Interview with Harvey Goldner

Harvey Goldner's poetry has appeared in Chelsea, Shampoo, Puerto del Sol, Pinstripe Fedora, Rattle, Wicked Alice, Exquisite Corpse, Venereal Kittens, The Sun, The Adirondack Review, Amarillo Bay, Curious Rooms, Exhibition, 4th Street, Iota, Poetry Midwest, Pulsar, Willard & Maple, and elsewhere.

SK: Would you please tell me a story about your lesbian aunt Suzanne and her blue Bugatti?

Harvey Goldner: When I showed my lesbian Aunt Suzanne bio to my pal Eli (Richardson: fine local poet, budding novelist & wannabee hotshot decadent Hollywood screen writer), who really DOES know everything, Eli said: "Man, Bugatti never made a motorcycle, blue or otherwise, only sports cars. Change it to Ducati." And I replied: "Yes, he did. I googled him." Eli said "Bullshit."

So I re-googled Bugatti, and there on the screen was a motorcycle, headlined Bugatti. But this time I read the text. It said (something like): "While Bugatti never made a motorcycle, only sportscars, this bike has been designed by Igor Stamishcrapski (some Russian) utilizing Bugatti's design priciples." So I started to change it to Ducati, but then thought: "Since the rest of the bio is true, leave it alone. Besides, no one will know, especially no poets, except for mr. smartypants Eli." But then, my CONSCIENCE, which, like Eli, knows everything (but on a deeper level) said: "You asshole. You grew up in Memphis, not Washington State. Your family never had no summerhome. None of your relatives gave jackshit for any of the arts. And you never had a brother, and if you had had a brother, he wouldn’t have been tragic, just a slob like you, you lyin muthafukka…..etc"

SK: Did you do well in school?

Harvey Goldner: Once I changed my major from Chemistry to Eng. Lit. (C's in Chemistry & Calculus: A's in Metaphysical Poetry & Plato) I done real good: BA with honors. That was a good career move: Now, when I'm driving cab, I really enjoys thinkin bout John Donne rather than ionic transference and shit. Seriously though, it was some Brit, I believe, who put the matter of academic achievement in the proper perspective. To wit: "He was smart enough to go to college, but he wasn’t smart enough to realize that it’s a waste of time."

SK: Would you say kissing anyone is a form of self-torture?

Harvey Goldner: Self-torture? Hardly. But anyone who'd allow me to kiss 'em might have some serious masochistic issues. Sean, it's been so long since I did any nasty kissing & poking that sometimes I hangs aroun da fish stalls at the Pike Place Public Market just to remind me what IT smells like. Ah, Nostalgia.

SK: Who's your favorite serial killer?

Harvey Goldner: I aint too interested in serial killers. I find MASS MURDERERS much mo fascinatin. Lately, for some (obvious) reason, I've been focusing on Harry Truman (does Hiroshima ring a bell? Does Nagasaki ring a bell?) and Pol Pot. Both, I'm told, died peacefully in their sleep.

SK: You have a poem at Venereal Kittens named Claire Black that's broken into nineteen sonnets. Was writing in the fourteen line format difficult?

Harvey Goldner: No problem. I have 10 fingers. If I take off one shoe & one sock, that gives me 5 more digits, a total of 15. Simply subtract one toe and—voilà—14. To determine the number of sonnets in the sequence (19) is somewhat more difficult: I have to take off both shoes & socks and…

SK: The poem is wonderfully natural, how did you go about writing Claire Black and updating ye old sing-songy sonnet into something contemporary and good?

Harvey Goldner: Easy. I simply ignored all the rhyme & meter requirements of the Shakespearean sonnet, except for the concluding couplet and even that is metrically irregular. Anyone can write a rhymed couplet. Once in a while.

SK: Tell me about the 50's, please, and what can a young poet like me do to get experience?

Harvey Goldner: The 50's? Why, Sean, it was the best of times; it was the worst of times. Seriously, Sean, Janis Joplin said it best: "IT'S THE SAME FUCKING DAY, MAN." And I don't think poets or musicians (composers) need lots of experiences. Just lots of FOCUS. I mean, Rimbaud STOPPED writing at around 20. Keats dead at 25.

SK: In this article Bobby Byrd says "I hid my poetry for a long time until a friend, Harvey Goldner, started showing me his work. It was weird and berserk. I enjoyed that." I feel the same way about your work and that's why I'm a fan. Do you accept descriptions of your poetry as being insane and berserk?

