And here’s an interview outtake:
Q: You were an opera singer in the past: you’ve said that you feel the weight of a sentence the way you felt breath when you sang, which I love. Could you say more about that?
Garth Greenwell: My first education in the arts was in classical singing. Classical singing is a very bodily and, I would say, even an athletic activity. It was also my first education in literature, and my first education in what it meant to read and interpret a text. Really, it was my first profound relationship with language. I think that singing art-song and singing opera is a lesson in the possibilities for generating emotion by suspending language in time. One reason I’m drawn to an expansive text is because of that drama, of suspending meaning in time. Also, I have a very strong sense of the energy of a sentence when I write. I often write out loud. I move my body with the sentence as I’m writing, and it feels like the kind of balance you strive for in singing a phrase. I often feel that there’s a shape for a phrase that preexists a sentence, and the sentence is writing itself into that shape.