Piet Cross is an American poet born in the State of Rhode Island in 1952. Selections from three recent collections of poetry, Bodies of Knowledge, the Breeze Vectors, and Woe of the Wooer are linked on this plate. Mr. Cross lives with his five children in Providence where he teaches philosophy and sophistry.

Link to an interview with Piet Cross

From Bodies of Knowledge

From the Breeze Vectors

Link to selections from Woe of the Wooer
Published May, 1999

by Night Owl Press
Salem, Massachusetts

Interview with Piet Cross

This interview took place on a summer afternoon in Brattleboro, Vermont.
The interview, originally published in Rhode Island Arts magazine,
was conducted by Anne Lydel, a poet and novelist who currently
resides in New York City.

Anne Lydel: What is the first poem you remember writing?

Piet Cross: I do remember the first poem I ever wrote. I was eight years old. The poem was called "Big Red Truck."

AL: What was it about?

PC: It was about a fire truck. I wrote it for my girlfriend whose family was living in the basement of their house that had burned down the year before. They couldn't afford to rebuild the house or move, so they just lived in the basement of this burned out ranch house. The poem was a rescue fantasy.

AL: Do you remember her reaction?

PC: Sure. She didn't understand the poem at all, but she liked it that I wrote her a poem. She kissed me after she read it.

AL: (Laughing) Was that the point of it?

PC: Of course. The kiss is a turning point of any fantasy rescue mission.

AL: What poets do you feel have most affected your work?

PC: Jack Kerouac, e.e. cummings and Sigmund Freud.

AL: Freud? A poet?

PC: I believe his work on symbols is poetry and is, whether any given poet is aware of it or not, completely infused into all modern western poetry.

AL: That's a pretty strong statement.

PC: Uh-huh. I guess so.

AL: What about the fact that Freudian thought is offensive to many feminists?

PC: Freudian thought? What are you talking about?

AL: Well, penis envy, I guess.

PC: Do you have it?

AL: That's kind of a personal question.

PC: Uh-huh. I guess so. Do you have it?

AL: No, I don't. And I guess I am one of the feminists who is offended by the idea that male anatomy is superior to female.

PC: That is not what Freud posited at all. But this is really beside the point, because I was referring specifically to Freud's writings on symbols and how it has informed modern poetry.

AL: Okay. What do you think of the future of poetry?

PC: I don't think about it. I can't think about it and continue to write. The only concept of future I have in poetry is my own personal future, which is focused around desire. I always write love poems. People have been critical of that, or have argued that it isn't true, but it is. And I'm not just talking about the Breeze Vectors, which most people are familiar with. If you read the other poems carefully, you can see that they're all love poems, even the angry and hopeless poems. Each poem was written as the result of a desire to deeply communicate with a woman, whether she be real or imagined, sister or Muse. I seem unable to separate my writing from this desire. I'm not sure why. Any ideas?

AL: How would I know?

PC: Good question.

AL: Perhaps something to do with your mother?

PC: And you say you don't abide by the words of Sigmund!

AL: Do you prefer cyber publication or traditional magazine and book publication?

PC: I prefer traditional perfect bound beautifully covered printed books. Of course that is the most expensive method of publication and not necessarily the best way to reach the most people. I am very happy to be widely read in the cyber community and to be published electronically at the CBA [Cosmic Baseball Association]. I look forward to the day when cyber publication is taken as seriously as printed matter. But for now I'm glad people are reading my poetry.

AL: What are your writing habits?

PC: I write every night between 2 and 4 am.

AL: Do you find you are alert enough to write at that time?

PC: Yes, it is my most alert time during any twenty-four hour cycle. I'm hyper alert and yet tired enough and in need of sleep enough that my subconscious begins to bubble through into the writing. Also at that time of day I have usually spent several hours alone, and I tend to be in a more emotional state after having been alone for a while. I think a hyperemotional state is more conducive to writing poetry.

AL: How do you feel about pseudonyms?

PC: I don't understand the point of them. Poets are so underread as it is, why would anyone care to invent a personality? I would feel uncomfortable not publishing under my own name.

AL: Have you ever had writer's block?

PC: No.

AL: Never?

PC: No.

AL: Your five children are clearly an integral part of your existence. Why do they never appear in your work?

PC: Because as I said, my work is fueled by desire.

AL: What advice would you give to a young poet?

PC: Well, as you might guess, I probably wouldn't give advice to anyone.

AL: Yes, but if forced to, what would you advise a young poet?

PC: Seize the day. Not the dais.

AL: Did you like that Robin Williams movie Dead Poets Society? That's where the quote was used, right?

PC: Yes. Yes, I liked it quite a lot. I went to a private school similar to the one in the movie.

AL: You did? I didn't know that.

PC: Uh-huh. I did.

AL: Would you define yourself as a political poet?

PC: No. I would define myself as a love poet. A somewhat tortured troubadour.

AL: Do you feel politically remiss?

PC: No. Not in the slightest. I vote. And besides, isn't to claim to be a love poet in the twentieth century a political act?

AL: Okay, I see. Yes I guess it is.

PC: Yes, it is. It truly is. And not only is writing love poetry a political act in this day and age, but also, as Octavio Paz wrote, to love has become a revolutionary act.

AL: So you consider yourself a revolutionary?

PC: No. I consider myself to be a love poet. Simple enough but true.

AL: Thanks for talking Piet.

PC: You're welcome Anne.

Drawing of Piet Cross by Kasia Havard.
Piet Cross interview photos by Anne Lydel
Bodies of Knowledge book cover design by Andrew Lampert
Breeze Vectors book cover design by Jessie Numata

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Piet Cross Poetry- Index Plate
URL http://www.cosmicbaseball.com/piet.html
Published: August 1, 1998
Updated: November 7, 2004
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