Monday, December 3, 2012

Sam Shepard-Peer Gynt

First light
Miracle of morning
Peeling back night
Like a page in a book

Snails peek at the doors of their shells
Gold in their mouth
Astonishing light

Courage pounding at the cage of ribs
Yet stillness rides
The steaming backs of grazing bulls

Quicksilver lizards
Snapping through
their thoughtless heads

A toad stone still
Peering out through the window
Of what he is

Indelible character
Obeying itself

written for Irina Brook's production of Henrik Ibsen's "Peer Gynt" at the Salzburg Festival

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Jack Gilbert-Two Poems

                                Jack Gilbert (February 18, 1925/November 11, 2012)


Suddenly this defeat.
This rain.
The blues gone gray
And the browns gone gray
And yellow
A terrible amber.
In the cold streets
Your warm body.
In whatever room
Your warm body.
Among all the people
Your absence
The people who are always
Not you.

I have been easy with trees
Too long.
Too familiar with mountains.
Joy has been a habit.
This rain.


In the small towns along the river
nothing happens day after long day.
Summer weeks stalled forever,
and long marriages always the same.
Lives with only emergencies, births,
and fishing for excitement. Then a ship
comes out of the mist. Or comes around
the bend carefully one morning
in the rain, past the pines and shrubs.
Arrives on a hot fragrant night,
grandly, all lit up. Gone two days
later, leaving fury in its wake. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Sam Shepard-Indian Summer

Tonight I’m pushing everyone away. I did it all day but tonight I’m vicious about it. I’m camped out by my favorite window and no amount of harmonica playing, rattle of dishes, laughter of voices from other rooms deep in this house can draw me out. The fading light is what I really crave. Cars with their headlights just coming on. Owls testing the fields. This mean streak slowly fades as the real black night rolls in.

I always get weird around Indian Summer. I’ve noticed this before. My whole organism feels tricked. Just as the body starts to fall in love with flying golden Poplar leaves. The smell of burning Madrone. The wild lure of Fall gets cut to the bone by Indian Summer.

I don’t want to be walking around peeling my shirt off these days. I want deep layers of Canadian blankets and fire. Red eye and fire. And dogs. And cold cold nights.

Santa Rosa, Ca.

from "Motel Chronicles" 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Sam Shepard-The Tooth of Crime

Look at me now. Impotent. Can’t strike a kill unless the charts are right. Stuck in my image. Stuck in a mansion. Waiting. Waiting for a kid who’s probably just like me. Just like I was then. A young blood. And I gotta off him. I gotta roll him or he’ll roll me. We’re fightin’ ourselves. Just like turnin’ the blade on ourselves. Suicide, man. Maybe Little Willard was right. Blow your fuckin’ brains out. The whole thing’s a joke. Stick a gun in your fuckin’ mouth and pull the trigger. That’s what it’s all about. That’s what we’re doin’. He’s my brother and I gotta kill him. He’s gotta kill me. Jimmy Dean was right. Drive the fuckin’ Spider till it stings ya’ to death. Crack up your soul! Jackson Pollock! Duane Allman! Break it open! Pull the trigger! Trigger me! Trigger you! Drive it off a cliff! It’s an open highway. Long and clean and deadly beautiful. Deadly and lonesome as a jukebox… Alone. That’s me. Alone. That’s us. All fucking alone. All of us. So don’t go off in your private rooms with pity in mind. Your day is comin’. The mark’ll come down to you one way or the other.

from "The Tooth of Crime", first performed in 1972

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Wendell Berry-3 Poems

The Real Work

It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work,
and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey.
The mind that is not baffled is not employed.
The impeded stream is the one that sings.

The Peace Of Wild Things

When despair grows in me
and I wake in the middle of the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting for their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Like Snow

Suppose we did our work
like the snow, quietly, quietly,
leaving nothing out.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Sam Shepard-Cowboy

                               photo by Annie Leibovitz, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 1984

