Mary Akers: Hi, Simon. Thank you for agreeing to speak with me today. I loved your poem “as if these leaves” in our January issue. In preparation for this interview, I visited your website and read a previous (2003) interview with Susan Tepper. In that interview, you said that you often work from images. Is this still true today? And if so, what sort of images are inspiring you these days?
Simon Perchik: Thanks for the kind words about that poem. With reference to how I work from images I would like to refer your readers to Magic, Illusion, and Other Realities an essay I wrote that more fully answers that question. The short answer is that I confront the image or idea from a photograph with a contradictory image or idea from science or mythology and resolve that difference. Exactly what a metaphor does for a living.
MA: I’ve noticed that in much of your work you switch images or feelings in a way that might be considered abrupt, but that to me is more about trusting the reader to follow along and catch up, as needed. Or even better, to form their own connections, their own bridges between the words. Is that how you want your readers to see the leaps you make–as a challenge?
SP: Exactly. It’s as if my subconscious is talking to the reader’s subconscious. If I do it right the reader will experience an emotion the origin of which is nowhere on the page.
MA: Along those same lines, when artwork is used to illustrate writing it’s almost as if the interplay between the two forms creates a third meaning that is different from the separate meanings that each work might have on its own. Given that you work from images, would you agree with that?
SP: Yes. There’s a word for this kind of collaboration. It begins with synthe but I can’t remember it just now.
MA: Synthesis? I think that could describe two art forms merging to create a third. What sorts of themes or images do you find yourself returning to over the years and why do you think these recur?
SP: Death and love are the only two themes worth writing about. I find myself in cemeteries a lot. No matter how a poem starts out it ends up at a gravesite.
MA: And finally, because we are a themed journals, what does “recovery” mean to you?
SP: Recovery, to me, is a process. We never recover. At best, we take in music, art, literature, dance and whatever else to hold us up for a while.