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If poets are said to be “painters with words,” then Charles Bernstein would surely moonlight working in a custom frame shop. With samples lining the walls—from the gaudiest fake-gold scrollwork to the most austere black lacquer finish—I imagine him testing the clients’ nerves by frantically holding every outlandish sample to the edge of their pictures to assess the overall effect. A cheap clip-frame for a museum’s masterpiece, gilded silver leaf for a baby’s doodle, exotic wood for a crappy poster won at a carnival. His is a poetics of framing and re-framing, with a guarantee: if you end up liking it, he’ll quickly try something else, for free. We met last December to talk about his new volume of selected poems, All the Whiskey in Heaven; this is a segment of our ongoing conversation.