I Interview Elaine Equi on the Four Elements

by Elaine Equi

Q:
What is your favorite element?

A:
Definitely air. It’s the medium of thought.
Ethereal. Invisible. And even better than air,
I love heights. I’m the opposite of someone with
acrophobia. Space travel sounds appealing.

Q:
Which element do you like least?

A:
Water. It makes me nervous. You can’t walk on it.
Both my parents are Pisces so perhaps that explains …
I’m a terrible swimmer.

Q:
Being a Leo, do you feel at home with fire?

A:
I like light, but not heat. I don’t even like hot
sauce. I could never see myself as a pyromaniac.

Q:
Which brings us to earth, what associations do you have with it?

A:
The earth has always supported me in all my
endeavors. I trust it.

            	

Notes on the Poem

Let's visit again with 2008 Griffin Poetry Prize shortlisted poet Elaine Equi, as she has a very nice chat with herself. Is contemplation of the four elements a classic poetic conceit, or does it verge on cliche as poetic inspiration and subject matter? With a light but not insubstantial touch, Elaine Equi takes a fresh approach to the mystique of fire, air, earth and water. Is poetry too casual or not refined enough when it's couched in a conversational tone and contemporary idiom? Equi doesn't eschew the cerebral or dumb down the discussion just because her language is simple and plainspoken and her format is ubiquitous, the Q&A used in everything nowadays from corporate overviews to Hollywood interviews where you know the interviewer and the star never actually meet. Does the concept of the poet interviewing herself draw the reader closer, hold the reader at arm's length, or is it just too cute by half? Although it perhaps smacks a bit of too smooth stand-up comedy, Equi uses the technique to disarming, even endearing effect. Did you, the reader, notice that these notes are Q's in a Q&A about a poem in a Q&A format? Will you provide your answers in the comments below?

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