As a kid, I mailed off pictures of jets with thrilling advertising copy like FLY SAFE, FLY DELTA, fully expecting to see them in Life Magazine. So it was words and pictures from an early age. Visual arts kept me going all my life with words sneaking in as mere accents but sometimes the words took over.
One day at summer camp after lunch, letter writing time, I was just swinging my legs from the top bunk, empty headed, when a poem came from out there to me full-blown. I knew I’d never have to write it down because it was seared into my brain. It was a really weird poem, so weird I think it was meant for someone much older than 10. If I illustrated this poem I think it would be like a botanical drawing showing flowers having sex.
Vompy my darling
your consontitonas is unbearable to me.
Have pelac unto a stemma.
Callisa, my mother, was a detective
Have Mercy, Have Mercy, Have Mercy
Clearly I wasn’t a happy camper!
In college at U of Texas I took a History of Theatre course to fulfill a requirement. I’m ashamed to say it but I do not like theatre, (so it’s curious the title of my would-be book is Little Theatre). Movies are all shiny and perfect. Theatre is just too human for me, a botched line will draw blood to my cheeks in shared shame. So the only reason I was in this class was to fulfill a requirement and the fact that the class didn’t meet at 8am when I am sleeping. Still, I didn’t attend very often. When it came time for the final our choices were a)take the damn final b)build a prosenium or c) write a play. So the day before the final I found myself in the theatre section of the Fine Arts Library. (Later that Summer in the same building, Charles Whitman would commit the first mass shooting incident in the country, the UT Tower Shootings).
After an intense 10 minutes of research I found a dusty old pale blue covered book of plays that looked to be from the 30’s. I found a short play, read it, re-imagined it, made it my own, handed it in. When the professor called me in to talk I was vaguely uneasy that I might be thrown out of college for the plagiarist that i sort of was. My professor of course knew every book in the theatre section of the library, knew exactly what story I’d used, but didn’t seem all that worked up about it. In fact, once the lecture about plagiarism was over, he took my breath away when he asked if he could produce Baby’s Blue at UT over the summer. Well yes! as I ran out of his office before he could say he was just kidding and that I should go pack my bags.