“How many people are convinced they’re not supposed to be happy?”


Interviewed By: Kaveh Akbar

A few months ago, Gabrielle Calvocoressi posted online that she needed a ride from North Carolina to Virginia to give a reading. I sent her a note offering to drive and when she happily agreed, I set off through the night from Indianapolis to Carrboro. The next twenty-four hours saw us conducting this interview (while wandering around University Lake near her home), swirling through the Blue Ridge Mountains (with NC State MFA extraordinaire Elizabeth Purvis in tow), and participating in a truly singular reading with Rita Dove and the VQR all-stars (complete with complimentary oysters on the half shell). The interview that follows took place at the start of our day, with the exception of the bonus ghost story (!!!), which was recorded in the car after the reading as we drove back to North Carolina.

What body of water is this?

This is just called University Lake. We’re not even that near the university, but they just own so much land. We’re not technically that near campus.

Is it a walkable campus?

It is, it’s very walkable. They also have a great bus system, which is perfect for me because of my eyes. I mean, I do drive, but with the nystagmus, sometimes my eyes get tired and it becomes harder.


It’s a funny eye neurological difference. It’s good because it makes me have to be aware of things in other kinds of ways.

I don’t know much about it. Is your vision affected right now?

One of the things about nystagmus—it’s not so much that you’re really nearsighted or farsighted. Because it’s a shaking of the eye, it fatigues the eye. As you get fatigued, the muscles in your eyes get more tired and you begin to have a harder time seeing, just because the muscles in your eye are getting exhausted. It can be triggered by stress, it can get triggered when you’re not physically well. I had a bad cold two weeks ago and I’ve been traveling a lot, giving readings and talking, and when that happens my vision gets worse afterwards.

So, right now I can see pretty well. However, I do notice, for instance, that my peripheral vision is not great. That’s something that can happen. But I was really lucky because a lot of people with nystagmus can’t drive, they can’t read, they can’t use computers.

I was going to ask how it affects your reading.

From seven years old until a little after I finished college, I went to holistic vision therapy every week and learned a lot of exercises that I still do. Those exercises helped me strengthen the muscles in my eyes and helped me to read.  

For better or for worse, I’m a very fast reader. I say for better or for worse because reading takes a lot out of you when you have nystagmus and so when I’m reading very quickly, I don’t really feel it and then all of a sudden it hits me. And I’d rather be reading than almost anything else, so it really bothers me. It’s like how you were talking about how you’d just be tucked away somewhere reading if you weren’t here with me today—I’m just another one of the reader people.

I’ve always known I’ve loved reading more than just about anything, but there’s some anxiety to that too. I sometimes wonder about whether I’m in my body enough, if I’m just a head taking in all this information and dreaming it out again in some other form.

Yeah! I can relate.

But lately I’ve been thinking about it a lot, and I just end up telling myself, “At your most central core, you’re a reader and a writer and that is your occupation and your vocation and your spiritual practice.”

The only other poet I know who had nystagmus was Lorine Niedecker.

Didn’t Elizabeth Bishop have some sort of vision disorder?

She did, I think, but it wasn’t this. Niedecker had nystagmus.

Are you a fan of Niedecker?

Mmhmm. I’m a huge fan of hers, and I didn’t know she had nystagmus when I first started reading her.   When I found out, so much of her work started to make sense to me in a way other work doesn’t. When you have nystagmus, you have this thing called the null point. The null point is the place your eye will naturally go to where it shakes less than anywhere else. Mine is to the far left. The thing about the null point is that when your eyes drift to it, it’s the most relaxing, calm thing in the world. It’s almost like being in a trance. I’m not aware all day long that my eyes are working so hard, but when it goes to the null point you just have this total relaxation. It almost feels like a trance.

There’s something kind of profound about that, that point of stillness that makes you aware of how unstill you are everywhere else.

