The Questionnaire: Marjorie Perloff

March 15, 2013   •   By The Questionnaire

How do you get up in the morning?   


Do you succumb to nostalgia? 

Yes, until I look at some of the critical controversies of the past and then I change my mind!

Do you write long and cut, or short and backfill?

Long and cut.

How do you feel about your Wikipedia entry? 

It’s OK — I wonder who wrote it? I’m amazed to have one at all.

Lunch with any three people who ever lived; who do you invite? 

Proust, Celan, Wittgenstein.

Best piece of advice you ever received? 

From John Cage: as soon as you finish one piece of writing, start the next and ignore the reviews.

Have you ever been defeated by a genre? 


Which classic author would you like to see kicked out of the pantheon? 


Are you okay with blood?


Who is your imagined audience? Does it at all coincide with the real one?  

I’m happy to be an elitist and have an elite audience; at the same time, it’s gratifying (as with work on Cage and Wittgenstein) to reach a very different professional group.

What country would you want to be exiled in? 


What’s your favorite negative emotion? 


Is your study neat, or, like John Muir’s, is your desk and floor covered in “lateral, medial, and terminal moraines”?  

Neat, but everything is out of place or sequence.

Book you’re probably never going to write, but would kind of like to get around to?  

My exposé of higher education in the humanities in the US.

What are you so afraid of?

Slacking off.

How long can you go without putting paw to keyboard? 

About an hour.