Harvey Goldner: Bobby said "weird & berserk," NOT "insane & berserk." I prefer your "insane & berserk." My first job when I came to Seattle in '65 was working as an orderly on the psych-ward at King County Hospital. A co-worker friend there, John Ramm, said: "Remember, Harvey, the difference between us & them is that we have keys."

SK: Are comments like that, although complimentary, in any way harmful? I mean, will those of us who write insane poetry be stuffed into a literary ghetto and ignored forever?

Harvey Goldner: If being in a literary ghetto with William Blake, Jack Spicer, Gregory Corso, Franz Kafka, Emily Dickinson, Antonin Artaud & Sylvia Plath (& so forth) means being ignored forever, you can ignore me forever (and ever, amen).

SK: You have three chapbooks of poetry released by Seattle’s Spankstra Press: Her Bright Bottom, Memphis Jack, and American Flyer. Could you talk some about these books, if you're taking part in their promotion, how I can get a copy, and everything else about them?

Harvey Goldner: They are marvelous chapbooks, beautifully designed. I wouldn't dream of promoting them. You can purchase copies from either me (newpacificboomerang@hotmail.com ) or from Chris "Spanky" Dusterhoff, aka Mr. Rhee (spankstra@hotmail.com). Also Chris Dusterhoff (Spankstra Press) has published several chapbooks of poetry by Todd Moore (Albuquerque) which I think your readers might like.

SK: When most poets philosophize, outside of interviews, of course, do you also feel violent? Shouldn’t poets not be allowed to breathe let alone formulate opinions?

Harvey Goldner: No, not violent, usually just sad. When poets philosophize, they generally do it so badly. It probably wouldn't hurt poets too much to study Plato, Wittgenstein, and Idries Shah.

SK: Could you tell me something about writing this poem?

Harvey Goldner: For some fucking reason, I was trying to read Dante's Divine Comedy in translation. I had 4 different translations I'd picked up at the library. They all absolutely STUNK. I started thinking about terza rima, the interlocking triple rhyme that Dante used: easy in rhyme rich Italian (because inflected); impossible in rhyme poor English. Impossible? Fuck that! So I started writing A Wild Rose Romance. It took me several months (I kept quitting). Sean, I want you to promise me something: If I ever again attempt terza rima, SHOOT ME IN THE HEAD! And by the way, while Dante's comedy is more divine than mine, my comedy is funnier. To me, anyway.

SK: Roman Polanski?

Harvey Goldner: I hope he & Michael Jackson live happily ever after. In France.

SK: But don’t you think great talent should be fed any ass it wants? I’d stake anything worth loving to either of those men.

Harvey Goldner: Well, Sean, I said: "In France." I could've said: "In Leavenworth" or "In San Quentin."

SK: Who are you reading currently, and whose work will you always keep around to reread?

Havery Goldner: I'm currently reading a work in progress, Angry Orange. It's a screenplay by a Seattle pal of mine, Eli Richardson, a brilliant poet & budding, soon to bloom, novelist. When he be rich & famous, we goin t' Dinnylan.

I shall always keep my poetry around to read. When I'm depressed, my poems never fail to cheer me up.

SK: Plans for the future?

Harvey Goldner: Try to survive. One day at a time.

SK: Let's say Cormac McCarthy's The Road happens for real. No more literary magazines or printing presses. If you were safe in a nicely stocked bunker for a long time, would you continue writing?

Harvey Goldner: Safe? What planet might THAT be on? I AM in a nicely stocked bunker, and I haven't written anything in the last two months.

SK: Were you a fan of Evergreen Review at the time of its publication?

Harvey Goldner: Big fan.

SK: Did you ever submit there?

Harvey Goldner: Probably.


Blogger Tammy said...

Harvey's a hell of an entertaining guy and one of my favorite poets. Good interview.


Blogger ianleelamb said...

you son-of-a-bitch... check out out my culture theory blog here

Blogger Skanky Jane said...

My cunt doesn't smell like fish.

While it gets potent if I don't wash or if I don't wash for a day or two after penetrative ejaculative heterosexual sex - I still wouldn't describe the (rather yummy) smell as "fish".

Interesting read though. Found you through Kevin Doran's blog links list.

SJ xx


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