Completely. When you’re a kid with nystagmus, they train you not to have a head tilt. I know I’m tired right now because I can feel my head tilting a little bit. It’s because your whole being wants to move towards that stillness, to stay in there. Why wouldn’t it? It’s why kids who have nystagmus get teased a lot, because they do this funny thing where they look off.

But when I think about the poems and I think about white space in the poems and the certain kinds of silence she creates, I think it’s the null point. I don’t write about my eyes much, though I think they’re always in there.

Bishop talked about perception versus reality, and I think that’s certainly a big part of your work.

Right, yeah. It’s like, “Oh, I’m so certain this is what I’m seeing. That’s my Aunt Consuela making that noise. Wait, it’s me making it!”

But in this new book, there are these three voices, and for one them, formally, I just let my text go where my eyes are going, then let the white space be the null point. Can I create that kind of feeling of stillness? Null poetics.

That’s the sort of observation about Niedecker you could have never had without experiencing it yourself. And the insight about your forthcoming poems is tremendous. People may have felt something or intuited that stillness, but nobody would think, “oh, she has nystagmus and she’s creating a null point on the page!”

Right! I just wanted to create a space of silence that was also a place of trance and relaxation.

And it’s just a single one of the three voices that does this?

  Right. You know, my first book was very much about persona, but then the second book was interesting. Some people call that another book full of persona poems and some people don’t. I think the reason they’re doing that is because I made the choice to include no personal pronouns.

That’s exactly what I was going to say! The first book has them but the second doesn’t identify its characters in that way.

Yeah, that was a choice I made. Could I make a book that had no personal pronouns so that you had to decide things: am I male, am I female?

It creates these sorts of interesting decisions on the part of the reader, makes them aware of the sorts of cultural apparatus they bring into the poems. I’m thinking of “LA Woman,” where there’s a lusty portrait of the woman but we don’t know if the speaker’s male or female.

Yes! Very much so. I really wanted to do that! This third book is a little more of a story. When I first started working on it, it had this strong narrative arc to it. Then it felt really static to me, though. I went to Marfa, Texas on a fellowship, and I was sitting in this house in Marfa in the middle of nowhere, luckier than I’d ever been in my life, and in that silence I read through the third book and thought, “this is a disaster.” It’s so narrative and it’s so not how I’d envisioned it. I overthought it. I had to make this choice: am I going to give up on this and start something new or am I going to try to salvage it? I did the latter. Around that time, I was reading in the New York Review of Books a review of Hillary Mantel’s newest.

Bringing Up the Bodies?

Yeah, and the writer was talking about how history isn’t something that happens in a linear chronological fashion for the people it’s happening to. History is a bunch of disparate events happening where people don’t necessarily know they are a part of something accumulating toward something bigger. We make a story of history, but really it’s the accumulation of all these tiny little events. That’s something my work thinks about generally. In that moment, I really took that to heart. I thought about what would happen if you made large form poems the way people make large form visual art. How would that be different? I took the narrative out and started having these three voices working on top of each other. They are characters and they are people, but I am trying to only think of them as voices. It’s an interesting new project, in terms of thinking about persona. It’s the last of these three books, this sort of trilogy.

I think the second book was doing something very similar to my first one. A lot of people view it as a very different book, but really it’s still working out issues of what it is for a person to speak, what it is for a person to speak with history as a kind of backdrop. The third one is still tinted with that, still thinking about this idea of persona and the I. There are pronouns this time. What are the things that make us feel intimately engaged to a speaker? Could you develop a feeling of character and story and feel deeply located in something if you don’t necessarily know what’s going on?

Is it a completed manuscript, then?

I keep thinking it is and then it isn’t. I think I’m a few months away. I’m just letting them build. I’m just letting the voices happen and not think too much about the structure. It’s not like the first or the second book. The first book was those longer poems, so I just put a bunch together, and then I had a book. My second book was sort of the same thing, I had a lot of poems and they just sort of worked together. But with this one, I don’t think I have as much say. They keep coming up, and I think I’ll just feel it when it’s done. I get a little nervous sometimes thinking, “wow, it’s been five years since the second book came out.” But there’s something about this book that’s supposed to teach me something, if that makes sense.