The Rodeo Association made the suicide Grip illegal in somethin’ like 1959 but that didn’t stop no bull rider I knew from usin’ the damn thing. First off you take the glove on your grip hand and pull the fingers loose by about three quarters of an inch and wrap them around the rigging so it’s like the glove is tied down with your hand stuck inside. Then you pound yer fist shut on the rope with yer free hand ‘til you stop the blood from runnin’. When that chute opens boy you hang on like epoxy to wood. This bull I drew was called The Twister and boy he did just that. Circles. Like he was dancin’ on a dime. Didn’t even have time to mark him once before he had me up against the fence. Never knew eight seconds could be so long. A cowboy knows when he’s got a good ride. Soon as he comes out he knows. If it’s good he don’t even listen for no bell he just rides. If it’s good everything’s in one place. You just flap with the bucks like you was an extra piece a skin on that bull’s back. If it’s bad he’s got you all crooked and prayin’ for balance. Achin’ for the bell. This time I knew I was hurtin’. He kept slammin’ my legs up against that damn fence and each time I heard a board crack I heard a bone to go along with it. I saw the whole arena ziz sagging like a roller coaster ride. The ten gallon hats and American flags. That bullhorn squawkin’ about Levis and popcorn and ferris wheels and “here comes Billie Joe Brody from Thunder Creek, South Dakota on The Twister! Look at this boy ride. Watch out there! Watch out Billie Joe!” Then he had me sideways. My whole body snapped clean across his back.  All except that hand. That grip hand stuck in there for dear life. First thing I thought was, “Now they know I’m a cheater. Now they know. They can all see my glove stuck underneath that riggin’ rope. Coast to coast T.V. Mom and Pop back in Thunder Creek. Down at the bar. Only T.V. in the whole damn town. Now they know.” I felt it come loose at the shoulder. Right where the ball fits into the socket. A cowboy gets to know about anatomy after all them years. Nothin’ but flesh and muscle holdin’ me onto that bull now. He keeps whippin’ me around like a dish towel or somethin’. Slam into that fence. Slam! Somethin’ breaks loose. All bloods and strings comin’ out. All I want is to be free a them hooves. Down he comes  straight on my back. Everything breaks. I can feel it. Like my whole insides is made a glass. Everything splinters and shatters. I see the face a the clown. He’s got a terror mask on.  Usually calm and cool as you please. Now he’s wavin’ that bandana like an old fish wife chasin’ off the neighbors’ kids. That bull don’t move from me once. Not one inch. He’s mad. Mad at me. Mad as all hell and he ain’t lettin’ me go. Not never. He’s got me this time and he knows it. I ain’t never gonna get up again. He’s makin’ me part a the earth. Mashin’ me down.  Pulverizin’ my flesh. Sendin’ me back  where I  come from. Then he’s gone. Straight at the crowd, all  screamin’ and yellin’. Half fear, half ecstasy. They got more than a buck’s worth this time out. The gates open on the far end of the arena and I can see this Cadillac comin’. A big black car. Can’t tell if it’s a hearse or an ambulance. Don’t much give a damn. The ground tastes like earth.

written for the Open Theatre 1969

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Red Shuttleworth-Two Poems

Concluding Winter

The boy watches the men
near the warped-boards corral sharpen
knives, did snuff, judge girlfriend snapshots.
The wintered bulls are trailered,
except for a cancer-eyed Hereford.

The men’s coats and jackets
are draped on corral posts
and a light south wind ruffles
them toward the Dakotas.
The boy owns two words,
Yep and Nope. He rides sheep
to prepare for broncs and bulls.
He wears a hand-me-down Resistol
battered by work and weather.

One man notes the promise of a spring
of slush and mud. The others nod, spit tobacco juice,
and a burly one joshes about a girl gone-to-town.

The men agree... sooner or later everyone
Bleeds: thumbs lost to rope-crush saddlehorns,
Driving on Kessler’s Whiskey to the tune of lost-woman,
Prom night fights... And do you remember
that Keya Paha kid who got the earring ripped off?

The boy watches the men stand, stretch,
and shake their heads at the bull,
good for one season,
now bound for hotdogville.

from the chapbook "The Beef State" 

In Deep Bourbon Cover

No one wants to be
tracked down like 35-pounds
of rapid coyote.

I want something luminous-blue...
magical moon or plaid snap shirt,
Bowie knife or edgy horse.

I kick into oblivion hotels,
strapped to jet-black
notebooks of frostry hindsight.

Locate me at the edge
of a a West where no revelation lasts
longer than Great Basin rainwater.

from the chapbook "The Silver State"

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Jack Kerouac-Bowery Blues

The story of man
Makes me sick
Inside, outside,
I don't know why
Something so conditional
And all talk
Should hurt me so.

