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Thread: AW's Day of Listening - Interviews Thread

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  1. #10
    One of the most important people in the world kdnxdr's Avatar
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    Nov 2005
    near to Dogwood Missouri

    On A Journey - My Interview With Godfather

    Michael O’Mahony, known as Godfather, was born in London but grew up in Limerick, Ireland. He is a young man out to see the world, and through his poetry, to allow his audience to see it with him. The school system never made a big impression on him, he says. His teachers were unremarkable, as was almost everyone else. “I actually wear my graduation ring around my neck to remind me to be cynical.” While attending, history and English were his two favorite subjects. Those two interests, history and love of language, are what drive his writing.

    Godfather believes that the pursuit of intelligence and greatness is a very noble thing, and is something he respects very much; but, it’s when he takes the time to step back and just look at things, at humanity, the raw sincerity of it, that he experiences an unspeakable joy; this is what interests him most.

    His desire for his poetry, is “to go to greatness”. “I think that’s a necessary direction in which to improve.” Recently, Godfather returned to London to study art. Coming from a small community, he knew he wanted to go somewhere bigger.

    A continuous thread of pursuing the bigger ideal of love, land and literature permeates Godfather’s poetry. As you travel with him through a succession of lived loves and love of life, you will find yourself on a marvelous journey experiencing Godfather’s passionate expression through his poetry.

    Following, I present my interview with Godfather. He allows us a glimpse into his postcard life and the memorabilia he carries in his bag of souvenirs that is always packed to seek new destinations:

    (I originally sent Godfather the questions for the interview, as I composed them on line. I had thought that he would reply with his answers accompanying the original questions. As he deleted after answering them, there was no other copy. That said, I have attempted to reconstruct, to the best of my recollection, the questions that I presented to Godfather. Hopefully, my reconstructed questions will give a clear enough basis for the particular answers that he submitted to me. I apologize for any lack of clarity and take full responsibility.)

    1. Q: In the Best Love Poems Thread, you quoted Yeats, “I have spread my dreams under your feet, tread softly because you tread on my dreams.” Were you relating your quote to a particular feeling or person?

    A: I was with a girl a few months ago, and it was the beginning of our relationship. Man, but she was beautiful. She was writing an essay on Yeats at the time, and so I pulled my own Yeats book off the shelf, and found this poem. I read it and reread it. It was a beautiful poem which heralded the beginning of a mad love affair with a beautiful girl.

    I was smitten at the time, we were fresh and pretty, you know? The reasons for being drawn to this poem at the beginning are obvious. But it turned out to be the most telling, beautiful, and misplaced relationship I've had, and that poem followed me through it. I could see my failings, and hers, through the poem. It was grounding, something to compare myself, and us, to.

    That relationship and that poem showed me that I can't be the perfect boyfriend. I can't be the quintessential-Jude-Law-esque character, I can only be myself. I wish I could offer perfection, but I can only offer myself, my infidelities, revelations, doldrums and joy. Like in Dylan's 'It Ain't Me, Babe', I can only be myself. If I could give heaven, I would, but all I have to give is the world.

    2. Q: Are the women that end up in your poems different women or often referencing the same woman, or the ideal woman you carry with you?

    A: Different women? Yes, of course. Some are made up, some represent singular characteristics, some represent ideals, and some are real. For example, 'a last song for the goddess, a first song for the woman' was written with a specific girl in mind (the same girl as above), but it was about something more than just her, so I didn't include a subtitle. Sometimes though, a poem is purely about one person, and is exclusive to them, in which case I will include a subtitle ('My Severed Tongue', 'In Prague').

    I've always been romantic, enthralled by that better gender. For most of my life, I had no access to the world of women, except through dreams and stories told by my friends. In my anti-hygiene and self-pity, I was not to be fallen in love with. I was, due to my foolishness and childishness, outside of that world, and more frustrated day by day at being outside. And so, day by day, girls became more unreachable and the pedestal grew taller and taller. Once I mustered some self-respect, I had my first kiss. It was comparatively late. And so I moved into a different world, now of sex, smiling and fighting. And this world didn't disappoint, the pedestal has thus far been justified.

    I moved through the months, the love affairs, and the kisses. Man, I tell you films never did do kisses justice with their storming violins. I never did see the tender touch and frantic closeness on a cinema screen. Kisses were better than I had imagined, and that's really saying something. There was so much to it, sometimes I still employ objectivity during a kiss and just imagine how things have changed - this pretty woman wants me and I want her. It is still bizarre for me, and brilliant.

