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.

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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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Language Is A Virus from Outer Space

Language is a virus from outer space - William S. Burroughs
Language is a virus from outer space – William S. Burroughs

The word is now a virus. The flu virus may have once been a healthy lung cell. It is now a parasitic organism that invades and damages the central nervous system. Modern man has lost the option of silence. Try halting sub-vocal speech. Try to achieve even ten seconds of inner silence. You will encounter a resisting organism that forces you to talk. That organism is the word.

The Ticket That Exploded (1962) William s. Burroughs


Well I dreamed there was an island

That rose up from the sea.

And everybody on the island

Was somebody from TV.

And there was a beautiful view

But nobody could see.

Cause everybody on the island

Was saying: Look at me! Look at me!

Look at me! Look at me!

Laurie Anderson – Language Is A Virus
Community Audio

 

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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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