Six Questions for Allen Braden

Allen Braden is an instructor at Tacoma Community College and poet whose work has appeared in The New Republic, Virginia Quarterly Review and The Southern Review, among other publications. He’s received a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and is founder of the Gallery Reading Series at TCC.

How do you define poetry?
I like what W.H. Auden said: “Of the many definitions of poetry, the simplest is best: ‘memorable speech.’”

What was the subject of the first poem you had accepted for publication?
It was an embarrassingly bad poem about gold panning in Peshastin Creek.

If you could have a writing group with three poets, living or dead, whom would you choose?
Sappho for her sensuality, Walt Whitman for his generosity and Ezra Pound for his ruthless editing.

Do you know a rhyme for the word “orange”?
I have, in fact, written a poem rhyming “orange” with “syringe.”

What’s your favorite poem?
Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass,” or John Keats’ “To Autumn,” or Christina Rossetti’s “Goblin Market.”

Why is poetry important?
I have to echo William Carlos Williams who said, “It is difficult to get the news from poems, but men die miserably every day for the lack of what is found there.”

Photo by Chris Tumbusch

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