Borrowed Tales

“True artists are possessed… they are messianic egomaniacs. They believe that what they do is unspeakably important; it is only that conviction that makes the writer himself important…So Beethoven does draft after draft of his works, scrutinizing, altering, improvising them long after anyone commonly sane would have stopped, delighted… Only the absolute conviction that with patience enough he can find his way through or around any obstacle — only the certainty solid as life that he can sooner or later discover the right technique — can get the true artist through the endless hours of fiddling, reconceiving, throwing out in disgust… If he does the work well, the ego that made it possible does not show in the work… He builds whatever world he is able to build, then evaporates into thin air, leaving what he’s built to get by on its own.” -John Gardner, as cited by Charles Johnson in his 2006 preface to The Sunlight Dialogues (1972; rpr. 2006, New Directions Books, NY, NY)
In what other profession does one have a goal to be possessed? I love this work.
The other night, despite a headache I had been fighting all day, I went to Open Books in Wallingford to hear my old friend Deborah Woodard read from her new book of poems, Borrowed Tales. I was glad that I did. Deborah gave an inspired performance. The poems are amazing, I saw some old friends, and I was able to deliver two copies of my new book, Sparrow. (One of which was purchased by the evening’s end.) It’s all good.When I have a poetry reading (or two) set up, let alone a book launch, I will let you know.

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