Clarice Lispector did a quick lighting interview with Pablo Neruda back in the day, and I decide to answer the questions myself
Does writing make the anguish of living more bearable?
Pablo and I agree: Yes. Duh. But we agree for different reasons. I think writing helps you articulate the world, and that is what makes it more bearable.
Who is God?
The undefinable all around us. That which is beyond what we know and yet still we must leap.
How can one best describe a human being?
I love Pablo’s answer: Political. Poetic. Physical. I guess I would say: That which is between beauty and truth. A human is multiple contradictory states at once.
What is your idea of a beautiful woman?
Someone who relishes being herself.
Write down you favorite poem, that is to say you favorite poem at this very moment.
I’ll instead mention the poem I most often quote which from Derrick C Brown’s Born in the Year of the Butterfly Knife. The line is: “You are a special starfish.” Or something to that affect.
Where would you like to live if you were not living in Chile?
If only I were living in Chile!
What has been your greatest satisfaction as a writer?
The journey. The process. The adventure. Not know how any of it will turn out or where it will turn up. Being a writer serves me in all areas of my life.
Are your moment of creative inspiration preceded by anguish or a state of grace?
Sometimes one or the other. Anguish is obviously more uncomfortable than grace. Grace can give you a false sense of security—as if it should always be like this.
Say something to surprise me.
What are you view on contemporary Brazilian poetry?
I don’t know much about it. Lispector is probably my closest touchpoint right now with the literature of Brazil. But as to modern poetry, I’m a fan! Some of my favs right now are I really like Ada Limón.
How do you feel about literature of commitment?
I like Pablo’s answer: All literature is committed.
Which of your own books do you like best?
I only have the one right now - Dearest Enemy! You should read it!
Can you explain why readers often refer to you as “The Volcano of Latin America”"?
Pablo’s answer is clutch: That is news to me. They have probably never experienced a volcano.
What is your most recent poem?
I wrote one just a few days earlier. I’ll post it for next week!
How does the creative process develop in your case?
Slowly and methodically like the formation of mountains or rivers.
Do you find reviews by critics constructive?
Sometimes … especially if they are trying to tease out the process or thinking behind the work as opposed to just saying they are good or bad.
Have you ever written a poem to order? Could you compose one now, however short?
I’m terrible at on-the-spot poetry. Although I’m a great improv-er in some cases. Just recently, I was at a potluck, and I regaled the crowd with a short summary of the latest Grey’s Anatomy episode I watched. One of the onlookers asked if I was a writer and what kind. And I couldn’t say that my writing was like my verbal quip because well…. it’s not. But as to Lispector’s question: Yes, I have written several poems to order. They are just created very slowly and methodically like mountains or rivers. My book Dearest Enemy is about one such request.
Was the name Neruda accidental or inspired by Jan Neruda the poet of the Czech freedom movement?
I honestly thought that was Pablo’s real name.
What is the most important thing in the world?
To strive to be and do your best each day, then try again the next.
What is love? Any type of love?
Love is the simplest thing in the entire world, and yet, it defines definition, reason or intention. It fuels history on a global and individual level. It’s weird. It’s wonderful.
Have you suffered much for love?
Sure. I like Pablo’s response: I am prepared to suffer even more.
How long would you like to spend here in Brazil?
Let’s go to Brazil! It’s the only real way to answer this question!
Author’s Note: I’m reading Selected Crônicas By Clarice Lispector. They’re a compilation of her columns in a Brazilian newspaper, and she interviewed poet extraordinaire Pablo Neruda in this one. I obviously love his work: Click here and here.
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