Nathaniel Mackey (born 1947) is an American poet, novelist, anthologist, literary critic and editor.
- …I think figures accrue to and build on feeling, and it’s no doubt the case that orphaning speaks of and from an emotional disposition I’m both inclined toward and see applying beyond myself. The orphan is such an archetypal figure, recurrent not only in my work but in world culture, because it tugs at the roots of our sense of belonging and the mix of anxiety and solace that goes with that sense…
- On using orphans as an archetype for displacement in Nod House in “’The Song Sung in a Strange Land’: An Interview with Nathaniel Mackey” in the Iowa Review' (Winter 2014/2015)
- …Drift is the tension and play between spirit and matter. Spirit wants to be unbound. It’s the tension between spirit and letter as well, the play between spirit and letter, the tangential way of knowing that the expression “you get my drift” gets at, not to mention the turns spirit and letter take toward each other and away from each other. Language, especially poetic language, replicates or is infused with the relationship between spirit and matter, the traffic between spirit and letter, its analogue…
- On his play on words in “’The Song Sung in a Strange Land’: An Interview with Nathaniel Mackey” in the Iowa Review (Winter 2014/2015)
- …to the extent that categories and the way things are defined -- the boundaries between things, people, areas of experience, areas of endeavor -- to the extent that those categories and definitions are rooted in social and political realities, anything one does that challenges them, that transgresses those boundaries and offers new definitions, is to some extent contributing to social change…
- On how art can inadvertently cause social change in “AN INTERVIEW WITH NATHANIEL MACKEY” in Callaloo
- I think that the audience for poetry has widened in recent years and maybe it's continuing to widen—I hope so. The whole poetry slam phenomenon has created an interest and widened the audience for poetry in significant ways. There's a lot that needs to be done, obviously. But poetry is one of those things that just won't go away, and people keep rediscovering it. I think every generation has a poetry boom, or gives a boom to poetry, gives itself to poetry. There is also a growing sense that poetry has great variety to it, that there are many ways of going about it. I think with the recognition of that variousness, there's been a growth in the audience.
- On the generational nature of poetry in “A Conversation with Nathaniel Mackey” in Publisher’s Weekly (2006 Nov 22)
- …The song does remember the deceased, and it’s the song that helps the deceased move on—to ascend, in the words of the poem, to the next life. I wanted to take that and apply it to senses of transition and, hopefully, ascendance within life, moments where one feels one has to move on and move up. I didn’t know it would become an ongoing, theoretically endless series—
- On his series Song of the Andoumboulou in “Nathaniel Mackey, The Art of Poetry No. 107” in The Paris Review (Spring 2020)