An Interview with Nathan McClain (Poetry ’13)

Poetry alumn Nathan McClain was recently interviewed by Virginia Konchan in The Common about his recent poetry collection Previously Owned. Read an excerpt of the interview below:

Virginia Konchan: I’ll start by saying that your second full-length poetry collection Previously Owned is a masterpiece. It contains and expands upon many of the themes of Scale, specifically those of familial, cultural, and historical legacies and inheritances, and the role of the poet-observer, yet takes them further, beyond the dynamic of a father-son relationship, to the relationship the speaker has with his wife, his country, neighborhoods, art, language, the legal system, the Bible, literary history, and animals, to name a few. What was the impetus, for you, behind the writing of Previously Owned? Do you see your books as moving along a thematic or formal continuum, and how would you characterize the overlapping concerns and differences between them?

Nathan McClain: Aww, you’re very kind. I feel like you have to say that because you’re my friend, haha, but I’m grateful for the generosity in your reading and thinking about Previously Owned. And I’m also glad you’re reading something of a progression from my first collection, because I also read it that way, like a worldview that has been enlarged, moving beyond the walls of the domestic space (though this collection—my work in general—continues to be quite interested in the domestic space, a space rife with material for building poems) to the broader landscape and society, our collective memory, cultural histories and, as you point out, legacies, and so forth. Or at least I hope that’s the effect—that as I personally grow, so grows the work.

Continue reading the interview here: Nathan McClain | The Common