1. What gets your motor running?
Deep, authentic conversations. Wrestling with hard questions. Debating what constitutes a good life. Right now, I’m just enchanted by watching my daughter draw.
2. Tell us about a work of art or literature you feel is woefully misunderstood or underappreciated.
I love Trout Fishing In America by Richard Brautigan. I love everything by him, but that book in particular changed my concept of what a book was and could be. I took it as a license to go and do whatever I wanted to with books and words, and I still do. Go read it, and have your mind blown wide open.
3. When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I think I’ve always been a writer, from back when I was little. But there was a moment about ten years back when I decided to take my typewriter to a backyard open mic here in Austin, to a party they called the Feast of Fools. It was there that I started writing instant typewriter poems, like I do now. My heart came alive that night, and ten thousand or so poems later, I’ve never looked back.
4. You write your poems on a 1946 Smith-Corona typewriter. What do you think we’ve lost as a society by switching to computers and word processors? !
I think of it more as different options. Writing by hand, writing with a typewriter, and writing on a computer are all totally different experiences for me — each has its magic and its limitations. What I love about the typewriter is its immediacy. You type it and it’s right there. No printer, no nothing. Just magic, right there, in your hand. I love it.
5. You’re a big believer in “the healing power of creativity.” What would you say to someone who believes they simply “aren’t creative”?
I would say to take a day off work and go make something. Take a hike in the woods and hum to yourself. Go play with a little kid and let them make the rules. We’re all creative. The question is what we do with it, and how much we embrace it. Creativity is a health food.
6. You write poems on the spot, using prompts from strangers. Why do you prefer this to writing more slowly and carefully?
I love the opportunity to stop thinking and just open up and let the writing through. And I love the framing of each poem as a gift to that audience of one — it keeps the poems alive, personal, yet still rooted in the universal themes we all share.
7. How do you take your whiskey?
I stopped drinking years ago, so I’d say at this point I take it home, wrap it up, and give it to a friend as a gift. 🙂