It makes total sense. It sounds to me that this one is manifesting a little more unconsciously.

A lot more. A lot more unconsciously, and from the unconscious. A lot more just letting myself get out of the way of the poem. The null point is sort of that—allowing myself stop tensing enough to see what organic forms I have inside myself. What is my rhythm, not thinking about syllabics as much, also not thinking as much about the traditions from which the other two books came. Those traditions do mean a lot to me, but I’m starting to think more about certain kinds of spiritual practice, of my time on the west coast, of Jungian analysis. I’m trying to let those things guide me.  

I have always been a really good student. I have always loved being a student,   and I was good at it. That’s why I moved to California, I got a Stegner Fellowship and a Work Center fellowship in my last year at grad school and I always wanted to go to the work center because all of my teachers went to the work center and I kind of think of myself as of that family of Stanley Kunitz and Theodore Roethke. All of my teachers worked with Stanley.

I remember thinking that I really needed to go three-thousand miles away and prove to myself that I had really learned how to take all these things I’d learned and incorporate them into my own voice. I needed to find a voice of my own. It was extraordinary the things I learned on the West Coast. My reading life, not being so tied to ideas of schools, things like that just really blossomed for me. It was hugely important. I think a lot of these poems come back to that. I’m convincing—no, not convincing. I’m showing myself something.

I try very much now to convince students of mine to think about getting MFA’s away from the coasts, somewhere other than New York. Columbia will always be my heart, it was a great place to go. But it’s interesting, I think, if you’ve spent time in New York, to go to school in the Midwest or to go to Texas or somewhere else. Has it been helpful to you to be both in the poetry world and in some ways outside of it?

Well, in my case, I’ve been in the Midwest now for the majority of my life, so I’m getting antsy. But I do understand what you’re saying. I’m familiar with the sort of person for whom life only exists on the two coasts. It’s all useful. I mean, you don’t write “Lying in a Hammock at William Duffy’s Farm in Manhattan,” you know? I just think you write where you are. That said, I try to get to New York as often as I’m able.

That’s the other thing, too. I feel like everyone should try living in New York. And I think everyone should try living in California, too. I never thought I would live more than three hours from home. There’s just so much to experience. Is Indianapolis expensive?

No, it’s pretty cheap. I taught middle school and was able to save money. It doesn’t cost much to live and eat and read and I don’t do much else. I live in a little garret on the top floor of a much larger house.

What do your windows look out at?

Haha. I have a window that looks out at the house next door.

So it’s kind of like St. Louis, all these buildings that probably used to look quite grand.

Yeah, lots of Indianapolis is like that. The house in which I live turned one-hundred this year. I have another window that looks down on the backyard from the tops of the trees. I see lots of squirrels tending to their nests. I actually kind of love living there. I’ve found a really wonderful community. I think a lot of times being in a place that is not ostensibly really sexy to live as a creative person can serve as a foil. It’s easier to find a like-minded fellowship because people are forced to be more proactive about it.

Totally. Also, as I get older, I become aware of what it takes out of a person to be broke. To be able to live anywhere where you have a nice amount of space to live in is something that’s getting harder and harder, for poets in particular. Is it better to work in a large city and work seven adjunct jobs and not be able to afford health insurance or to live in a city that supposedly doesn’t have as much going on and then fly or drive as much as you want? Probably, the answer is yes to both. It depends on the kind of person you are. I talk about this with my students all the time.

Right. But at a certain point, it has to stop being an external thing, too. The writer writes, right? I guess I’ve never been particularly romantic about it. I interviewed Jean Valentine, who has lived in New York City for most of her life, and she talked about how she feels more compelled to write when she visits rural spaces. And she doesn’t really write about the city a whole lot. It doesn’t manifest itself as a setting in her poems the way the parks and forests do.

