Flumes Volume 2: Issue 1, Summer 2017 - Page 79

DA: (chuckles) You know, the problem with anyone who takes that approach and says to a young writer you “shouldn’t be doing that,” is all you have to say is “you shouldn’t” to trigger in the young writer the desire to do anything. It’s almost a survival instinct. It’s as if you tell me what I believe in is horrible or is not important, I am going to work to show you how important it is. That’s the nature of the animal, that’s just how we approach life and our work. Thank God!

I mean, when I was younger I used to read biographies of writers to figure out how they did it. The more I learned about how they managed to survive what is, really often, a criminally discouraging world, the more I learned that it’s that inherent sense of outrage. The more we are told we should not or cannot do that thing the more we are going to do that thing. You have to pretty much hone that muscle, you have to work on it because, boy, if you let them, if you let people discourage you and stop you from doing what you really need to do, you learn it in your whole body and you learn it very fast.

JGH: So who do you think is telling the stories and who is telling the stories that need to be told right now?

DA: Oh my lord, there’s just a huge, huge number of writers that I find truly exciting. I collect chapbooks of poetry. I love poetry, but you know, I love the sound of the spoken word. Just reading poetry to myself, when I start to feel the rhythms of the writers work, it makes me tremendously excited.

I just this morning got a copy of a new book of poetry by Dawn McGuire. She’s just the most extraordinary young poet. Well, I don’t think she’s as young as she used to be … none of us are. This is actually her third book and I never did read her first one but I did read the last one. So, when I got a notice that this one was being published, I ordered it right away. This one is American Dream With Exit Wound. The extraordinary thing about Dawn is, she’s a neurosurgeon. So, when she’s not writing poems, she’s in the hospital with brain damaged people, and she works with Doctors Without Borders. Now, I love these things about her, but when you read all this poetry, it’s as if those poems are written in letters of fire. That’s what I just find to be almost completely overwhelming.