I am hurt
I am scared
I want to live
I want to die
I don't know
Where to turn
In the Void
And when
To cut

New York City, March 29, 1955

Friday, July 6, 2012

Manifest Destination by Adrian C. Louis

A hot wind curls the leaves
and chases the dogs digging
deep into the dry soil.
I live in the gut of the bright failure
called America. I live in
this hell named Nebraska.
It's one hundred and seven today
and grasshoppers from outer
space are dancing in my brain.
The air-conditioner is broke
so I run a tub of cold water
and submerge every half hour.
There's a wet trail from the bath
to the couch and nearby fan.
The air is heavy with grain dust.
The "wheaties" are up from Oklahoma
with their caravan of combines.
I crave winter. I want a blizzard
that blinds me to my fellow man.
These are my dark times.
Every other day I grieve for the me
that was and every man or woman
I see fills me with contempt.
Nine out of ten Skins in town are
hang-around-the-fort welfare addicts.
Every weekend their violence
and drunken wretchedness
fills the county jail, but I'm
far beyond embarrassment because
the white people are even worse.
Varied branches of that inbred, toothless
mountain trash in "Deliverance,"
settled here and now own
the bank and most businesses.
It's undeniably true that these
white people in Cowturdville
could be hillbillies except for
the fact that these are The Plains.

Drive on, rednecks, to the edge
of your flat world and fall
down to a better hell.

Every single thing about this
town is sadly second-rate
and I haven't been laid
in more than two years
and there's this fat lady
with varicose veins who
calls me late at night
and begs me to come over
to her trailer for a drink.
Here, in this Panhandle town,
farm kids speed desperately up
and down the main drag wearing
baseball caps backwards and throwing
gang signs they've seen on the tube
and their parents, glad they're old
and tired, truly believe that
those pictures we're now getting
from Mars have meaning.
As far as I can tell, I'm one of the few
people in Cowturdville who's gone
to college and I often wish I
never had, but Christ on a pogo
stick . . . I think I'm starting to like
it here in this American heartland.

Thunderheads are forming
and the sweet-ass rain
of forgiveness is in the air.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Tom Stoppard On Playwriting

I write plays because dialogue is the most respectable way of contradicting myself.

I think theater ought to be theatrical . . .. you know, shuffling the pack in different ways so that it's —- there's always some kind of ambush involved in the experience. You're being ambushed by an unexpected word, or by an elephant falling out of the cupboard, whatever it is.

The central paradox of theater is that something which starts off complete, as true to itself, as self-contained and as subjective as a sonnet, is then thrown into a kind of spin dryer which is the process of staging the play; and that process is hilariously empirical.

Words deserve respect. Get the right ones in the right order, and you can nudge the world a little.

In writing plays, I find that the problems — if that’s what they are — are very mundane, and in a way surface. The wellspring of a play is often curiously uninteresting — it derives from insubstantial stray images and ideas, What it doesn’t arise from at all, I don’t think, is anything like a complete sense of the whole. You know, What am I going to try to achieve here? What is it going to be about underneath?

I seldom worry about underneath. Even when I’m aware that there is an underneath. I tend to try and suppress it further under, because theater is a wonderfully, refreshingly simple event. It’s a storytelling event. The story holds or it doesn’t . . .  The same would be true of a short story or a novel.

One of the built-in ironies of being a playwright at all is that one is constantly trying to put into dramatic form questions and answers that require perhaps an essay, perhaps a book, but are too important and too subtle, really, to have to account for themselves within the limitations of what’s really happening in the theater, which is that the story is being told in dialogue.

I use this ill-suited medium (to account for) matters like morality or empire, or the authenticity of romantic love (with the reservation) that failure is almost built into a play if that is its true purpose, its true function. And so one avoids failure if one can, by denying that that is the function of the play. And one says that, no, that was merely an aspect or a sidelight of the play’s function and the primary function is to tell an entertaining story.

My primary delight, which is a good enough word for the fuel that one needs to do any work at all, is in using the language rather than the purpose to which language is put . . . and more than language, I would say theater — the way theater works, through disclosure and surprise.

