A shamanistic image on a flyer for a theatrical production of a play

An Interview with Harold Norse, Part 1, Section 3– Saints and Self-Destruction

I ask Norse about his drive to write poetry.

He feels like a man without category.

He is not from the élite and he is not entirely of the poor.

He is not working class but he is not rich.

Norse was 53 in 1969, the year of the Stonewall Riots.

He was 60 when he published Carnivorous Saint and became
the poetic voice of the gay liberation movement.

Norse discusses recently published letters he received as a
young writer from W.H. Auden.

Auden advised Norse to accept the locked doors of the
literary world as a sign of his true calling in life as a saint.

Screenshot of an of W.H. Auden's letter to Harold Norse from the Contemporary Authors Autobiography Series in which Auden tells Harold Norse to accept locked doors ihn the literary world as a sign of his true callling as a saint
A section of W.H. Auden’s letter to Harold Norse from the Contemporary Authors Autobiography Series

When Norse speaks of a politically correct left, he means an academic
élite that restrains the use of a certain kind of language even when it’s
essential to the work.

Section 3 of the interview closes with a question of identify:

“It seems to me that you’re making more than a writer when you take
an illiterate and give him the ability to express himself with a self
conscious understanding of his real social and political position. That
is an extremely powerful thing to do and it can be devastating.”

Interview with Harold Norse, Part 1 Section 3- Saints and Self Destruction


Scan of a typewritten note from Hal the Difficult to Rob the Impossible concerning a vast tureen of nearly finished chicken soup in the refrigerator
An interoffice memo left on the fridge one day.

An Interview with Harold Norse, Part 1 section 2:  The Pain of Becoming Literate

An Interview With Harold Norse, Part One, Section 1: The Art of Teaching
Header image is a flyer for a production of Bobby.  The figure is a shaman.





18 thoughts on “An Interview with Harold Norse, Part 1, Section 3– Saints and Self-Destruction

  1. If, as you say you do not have many if any memories of Norse Bobby is definitely Ego in this episode I can hear it in his voice. The tape is difficult to listen to and Norse does much of the talking and Bobby interrupts him, he did not get the answer to his final question – at least on this tape.

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    1. The final question regarding who turns these wheels? I had the sense that Norse did answer the question. You’re right, this is definitely Bobby. I don’t have the Southern Accent. As far as the tape I need to transcribe it and figure out how to smooth out the choppiness. Thanks for your comments, I appreciate them.

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      1. Well…many things already have. I regressed in response to the AIDS epidemic. I genuinely believed I
        was going to die. I asked myself what I wanted to do most in the world and the answer was write.
        I’d met Harold Norse who offered me a room in his Cottage on Albion Street and when I moved in, I regressed and became Bobby who had the ability to be a child to Harold’s parent. When I found out
        I was HIV negative in late 1988 everything changed


      2. Robert regressing in response to the AIDS epidemic would have been a normal response, one denied to almost everyone. It was so terrifying then, I had only 2 occasions to worry about and I thought I would be HIV+. WE didn’t have the knowledge nor the drugs.
        It did give you pause to think, what you most wanted to do with your higher self rather than the call of terror and degradation that can be the response of our communities when we come out to ourselves and the world. ( Events here in Australia)

        So you did meet Harold Norse before regression. Perhaps, considering how Bobby could present himself there may have been some subconscious collusion among all of them – which didn’t involve you. So Bobby and Harold were brothers of a kind. It is my understanding that the sum of you is rather like a stained glass window the lead separating you, with age the lead is damaged and bits of you all seep through until there may be a single colourful window. When you all begin speaking it will be up to you to decide whether or if you become a single ego+alter ego+shadow+persona ( Jungian)

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      3. I can see that now. I just found an interview that I did with Darell Yates-Rist in the early 1990’s. Apparently I did write for the BAR because what I found was the text of a review for publication in the Bay Area Reporter.

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