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In His Own Words - Artie on Artie
An interview transcribed by Tom Konyves (1982)

Q: What led you to write poetry?

- I had sentiments, feelings build up inside me

- a sense of secrecy, the fact that I was such a loner

- constant revelations about the nature of the universe

- I must have been 11 or 12, I remember, writing down this
silly little thing, before Kennedy's assassination, I found
it just a couple of years ago, I remember thinking that
inanimate objects, my mineral collection, coins, were
getting screwed by human involvement, a thermonuclear war
would not only blast us but these nice things I'd collected,
also. That bothered me... more than people... people
getting what they deserved...

- another child thing... believing that cats were the
female of the species that dogs were the male of... the
last person I told that to found it terribly funny, only
there were two other people at the table and they said, "me,

- the thing is, we have our private languages, we don't
communicate these ideas, a person is not very close to
anybody when they're young, as far as confiding, there is
that necessary distance

- youth, given the world little by little, and I always
felt I wasn’t getting enough

- private understandings arrived at, as to where I stood in
relation to things around me, physical objects, people,
even... being something I was tangential to...I didn't
really feel I was relating as a young boy... it was a
question of "me" and "other" (not to dehumanize people or
anything like that)

- I felt myself being born late

- I would have ideas and I would feel I was not plugged
into the context where I could share these ideas with
anybody or explore them in any other form but in poetry.
That's when language became important to me.

- I went deeper in writing than I could in talk

- concepts were not merely value judgments but discovering
the universe really for the first time, a Socratic universe
rather than the universe handed down from others

- I felt I was growing up very very fast or I was an equal
to older people, to kids my own age, I never had this
respect thing. An old man on a bus kicks you: you kick
him back, never mind he's 75, if he's 75 he shouldn't be
kicking you

- this is something I always encountered, these barriers to

- it was very important for me to be a full entity as soon
as I could and as full as I could, to be responsible for my
actions and to try and act through intelligence, to have
the world inform me and to inform it back sort of a
bartering position that I wanted to get to very very

- conventional modes. For instance, I'm Hebrew, I'm Jewish,
I didn't have a Bar Mitzvah, it shocks a lot of people and,
to this day, they just can't understand it, "why didn't
you?” I said, "Well, I thought about it. I didn't believe
in God." Moloch? King? Things like that? That was the god
that was pushed at me. I could have modified it, but I
wanted to get rid of it first and then maybe create

- I found a completely harmonic world, a rational world,
based on the analytical evidence which I grew into, that
was the world around me, it made sense, just because I
could use it, I never doubted the fact that I was doing the
right thing

- these are generally pretty strong feelings for a kid, and
I don't mean emotional feelings, cause kids of course
exaggerate all emotional feelings...

- I had to be a "me"

- when I found a "me" the only way I could express that me
was to keep acting in the world the way I always did or to
jot down the differences, the space between me and the
world, where I met it and where I parted from it

- essentially, I was making maps of myself as a kid and I
arrived at an empirical understanding of the world which I
never lost... it satisfies me

- I chose to take on the responsibility of "self", became,
in my own eyes, a dynamic author, of actions, a person who
didn't do things just because they were done but, either
would refuse to do them, like the Bar Mitzvah, or would do
them out of an understanding of the fact that they did
affect me, they weren't just hand-me-downs, used pajamas

- at that time I was probably at the highest spiritual
level in my life, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, all those years... there
was a purity I almost never got back to

- writing... felt relaxing and I could write after thinking

- after writing a few times after thinking, writing them
down, going specifically to a place and writing them down,
I found I was parked pretty near that place... nearer,
nearer... soon I got ahead of it, like science, witchcraft,
math, physics, whatever... I sort of got a control, I could
just present myself full of emotion, sit down and the words
would flow, sort of a dictation (the concept of muse is
very strong in me) it's a romantic notion but it's one I
like, it's not really a model

- I say, there really is a muse, and that muse is a part of
myself, it makes me more responsible in fields I might not
be as responsible in... I had to please this "someone else",
I set higher standards than myself

- it was impossible for me to know the standards of the
world yet it became very important for me that I did pull
myself up and have standards, the higher the better

- the mind grows with the body, the spirit grows with the
mind, the spirit feeds back the body and the body rewards
the mind. If you don't have all this you don't have a
spiritual side, you're missing it.

