itself, a country founded by white slave owners that just wanted to be free? In a land that is supposedly free to practice whatever religious practices one desires within said borders, citizens are forced to use a currency with the monotheistic Judeo-Christian deity's name printed thereon as well as swear your allegiance to said deity in the Pledge of Allegiance? At what point is that freedom? Also, the American governmental system is based on a Republic in which the smallest fraction of the population controls the majority of the country's wealth. Supposedly, it is the American people that elect their Commander-in-Chief; this is simply not true. Said office is elected by the Electoral College, rendering the vote acquired by the masses utterly worthless. Finally, the social construct women in this country have engrained into their psyche from the cradle is simply sickening. That a woman must be some dainty figure distressed and in need of their masculine counterparts to not only rescue them but preserve them is a disgusting cultural conceit.
TSTmpj: I understand you have been in workshop settings with such poets as Jesse Janeshek, Marilyn Kallet, Arthur Smith, and Marcel Brouwers. I'd like you to share an insight or two that you have gleaned from one of them. Which of them do you feel you see most in "loss of virginity"?
William Wright Harris: I really don't see on particular professor's influence; rather I see an amalgamation thereof. Jesse Janeshek taught me to spend the time learning the rules of poetry so that I may spend the rest of my life breaking said rules as well as how to own your work. Marilyn Kallet taught me that I own my own work as well as how to apply my knowledge to such forms as unrhyming couplets and triadic verse. Arthur Smith taught me the movements of the poem (strophe, antistrophe, and vehicle) as well as supplying me with some of my favorite contemporary poets. Marcel Brouwers taught me how to use titles, a thematic problem for me traditionally, as well as the fact that sometimes the poem is bigger than the poet. So, again, it is hard to see one professor standing out in this piece above others. I hope this helps.
TSTmpj: What is next for you as a poet?
William Wright Harris: Next I intend to pursue a career in teaching. As a poet I am submitting my first manuscript, Songs from the Kitchen, for publication while constructing my second manuscript around ekphrastic poems.
Tennessee poet William Wright Harris's poetry has appeared in nine countries. Currently, he studies at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.