“I think the interview is the new art form. I think the self-interview is the essence of creativity. Asking yourself questions and trying to find answers. The writer is just answering a series of unuttered questions.
It’s similar to answering questions on a witness stand. It’s that strange area where you try and pin down something that happened in the past and try honestly to remember what you were trying to do. It’s a crucial mental exercise. An interview will often give you a chance to confront your mind with questions, which to me is what art is all about. An interview also gives you the chance to try and eliminate all of those space fillers… you should try to be explicit, accurate, to the point… no bulshit. The interview form has antecedents in the confession box, debating and cross-examination. Once you say something, you can’t really retract it. It’s too late. It’s a very existential moment.
I’m kind of hooked to the game of art and literature; my heroes are artists and writers.
I always wanted to write, but I always figured it’d be no good unless somehow the hand just took the pen and started moving without me really having anything to do with it. Like automatic writing. But it just never happened.
I wrote a few poems, of course. I think around the fifth or sixth grade I wrote a poem called “The Pony Express.” That was the first I can remember. It was one of those ballad-type poems. I never could get it together though.
“Horse Latitudes” I wrote when I was in high school. I kept a lot of notebooks through high school and college, and then when I left school, for some dumb reason- maybe it was wise- I threw them all away… I wrote in those books night after night. But maybe if I’d never thrown them away, I’d never have written anything original- because they were mainly accumulations of things that I’d read or heard, like quotes from books. I think if I’d never gotten rid of them I’d never been free.
Listen, real poetry doesn’t say anything, it just ticks off the possibilities. Opens all doors. You can walk through any one that suits you.
…And that’s why poetry appeals to me so much- because it’s so eternal. As long as there are people, they can remember words and combinations of words. Nothing else can survive a holocaust but poetry and songs. No one can remember an entire novel. No one can describe a film, a piece of sculpture, a painting, but so long as there are human beings, songs and poetry can continue.
If my poetry aims to achieve anything, it’s to deliver poeple from the limited ways in which they see and feel.”
Los Angeles, 1969-71