(An International Journal of Poetry)
Volume-1 June-2011 Number-1
An E-Interview with Hugh Fox
(Interviewed by Pradeep Chaswal)
(Hugh Fox is Professor Emeritus from Michigan State University, archaeologist, editor, writer, and iconic poet of international fame. He is located in East Lansing, MIchigan right in the mid-west of the U.S., next to Lake Michigan. He has 120 books published. Peter Berg has set up a SPECIAL COLLECTION of the work of Hugh Fox in the Michigan state University Library. Born in Chicago, 1932,polio at age 5,cured with new pre-Saulk experimental medicine,childhood immersed in opera, violin, piano, musical composition, art by his ex-violinist-turned-M.D. father, and frustrated actress mother, then 3 years of pre-med and a year of Medicine, dropped out of medical school and got a B.S. (Hum.) and M.A.(English) from Loyola U.in Chicago, first trip to Paris, London, Florence, Rome, Amsterdam, etc., then a Ph.D. in American Literature from the U. of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign).Married Peruvian poet Lucia Ungaro de Zevallos. Prof. of American Literature, Loyola University in Los Angeles (now Loyola Marymount University) , 1958-1968,Professor in the Department of American Thought and Language, Michigan State University (1968-1999) now retired, Professor Emeritus. Fulbright Professor of American Studies/Literature, U. of Hermosillo, Mexico, 1961, U. Católica and Institúto Pedagógico, Caracas, 1964-1966, U. of Florianópolis, Brazil, 1978-1980. Married Maria Bernadete Costa M.D. 1 yr. studying Lt. Am. culture at Mendoza Foundation (Caracas) with Mariano Picon-Salas.One year in Valencia, Spain. Organization of American States Grant to study Latin American Studies/Argentinian Literature, U. of Buenos Aires, 1971. John Carter Brown Library Fellowship, Brown U. , 1968 (Studies in sixteenth and seventeenth century Spanish economics and avant-garde literature). OAS grant as archaeologist, Atacama Desert, Chile, 1986.Lectures in Spain and Portugal 1975-’76. Founder and Board of Directors member of COSMEP, the International Organization of Independent Publishers, from 1968 until its death in 1996. Editor of Ghost Dance: The International Quarterly of Experimental Poetry, 1968-1995. Latin American editor of Western World Review & North American Review during 60’s. Former contributing reviewer on Smith/ Pulpsmith, Choice etc. currently contributing reviewer to SPR and SMR.120 books published, the most recent Defiance (Higganum Hill Press, 2007) (poetry), Finalmente/Finally (Solo Press, 2007) (poetry), Opening the Door to French Film (World Audience, 2007) , Rediscovering America (World Audience, 2009) (archaeology), Alex (poetry chapbook, Rubicon Press), Peace/LaPaix (Higganum Hill,2008, another poetry chapbook), The Collected Poetry (World Audience, 2008...540 pages), Icehouse & The Thirteen Keys to Talmud (Crossing Chaos Press in London, Ontario. A novella and sci fi novel, 2009), Revoir (s.stories, All Things that Matter Press, 2009), Gesangvoll/Songful (Pudding House Chapbook Series,2010), Icehouse &Thirteen Keys to Talmud (Crossing Chaos Press, 2010), Depths and Dragons (Skylight Press in England, 2011), In the Beginning (Muse It Up in Canada,2011), Epilogue (Luminis Press, 2011), etc. etc. etc.)
1. As the focus is on technological and management studies and the stream of humanities is considered as traditional one in contemporary society, how do you rate the future of Poetry? Is it bleak or bright?
I think there is less and less concentration in the schools and homes on any
kind of high culture, not just poetry, but classical music, painting, whatever.
What I am surrounded by on the campus at Michigan State and in the town of East
Lansing, Michigan, as well as when I'm in Boston or Chicago or Brazil or
anywhere else, is everyone walking around writing messages or talking on phones
or working on computerization. Everything is become tech-oriented, and although
I listen to classical music all day every day (WKAR radio from Michigan State
University), there isn't any other music station that has anything on but pop
crap...kind of hick-stuff, worse than classic jazz, kind of a step back into
pop nothing. It's the same way in university libraries. Everything is portable
(or library) computers. History vanishes, the "real" world vanishes,
it's all trivialization.
