The Write Stuff: Curt Anderson on Republican-on-Republican violence

The Write Stuff is a series of interview profiles conducted by Litseen where authors give exclusive readings from their work.

Curt Anderson's first collection of poetry, The Occasionist, was recently released by Hip Pocket Press. His poems have appeared in Poetry, Poetry East, Barrow Street, The World and other literary magazines and journals. His poems are often humorous. The Poem “Platonic Love” was anthologized in The Poetry Anthology, 1912-2002: Ninety Years of America’s Most Distinguished Verse (2003). He lives in Ben Lomond and works at San Jose State University.

When people ask what do you do, you tell them…?

Well, I certainly don’t lead with “I’m a poet.” Tell people you’re a poet and it’s like admitting you’re a bodybuilder: Most people automatically assume you’re a freak with self-esteem issues.

What's your biggest struggle — work or otherwise?

Finding ways to promote my book The Occasionist without feeling like a narcisstic egomaniacal blowhard bodybuilder.

If someone said I want to do what you do, what advice would you have for them?

Prepare to navigate an endless wilderness of self-doubt, envy and disappointment, or just do what you want and expect nothing in return. Being a poet is oscillating between those two positions.

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Do you consider yourself successful? Why?

Yes, because I’m being interviewed for a newspaper article and I found a parking space near the elevator this morning.

When you’re sad/grumpy/pissed off, what YouTube video makes you feel better?

Do you have a favorite ancestor? What is his/her story?

My maternal grandfather, Nicolai, was a Russian schoolteacher who fought in WWI and against the Bolsheviks in the Civil War and wrote amazing love letters to my grandmother while in hiding.

Who did you admire when you were 10 years old? What did you want to be?

Juan Marichal. I wanted to pitch for the Giants. My backup plan was to invent a robot that did all your homework.

Describe your week in the wilderness. It doesn’t have to be ideal.

I would be spending the week trying to figure out how to get the fuck out of the wilderness.

Would you ever perform a striptease? Describe some of your moves. Feel free to set the mood.

The room is dark, occasionally lit by the passing headlights of a car. There’s a scream. The lights burst on. There is only you and the scream. Naked.

How much money do you have in your checking account?

Enough that I just transferred it to my savings account and bought a handgun.

What’s wrong with society today?

There isn’t enough Republican-on-Republican violence. Where does one start?

Are you using any medications? If so, which ones?

Enough that I can’t remember how many I’m taking.

What is your fondest memory?

Marrying my wife, Julie, in the Santa Cruz Mountains. It was 100 degrees or close to it.

How many times do you fall in love each day?

Depends on how many mirrors I come across.

What is art? Is it necessary? Why?

Eye of the beholder. It’s necessary to some and not to others. All I know is that when I experience it I feel like someone just told me a wonderful secret.

What are you working on right now?

A group of poems about the workplace, and a long poem about procrastination.

What kind of work would you like to do? Or: what kind of writing do you most admire?

I’d write and perform songs, or write smart thrillers like my brother Jeffrey M. Anderson. I just can’t balance all that information, plotting and character development.

If there were one thing about the Bay Area that you would change, what would it be?

Affordable housing for low- and middle-income working people.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever seen?

A family of five riding on a motorbike in Mumbai.

What are some of your favorite smells?

Road tar, cut grass, lilac, paperboys (read book for explanation).

If you got an all-expenses-paid life experience of your choice, what would it be?

To see a baseball game in every major league park in the US.

For events in San Francisco this week and beyond, check out our calendar section. Follow us on Twitter at @ExhibitionistSF and like us on Facebook. This interview was conducted by Evan Karp. Follow Litseen at @Litseen.

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