My Adventure with the Noted Irish Poet: Bowing to the Demands of History | Street Jazz

Thursday, June 14, 2012

My Adventure with the Noted Irish Poet: Bowing to the Demands of History

Posted By on Thu, Jun 14, 2012 at 12:45 PM

One of the great things about having an interview program is that you get to talk to a wide range of fascinating people.

In the mid-1990s I chanced to meet an Irish poet who was teaching at the University of Arkansas. Wow, I thought, an Irish poet. He would be great to have on my show. Because even though my show was - and still is - primarily political in nature - you’d go nuts from doing the same sort of show every week.

I have always felt that anyone tuning should see, if you’ll pardon the expression, “something completely different” every week.

And so it came about that I had lunch with the Noted Irish Poet in the Arkansas Union one autumn day in 1992. We went over possible questions and topics we might touch upon during the interview, and a date was set.

All interviews being somewhat equal, I was a little more excited about this particular interview than I had been for quite some time. I mean, really, a real live Irish Poet on my show.

I had built up some good Karma somewhere.

A chance for me to sound literate. If these opportunities come along, even if we have to fake them, grab onto them with both hands. Far too many occasions come along for us to come across as completely the opposite.

In 1992, I didn’t have access to the Internet, so I stalked my guest in the public library, learning as much as I could about him there.

Come the night of the show, Poet X arrives at the station. While we are in the lobby, leaning against the tall desk briefly going over the questions, he pulls a small flask from his pocket and offers me a drink after downing one himself.

Now, there were - and still are, for that matter - these rules about not having alcohol in a city-owned building, along with strictures against setting fires, carrying weapons and all manner of other things. I half-expected some member of the Anal Retentive Patrol to come leaping out of the walls reminding me of this while I considered his offer.

For one second (well, far briefer than a second, really) I thought about refusing his offer. But then again, how often does an opportunity like this one come along? A couple of drinks later, and we were off to the races. Later, I began to suspect that he may have had a few to bolster his courage before he ever got to the studio.

After the most excellent show, the Noted Irish Poet read some poems for us to use as filler between programs, or to round hours out in future programs. He also was appreciative of the fact that we would show the program again in the future.

And so my Adventure with the Noted Irish Poet was over . . .

But wait, there’s more, as one of those sleazy pitchmen on TV infomercials will tell you.

We hadn’t used Poet X’s poetry but a handful of times, and perhaps run his interview once or twice more, when the station got a letter from the presumably now stone-cold sober Noted Irish Poet.

Why, he petulantly queried in his letter, were we still running not only his interview but the poems he had read aloud before the camera? Friends in Fayetteville had informed him that he was still showing up on the telly., and he had agreed to no such thing, he now asserted, when he wandered in off the street and sat down for our interview.

We should stop playing them at once, he wrote to us, or the next letter would be from his solicitor.

“What a jerk,” I told Jim Goodlander, who was the manager of the station at the time.


For the sake of those who insist on absolute historical accuracy, “jerk” wasn’t the actual word I used. Close enough.

So that’s how my Adventure with the Noted Irtish Poet ended, not with a bang but with whining on both our parts. Ah well.

C'est la vie. Or, if you will:

Sin mar atá an saol . . .


Tough Guy Creative Writing Classes Taught Cheap

It seems especially appropriate to report on this one this week, following the death of Ray Bradbury.

I chanced to open up a paperback novel at a bookstore recently, and reading the author’s bio inside the back cover, I learned that, in addition to his other books, that he is an expert martial artist.

It didn’t really talk much about his writing ability, awards, or anything of that mundane nature.

I have noticed a disturbing trend in many novels, in which bad books are produced by martial artists; it’s almost as if the publisher was mesmerized by the fact that these people can demolish bookshelves with their foreheads.


Quote of the Day

"But I shall stay the way I am
because I do not give a damn"
-Dorothy Parker



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