And the whole mentorship seems to be, again, a very institutionalized relating, and it seems predicated on this belief that otherwise you’d have no way of meeting this person, and that seems unfair and lonely to me.1 And I mean I know, to a very great extent, we live in that world, but I still — I mean I would say most of the younger poets or a lot of the younger poets and writers I know, I met because they walked up to me at some place or I walked up to them, that I went to the reading, that they went to the reading, that we didn’t meet at the schools that I now teach in to make a blind date.


So, even when I’m asked — there’s lots of programs that are even not so institutional, but independent, that make mentorship relationships. And I really resisted, for one thing, because I’m being asked to do it for free, and I feel like — I already teach for a living. And the other one is this belief that there’s no other way, and I feel like come on. I mean one of the things I loved about Allen Ginsberg was that he really had no patience for somebody saying they were shy, because it really is kind of — we’re all shy, we’re all painfully self-conscious. We all have our heavily weighted inferiority. But if you want to have a career — I mean like every time I hear about Beckett or Sam Shepherd, like one of these guys that there was some girl that typed up their manuscripts and carried them around, because they were sort of really shy. I was like fuck that. It’s just like I would really like if there was some girl that typed up my manuscripts and carried them around, but short of that, I’ve had to do that.


So, I’d like a world where people have to figure out in their own weird way. Like when you would hear about Andy Warhol, you would hear that when he was first working in advertising, like he would give like little cookies and flowers. He did it in this really nerdy way. He courted the secretaries. He really greased the palms in a way that a dorky guy from Pittsburgh could do, so it’s like you’ve got to sort of figure out how to make that handshake happen.

  1. Become A Disciple, Gary Snyder, Ohno Sensei, Private Study []
Return to Index