An Interview with Harold Norse, Part 2, Section 1: “But I’m still Gay.”

Part two of the Interview opens with Harold’s discussing his relationship to his peers, many of whom achieved fame and a place in literary history.

Norse describes them as outcasts and I reply that they are hardly outcasts now.

Norse feels like an outcast and I hearken back to Auden’s comment by suggesting that perhaps a saint is an outcast who survives as an outcast.

Survival in this context is surviving as an artist.

Norse says he wrote because, “I wanted to write about my deepest feelings about being Gay.”

He goes on to tell a story about conversation he had with James Baldwin who was new to fame  and Norse said, “Jimmy, you’ve got nothing to worry about, you’ve got it made.”

“Jimmy turned and said, ‘Whattaya mean I got it made! I’m still Black!'”

The cover of Giovanni's Room, by James Baldwin
Giovanni’s Room 1956, by James Baldwin

Norse goes on to say that no matter what he does, he’s still gay, he’s
still marginalized.

Norse describes how he met with Baldwin again, after Baldwin was wealthy.

Baldwin looks in a mirror and says, “After all, I’m still James Baldwin.”

Norse stopped himself from saying, “And who is James Baldwin.”

Norse describes it as a ‘Zen’ moment when he realized that we are what we’re conscious of being.

Interview with Harold Norse Section 2, part 1.

Please note:

When I turned the tape over I unknowingly enabled a ridiculous option
that stops the machine when it senses silence. The result is a little choppy.
I did my best to smooth it out.

To hear the beginning go to An interview with Harold Norse, Part 1, Section 1

(C) Rob Goldstein 2017 All Rights Reserved

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An Interview with Harold Norse, Part One Section Two: The Pain of Becoming Literate

I moved in with Norse in 1984 and spent my days writing and studying
film and literature.

Norse was drafting his memoirs.

We lived in a creative stew under the strain of the most devastating years
of the AIDS epidemic.

We both had good reason to think our lives would soon be over.

The pressure I placed on myself brought on the symptoms of florid DID.

My alternates were coming out and writing and Harold was responding
to them as ‘characters’.

A written critique of a collection of poems.
Norse gives me a rundown of what he liked or hated about a collection of poems I left for him one week in February 1985. He calls me ‘Bobby’ in the note and uses. ‘Bobby’s’ accent in the opening. Seems I also wrote a poem called ‘Jew-Boy’ that Norse thought was sick. I have no memory of ‘Jew-Boy’. One definitely had to be strong to ask Norse to critique one’s writing. What I loved about Norse was that I always knew I was getting the truth. He signs the note, ‘Your loving dementor’

In the 1992 interview, I describe the emotional pain of becoming
fully literate.

I asked Norse if that was difficult for him.

“Every day was difficult.” he said, “It was the most difficult period
of my life.”

“Why did you do it?”

“What a question! “ Norse laughed and paused, “I almost never
question that.”

“I think it’s a fascinating question.”

“It is,” Norse replied. “It is. It’s one of the few that’s ever
stopped me cold.”

Part two of the interview picks up where part one ends.

An Interview with Harold Norse, Part Two: The Pain of Becoming Literate

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

Photo of Rog Goldstein cropped from the original photo
by Nina Glaser taken May of 1985. I have no idea who
those other people are. I’m the guy in the middle.

Interview with Harold Norse (c) Rob Goldstein 2017 All Rights Reserved

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An Interview With Harold Norse, Part One, Section One: The Art of Teaching

In 1992, I interviewed my friend and literary mentor, Harold Norse.

I moved in with Norse in July of 1984 and moved out in August of 1989 .

Scan of the Harold Norses Signature in my copy of Carnivous Saint
Norse signed my copy of Carnivorous Saint a few months after I moved in with him.

I spent two years in Los Angeles where I did some free-lance writing
for the gay press.

I moved back to San Francisco in the spring of 1992 and invited Norse
over to see my new digs in the Tenderloin.

Norse and I spontaneously decided to do an interview that turned into a
frank discussion of the work we did together as student and teacher.

Most people in San Francisco’s gay lit scene thought my relationship
with Harold Norse was sexual; it wasn’t.

We had a passion for each other, but it was not sexual.

In retrospect, we had an affair of the intellect.

There is a rhythm to the interview as Norse and I adjust to our relationship
as equals.

In this first section, we discuss who I was when we met and how Norse approached the task of being a teacher.

There is a moment of silence as Norse reads a short poem by someone
I was teaching.

I open this section of the interview by mentioning the power of his poems
Karma Circuit and Addio.

Scan of Addio from Karma Circuit, 1965, by Harold Norse
Addio by Harold Norse

When Norse and I mention ‘The Cottage’, we are discussing a two-bedroom cottage on Albion Street in San Francisco’s Mission District.

Photograph of Fall leaves on Albion Street
“Get the unconscious going without fear of criticism.” Harold Norse, 1992, on writing.

An interview with Harold Norse Part 1, Section 1, The Art of Teaching

To hear part two click here.

Interview and photograph of Albion Street (c) Rob Goldstein 2017 All Rights Reserved

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You Must Have Been a Sensational Baby, I Said

More cuts from the 1986 reading I gave with Harold Norse at San Francisco’s
Jewish Community Center.

In this post Norse reads, ‘You Must Have Been a Sensational Baby’ and I read
a piece named ‘Glimpse’.

I owe these performance tapes to my best friend, Kit.

Kit showed up and recorded all of my performances, even when he
was sick.

 I’ll Be Seeing You – In Memory of Kit –

The sketch of Norse is a scan of the inside cover of my copy of his
collected poems, Carnivorous Saint.

I describe  night I bought Carnivorous Saint in a post I wrote
about Norse for Pride Week 2016.

Heroes of the Revolution: Harold Norse

 

Portrait of Harold Norse based on a scan of the inner cover of my copy of Carnivorous Saint.
Portrait of Harold Norse based on a scan of the inner cover of my copy of Carnivorous Saint.


You Must have Been a Sensational Baby

Portrait of Rob Goldstein based on a photo by Nina Glaser.
Portrait of Rob Goldstein based on a photo by Nina Glaser. I wore black for most of the 1980’s as an expression of mourning.

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