I wasn’t part of the 1988 performance in Lowell. John Newmark took his usual place as he had to miss the trip to Quebec. I think that’sthe last time John was in the cast as he wanted to do other things. I took his place again until we all kind of ran out of gas. And then you younger folks took over the presentation which is very gratifying. Finally, can you offer some advice or insight about writing you’ve learned over time? Is there some practice or ritual, or a certain mindset, you feel is essential to the life of a poet?
A person has to be stubborn and dedicated and basically single-minded to be a writer or any other kind of artist. As a gambler making a big bet would say, “I’m all in.” You have to be in it for the long haul even if that road leads to disappointment. Another thing that is truly important is to learn honest self-criticism. Not an easy thing to do as a lot of creative people look at their efforts with tunnel vision. But in the long run you have to go with your gut. And of course you have to learn how to handle rejection and the lack of recognition. Acceptance and recognition are secondary things. It’s the act of creating something which is the primary objective. Anything positive that comes after that is gravy. What most people don’t realize is that trying to be some kind of artist involves living a life with two full-time jobs. There’s the job you have to support yourself and any loved ones and also your full-time job as an artist. After working a job all day it’s very difficult to summon up the energy and inspiration for creative efforts. I think that’s why a lot of people give up on their artistic yearnings. It’s very hard and can be disheartening and can feel like you’re spinning your wheels 152
underground art magazine