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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, May 20, 2007

What I'm reading: Susan Schultz

Christine Thomas
Advertiser Staff Writer

Susan Schultz
UH professor, poet and publisher of Tinfish Press

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WHAT ARE YOU READING?

"Rumsfeld" by Andrew Cockburn. The reason I'm reading it is I'm interested in Rumsfeld and poetry. I've just been writing an essay on Rumsfeld's poetry that someone found in his speeches and made into poems, and then published. I teach poetry and write poetry and publish poetry, and my whole life is about it. I've noticed that poets now seem to be writing about Rumsfeld, so I'm on a Rumsfeld kick.

WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT IT?

Well, I don't. What I find kind of spooky is this guy named Hart Seely published this book years ago called "Pieces of Intelligence: The Existential Poetry of Donald H. Rumsfeld," and I went into Rumsfeld's speeches and press conferences to find out where they took these parts from, and they were always places where Rumsfeld was dodging a question. ... I find it really spooky because I like to think of poetry as something ethical and something that can change the world for the better. Clearly this is clever wordsmithing, but I'm interested in other poets writing about Rumsfeld who are trying to let people know that he was being evasive and that his use of language, however clever, is also a little bit sinister.

DOES READING ABOUT RUMSFELD'S EVASIVE USE OF LANGUAGE CONNECT TO TINFISH'S EMPHASIS ON LANGUAGE POETRY, WHICH IS OFTEN RESISTANT TO INTERPRETATION?

Rumsfeld wants to get people off his scent so he can do things. The poetry in Tinfish is the scent, you could say it's really trying to get you deep into a cultural moment or political moment, or just into how language works. That's why I find Rumsfeld so spooky, and why I think Tinfish is so necessary.