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INTERVIEW WITH POET X

COULD THIS BE POET X?
Poet X is an Instagram poet, and they have over 5.4 million followers. However, flying in the face of the recent "snowfake" world of self-display, Poet X never shows their own face. We do not know their gender, race, age, nationality, or marital status, indeed, all we do know about them, for sure, is that they write brief poems in English, and that they post them to Instagram - the font is usually ornate, and the backgrounds are either blood-red, or goth-black, or full-moon white.

Poet X recently published their first book with Rand House in the US, and they were on all the usual best-seller lists from the get-go; indeed, lines of eager humans snaked around corners before dawn, when the bookshops opened early, so huge was the incredible if bleary-eyed poetic demand. Poetry is back, big time!

People are speaking of Beatlemania, or Pottermania, or Quadrophenia, to explain the phenomenon. We asked Poet X some questions for our special April 1 feature at Eyewear. And they answered. The questions were emailed to Poet X, and they replied.

Eyewear: Are you a man or a woman?

Poet X: Lol. You almost tricked me. Seriously, would I fall for that? My gender is a mystery. Everything about me is a mystery. Sorry.

Eyewear: OK. But we had to ask. What makes you write?

Poet X: Fame. I crave the limelight. I love the idea that my poems - I consider them lyrics - reach millions of people every day. And change their lives. Usually for the better.

Eyewear: So why the Howard Hughes act?

Poet X: I may be too young to get that reference, but I can (maybe) Google. I enjoy being infinite and universal, like Shakespeare or the wind. Or the ocean. I am basically whatever you want me to be.

Eyewear: I want you to be identifiable in a coffee shop.

Poet X: No chance.

Eyewear: You mostly write about love...

Poet X: Yes. Love, and death, and time, and the important things. I deal in truths. Like that dust makes you sneeze. And cats purr.

Eyewear: What is your favourite poem by yourself?

Poet X: Oh, that is a hard one... but I guess it would have to be 'Sunset Knife':

The sun
cuts the sky
like a sharp
knife, and it bleeds
ouch
don't hurt me sun
says the sky
I have to, the sky
says back,
in a deep voice
it is what I do

Eyewear: We love that one. Do you wear eyewear?

Poet X: Maybe.

Eyewear: We think you are probably American. Your spelling is American.

Poet X: Or I use American spelling to throw you off the scent.

Eyewear: True.

Poet X: I like a lot of American poetry, so I tend to use the same spelling. Americans get poetry. They really do. So do Germans. The Germans are very big fans of my poems.

Eyewear: You are the richest poet in the world today. How does that make you feel?

Poet X: Good. It makes me feel validated, you know? Like a rock star or Stephen King.

Eyewear: Brexit, yes or no?

Poet X: Yes - any word with an X in it, is a word I love.

Eyewear: Trump?

Poet X: Not usually. In small doses.

Eyewear: Has social media changed poetry for the better?

Poet X: You bet. Before social media people like me would not have had the chance to break through and reach vast audiences of people who don't know what poetry is. I am basically the tip of the spear. We have a lot of people out there too busy to read long poems by dead people. Then again, maybe I am dead...

Eyewear: really?

Poet X: No, I am a living poet, that is one thing you can say for sure.

Eyewear: And that you use American English.

Poet X: How do you know I am not out there in all other languages, also, fluent as the ocean, the wind, the truth?

Eyewear: Do you have any advice for budding Poet Xs?

Poet X: Yes - never forget that a simple truth expressed in plain language, with the minimum of poetic skill, if presented on a blood-red background with a fancy font, can move millions. Think what Byron or Emily Dickinson could have accomplished if they had been on social media?

Eyewear: Wow. That is true. Thanks Poet X. Happy April!

Poet X: Maybe where I am it is already May...

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With the death of the poetic genius John Ashbery, whose poems, translations, and criticism made him, to my mind, the most influential American poet since TS Eliot, 21st century poetry is moving into less certain territory.

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I had a letter from Ashbery on my wall, and it inspired me daily.  He gave me advice for my PhD. He said kind things about a poetry book of mine.

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