Friday, September 16, 2011

Hazards of Poetry, Automotive Edition

This morning I was working on revising some poems. Line breaks are my nemesis, and I left one poem in a state that I was less than happy about. As I was driving to work I was thinking about that poem and suddenly had an idea about how to restructure my problem stanza. I'm not sure what I was looking at (OK, I think I may have been looking at the line breaks in my head), but the car ahead of me braked suddenly and I just missed a collision. But(!) I did not forget my new line breaks, and I'm going home now to make the change...

Monday, September 5, 2011

Monday Morning Quote: Kurt Vonnegut and Saul Steinberg on Two Kinds of Artists

Who was the wisest person I ever met in my life? It was a man, but of course it needn't have been. It was the graphic artist Saul Steinberg, who like everybody else I know, is dead now. I could ask him anything, and six seconds would pass, and then he would give me a perfect answer, gruffly, almost a growl....

I said, "I am a novelist, and many of my friends are novelists and good ones, but when we talk I keep feeling like we are in two different businesses. What makes me feel that way?"

Six seconds passed, and then he said "It's very simple. There are two sort of artists, one not being in the least superior to the other. But one response to the history of his or her art so far, and the other responds to life itself."

I said, "Saul, are you gifted?"

Six seconds passed, and then he growled, "No, but what you respond to in any work of art is the artist's struggle against his or her limitations."

—Kurt Vonnegut, A Man Without A Country