2. How poetry took birth in you?
My father was an M.D., but had really wanted to be a violinist. My mother
was a secretary but was an actress at heart. I was an only child (in Chicago)
and they started me off with violin lessons at age 6. With P. Marinus Paulson,
not a famous composer, but a great composer. He taught me violin at the Curtiss
Music School in Chicago, and showed me how to compose music on a piano, chords,
melodies, formats. Then my parents heard about Zerlina Mulhman Metzger from
Austria, an opera teacher on the north side of Chicago and I started going up
there twice a week for opera classes. She had a group called THE ALL CHILDRENS'
GRAND OPERA, and when the Metropolitan Opera came to town and they needed
children for childrens' choruses in CARMEN and BORIS GODUNOV, we were those
choruses. The stage doorman got to know me and said "Fox, any time you
want to come in to see anything, I'll let you in free...," so I never
missed a ballet, a symphony concert, a play, ANYTHING at the Civic Opera Class.
Also I was taken to the Art Institute full time and sent to schools run by
Irish nuns from Ireland who were maniacally involved with literature/poetry.
Then I went to Leo High School and again the Irish brothers from Ireland were
literature-centered. So I was immersed in the arts and ended up editor of the
high school newspaper, started writing, writing, writing...eventually got a
B.A. and M.A. in English from Loyola U. in Chicago, a Ph.D. in English from the
U. of Illinois and got involved with the whole writing world in the U.S. and
3. How far society affects the creative process of a poet?
The influence of the world around me is of primary importance. Luckily I
still maintain contact with lots and lots of poets and I've been blessed by
having contact with magazines like THE MUSE. I get poems accepted almost every
day. And I've had five novels come out in the last three months. I'm dying from
cancer so I'm not writing anything more than poetry right now, but I always
seem to find places out there interested in my work.
4. What are your views on contemporary experimental poetry?
I like it. Friends of my like Glenna Luschei and Richard Kostelanetz are
totally involved with experimentation. Never a simple, straight poem. And I
have fun with them. The same with Lynn Strongin in Canada. Always new doors to
open, new word-games to play. I myself sometimes play the same games, sometimes
go back to Bukowskian straightforewardness. Variableness. Keeps the game going.
5. What is the social relevance of poetry in the contemporary milieu of
globalization and technology?
Poetry is more relevant today than it has ever been, because so much of the human soul has been totally secularized and nothing could be worse than to completely blank out the forests and winds and personal histories, the families, lives, futures, pasts, the beauties that surround us everywhere and the horrors that also confront us, which is the essence of the poetic vision.
6.What are your views on contemporary scenario of poetry?
Actually the contemporary scenario is slowly becoming more and more
universal. Instead of being national, local, confined, now, thanks to
computerization, skype and all the rest, slowly the world is becoming
poetically one, not only sharing visions and languages, religions, past
cultures, all moving toward a more and more visionary future;.
7. Would you please throw light on your latest book of poetry?
In my latest book of poetry (REINSPIRITING published by Mad Hat press in
North Carolina) I have become more totally-visioned than ever. Seventy-nine,
dying (slowly) from cancer, seeing life in a total context full time. No more
nastiness, selfishness, trying to push anyone or anything around, my daughter
just told me the other day "I've never seen anyone in the world easier to
get along with." Because I live full-time aware of the transience of
everything around me, my voices inside me saying "Enjoy, enjoy while you
can, all the streets and houses, hills and rivers, faces, friends, children,
grandchildren, sunrises and sunsets, because you are about to sunset
8. Would you like to share with the readers some important incident or experience in your life?
Perhaps the most important experience in my life was when my parents
enrolled me in THE ALL CHILDRENS' GRAND OPERA in Chicago. Run by Zerlina
Muhlman Metzer from Vienna. Singing classes twice a week for years and years,
beginning when I was about ten years old. And when the Metropolitan Opera from
New York would come to Chicago and perform at the Civic Opera House, when they
put on an opera with a childrens' chorus like CARMEN, our group would perform
And the doorman at the Civic Opera House told me, after a year or so, "Fox, come and see whatever you'd like, ballet, opera, symphony, plays, whatever...I'll let you in free...just stay backstage and enjoy from the stage-side." So I was totally immersed in all the theatrical arts....which gave the whole direction to my life.
9. What is your advice for the young poets?
Listen to your inner voices and connect them to your pens and notebooks or
computers (however you write), don't think that poetry is dead because it
isn't. The world is filled with new poets, new magazines, new audience. Poetry
is the music of the soul and it hasn't been killed by the Bytesville Monsters.
10. Your message for the poetry lovers and readers?
Don't let ANYTHING distract you from the inner voices that are still speaking about the eternal values, purposes and visions of all of human history. Be NOW, be with it, listen to the vision-words and never forget the visions that they are portraying for you.