Danny Lawless and the Creation of Plume Poetry

Dear Bees’ Knees Family,

I recently read the debut issue of Plume Poetry to find some of the best poetry I have read all year.

To read the Plume Poetry, please visit: http://theprosepoem.ampcommunity.com/

Below is an interview with Plume Poetry’s creator, Danny Lawless. The Bees Knees is grateful for Danny’s insight on the art of poetry and for bringing beautiful words to the world of readers.


Plume is a beautiful journal, both in content and design. How did you come up with the journal’s overall ascetic?

First, much credit must go to Jason Cook, a tech master who showed me what was possible. And it’s fair to say I knew what I did not want: clutter, ads, the white page – those elements that have become tropes of the online literary review form.  Regarding color, for example, I was looking for something that approximated but did not replicate the printed page. The image came easily: though I’m not quite sure of its meaning – the pairing of the live and the skeletal is no doubt surrealist in its juxtaposition in the way that the familiar term “exquisite corpse” profits by its components’ uncanny – unnamable -sympathy. Also there is the link in that image between past and present in writing itself, and of the indefinable nature of its pleasures: its jouissance as it has come to be known after Barthes. The cover art (by a very talented Louisville artist, Al Gorman, which will carry over for the first year’s twelve issues) continues that odd familiarity upon which the poetic image counts. The type and other elements are the result of seemingly endless trial and error, conducted at Starbucks, with Mr. Cook.


What do you read for as an editor? What makes a poem “successful?”

This is almost impossible to say, as whatever I named would be exclusory – and invite me immediately to acknowledge that I have loved and counted successful its opposite, probably many times. But, for the moment: again, that sense of the uncanny – which, for example, Simic has made a career of; that forever on-the-tip-of-the-tongue quality, ephemeral, possessed only of a “thereness.” Also, intelligence, of course, and rhythm, line breaks, diction – the toolbox bits. I do not look to be instructed, or enlisted.


What do you think is so alluring about poetry? Why would an artist choose the poem as their ultimate medium of choice?

It is an art like any other, I think, subsisting on the same motivations, desires, and opportunities; it is the making of a beautiful object (beauty in its most elastic definition). A most absorbing process, as you know, and one whose rewards are unfathomable to those who do not partake of its charms: a single line, a single word has consumed many a day in my life, which is the case for many poets I am sure, and locating it, or having it locate me, can be magnificent. There is this epiphanic nature of the pleasure of poetry, but also the puzzle-like: one has the structure, sometimes, even many of the words, and then has the great fun of solving the problem of their presentation.


Which five books would you recommend every writer should read?

Every writer is different from every reader, perhaps: I don’t know how the former can hope to be educated in her or his craft except by the broadest possible reading regimen. The latter’s is beyond my ken.  So, I can say only that five books, OK, six,  were particularly useful – in any number of ways – for me: Michael Benedikt’s The Poetry of Surrealism: An Anthology  (sadly out of print); Emil Cioran’ s Précis de décomposition, Coetzee’s Waiting for the Barbarians, Canetti’s Crowds and Power, and  Nicanor Parra’s Poems and Antipoems – and Bly’s Silence in the Snowy Fields.


Are you currently working on any new poetry projects?