…with Michael Patrick Collins

Ariana:

Are there words or concepts in Psalmandala that may be new to readers? If so, please define a few for us.

Michael:

Both, definitely, as neologism — or soulanguage words — are one feature of the collection. I hate to define too many of the new words because they are a device that deliberately embodies the estrangement between the world of the ego we inhabit on our lives’ surfaces and the deeper world of the soul. For example, “Souleye,” not accidentally both a noun and verb, refers to a variety of forms of “vision” beyond the secular-materialistic. Seeing the soul of someone, something, some event, is about seeing into it, “seeing through” it, as the psychologist James Hillman puts it. This term is related — in the soul’s immortality (relative to the ego) — to another term inspired by Hillman: “deathsight.” Here, you have to think of death not as a singular event, but a perspective — a reflective point of view, quite vulnerable from the ego’s perspective, that allows for deeper honesty, compassion, and revelation. Think about how you feel when you are honestly reflecting on your life. In terms of material, corporeal reality — not that there is anything wrong with these aspects of our existence — you are a non-participant; you are temporarily blind to these realities; you are dead to them. You are out of ego-time in a way that allows for these deeper perspectives on and insights into your experiences, yet, intermittently, you are also aware of time, that events have passed, continue to pass, will one day cease. All looking back implies finality; without looking back we lose reflection. Through deathsight one may deepen one’s relationship with soul through contemplation.

Ok, so now I have given some clues…. Time for a quiz: Without reading the collection, what do you think the following words mean:
1. sickwise
2. nihilomantic
3. sacramaciated
Bonus: Firemind Hint: think broadly about the opposition between fire and light.

Ariana:

What project are you working on right now?

Michael:

Right now, I’m too busy with teaching, tutoring, mentoring, extracurricular groups…my son is two weeks old…I’m not actively writing much. Earlier in the year, I worked on two sequences that are chapbook length right now. One is a sequence of deep image poems about the harbor near where I live, and the other is a series of responses to/retellings of excerpts from Ovid’s Metamorphoses. They both have to do with the borders between nature and civilization in different ways, so I am still trying to figure out if they are part of the same project. New myths will be the next step either way.

Ariana:

If you were CEO of a well-known cereal company, what prize would you put in a cereal you developed and why?

Michael:

Installments of a novel. Because I hate cereal and love puns.

Ariana:

What can you tell us about Psalmandala?

Michael:

This is my favorite question. For me poetry is about freedom of the soul and ego to understand one another — and for each, in their dialogue, to understand themselves more deeply. It is a process of truth and compassion complicating one another. This is a book that attempts to collect many aspects of this conversation, seeking plurality in form, content, tone, and subject matter. Soul is sometimes a four letter word in our literary culture, so I am deeply grateful to you for having the conviction to publish such a scandalous book in which it appears on nearly every page.

Ariana:

Morning or night person?

Michael:

I have been both. These days it depends upon the whims of my son and my jobs. So far my son has been very kind in terms of waking me up only when I could actually use the sleeplessness to do things I needed to do. He is really a very unassuming child, and my wife is a great mother. I think I will be comfortable living in between morning and night person-hood for awhile; I will need to be.

Ariana:

What new author has inspired you and why?

Michael:

Lots of them. I look around for new work for my creative writing groups, and I am continually, accidentally inspired by poets I’ve never heard of before. Keep putting your work out there, friends; you have no idea how much you may inspire writers who never believed in themselves as writers.

Ariana:

You recently welcomed a baby boy into the world. What’s it like to be a dad for the first time?

Michael:

Awesome, distracting, oddly focusing, really busy. I don’t really know how to say anything objective, so, you know, he Is The Cutest Baby Ever. Ok, overboard, but he rules. See:

Collins Baby

Ariana:

Where do you get ideas for your poetry?

Michael:

Reading, walking, living, being angry, being grateful, rare moments of actual inspiration, random happenings due to living life. Shuffle and deal.

Ariana:

If you got a tattoo, which body part would you ink and why?
This is actually the question I have struggled with the most because I doubt I will get one, although sometimes I think they look cool on other people. Maybe I would get a tattoo on the top of my foot or maybe the inside of my wrist. I don’t have a good reason.

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