Fred Chappell, 1980
POETRY MISCELLANY: In a poem, "The Father," in The World Between the Eyes, you have the line, "One moment informs every moment." The statement seems to me an accurate description of your work; there's a sense of what Shelley called "interpenetration." I think of the simultaneous visions of the child in the house and the soldiers in "The World Between the Eyes" and then the linking of that poem with "The Father" through the phrases uttered by the soldiers. In Midquest this procedure is intensified; the structure is both simultaneous by its echoes of phrase and image and by the fact that the four books that make the poem take place in one day and progressive in the sense that there are gradual discoveries and modulations of phrase and image. In a way, Midquest glances back to rewrite part of The World in the sense that some images link the two; "Cleaning the Well" builds upon "The Father," for example. But in Midquest itself, I think of an image like the bell image (which also appeared in The World, in "Sunday"), which is used in several poems in River, Wind Mountain, and Earthsleep, climaxing in "My Grandmother's Dream of Plowing," where the bell becomes gold becomes child, then goblin, and then is associated with death and quiet in her dream, which is also a dream of her transformations. The way that image echoes and also progresses describes the way the whole poem moves. Perhaps, then, we could begin to talk about this sense of interpenetration and of the problems of writing the long poem today.