interviewed by the tender, young, virile writer

DeWitt Brinson

Nate Pritts is the author of six books of poems, most recently Right Now More Than Ever. He founded H_NGM_N, an online journal & small press, in 2001 & serves as Director & Prime Architect for its various endeavors.




I find myself increasingly unable to respond to interview questions, unable to pull the words together… or else unable to see that there is anything that needs unpacking that isn’t already strewn about somewhere (on the internet, on the table in front of me, in the sky all around us).   Perhaps it has to do with how I’m thinking about information these days, the data that is created.  First off, it’s everywhere already, available to those who look & is disturbed or distorted when you try to report it.  Second, it breaks down upon exposure to the air, it becomes unreliable & atrophies while it pretends to be some kind of permanent record.  Finally, it scares me – to think that the world boils down to some kind of primary code which doesn’t leave room for the spiritual essentials.

However, I think I’d be happy to do an interview in person, or on the phone (less happy, but still…), or an interview in which only one question is delivered at a time so that the whole enterprise acknowledges the artifice of it all & somehow feels more natural.

I’m teaching a class I call “Wilderness & Technology” and one of the many things we’re thinking about this semester is how we construct a stable & sturdy ethos (which, of course, might be flexible & fluid in its stability).  Specifically, we’re thinking about how the dichotomy of solitude & dialogue can be important to this process.  I gave the 22 students in my class a copy of these questions &, without really prepping them much about the context, asked them each to select three questions to respond to.  Perhaps it’s true that in the vox populi we can find the answers we seek, that we can leverage the insights of big data.

It should be noted that a few students answered as if they were me, some consulted with friends or roommates, & one answered (quite accurately) with quotes from Alice in Wonderland.

Questions 1, 3, 6, 7 & 10 all received fewer than five responses.  Students indicated that some of these questions were too broad to be answered (1 & 10, especially so), that some weren’t actually questions at all (see 3 & 7).  Of the questions with too few responses to provide statistically significant data, #6 presented the most interesting range of data.  Though some students admitted to having punched jerks, or indicated they had not ever punched jerks because of their gender (either the student is female & doesn’t punch, or the male student is confronted with female jerks he will not punch), all of the students acknowledged the moral quandary presented by the question – essentially, if I punch someone who is a jerk, do I not then “become a jerk” both because I have lashed out physically & also as a result of my failure to embrace a wide enough perspective?

Question 4 received the most responses.  As expected, several students indicated that they could sacrifice small or inessential body parts.  A few clever students, realizing that a response doesn’t necessarily have to equal acquiescence, responded to the question by saying there is NO body part they could sacrifice.  One student indicated that the body part they could sacrifice “belongs to someone else.”  Another student, a female, indicated she could most readily sacrifice her ring finger because “I do not believe it holds a purpose.”  Draw your own conclusions from this.

Question 10 received the second most responses but these were mostly earnest (cannot kill animals or other people) or literal (cannot kill a rock, for example, or other things not actually alive to begin with).  Questions 2 & 9 seem related on a conceptual level & received the same number of responses, though only half of those replying to #2 also replied to #9.  In terms of #9, how many lies have you told today, a disturbing number of students indicated FEW lies but only as a function of the number of chances to tell a lie.  Excuses ranged from the fact that it was early in the day (too early to lie?) or that the opportunity had not yet presented itself (potential lying).  One student pointed out the subjective nature of truth & the impossibility of accurate self-reporting (“Zero.  Or am I lying?”).

Question 5 – a direct question about poetry – was responded to by seven students.  Some of them wrote of the weaknesses in their own poetry (“gets to the point of things too quickly” or “gets descriptive and hard to follow”).  For my part, I’d have to say that a weakness in my poetry stems from its source – the actual consciousness of the writer & human, Nate Pritts.  He’s not fully developed yet, not yet all there.  But, really, I love him & his weak poetry because he’s trying so hard.  He wants to be better.


APPENDIX – Questions to Nate Pritts, from TENDE RLOIN

1) How?

2) When you do something wrong, who do you tell?

3) Draw a continuous line picture of winter with your eyes closed. 

4) What body part could you sacrifice?

5) What's the biggest weakness of your poetry?

6) How many times have you punched a jerk?

7) The young wolf nips at her mother's nose just before the moon mounts the elder eye?

8) What can you not kill?

9) How many lies did you tell today?

10) Why?