Life Arts

"Prologue: A Conversation with Diane Wakoski About 'Bay of Angels' and Crashing Through Mirrors" --with Gary Corseri

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 "but when I bathe naked and alone each morning,

behind the navy blue shower curtain, imprinted with gold

figures of the zodiac, I look

at my old body

and I know that all my youthful


cover me, clothe me with age's

cobwebbed skin, my belly swollen as if

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I were illicitly pregnant,

and the sight of my own nakedness strips me

of any goddess qualities I might

ever have possessed."

And so, in "Showering Behind the Zodiac's Curtain," a kind of resolution, a kind of cinematic denouement, a washing away of youthful and not-so-youthful follies.

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I've been trying here to get into the thorny question of how a poet develops.  I've taken a few leaps-of-faith and leaps in the dark, and I'm hoping you can set me straight.  I hope you can talk about process now--how you write, what inspires you, how you've managed to maintain a vital 50-year career as a poet.  What do you recommend to your students, to youthful mariners just embarking on this, sometimes perilous, voyage?  How does one keep a steady keel?

DW : Thinking about the quotations you've selected and the importance that I have always placed on self-criticism, I need to offer the word: balance.  

A fellow undergraduate at Berkeley ('56-'60) once bemusedly said to me, talking about that great uncertainty, being a young poet, "Diane, I don't understand how you can believe in yourself so completely."   I've remembered this over the years, because I recognized the truth of his statement, the minute he uttered it.   I do believe in myself, I have since childhood, and though I constantly question myself, try to look at my failures honestly, try to be a stronger, better person, at root I believe in myself.   Being born poor and from an uneducated family, I learned early that if things went wrong, no one would fix them.   I had to say to myself, "How can I fix this, what did I do wrong?   If I did nothing wrong, it doesn't matter; I still have to be the one who finds a solution."  

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Gary Corseri has published & posted his work at hundreds of venues worldwide, including Op Ed News, The New York Times, CounterPunch, CommonDreams, DissidentVoice, L.A. (and Hollywood--) Progressive. He has been a professor in the US & Japan, has (more...)

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