In honor of National Poetry Month, which begins Tuesday, we spoke with professor Mary Jo Bang, director of the creative writing program at Washington University in St. Louis. She recently won the National Book Critics Circle's poetry prize for Elegy, about the year after her son's death.
What is on your nightstand?
Jesse Ball's Samedi the Deafness. It's described as a spy fable. He is a poet and a novelist.
Was part of the novel's draw knowing it was written by a poet?
Absolutely. The possibility is that the poetry will seep into the novel. And in this case it does. It takes a lot of reaches, and it passes boundaries of conventional fiction. And, it is suspenseful.
Can you explain the boundaries?
The boundaries have to do with it taking place in a parallel universe. The story is futuristic, and it is psychologically weird. It evokes Kafka and fairy tales.
Piper Castillo, Times staff writer, is reachable at firstname.lastname@example.org.