In these interviews, writers who also teach discuss publishing, teaching, the business of editing and managing literary journals, and, of course, their own work and process. They offer advice and hard-won wisdom for burgeoning writers and their teachers. We also ask them about their favorite music, and who knows, maybe a favorite writer or two, and a great coffeeshop or beer to add to your "must try" list.
Curbstone started with the publication of James Scully’s poems Santiago Poems, published in 1975. That was the book that really got us off the starting blocks. We had been considering starting a press for some time. I had done magazines, Patterns, way back in the 50s, and Wormwood Review in the 60s. I wanted to do something that was a little bit more permanent. This book exposed the human rights violations in Pinochet’s Chile. In 1975, that was political and hard-edged. Because of the content and small size of the book, we felt that it might not have much of a chance in commercial publishing.
I have very little anxiety about being influenced. In fact, I tend to seek out influences and I’m fairly transparent about my mine, as I’ve shown by listing a handful of them above. I guess I tend to view literature as a collective celebration of sorts, in which the strengths of one generation or school are freely hailed or reincarnated or played upon in another. I think that to fear influence is to let the electrical currents of art, cross-generational and cross-categorical, go astray, instead of harnessing them and letting them galvanize new work in powerful ways.
Ever since I could read, I wanted to be a writer. Words seemed powerful and magic, and although I wouldn’t have put it this way, I was in awe of the writer/reader relationship. I wanted to introduce total strangers to new worlds, new feelings, new ideas. I also wanted to create books. I loved their physicality, their seeming permanence. But on a less lofty note, I probably started my writing career with a bad poem about autumn that all elementary students are forced to write. I also have a clear memory of writing my own Encyclopedia Brown stories.