It is lively, frank, and intimate, providing a glimpse into the process behind two artists whose work and lives are deeply intertwined.
I would say, too—and it’s occurring to me now that I sound defensive, but probably I’m just being offensive—is that her writing might be seen as less lyrical these days because she has something to say. One can certainly have something to say in poetry, but it’s true that I didn’t privilege overt lyricism in my most recent book. EB: In retrospect it seems to me like we needed to establish ourselves somewhat in our solo work before collaborating. But I remember feeling ready to be jostled out of my groove as a writer when the idea of working on “Ode” came up.
When you have something to say, when you express your convictions with clarity and control, nobody outside the academy cares about the form, or whether it’s lyrical of whether, like, there’s white spaces between the paragraphs. It was a concern, but it wasn’t the most urgent pressure on the work. And my desire for that kind of jostling has really only increased since then.
Light Sensitive: Are there any ways in which you each feel that you see yourself in the other person’s individual work?
What are the commonalities between you in terms of creative interests, concerns, topics, motifs, how you frame your ideas, work habits? Eula Biss: One of the great surprises of my life has been discovering that John is a poet.