    I guess I am always looking for my perfect woman, who isn't? But I'm 18. I know that we listen to too many pretty songs and expect too much at our age. There is nothing I want more than to fall terribly in love, but I don't expect it to happen at this age. Now, I can fall in love for 15 minutes in the highest reaches of London apartments, and the quietest living room in Limerick. I suppose I am waiting for her, but what better waiting room than youth? Now, I'm discovering what Dylan meant when he sang, and what Picasso meant when he drew. What poems could I write, what paintings could I paint without this necessary subject? Politics are lame without love, I could paint myself, but I'm nowhere without women.

    3. Q: In the Best Love Poems Thread you reference your appreciation for the beauty of nature, “I was at a friend’s who lives in the country - one of the clearest night skies I've ever seen - just beautiful. If I can admire beauty in a sky, I can sure as hell admire it in a girl.” Would you elaborate a little more on your concept of beauty?

    A: Beauty? Well, if I can respect natural intelligence, or an innate musical talent, why shouldn't I respect natural beauty? It's pure, and can sometimes escape

    pseudo-intelligence. Unfortunately, people confuse beauty and sex appeal, and beauty can be lost in this artificial sex appeal, eating disorders and bizarre, trendy haircuts. But I'm biased - poetry is an infidelity - art is my faithful lover. There's something raw and real about a great painting - a Francis Bacon painting can knock me down. Form and color is so natural and base, beauty is so unaffected.

    4. Q: In a critique by AM Crenshaw of your poem Russia and me and our electric innocence in London, he asks the question, “Do you pay this much attention to the choices of your words?” When you reconsider your word choices to find the best way to express what you want to express, do you find that you have favorite words that seem to find their way into your poems?

    A: Favorite words? Ha, ha, I guess "woman" would have to be one of them, wouldn't it? Actually, I was at girl's apartment a few weeks ago and she asked me to choose ten words, and then whisper them to her. Mountain, piano, yellow, hips, blue, ass, poppy, lips, I guess they're all weighted in meaning, instead of syllables.

    5. Q: In the ensuing dialogue between you and AMCrenshaw, you responded, “I find that dictionary definitions are less important than the understood meanings of words. What I mean is (and, be warned, i can be dreadfully inarticulate) that the sensuous associations of words, appealing to the senses rather than the intellect, is essential; or, something like that.” “Furthermore, people understand words through association. For example, I made up a word once, for a poem. The word was 'yugoslaveeing', and though there is no definition for it, nor could I supply one, I know that people understand it, using their instinct. For the sake of this interview, could you give me your best attempt at defining “Yugoslaveeing”? Does the word somehow relate to Yugoslavia?

    A: Yugoslaveeing |ˌyoōgōˈslävēə;ˌyoōgə-|
    1. The process of disintegration, evanescence, crumbling, breaking up, losing coherence and cohesiveness.
    2. The destruction of something significant (and mountainous).

    Of course, there are the connotations of what a place may represent in a particular context. For example, I've never been to Yugoslavia. However, when I put the poem in the context of a place, it means something more than just mentioning it. In 'In Prague', the first line is 'I long for you in cities that are steep and cobblestoned', which is an inherent characteristic of Prague (and other European cities, like Bratislava) old town. Normally I don't base a poem in a place I haven't been, because I can't know if it’s a suitable context.

    I do love traveling. This summer, my brother and I traveled around Europe. Maybe I have restless feet. I once told a friend I wanted to lay the world, I don't want to miss a thing, I want to go everywhere and see everything. Next on my list is South America. That would be something else.

    6. Q: Chronologically, by many, you would be considered a young man at eighteen. Often, in your poems, the voice of the poet is a man of many experiences, women and travels. Is this voice that of your fantasies or real expression of who you are in some sense?

    A: Generally, the protagonist in my poems is me, or certain aspects of myself. Everything in my poems reflects an aspect of my life, because I don't know anything else. That being said, his character can vary between poems (the vengeful, determined romantic in 'the great pretender', and the hopeless, destroyed romantic in 'My Severed Tongue').

    7. Q: In a thread, you said, regarding the word “freight”, “It has a fantastic folk music and beat stigma.” “It has one of the most romantic images I know.” Have you ever hopped a freight?

