We just received two issues of Pasatiempo in the mail, New Mexico's arts, entertainment, & culture magazine sponsored by The Santa Fe New Mexican, which contained a very nice two-page interview by staff writer Elizabeth Cook-Romero with the Black Sparrow Books author John Yau. Cook-Romero and Yau discuss his own writing, the scene in New York in the 1940's and 50's, visual arts, Frank O'Hara, and more. The article will be available at Pasatiempo, and likely you can order a hard copy at the Santa Fe, so I'll just pull one short Q&A:
Pasa: Many people like songs even when they can't understand the words. Why do you think so many people are impatient with poetry?
Yau: Most people believe that language is stable and corresponds to a reality that is stable and predictable. Most people don't want to wrestle with the fact that language is not necessarily stable, that meaning itself is slippery, that the world is not stable. There is no guarantee that everything will be the same way tomorrow as it is today. They are living in a reality that can become catastrophic at a moment's notice. . . I'm an optimist. I believe the audience will get bigger eventually, and I believe it's OK that the audience is what it is. Everybody knows who Andy Warhol is, but how many people have really stopped to look at his art or really think about him? I think the audience for many things is not as big as people say.
Yau's answers read almost as if they're scripted, and researched, in the best possible way, and I think they show the depth of his thinking about the issues of art and poetry as it relates to the modern audience. Cook-Romero's questions are well-researched and lead to some great discussion. Thanks to Elizabeth and Pasatiempo for the great article.