One on One: Justin Chin and Daphne Gottlieb
BY Advocate Contributors
February 18 2012 1:23 PM ET
Chin: You were never just a yeller, m’dear. Our lives have never been divorced or set apart from our art. When we were younger, we felt we could hold up the sky, we felt we had the means and the power to kick the sky back into place, to remake the sky in accordance to our desires and our ideals. Sometimes it worked, most other times, not so much. Later, we learned how to brace ourselves, bear the brunt of that falling sky. And even later we learned to survive the fallen sky, walk on its shards, pick up, carry on and expect the next falling, armed with new strategies to unfall the sky. The periods of not writing for me are always filled with reading, which is a major part of writing, so it's not not writing. Other than that, the body slows down, health and energies and gastrointestinal tract aren't as robust and peppy as before. The vim lessens, I'm sad to admit.
Gottlieb: It's true. I am a quart down on vim. So what are you reading?
Chin: A weird pile of anything and everything. I'm loving the mangas Twin Spica and The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service (number 11 was so satisfying). Re-reading a lot. Uncle Scrooge and Donald Duck comics. Aleksandar Hemon. Rebecca Solnit, and Eliot Weinberger, in awe. Rebecca Brown, over and over in greater awe. Books written by my pals. I'm open to any recommendations from my friends. It's kind of sad, instead of some hunky dude in my bed, I sleep with a pile of books. And you?
Gottlieb: By “reading” I think you mean the stack of books next to my bed that I'm making very little headway with because I'm playing Words With Friends. On top is Jonathan Safran Foer's Tree of Codes. What could be better than a book that someone's cut all sorts of words out of? The plot, literally, is full of holes.
Chin: Oh, aren't all books full of holes? Never trust a book that claims to be whole. Maybe not so much holes but a sieve, an unbleached filter. I went through a poet-as-prophet phase a while back, haven't quite given up on that yet actually. Isn't it funny how we can find so much to hold on to, to fortify and find restoration with, in the books we read and re-read, yet we ourselves cannot believe that our own work can possibly in some small — or not so small —way do the same for someone else somewhere in this great wide world?
Gottlieb: See, we've come back around where we started — to that not-giving-up thing. It doesn't seem to matter what we think we know. We keep going on, regardless. There's nowhere else to go.
Chin: Also, it's what I've chosen to give meaning to my life. So I only got myself to blame, damn it.