- any kind of harmonious existence with past and future has
got to have some sort of metaphor or idea, fixed of the
three tenses linearly accessible to each other

- memory, in that way, became very very important to me, I
found it was a prize, I found it cleaned a lot of shit out
of my shed, I was only filling it with things I wanted, I
didn't memorize my social security number, I wanted a
pretty high-charged information there, but I wanted it
more in a nature of grooves worn in a sort of channel
between myself and my feelings

- writing is an action, a response, almost like scratching
an itch. How do you know when you're first itchy? You don't.
How do I know when I first started writing? I don't. When
the poem became, when the writing became the poem, I don't.
As a romantic notion I like to put it specifically in the
year 1968, I surged forward, I learned that my private
voice vas shared by other private voices. There was almost
a collective unconscious public

- the formal idea of poetry... maybe it's a conceit, I
don't know... but it feels wonderful feeding that fire

Q: You’re writing a novel?
- it’s autobiographical. it's the spiritual journey of
myself over an 8, 9, 10 year period. All the locations in it
are facts, these facts experiences awed me, and they
continued to. They're very powerful in their collection,
not in their shaping of me but in their collection. They
can't be ignored and one doesn't want to ignore them

- essentially, this is in a period of my breaking away of my
experimenting, of my reaching for drugs. It is a me away
from home. It is the writer seeing his shadow or his
footsteps right up to his time.

- it's an attempt to understand and delineate why I am
where I am. It is the sole rationale, the experiences that
made me, they're my depth, I want to be shaped by them

- these are emotional events and they're the coordinates of
my journey from youth to autonomy

Q: Tell us about “before Romantic Words”.
- there was a poem I called "Romantic Words". It was an
aggregation of "romantic words", a charged vocabulary

- when I sent a bunch of poems to a friend in Berkeley,
asking what he thought would make a good book, he took this
page and said "before Romantic Words", not as a guideline
but as a format. It's important, I had this title
reproduced, that there is a lower case “b".' There never
has to be a "Romantic Words" that has to be published...
It's essentially the jump between the virgin and the second

Q: Tell us about “Glenn Gould”.
- it is a piece whose logic is personal, who sees his
actions sometimes as magnified, almost obscene

- in a sense it's a view of me inside which meets other
people because it's in poetry and I am telling about my

- scandalized by the fact that I'm even allowed to have
such fervent ideas, so divorced from anything I really can
do in a public context

- this poem is reflective, it pleads with an approximate
person who is a composite of my last 24 girlfriends

- I see him as a sort of other night person like me, I
always feel that he is up when I am up, if it's in Toronto,
he's moving around his apartment and I am moving around yet
he has gone public and he's given so much, he's doing both,
leading a normal life, leading an artistic and poetic life

-he manages to be the public and private person that he
wants to be

- I manage to be the private person I want to be but
probably at the cost of a compromise in what I do and how I
give of myself to the circumstances around me

- here's a person I wouldn’t mind being and that's a hell
of a thing for me to say, there is an energy flowing
through him and he controls it, it doesn't build, he
controls the climate of his life

- he managed to do something he really loves and have it
support him

- in his own mind, he's never screwed himself, he's never
compromised his beliefs

- it's very hard for me to control the inside of me, the
edge of me, and the outside of me

- I have gates and sometimes they don't respond merely to
my own touch, sometimes they don't respond when I want them
to, sometimes other people open them when I don't want them
to, there is a fabulous energy drain, sometimes I just have
to spend a billion calories just to be normal, to stop
myself from something

- there is a compulsiveness in my life which overrides the
impulsiveness which I once really took pride in and loved,
almost like a morbidity had set in, a seriousness, I guess
I'm in a part of my vision where I am being haunted, in a
sense, haunted by my past and hunted by beasts I didn't
kill when I was young

- the more you give away control of your world, even though
you don't realize it at the time, you are giving it away
and you will never have it back...

- if you're a person who needs to run the self like a
totalitarian state, it's really really too bad if you
haven't kept the keys, otherwise you are going to be raped
and scandalized and you become a public conveyance

- it's the flower going for the bee...

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