January 6, 2010

Daniel Nester in Bookslut

Great, great conversation between Daniel Nester and Elizabeth Hildreth in Bookslut.

"Shortly after I told everyone I was leaving New York to teach nonfiction writing, I realized that whatever community of nonfiction-type writers there exists out there, I’d much rather be part of that than a poetry one. Like, I don’t know if this story will translate, but when I told one poet person I was going to teach nonfiction writing, the first thing she asked was whether I had read William Gass’s On Being Blue. I hadn’t by then, and when I told her, she was taken aback and all know-it-all about it. Instead of just giving me a tip on a book -- and a very good one, I’d add, and one I teach now and love -- she used it as a yardstick to determine if I was worthy, in her eyes, to go off and teach nonfiction. Now, I could have counter-rattled off some books that she hadn’t read, and we would have had one of those Have-You-Read-Offs like countless other nights in New York, but I just let it go. I let New York go. There is nothing else at stake in a poetry scene, and particularly in a New York poetry scene, than feeling superior to the other people with whom you are poetry-scenestering. "

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