    A: No, I've never hopped a freight, but man, I'd like to. Wouldn't that be something? Rumbling and sailing in a big empty boxcar with a whole country rattling past you, instead of through the double-glazed window of an air-conditioned dining car. But of course, it’s not what it was before. People don't hop freights anymore. I want to do it for the sheer hell of it, but I know it won't be what I think it should be. In the first chapter of his autobiography, Woody Guthrie describes a freight train going to California in the Depression. He's there with his guitar,(or his "meal ticket") and everybody there is poor and looking for a job, and they all wind up breaking into song and shortly after, a brawl. Those days are gone. Those were the real bona-fide camaraderie of moneyless and desperate fellows headin’ out to Califor-N-I-A. At least freight trains will never disappoint, because I have no expectations.

    8. Q: In response to a critique of The Wrench Musician, you said, “It stands as a testament as to how my work was two years ago.” How different do you see yourself as a poet now, as compared to then?

    A: I'm a very different person as to who I was two years ago. I change constantly. Then, I was floundering; I didn't know what a poem was, how to write one, why I wanted to write one and what was the whole damned point anyway? I don't claim to be any good at it now, but I understand poetry a hell of a lot more than I did then. I read poetry now, and can relate poems to my life. Poetry is important to me now. I guess I was testing the water then. Now I know exactly where I want to go, and why.

    9. Q: In response to your poem entitled craw, lawd kree, you mention the phrase “char chroi which translates “heartbreak” in Irish. Are you Irish?

    A: Yeah, I'm Irish. Having recently moved to London, my Irishness bears increasingly more weight. Naturally, when I'm back home, being Irish is largely irrelevant, but in another country, it lends a degree of identity. The significance of one's nationality becomes apparent once you separate yourself from it. Particularly in England, the people are so different for being so close. Being Irish is important to me, I have a strong interest in Irish history and literature (hell we have James Joyce and W.B. Yeats and Oscar Wilde).

    It was very significant for my 'Irishness' to reconcile itself with the side of me that sings the blues, wonders about freight trains, and dreams of gypsy princesses in red white polka dot dresses and Cadillacs. (Actually, I documented the reconciliation in 'the death of bo diddley'). It is the combination of these two elements that makes me who I am.

    Regrettably, I don't speak much Irish. It is, frankly, a dead language, and the Irish educational system is to blame. Its bizarrely childish approach to teaching the Irish language has crippled it. Teachers are lame. It is compulsory for 14 years, though you can get a passing grade with the most basic knowledge in your final exams. It's a damned shame, and I'm only sorry I didn't develop an interest in the language sooner. I'm sure I would have if I learned about Irish literature, history or music a little sooner than at 17 years old. What nonsense.

    As regards other languages, I have a passing knowledge of German. In Russian, I can say 'wine', 'good morning' and 'elephant'. In French, I can say 'Don't you know that God is Pooh Bear?', and in Turkish I can say 'I'm a steady rollin' man'. I do enjoy languages though, and plan to learn French. (Actually, I'm going to start that after Christmas.) My mother is a translator, my aunt is French, it’s a pretty language and French girls are beeeautiful. I can't think of any reason not to learn French.

    10. Q: In response to a critique of your poem The Wooden Groove, you make the comment regarding math, “nothing going on – all mathematics.” Did you fare well in math while in the school system or was that a subject you shied away from academically? Do you ever see a place for mathematics in poetry?

    A: “Nothing interesting going on?” Well, that was silly of me. I guess I don't agree with that anymore. Math has never interested me because there was a right way of doing things, and I never saw the point - it bored me. I'm fairly good at math, but I abandoned it. However, I do acknowledge the importance of math, and respect it. Without it there's no rhythm or structure, and so math is necessary in poetry, music and painting. I haven't thought directly about math in my poetry.

    A friend of mine is exploring the whole notion of geometry in paintings, and I'm finding it more and more interesting. Though I don't believe it will ever be a subject, it will most likely find its way into my poems. In fact, its quite ironic because 'The Wooden Groove' is quite a structured, and thus mathematical, poem. How silly of me, indeed.

    11. Q: Your poems tend to portray the poet as a well traveled, experienced ladies’ man. Do you believe this is an accurate portrayal of yourself?

    A: I don't feel I present myself as those things. It’s probably a fair derivative, but its not my intention to put these things forward. I don't try to present myself as anything, I just try to present moments and feelings. I mean, I've seen quite a few countries, but I wouldn't call myself cultured or anything. I guess I'm fascinated by these things, rather than understanding of them. As regards women, I'm no Black Jack Davey, but I've kissed a few girls.

    Elaine Parny - kdnxdr
    Last edited by kdnxdr; 12-14-2008 at 11:42 PM.
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