New Recruits Episode 11: Nancy Liu Reads Jamie Sharpe

Welcome back to New Recruits! If it’s your first time here, check out Episode 1 for a full description of the series.

Way back in Episode 1, I promised a Jamie Sharpe episode. Now that day is here. Full disclosure, Nancy is not really a poetry newb. We took a writer’s craft class together in high school and she’s been known to read a poem or two now and then. Nancy is a renaissance woman; she plays piano and guitar, she sings beautifully, draws cool pictures, cuts up dead bodies, cultures bacteria, does stuff with yeast that I don’t understand… see how I just stuck “cuts up dead bodies” in the middle there… yeah, she did that for a job.

Last summer, Jamie Sharpe sent me his book Animal Husbandry Today. I had the book with me once when Nancy and I met for frozen yogurt. I showed her some of my favourite poems in the book (“Cirrhosis” and “When Nancy Reagan Recommends the Crab Salad”) and one that I thought she’d particularly like because of her musical background. She did like it, and now she’s going to re-read it for you all.

Here’s Nancy Liu reading “Interview Questions for Nils Luzak, Classical Pianist”:

Q&A

What was your first impression of the poem?

The nature of inquisition of this poem seeks no answers. It already contains a story inviting us, the readers, to inquire and wonder at what lies behind them. The poem is really quite lyrical onto itself. It incites us in, attacks our “paternal” relations and crescendos us into the afterlife and gently lulls us, rallentandoing back to the musings of an uneased ear.

Which line of the poem do you like best?

“Are you Rachmaninoffing / hell from those helpless pedals?”

Why?

The technical difficulties of a Rachmaninoff piece are matched only by their passionate intensity. As a Romantic era composer, you better be raising some hell as you play. Hawt diggity. I love the use of his name as symbolisation of his style then turning it into a verb. It so accurately describes the bold and fiery sensation of his pieces. It’s a challenge to the reader and to the player within the poem. Are you doing justice? Have you done enough to deserve the afterlife served you?

What does this poem make you think of?

That either Nils or the author has daddy issues. Or deep questions of the Christian paternal figure of what awaits them beyond. Music is that veil separating us from permanent silence. Do we rage?

Are there any words in this poem that you don’t understand?

Nils Luzak. Is there a significance to the name that I’ve missed? What is the etymology? Also, is he a real pianist???

Would you like to understand them?

Yes! It may enrich or even completely change my understanding of the poem!

Have you encountered a poem like this before? Is this poem different from what you expected poetry to be like? If so, How?

I may have encountered something similar before, but I’d definitely need to read some more poetry to give a source. It’s been too long a time!!! Poetry takes many forms. As for how this poem fits into my conception of poetry, it’s not a classic poem, but it’s definitely poetic. :3

Does this poem remind you of any other piece of art or media?

A little bit of the Dadaist movement in art. Mostly the discontent and the rejection of the divine authority (authoritarian political stance). Also a bit of the irrational peeks through. We are introduced to the poem with wild questions and in the last line, we are left questioning the abject sanity of our interviewer.

Do you have any questions for the poet?

Allegro your father eh? My my!

Nancy Liu is a traveller of 11 countries, hobbyist of 13 instruments, past autopsist, current graduate student of neuroscience, and secretly 64 on the inside.

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