Interview with Dennis Haskell: A Snapshot from 2008
The following interview with Dennis Haskell was commissioned by Donna Ward, who was then editor and publisher of Indigo: Journal of West Australian Writing. The issue appeared in the Autumn of 2008. In this sense it is a snapshot of Haskell at a particular moment of his rich and on-going career. My particular intention was to trace the ways in which Haskellâ€™s aesthetic and moral orientations as both a poet and a critic stem from his formative experiences, including family background, class, education, reading and the place in which he grew up. Beneath his honest and acute responses one can trace not only the lineaments of Australiaâ€™s â€œpoetry warsâ€ but also the impacts of those real wars (WW II, Vietnam and Iraq) on his imaginative life and stance as a poet. Haskell is not a predictable subject to interview. For instance, his statement that â€œit is important to write about domestic spacesâ€ would perhaps sit at odds with a male poet of his generation. Looking back down the years to this interview with a valued teacher and trojan worker for literature in many countries and many contexts, I would argue that it is Haskellâ€™s iconoclastic character that has kept his practice sharp, surprising and â€œon song.â€ The question posed by the poem â€œDoubt and Tremblingâ€ that I discussed with him â€“ â€œHow do we get by/ in a dubious timeâ€ â€“ seems in 2019 more relevant than ever.
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