I’ve always had a strong feeling for the Statue of Liberty, because it became the statue of my personal liberty.
I tended to emphasize the secular, the casual, the colloquial, the vernacular against the sacred.
I wanted to be an inventor, whatever I thought that meant then. I guess I was thinking of Edison or maybe James Watt. Or maybe even Newton.
When you grow up in a family of languages, you develop a kind of casual fluency, so that languages, though differently colored, all seem transparent to experience.
A myth is the name of a terrible lie told by a smelly little brown person to a man in a white suit with a pair of binoculars.
The ancient Greek oral poets all had this anxiety about the deficiencies of their memories and always began poems by praying to the Muse to help them remember.
You pay your money, you take your choice. I get the audience my language attracts and I lose the ones it repels.
While I’ve had a great distaste for what’s usually called song in modern poetry or for what’s usually called music, I really don’t think of speech as so far from song.
While I don’t script and I don’t use other performers, I think my taste for underlying precision gives me something in common with Allan and George Brecht.
When I got to the reading all the work, I was reduced to being an actor in an experimental play that I’d already written. And I didn’t want to be an actor.
There is probably no oral society that fails to mark the spatial distinction of left and right, peculiar as this distinction may be.
There are editing procedures for talks just as there are editing procedures in jazz improvisation.
The Sophists’ paradoxical talk pieces and their public debates were entertainment in 5th century Greece. And in that world, Socrates was an entertainer.
The self is an oral society in which the present is constantly running a dialogue with the past and the future inside of one skin.
Stories are different every time you tell them – they allow so many possible narratives.
My way of thinking is very particular and concrete. It doesn’t follow a continuous path.
My rejection of the idea of entertainment in its current form is based on the audience that comes with it.
My mother turned into a professional widow. She couldn’t understand why I wanted to be an engineer; she thought I should be a chicken farmer.
It’s hard being a hostage in somebody else’s mouth – or a character in somebody else’s novel.
I’m standing up thinking. Anybody who wants to listen is welcome. If not, I’m happy to see them go.
I’m not sure what theory is, unless it’s the pursuit of fundamental questions.
I’m aware of my audience in a way, and I do try to engage with them while I’m trying to go about my business of thinking. I believe they help me by providing a focus.
I was very committed to the process of composing, working at poems, putting things together and taking them apart like some kind of experimental filmmaker.
I was trying to find out what it was that everybody else understood without giving up my stubborn and hard-won lack of understanding.
I reserve the right to tell shaggy dog stories or even common jokes as part of what I’m doing. I don’t give a damn if half the audience walks out.
I learned enough Hebrew to stagger through a meaningless ceremony that I scarcely remember
I have spoken to expert audiences occasionally, but then no audience is expert over the whole range of things I want to explore.
I hardly remember how I started to write poetry. It’s hard to imagine what I thought poetry could do.
I had no idea where these kids at a small private college in the San Fernando Valley were coming from, why they were coming to hear me, or what they needed to know.
I didn’t think about whether I was writing poems. I was thinking. And the more I was thinking, the more there was I didn’t understand.
I can manage a prose format as long as I keep closer to Laurence Sterne than to Henry James.