Friday, May 13, 2011


I'm trying to make sure with my answers that I provide information and details not present in the 6 critical books literary scholars have published about my work, or in the book of interviews that Jim McWilliams published.
For me, this has been---and still is---a great, rare opportunity to get "said" some things never said before, to set the record straight and clear up any misconceptions. In NYC, Nathaniel Nesmith gave to his students the post on "Progress in Literature" (I spoke with his students last Friday on Skype). So these posts are useful, not just for literary scholars, but also for students. Others have given to their students the "Craft and Revision" post.

I think you've started something original here that has potential. One of my agents says she enjoys seeing them every day when she gets up,  because she's never before had this kind of look into a writer's life and thought. I know others must feel that way. Literary scholar Robert Abrams also told me that he enjoys them, especially the one on dogs.

If you line up people in future years to do this, I think you'll create a great deal of excitement. A historian. A poet. A film-maker. An actor. The sky is the limit. But you might want to get someone who is an old man like me with a lifetime of experience in his or her field. Can you imagine the kinds of questions you might ask Albert Murray? Or bell hooks? Or Jan Willis? Or an older black actor? 

They could open up cultural history for readers. But they need to be people who can write and deliver copy---a brief essay---fast. I don't think this is the kind of feature where someone should labor on their prose as they would a novel, story or essay. That's why I said in a recent post that these brief essays are as close as I get to releasing first-draft material. You need to select people who are motor-mouths. Conversationalists. Talky and chatty. But---and here's one last point---the answers people give shouldn't be like diary entries. The answers should clarify some subject. 

You'll notice how I try often to refer readers to books that relate to the subject of the question I'm trying to answer. I quote from others as often as I can. I DO ground many pieces in my biography, something that happened to me, but I always try to nudge the autobiographical into a larger cultural or philosophical context so the answer isn't just about me since that wouldn't, in my opinion, serve the greater good.

1 comment:

  1. This is a good idea about a good idea…Where are the follow-ups? Maybe there is a kps (kilobyte per second) output crash, the digital version of writer’s block. Let’s hear from Harry Bellefonte! Or Vernon Jordon?