Friday, 9 November 2012

Mark J. Mitchell

Herb Tea

Listening for the kettle
I cough. My lungs rattle
Hard, like trapped steam. The cold
Will pass, the cure is time.
Still, I can’t say I’m fine
Trapped in this midnight, feeling old.


TSTmpj:  Are you a night owl, Mark?  Do you write at midnight?

Mark J. Mitchell:  I used to be more of a night owl than I am these days. Still, every year during Lent, I write a poem every day, and I can't go to bed until I write a poem, so sometimes midnight is the time I have to write.


TSTmpj:  A poet friend of mine said years ago, "time heals all wounds, but time passes so slowly."  Do you see, in the contemporary progression of poetry, and the arts more generally, more "cure" or more "wound" to our society?

Mark J. Mitchell:  I find the idea of "progress" in the arts to be a little baffling. We haven't improved on Shakespeare. I think the insistence on innovation is going to be seen as very odd in the future. It is purity of expression that matters, not constantly building new, often ephemeral, forms. I think the fact that the world of the arts is open to more people, both to experience art and produce it, is a cure for all of us.


TSTmpj:  There are some famous examples -- Keats immediately comes to mind -- of poets producing great work within the shadow of illness.  What bearing do you see as your state of health having on your writing?

Mark J. Mitchell:  Luckily, I mostly enjoy good health. Still, when I get sick, it will turn up as a subject. I have had a couple of poems turn up in medical/literary journals. I use whatever is handy as a subject for poetry, especially when I assign myself the job of a poem a day.

Bio Note

Mark J. Mitchell’s new collection Three Visitors is available from

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