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Henry Miller met his second wife June when she was twenty-one and he was thirty. She was a taxi dancer. I used to want to be like June Miller when I was a teenager, because she sounded so beautiful and so seductive and so dangerous. I’d read Sexus and Nexus and Plexus and Crazy Cock and Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn, with their June-based characters. I’d read Anaďs Nin’s diaries, about her self-involved loved triangle with June and Henry. It’s interesting I didn’t want to be like Henry or Anaďs instead -- the writers. I wanted to be like someone who never wrote anything.
Serge is in many ways a unique witness to the pivotal events of early Soviet history -- the only Bolshevik-turned-dissident to turn the drama of this era into literature. Serge’s characters are men and women squeezed on two sides -- facing the external threats of civil war, foreign invasion, or economic hardship on one side, while on the other being terrorized by a dictatorial state.
The headline smacked me as if it had been waiting for a vulnerable moment: Foul Play Leaves Fowl Mess At Local Processing Plant. 100,000 lbs. of chicken meat had been left un-refrigerated and unattended for most of a New Jersey summer. I experienced a weird, double sensation: shame, that my book had gone unpublished, and thrill that what I had first imagined a decade before had come to pass. Outlandish! I felt like a prophet.
I started reading the Sweet Valley High books when I was eight or nine years old. I wore thick bifocals. I was cross-eyed. Other than my younger brother, I was the only black kid in school so I was going to be noticed even though I wanted very much to go unnoticed. I was shy and awkward and didn’t know how to fix myself. I read books while I walked to school. I had the strangest laugh and a bit of a buck tooth situation. I regularly wore overalls by choice and didn’t really know any curse words so that should give you a sense of where I was on the social ladder. I was reaching for the bottom rung.
"At the beginning of the 1990s, it was really complicated for somebody my age to think about being a writer. If you were Peruvian, you had the feeling that you had to be able to write 700 pages and be a candidate for president, to write. Writers were big intellectuals. What I wanted to do was tell stories. My first job out of university was the chance to write soap operas. I loved it, because all my intellectual friends were [appalled]. But I was telling stories."
Westoll lived for months at Gloria Grow’s Fauna Sanctuary on rural pastureland in the Quebec region of Canada. Grow and her rescue team created there a “labyrinth of private and communal living spaces” for the apes, “one part Alcatraz and one part Rube Goldberg.” Once confined in tiny cages, many at a bioresearch outfit called LEMSIP (Laboratory for Experimental Medicine and Surgery in Primates) at New York University, the chimpanzees now go outdoors, and may even visit islands with outdoor playgrounds, trees, green grass, and places to hide. Control over their own lives, Westoll writes, is the singular gift that Grow strives to give the chimpanzees.
Barbara J. King
"I love collaborating, especially when I (don’t) get my own way. Which is to say it is generative, challenging, and perfectly confrontational to ego/agenda. It is another way to avert my will imposing on or limiting the making. Well, Jon, my partner for that project but also my romantic life partner, might have other things to say about my willingness to cooperate! Generally, though, I find the process of responding to and incorporating and gesturing toward and with others to be an opportunity to grow as a person and an artist."
"When I wrote In the Devil's Territory, my working method was to "not-know," to write my way into it. And to write out of character, not in the direction of theme or event. That's the way a lot of writers I admire work, and it's a good way to keep yourself from writing didactic garbage. But a few years ago, I made an accounting of the books I read again and again, and asked the question: Why do I return to these books again and again?"
"When I write or read I'm acutely aware of the hope that ushered me there. It's often quite embarrassing to realize just how desperately I want the "world" to stay with me through the words I've constructed. Please, the poem is asking, be with me, here, now. Of course, I barely know how I got there myself. To ask, then, of another being to stay the course while words make of themselves what they will, it seems so presumptuous! So immense! Such a task! Yet, this is the hope that the poem invites. That we might stick it out, together, to see what's on the other side."