Letting our children go: an interview with Eric Blanchard

This is the third 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 third interview is with Eric Blanchard.


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.


EB:
There was a time where I considered my poems to be my children. Thus, I was very protective of them. Maybe I still feel that way, a little. Even so, there comes a time when one’s children must be released into the world to make their own impact, great or small. Our children develop lives of their own. We have little say as to what their impact might be, other than the foundation onto which they are born. Why should a poem have only one chance at making an artistic impression?

On the other hand, being the impetus, or even just basic source material, for other artists’ work in various forms is strangely satisfying… maybe it’s somewhat like being an organ donor. I have yet to regret it.


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.


EB:
Being a bit of a control freak, especially as it pertains to my artist image, it can be hard to let go. Perhaps it is fortunate none of my poems have been dissected and/or rearranged yet. Still, I have had to accept that possibility.

So far, the provocative reading by Nic S., the soundscape by Swoon, and the videos founded on my poem “Sweet Tea” have all been both interesting and rewarding, if not representative of the original intent and flavor of the poem.


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


EB:
Yes, I would.

My advice to other poets would be to accept that you are part of an artistic community and that if your work inspires, gives an artistic spark to, or provides raw material for another artist’s work, then it is doing its job. Besides, anyone who ever stumbles across your poems, wherever they might be published, might be borrowing from them, remixing them, or setting them to music in the privacy of their own abode. At The Poetry Storehouse it is simply done in an open forum. And your poem continues to live on the forum in its original form, notwithstanding what other artistic forms might be attached to it.


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


EB:
I really don’t know. I am just a simple poet. I do wish I had other talents that I could use to be a more active part of the Storehouse … so, if you could change that little thing, it would be great. Thanks.


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


EB:
To be honest, my initial motivation for submitting my previously published poems to The Poetry Storehouse was to get them republished online. The audience for print publications is relatively small, and the chance of anyone reading work published in them, after the initial distribution, is pretty slim. The Storehouse provides the opportunity for print only poems to have new life and reach a greater, on-going audience whether or not the poem get chosen for remix or video presentation. Of course, the window of possibility remains open as long as the work stays on the internet.

Thanks again to Nic and all the other collaborators who make The Poetry Storehouse such an interesting and exciting artistic forum.