Behind the Words: Matt Lafreniere

Posted by on Apr 13, 2018 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Behind the Words: Matt Lafreniere

Matthew Lafreniere

Matt LaFreniere’s poem “Dream of the Jar” appeared in Issue 03 of Spry, and I was immediately drawn in by the sinister (as he describes it) appearance of Wallace Stevens in the poem.  Here, we talk about that appearance and which poets he’d like to hang out with.

Emily Densten: I love that in “ Dream of the Jar” you literally bring the author in as a character and have a conversation with him.  Was this something you always intended to do?

Matt LaFreniere: Wallace Stevens appeared in a draft just as randomly and sinisterly as he did in the speaker’s dream. Choosing a villanelle (which was a last ditch effort to salvage the poem) kind of forced him in as a character. I liked the thought of him moving to the speaker as the repeating lines move toward the poem’s close—gaining momentum, gathering energy. With this poem, like most poems I write, my initial intention went out the window within the first few lines.

What are your thoughts on literature as conversation rather than just one-sided communication

Nothing’s new under the sun, until you muscle the sun to shine differently, to fall at different angles. I like to think I did that with this poem—I like to think I’m in the process of doing that when I write. I think it’s impossible not to walk on ground illuminated by someone else, not to trip over someone else’s sun shards. Sometimes I try to bend those shards intentionally; most of the time bending is unintentional. But I’m not a fan of poems about poetry, or poems about other poems (even though “Dream of the Jar” is just that—I guess that’s why WS is so sinister in the dream; how lame would it be if he wasn’t sinister? Pretty lame, I guess).

Follow up to that, are you an annotator? 

No, not really; unless you count the pen slathers on my students’ work.

I guess I kind of have to ask it now, what three authors, living or dead, would you want to have dinner with?

I don’t know about dinner, but I’d love to drink Cape Cods with Anne Sexton—only if she’s foul-mouthed and moody, though, throwing those biting similes around. I’d want to take Robert Creeley to a Sox game, then leave in the 7th grumbling about them. And Whitman—I don’t know what the hell I’d want to do with Whitman. Something. Take a ferry ride?

Are there any particular authors or individual works you think everyone, maybe even in particular your students, should read?

All of Emily Dickinson, Anne Sexton’s “Transformations,” Hamlet, Othello, and Lear. Maybe some of David Foster Wallace’s essays.

Anything you’re working on right now you’d like to talk about?

I’m working on a kind of fictional memoir, through poetry, influenced by movies I love—my life filtered through film: The Godfather to The Goonies, Alien to Apocalypse Now, Weekend at Bernie’s to The Wrestler. Stay tuned, please.   

Emily Densten is a graduate of Rowan University with a BA in Writing Arts with a Creative Writing concentration and an English minor. Her work appears or is forthcoming in Spry, as well as Nib MagazineHere Comes Everyone, and Whistling Shade. She has worked as a General Reader and is currently working as an Editorial Reader for Spry. She blogs here about trying to act like an adult and her gradual inability to watch a movie without crying.