One of the things I like most about the theatre is not its literary side, altought clearly that has an appeal to me, but what I love about the theatre is its pragmatism, it’s a pragmatic art form. I love it for being adjustable at every point. There’s no point where theatre gets frozen unless you walk away from it.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Quatre Poèmes by Samuel Beckett

                     Samuel Beckett at home in Paris, 1964 by Henri Cartier-Bresson

1. Dieppe
again the last ebb
the dead shingle
the turning then the steps
toward the lighted town

my way is in the sand flowing
between the shingle and the dune
the summer rain rains on my life
on me my life harrying fleeing
to its beginning to its end
my peace is there in the receding mist
when I may cease from treading these long shifting thresholds
and live the space of a door
that opens and shuts

what would I do without this world faceless incurious
where to be lasts but an instant where every instant
spills in the void the ignorance of having been
without this wave where in the end
body and shadow together are engulfed
what would I do without this silence where the murmurs die
the pantings the frenzies toward succour towards love
without this sky that soars
above it's ballast dust
what would I do what I did yesterday and the day before
peering out of my deadlight looking for another
wandering like me eddying far from all the living
in a convulsive space
among the voices voiceless
that throng my hiddenness

I would like my love to die
and the rain to be falling on the graveyard
and on me walking the streets
mourning the first and last to love me
translated from the French by the author

Friday, May 25, 2012

Listening by Raymond Carver

It was a night like all the others. Empty
of everything save memory. He thought
he'd got to the other side of things.
But he hadn't. He read a little
and listened to the radio. Looked out the window
for a while. Then went upstairs. In bed
realized he'd left the radio on.
But closed his eyes anyway. Inside the deep night,
as the house sailed west, he woke up
to hear voices murmuring. And froze.
Then understood it was only the radio.
He got up and went downstairs. He had
to pee anyway. A little rain
that hadn't been there before was
falling outside. The voices
on the radio faded and then came back
as if from a long way. It wasn't
the same station any longer. A man's voice
said something about Borodin,
and his opera Prince Igor. The woman
he said this to agreed, and laughed.
Began to tell a little of the story.
The man's hand drew back from the switch.
Once more he found himself in the presence
of mystery. Rain. Laughter. History.
Art. The hegemony of death.
He stood there, listening.

from “Where Water Comes Together With Other Water” (1985)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Larson's Holstein Bull by Jim Harrison

Death waits inside us for a door to open.
Death is patient as a dead cat.
Death is a doorknob made of flesh.
Death is that angelic farm girl
gored by the bull on her way home
from school, crossing the pasture
for a shortcut. In the seventh grade
she couldn't read or write. She wasn't a virgin.
She was "simpleminded," we all said.
It was May, a time of lilacs and shooting stars.
She's lived in my memory for sixty years.
Death steals everything except our stories.

from In Search of Small Gods. © Copper Canyon Press, 2009

Friday, February 17, 2012

Sam Shepard-Wyoming (Highway 80 East)

The long haul from Rock Springs to Grand Island, Nebraska, starts out bleak. After two runny eggs and processed ham I hit the road by 7:00. It’s hovering at around nineteen degrees; light freezing snow and piss-poor visibility. Eighteen-wheelers jackknifed all along the high ridges between Rawlins and Laramie. Tow trucks blinking down into the black ravines. Through wisping fog, things loom up at you with chains and hooks and cranes; everyone inching along, afraid to drop off into the wide abyss. Just barely tap the brakes and the whole rear end slides out from underneath you. I’m trying to keep two tires on the shoulder in the chatter strip at about five mph hoping the ice will get dislodged between the treads. Only radio station is a preacher ranting from Paul – something about the body as a tent; “this tent in which we groan”. Same preacher segues into a declaration that, for him, 1961 was the absolute turning point where the whole wide world went sour. I don’t know why he landed on that particular year – 1961 – the very year I first hit the road, but he insists this is the date of our modern dissolution. He has a long list of social indicators beginning with soaring population then family disintegration, moral relaxation, sexual promiscuity, dangerous drugs, the usual litany. But then he counters it with the imperious question: “What must the righteous do?” As though there were an obvious antidote which we all seem to be deliberately ignoring. If we could only turn our backs on this degeneration and strike out for higher ground, we could somehow turn the whole thing around. It seems more political than religious. “What must the righteous do?” An “Onward, Christian Soldiers” kind of appeal. I’ve lost track of the centerline. Snow boring down into the windshield so fast the wipers can’t keep up. Your heart starts to pump a little faster under these conditions; not knowing what might suddenly emerge. Not knowing if the whole world could just drop out from underneath you and there you are at the bottom of crushed steel and spinning wheels. What must the righteous do?

