Friday, April 10, 2009

Sarah Cortez Interview on La Bloga

Manuel Ramos interviewed Sarah Cortez about The Hit List: The Best of Latino Mystery, but they also got to talking about crime poetry and The Lineup:

Manuel Ramos: Your poetry was featured in the first issue of The Lineup, a magazine devoted to crime poetry. What is crime poetry and how is it different from other kinds of poetry?

Sarah Cortez: I’m glad you asked about The Lineup, the chapbook series so wonderfully edited by Gerald So, with Patrick Shawn Bagley, R. Narvaez, and Anthony Rainone. The poetry featured deals with some aspect of criminal behavior whether from the victim’s, criminal’s, or another’s perspective. In trying to define what is different about crime poetry from other poetry, I would say that the subject matter focuses the poet’s eye very particularly. So that in trying to accomplish that “great” poetic task we talked about above – putting the inexplicable into words – the poet must unflinchingly hone in on physicality, whether the physicality of the crime scene, the victim, the suspect, and so on. What I see when I read poems from Lineup is the unremitting eye of each poet beginning in the sensory world of the crime’s occurrence. And, of course, the higher the emotional content of an event, the harder it becomes to write about it with elegance. Writers, especially fiction writers, joke about how hard it is to write love/sex scenes and have them turn out well. That’s because of the high emotional content and the enormous number of hackneyed clich├ęs surrounding love/sex scenes. Well, crime scenes carry a lot of those same burdens for the writer/poet. The poets chosen for Lineup do a fantastic job.

Manuel Ramos: I think The Lineup is an innovation with much potential power to dramatically change the poetry/crime fiction scene. I hope more readers find it. I'm delighted to note that I have a poem in the upcoming second issue, due later this summer.

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