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This interview is taken from PN Review 212, Volume 39 Number 6, July - August 2013.

In Conversation with Fiona Sampson Ahren Warner


AHREN WARNER: You begin Folding the Real with the poem 'But Summer Light', which has a slightly oblique, wonderfully deft rapport with Kant's first critique ('the light / seems solid as any ding-an-sich'). Philosophy, and the philosophical canon, recur in your work. Don Paterson has talked about the possibility of poetry as a form of philosophy, as a form of thought, and I wondered about this possibility for you, but also about the insistence throughout your work on philosophical thought as phenomenon or simply as part of your experiential material?

FIONA SAMPSON: This covers most of what's going on in my head when I'm writing, really! I think you're right about these two facets, the experiential and the reflexive. I couldn't agree more with Don about poetry as a form of thought, or, to put it in active terms, as a way of thinking. That's not the only thing it is, and it's a musical way of thinking, but it's a way of thinking, nevertheless, in language. In poetry, our relationship with language might be intensified, there may be all sorts of quantitative shifts - between the relative proportions of observation and logic, just for instance - but there isn't a qualitative transformation. That's to say, we always expect language to do our thinking for us, in some way, and in a poem that's just as critical as in an essay.

I'm extremely interested however in certain aspects of human experience, ...


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