from "Day Out of Days", published in 2010 by Knopf.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Samuel Beckett-Endgame

One day, you'll be blind, like me. You'll be sitting there, a speck in the void, in the dark, for ever, like me.One day you'll say to yourself, I'm tired, I'll sit down, and you'll go and sit down. Then you'll say, I'm hungry, I'll get up and get something to eat. But you won't get up. You'll say, I shouldn't have sat down, but since I have I'll sit on a little longer, and then I'll get up and get something to eat. But you won't get up and you won't get anything to eat.You'll look at the wall awhile, then you'll say, I'll close my eyes, perhaps a little sleep, after that I'll feel better, and you'll close them. And when you open them there'll be no wall anymore.Infinite emptiness will be all around you, all the resurrected dead of all the ages wouldn't fill it, and there you'll be, like a little bit of grit in the middle of the steppe.Yes, one day you'll know what it is, you'll be like me, except that you won't have anyone with you, because you won't have had pity on anyone and because there won't be anyone left to have pity on.

from "Endgame", first performed in French as "Fin De Partie" in 1957. English translation by the author first publisehd in 1958.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

A Few Words On The Soul by Wislawa Szymborska

We have a soul at times.

No one’s got it non-stop,

for keeps.

Day after day,

year after year

may pass without it.


it will settle for awhile

only in childhood’s fears and raptures.

Sometimes only in astonishment

that we are old.

It rarely lends a hand

in uphill tasks,

like moving furniture,

or lifting luggage,

or going miles in shoes that pinch.

It usually steps out

whenever meat needs chopping

or forms have to be filled.

For every thousand conversations

it participates in one,

if even that,

since it prefers silence.

Just when our body goes from ache to pain,

it slips off-duty.

It’s picky:

it doesn’t like seeing us in crowds,

our hustling for a dubious advantage

and creaky machinations make it sick.

Joy and sorrow

aren’t two different feelings for it.

It attends us

only when the two are joined.

We can count on it

when we’re sure of nothing

and curious about everything.

Among the material objects

it favors clocks with pendulums

and mirrors, which keep on working

even when no one is looking.

It won’t say where it comes from

or when it’s taking off again,

though it’s clearly expecting such questions.

We need it

but apparently

it needs us

for some reason too.

translated from the Polish by Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh

Monday, January 30, 2012

Sam Shepard-Language, Visualization and the Inner Library

Ideas emerge from plays – not the other way around.

Words as tools of imagery in motion. Words as living incantations and not as symbols.

Living, breathing words as they hit the air between the actor and the audience actually possesses the power to change our chemistry.

Language seems to be the only ingridient that retains the potential of making leaps into the unknown.

Language can explode from the tiniest impulse. Words are not thought, they’re felt. They cut through space and make perfect sense without having to hesitate for the “meaning”.

I begin to get the haunting sense that something in me writes but it’s not necessarily me.

The real quest of a writer is to penetrate into another world. A world behind the form.

Myth speaks to everything at once, especially the emotions. By myth I mean a sense of mystery. A character for me is a composite of different mysteries.

Writing is born from a need. A deep burn. If there’s no need, there’s no writing.

The more you write, the harder it gets, becuase you’re not so easily fooled by yourself anymore.

Writing becomes more and more interesting as you go along, and it starts yo open up some of its secrets. One thing I’m sure of, though. I’ll never get to the bottom of it.

excerpted from “Language, Visualization and the Inner Library”, first published in The Drama Review, vol. 21, nº4 (December 1977)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Jim Harrison-Late

