Updated: Sep 1, 2020
Erik Fuhrer is the author of 4 books of poetry, including not human enough for the census (Vegetarian Alcoholic Press). His fifth book of poetry, in which I take myself hostage, is forthcoming later this year with Spuyten Duyvil Press. Erik's partner, Kimberly Androlowicz, a visual artist, is his steadfast collaborator and provided full-length images for the above-mentioned books.
Isabelle: To what extent do writers inspire your own stories/poetry? Erik: I think I carry writers and other arts with me a lot when I write, but I don’t always directly think of their work as I do so, though I will read and re-read them in between my writing. So they are always hovering and haunting. The poetry of music and television is more directly acting on me as I write, since I normally have these mediums turned on. It’s not until I read the work that I’ve written that I begin to notice possible influences. One of the most eye-opening moments for me in regard to this question was the accuracy of Olivia Cronk’s list of about a dozen or so possible influences for my book, not human enough for the census, in her blurb for the book. I was stunned that almost every book and artist she mentioned was one I had been reading or experiencing during the time I wrote the book. It was almost as if the book was a type of roadmap of my reading habits over the course of a year. I believe that creativity is always a collaborative act in some way, through influences, through workshops, through random conversations that spark writing in ways that don’t register in the mind as such, so it was cool to see that this collaborative artefact of my reading and writing intersected so accurately for an individual reader.
Isabelle: Do you feel your work has been inspired by your influences in any way? Erik: Tori Amos was the first poetic influence that really shook me into poetry. I owe a lot to musicians such as her, Kate Bush, and Patrick Wolfe for their beautiful dissonance, their hauntings. Janelle Monáe’s lyrics, melodies, and mind-blowing music videos, are currently my writing inspiration. When I need noise, I pair one of these musicians with Buffy the Vampire Slayer on TV. Buffy is my steadfast companion into poetry. Perhaps to write poetry is to slay (silences, form, demons both internal and external, drought), and who better to have as a companion. She features in some of my newest, most personal poems, as my guide, my Virgil, into the dark.
Poets Nathaniel Mackey, Solmaz Sharif, Claudia Rankine, Olivia Cronk, Patricia Smith, Mark Doty, and many others, also have had much influence on my work. Mackey continues to teach me about world building that resists clear narrative staging but unfolds in the music and atmosphere of place, space, and history. I would have never been able to write my erasure poetry as carefully and, hopefully, as ethically, as I attempted to do, without first having read Solmaz Sharif’s commentary on the form, and experiencing her own very moving and devastating renditions. Rankine’s Don’t Let Me Be Lonely teaches me so much about form, juxtaposition, and arrangement, and remains one of the best poetry collections I have ever read. Cronk’s Skin Horse encourages me to keep slipping into the strange, the haunted, and the blurred. And Doty’s and Smith’s voices pulse so vividly on the page, that I will never be able to get lines from Smith’s Blood Dazzler or Doty’s “House of Beauty” out of my head. They haunt, they confront, and they guide me, like Buffy, into discomfort, reminding me to witness, to write, and to remember.
not human enough for the census, is out now
Purchase Erik's other books on Amazon