"The notion of absolute greatness is not inhibited with ideas of limitations" is from Kant's Critique of Judgment via the Wikipedia article about the Sublime.
Evelyn Hampton: This is a good question--I mean, people want to know what to call things. I don't have a private word for what I write. The writing itself feels like the best description of what I write, but I think most people, when they ask "What sort of thing do you write?", are not ready for me to read them everything I have written. So I have been trying out one or two-word descriptions--lyrical fiction? That seems to include some of each of prose and poetry, though it maybe sounds pretentious. I sometimes resort to describing something I've written as a "thing". When I say "piece", I picture a codpiece and then have the confusing feeling that I am trying to protect genitalia that I do not possess.
I don't think anyone's paying a lot for "lyrical fiction" these days. I think what people are paying for is "content".
COUSINS: So now you're in Providence. I don't know whether to offer condolences or welcome. I know a writer who recently moved here who refers to the fact of living here as a "situation." But some people say that Providence is really nice... for a mid-sized city. They always add that last part. So here you are, in a mid-sized city, in the smallest state in the union... And we have no mountains. So what do you use for scale here?
EH: There's this scene in the movie Julien Donkey-Boy where Werner Herzog is standing at a window in his underwear, drinking cough syrup out of his slipper. He says, "Where are you, Mount Everest? Give me some Everest." When I was living in Seattle and I could look at mountains in the distance, I still felt like, Where are you? I think I will feel like that no matter where I am.
I have been finding many tufts of synthetic hair on my street in Providence--it tangles in the broken glass and trash that collects along the curb. It seems that people who wear wigs are often losing pieces of their hair. Providence feels like the oldest place I have ever lived. It is falling apart in many places, and there's something comforting about this--about being able to see outside of me something that I feel is happening inside of me. Am I losing my hair? I guess I must be. I guess what I'm saying is that there's a mid-sized city falling apart in me.
COUSINS: is the standard question, which you're welcome to interpret any way you'd like: Who are your literary cousins?
EH: You know how if you stay long enough in a bakery, you start to smell really good--I think this is how I've tried to be with the writers I admire. I spend a lot of time inside their books and hope that what's good about them will sort of molecularly bond with my clothing, so that I can smell it when I go back to my own writing. I do this with Virginia Woolf, W.G. Sebald, Robert Walser, and recently, Rilke. Plus there are so many other writers I admire--can you smell me from other there, on the other side of this screen? My mother worked for a while in her grandfather's bakery. Every morning, up at 4am to mix and knead. She said that she became nauseated by the odor of sweet, rising dough much sooner than she expected to. So I try to keep that in mind.