What pleasure there is in sitting up on the sofa late at night smoking cigarettes, having a small last drink and petting the dogs, reading Virgil’s sublime “Georgics”, seeing a girl’s bare bottom on TV that you will likely never see again in what they call real life, remembering all the details of when you were captured by the indians at age seven. They gave you time off for good behavior but never truly let you go back to your real world where cars go two ways on the same streets. The doctors will say it’s bad for an old man to stay up late petting his lovely dogs. Meanwhile I look up from Virgil’s farms of ancient Rome and see two women making love in a field of wildflowers. I’m not jealous of their real passion trapped as they are within a television set just as my doctors are trapped within their exhausting days and big incomes that have to be spent. Lighting a last cigarette and sipping my vodka I examine the faces of the sleeping dogs beside me, the improbable mystery of their existence, the short lives they live with an intensity unbearable to us. I have turned to them for their ancient language not my own, being quite willing to give up my language that so easily forgets the world outside itself.

from "In Search of Small Gods", published by Copper Canyon Press in 2010.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Sam Shepard-Nightwalk

I’m on a field as the sun rises. The long sweet grass licks my legs like snake tongues. A meadowlark keeps her distance, hiding her nest. I’m reminded of a dirty joke. There in the middle of the field with the sun rising a dirty joke plays on my mind. I shake it off. I got nothing against sex but I’m after something else. It keeps forcing its way in so I let it in. Tits and ass flash across my mind. The sky is golden pink. Like skin. A young deer bounds off toward the edge of the forest. The joke passes. It’s replaced by a song. Piano ringing through my ears. I’m no match for my imagination. The damp morning oozes into my boots and soaks my socks. It’s much different now from when I started out. It changes from moment to moment. Still I keep walking toward a clump of saplings. The idea of hot coffee and toast puts me in conflict. A wish to go back to the warm kitchen. Strange birds set up a song, warning each other of my coming. I’m a stranger here. Then everything leaves me at once. I’m left in an empty body. The sun splashes into my face. What was my reason for coming? I must’ve just wandered out here from my bed without a plan. Now I’m in the future of my day. I see myself having a good time later. I have to get this walk over with so I can have a good time. I turn to go back but it looks the same as when I started. The sun’s just rising. The grass licking my legs. The dirty joke. I try to remember where I started. I go back too far. Before I was born. A star. An angel. A demon. Something glittering through time. This is a whole new day and already I’m lost.

first performed in 1973, as part of a collective theatre piece written with Megan Terry and Jean-Claude van Itallie, for Joseph Chaikin's Open Theater.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Sam Shepard-Eyes for Consuela

Look – I am an ordinary man. Just a plain old everyday average ordinary American man. I come from an ordinary background. Generations of ordinariness. There is nothing – absolutely nothing inside me that can even begin to comprehend this stuff. I don’t want to be involved in this type of thing. I simply want to return to the known world. Something safe and simple. My wife. My children. My house. My car. My dog. The front lawn. My mobile phone! The Internet! Things I can put my fingers on. Tangible things in the real world! Do you understand me? I don’t want to be dealing with madness now. Ghosts and sacrifices! Supersticion and visions. We’re approaching the millenium here! Things have moved beyond all that. Don’t you have any concept at all of the outside world? The global perspective? The Bigger Picture! The todo el mondo! There’s been an explosion of information out there! It’s available to anybody now. Even people in the jungle. People like you. People completely removed from civilization. There’s no secrets. There’s no hocus-pocus. Everybody knows everything there is to know about absolutely everything! Electricity has delivered us! We’re on the verge of breaking into territories never dreamed of before. Territories beyond the imagination. Things which will set us free so we don’t have to be gouging each other’s eyes out. So we don’t have to be torturing and butchering each other like a bunch of diseased animals. So we don’t have to be lost out here – totally lost and – wandering – without – without a clue – where we stand – in the scheme of things. Just completely – cut off.

from "Eyes for Consuela", first performed in 1998.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Sam Shepard-Kicking A Dead Horse

I do not understand why I'm having so much trouble taming the Wild. I've done this already. Haven't I already been through all of this? We closed the Frontier in 1890 something, didn't we? Didn't we already accomplish that? The Iron Horse- Coast to Coast. Blasted all the buffalo out of here. An ocean of bones from Sea to Shining Sea. Trails of Tears. Chased the Heathen Redman down to Florida. Paid the Niggers off in mules and rich black dirt. Whupped the Chinee and strung them up with their own damn pony-tails. Decapitated the Mexicans. Erected steel walls to keep the riff-raff out. Sucked these hills barren of gold. Ripped the top soil as far as the eye can see. Drained the aquifers. Damned up all the rivers and flooded the valleys for Recreational purposes! Ran off the small farmers. Destroyed Education. Turned our children into criminals. Demolished Art! Invaded Sovereign Nations! What more can we possibly do?

