“We relinquish control the moment we agree to publish our work”: an interview with Lennart Lundh

This is the eighth in a series of interviews with poets and remixers who have provided or worked with material from The Poetry Storehouse — a website which collects “great contemporary poems for creative remix.” Anyone who submits to the Storehouse has to think through the question of creative control — how important is it to you, what do you gain or lose by holding on to or releasing control? Our eighth interview is with Lennart Lundh.

1. Submitting to The Poetry Storehouse means taking a step back from a focus on oneself as individual creator and opening up one’s work to a new set of creative possibilities. Talk about your relationship to your work and how you view this sort of control relinquishment.

Unless someone decides to edit my words, changing their meaning to suit different purposes, I’m not all that possessive or reactive. We relinquish control the moment we agree with the editor who wants to publish our work. Some presentations carry the words, and some drop them from a tall building. We take that chance. I confess I had a moment’s paternal concern (or perhaps culture shock) when Nic S. recorded one of my poems which was clearly written in a male voice, but only because mine is the sole voice that had read my work aloud up to that point. After a mental step back, I recognized the reading as excellent and life went on.

2. There is never any telling whether one will love or hate the remixes that result when a poet permits remixing of his or her work by others. Please describe the remixes that have resulted for your work at the Storehouse and your own reactions to them.

The recorded readings by Siddartha Beth Pierce and Nic have pleased me. They’re true to my intent in gathering the words, even with different choices in cadence and emphasis. The video and soundtrack choices in the remixes by Nic (Sandburg and Photograph), Marc Neys (Elegy), and Paul Broderick (also Elegy) represent somebody else’s visions of what the words mean, and I respect that — not because it’s what I signed on for, but because I don’t believe any piece of art means precisely the same thing to any two beholders (or to any single one across repeated meetings). The end result is fascinating to me in how the shifted colors and nuances of my words still work nicely through those different interpretations.

3. Would you do this again? What is your advice to other poets who might be considering submitting to The Poetry Storehouse?

Hell, yes, I’d do this again, and hope to get the chance. It’d be lovely if repeat submissions became part of the policy. As for other writers, my advice would be to think in terms of the larger process, follow the Poetry Storehouse’s guidelines — and if in doubt or puzzled, ask Nic her opinion; she’s a pleasure to work with.

4. Is there anything about the Storehouse process or approach that you feel might with benefit be done differently?

There’s nothing I’d change. This has been a great learning experience, and I’m pleased with how my words have been handled. It’s certainly broadened my horizons and offered more paths for me to follow as an artist.

5. Is there anything else you would like to say about your Poetry Storehouse experience?

Yeah: Thank you!

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