The author of nine books of poetry, including this month’s “The Word Kingdom in the Word Kingdom,” Noah Eli Gordon is a writer and assistant professor in the MFA creative writing program at the University of Colorado–Boulder, where he also directs the nonprofit publisher Subito Press. Denver Life Magazine spoke with Gordon about his sentiment for words.
DLM: What inspires your poems?
NG: I’m inspired by anger, grief, disillusionment, joy, love, contempt, strange afternoon rainstorms, the angular viscosity of a word rolling around on my tongue as I repeat it to myself while walking down the street, the moon, the machinations of capital, momentary thoughts, other poems, a particularly striking syntactic construction I feel the sudden urge to emulate or deploy, something my daughter says in passing, sunlight, clouds, the color green.
DLM: What subject do you enjoy writing about most?
NG: I think my poems stumble into their own subject matter, always with an eye elsewhere. They are never about only one thing. Sometimes, they won’t even tell me what they’re about until years later. I like this unknowing—what Keats called negative capability—and think that it’s through uncertainty and doubt itself that we reach a place of authenticity.
DLM: Is writing a long process for you?
NG: I have spent years and years on some poems and a total of five minutes on others. But I think poets are always writing, always working, always waiting to latch onto some ethereal thought-plane, some current in the air that’s churning above one’s head.
DLM: Who are some of your favorite poets?
NG: The truth is that the Front Range has a plethora of amazing poets—so many folks who are recognized on a national and even international scale—that our current historical moment is being labeled as the Front Range Renaissance.
DLM: You’re a teacher as well as a writer. How do you manage your time?
NG: I am lucky in that I get paid to teach what I love, so my students see a professor consistently in awe of his material, which I hope elicits interest from even the most passive among them, allowing their intellectual curiosity to stem from the example of my commitment. My students inspire me.
Find works from the poet at noaheligordon.com.