Poetry Santa Cruz
Poetry Santa Cruz

William Minor

An Interview by Dennis Morton with poet, visual artist, playwright, jazz writer, jazz musician and composer William Minor

Dennis Morton:  Why do you write poetry?

William Minor:  Because I have to.  Keats said (something to this effect, I think) that if poetry did not come as naturally as leaves to a tree it had best not come at all.  I am sixty-six years of age and I think I can safely say that, by now, poetry is synonymous with breathing.

DM:  What should a poet never do?

WM:  The answer is obvious:  never stop writing (or living) poetry.  And, preferably, your very own sort of poetry--devoid of all trends, fads, momentary fashions or "modes."

DM:  What is the best advice you've ever given an aspiring poet?

WM:  More than likely the same advice that was given to me:

(a) Don't take any all-too-obvious Po-Biz shortcuts or routes in an attempt to please (too early or perhaps even all too late) the, relatively small and confined world of "poetry" (the fine guitarist Bruce Forman once told me that he'd stuck to playing jazz because he "can't stand crowds").

(b) Write only from "the holiness of the heart's affections" (Keats again), and preferably (again) your own.  John Keats himself once said this to me late one night--after several glasses of claret (ho ho).

DM:  Name three or four poets you think we should be reading, but probably aren't?

WM:  Osip Mandelstam (in Russian), Edna St. Vincent Millay, Amy Gerstler, Anthony Hecht, Jack Spicer (sorry, that's five!).

DM:  Why should people read poetry?

WM:  Good poetry is the best that language--any language--can do, is capable of.  And the best is ... well, the best.  I hope to get it (poetry) right someday, hopefully before I am officially declared "posthumous."   This quest is the richest, ripest, rarest one I have ever known in my life--aside from, of course, marriage, family, friendship, playing jazz, and love that does not exist for the sake of self-aggrandizement alone but co-exists, always, with compassion.

William Minor read with Bert Glick at 7:30 pm on July 9, 2002 at Bookshop Santa Cruz.

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