Thylias Moss

A QuickMuse Q & A

Thylias Moss is one of the fastest minds in American poetry, the mother something called Limited Fork Poetics, and a great friend to QuickMuse. Read TM's fascinating responses.

QuickMuse: Can you describe what it felt like to improvise online? Was it difficult or thrilling (or both) to have total strangers -- lots of them -- watch over your shoulder as you typed?

Thylias Moss: Mostly, this was a thrilling venture. In some ways similar to being interviewed or responding to unanticipated questions and comments in class. A kind of strip tease for thinking. I didn't have time to put on (all of) my usual layers, so I shared some gist, crux, some foundation, some skeletal system with strangers. Fantastic. Hey, look at what I build with, build on -- something catches fire right away. I hope that readers wonder where I might take my QuickMuse piece -- in time. I wish they could also see the unfolding of this response. Inviting audience to share the entire process certainly makes clear that whatever I wrote wasn't meant just for myself; the purpose was sharing. The purpose was to use the making of a poem as a tool of communication. And how freeing it was. Come in, Audience; make yourself comfortable with this act. Come with me as we go somewhere, wherever it becomes possible to go in fifteen minutes that have been liberated from certain poetic decorum. This makes so much sense to me, as I now both understand and teach (all forms of) poetry as possible outcomes in the study of interacting language systems that I call Limited Fork Poetics. I'm really concerned with simultaneity and matters of access in the study of these interactions. Improvising online is very much a part of such thinking. Fantastic. I wouldn't mind even more dialogue with readers -- even as I write the poem. I like the sense of humor that Muldoon and I must have to be the first QuickMuse poets.

QuickMuse: Did QuickMuse teach you anything you didn't know about your compositional habits?

Thylias Moss: I feel no shame regarding my love of Columbo and Spock. I hold the imagination in high esteem. Having a quick response time (though I was slower to respond than Muldoon), being able to think quickly and to navigate any bend, any curve (with some degree of success) is useful -- I drive quite a bit, and I have no GPS in my vehicle, so rely on other things -- even the possibility of the poetry that the journey makes. I didn't realize how much I could get done in fifteen minutes. I like the forking of the thinking, the actual pursuit of a number of directions -- I like filling out the structure of a tree with branches, some of which actually have a chance to become fruit-bearing. And because this forking occurred on a single tree, there was a sense of connectedness; I think in a loose, expanding weave. I might pull in anything, but it has to become a part of the particular weave that's in progress. The weave in progress and the thing pulled in influence each other, and they become what they can become within this influence at that moment. I seem to trust that something will (at least begin to) take shape. I like that I always had somewhere to go; each gesture I made in the writing of the poem suggested, demanded others, so my thoughts emerged as textured and multi-dimensional right away.

QuickMuse: Looking at your finished poem now, are there any revisions you'd like to make? Any chance we'll see a revision in print somewhere?

Thylias Moss: Well, of course. A look at any finished poem (any finished poem by anyone) often leads to my considering where to go next with some part of the poem. That is the nature of a poem being a dynamic system; there is the possibility that any encounter with the poem will reshape it, nudge it, push it, etc. This moment makes different demands; for one thing, I have no headache right now, so I wouldn't mind not pursuing pain; I wouldn't mind trying to arrive at Columbo and Spock without pain. Would you like to see a revision? I can arrange for a revised version (or another branch or fork of the piece) to appear in a QuickMuse forum -- shall I do that? How soon? Would you like to be able to track the life of of this piece? Now I want to get up and running asap!

QuickMuse: Do you have any ideas about how we can improve the process?

Thylias Moss: I don't know that I want to call what follows "improvements," but how about: More interaction with readers? Gallery of future stages of QuickMuse poems? The second fifteen minutes? Shall I work on the poem in fifteen-minute sessions? QuickMuse poems that interact with sound perhaps? Fifteen minutes spoken? I'd love to have the possibility of longer line-lengths, italics, font choice, etc. -- not that I'd have time to make such choices, but with the possibility of a palette of choice, I'd surely be tempted, and temptation can be so good at steering things in other directions.

QuickMuse: Would you be interested in writing some more on-the-fly verse for QuickMuse?

Thylias Moss: Any time. In fact, I'm eager for more.

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