from "Kicking A Dead Horse", first performed in 2007.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Sam Shepard-Seduced

My vision? That's right. My vision. I still see. Even in the dark, I still see. Do you want to know what I see, Raul? It's the same thing I saw in Texas when I was a boy. The thing I've always seen. I saw myself. Alone. Standing in open country. Flat, barren. Wasted. As far as the eyes could take in. Enormous country. Primitive. Screaming with hostility toward men. Toward us. Toward me. As though men didn't belong there. As though men were a joke in the face of it. I heard rattlesnakes laughing. Coyotes. Cactus stabbing the blue air. Miles of heat and wind and red rock where nothing grew but the sand. And far off, invisible little men were huddled against it in cities. In tiny towns. In organizations. Protected. I saw the whole world of men as pathetic. Sad, demented little morons moving in circles. Always in the same circles. Always away from the truth. Getting smaller and smaller until they finally disappeared.

from "Seduced", first performed in 1978.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Tony Kushner on Playwriting

ON HIS PROCESS. "Of writing? Oh my God! I don't know. It's mostly sort of avoiding writing as long as I possibly can. And then when the play is really ready to come out, taking dictation. That's what it feels like."

"I've come to realize that the delaying process is an integral part. A lot of it is research and a lot is hard thinking. It usually takes about a year for a play to come together for me."

"There are these ideas. The best ideas I've had, I don't know where they came from, and I don't know what made them, and I don't think it was just force of will and discipline. And that's frightening."

ON REWRITING. "Become more familiar with yourself. Learn whether you're the sort of writer, like Whitman, who should never have rewritten anything because his first drafts were always the best, or whether you're the sort of writer who writes very, very slowly and needs to sort of grope his way. Most of us are in between. It's just a matter of becoming familiar with yourself."

"Rewriting is tricky - to be smart enough to recognize what it is in the original impulse that makes the work yours and what makes the work good, if it is good."

"It is difficult to be brave and daring in rewriting, while not being foolhardy, or betraying the original impulse. That's the impossible, terrible thing. People kill things with rewrites all the time. They also kill things by not being able to rewrite."

ON POLEMICAL WRITING. "A very complicated issue. I think that one really has to trust that the good cause will speak even through bad characters. It's just no fun to watch polemics. If you're telling a story, it has to be full of all the twists and nooks and crannies that people's stories are full of."

AUDIENCE. "There's an assumption that people's attention spans are very brief. I don't think that's actually true...People like being challenged. People like difficulty. I don't think its true that people always want the easy thing and the simple thing. They want food that's hard to chew, but nutritious. If you give them that, they'll be excited."

"I always like to believe that my audience is smarter than I am and more politically sophisticated than I am, and knows pretty much everything I know, and I have to work very keep them from being ahead of me."

"Audiences are just immense. When you get three hundred people in a room together the IQ level of everyone goes up about twenty-five points. And that's why live performance is so exciting."

ON SUCCESS. "Several writers who I think are much better than me who have simply not succeeded because they didn't have the break, they didn't get lucky. Luck shouldn't play as big a part of it. "Also, the education system kills a lot of artists, because it doesn't expose kids to art, it doesn't teach the tools to analyze art. And whenever you have a society that's under-educating or de-educating its population, the way America is, the arts are going to suffer both in terms of audience and creators."

"I really believe the world is doomed unless we can recreate ourselves as social beings as opposed to little ego-anarchists."

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Townes Van Zandt's top LP's of all time

From a 1987 interview, Townes Van Zandt lists his top LP’s of all time.

1. Hard Again – Muddy Waters
2. Mozart’s Violin Concertos Nos. 4 & 5
3. The Times They Are a Changin’ – Bob Dylan
4. Sticky Fingers – Rolling Stones
5. Automobile Blues – Lightnin’ Hopkins
6. Atlantic 12 String – Blind Willie McTell
7. Tchaikovsky – Piano Concertos – Van Cliburn
8. Richard Dobson’s first LP
9. The Complete Hank Williams
10. Old #9 – Guy Clark
11. Surrealistic Pillow – Jefferson Airplane
12. Waiting for the Naked Girl to Call – Tim Henderson

on the 15th anniversary of his death