Mmhmm. I agree that a writer writes. I do think there is something about worry. I think there’s something about fear and worry. We’re animals just like anything else. What is it about cows that are frightened all the time—the meat becomes inedible, right? There’s something that happens to one’s body and one’s ability to hold space for oneself when one is worried and scared all the time about stuff like feeding yourself. For some, I guess, that can be a real engine, but I think for most people it’s a real block. Then, of course, some people write great poems out of their worry and fear.

But for every one of those people there are a dozen people who mythologize the starving artist trope and lean into it in a way that prevents them from creating what they might have otherwise.

I think that’s true, and I say that to my students a lot. Live somewhere where you’re going to have time. My students will ask where to go to grad school, and more and more I think—go wherever you’re not going to go into debt for the rest of your life. You can’t even imagine what that’s going to save you in the end, how many options it will give you after.

Right, and you’re teaching at a large public university where that’s probably falling on much more receptive ears than if you were teaching at a tiny private liberal arts college.

That’s true. You have a lot of students at UNC who are very elite, because it’s not an easy school to get into. But you do have a much wider economic range, demographically, represented in the students.

My sister is nineteen and so I’ve been talking about this a lot. I just don’t know if there is such a thing anymore as a student who doesn’t have to worry about debt. When I was in school twenty years ago, it seemed to me there were a lot of kids who were lucky enough to not have to pay for their educations. I just don’t think that’s the case anymore, especially in families where there are more than one child. I am so conscious of my students talking about not wanting to make their parents spend more money they don’t have. My sister’s thinking about it now. I hear more kids talking about the economic burden of their parents now than I ever have, and I’ve been teaching for fifteen years now. Do you feel that?

Sure. It changes the nature of this whole thing. People are reticent about paying to go to school for something like poetry.

Yeah, right.

To go to school to better appreciate the thing that brings you most pleasure in the world seems a pretty good reason to go, for me.

And we’re in an era right now where we should all just take to the bunker of that idea. I really do. If you can get three years for free and write really seriously and just have a buffer from this ridiculousness, just do it, you know?

That’s why I want to continue on to a Ph.D. program. I want someone to afford me the luxury of thinking seriously about poetry and writing poetry for the next four or five years and insulate me from the realities of the job market.

A few more years of being compassionately treated and taken care of! I was thinking about ebola recently…


I was! I was thinking about ebola. This friend of mine is a really interesting writer but she also works with infectious diseases.

A writer slash epidemiologist?

Haha, yeah. She worked with the outbreak in Texas. This is the sort of stuff she writes about.   I remember she told me when this stuff was breaking out in Dallas that if everyone just went home and quarantined themselves for three weeks, this would be wiped out. It made me think. If the entire world wouldn’t fall apart financially, imagine what it would be for the health of every single person on the planet if you knew you had enough food and you had the things you needed and for three weeks you just stepped outside of the system and you could rest. What would that do to the consciousness of the world, to thoughts about capitalism? You know?

We’re living in a world right now that is making our meat much less tender. (Laughing) It’s making it quite toxic.

That’s great.

I can taste my own meat. I can tell you, it’s toxic. Why shouldn’t my students get that time?

In your scenario where everyone bunkers for three weeks, I think nine months later you’d have the biggest recorded population boom ever.

(Laughing) That’s what would really happen! But that’s the thing, too. There’d be babies and families and this whole reshuffling of priorities. And of course some people would be miserable, because they’d want to be at their jobs. But how many people would say, “I don’t want to go back to my office,” or “I’ll go back to my office, but I need those three weeks every single year,” you know? I guess everyone could just move to Europe.

So many people are just functions of the inertia of their stations, you know? I felt that way when I was teaching middle school. I would get up and go to school and teach the exact same material seven times a day and then get home where the last thing I would want to look at was more writing. So I’d just eat and watch a movie and fall asleep.

I think that’s people. That’s everyone. And then we do this funny thing where we call those people “Americans.”

Right! We put a positive value assessment on that sort of lifestyle. If you are working tirelessly and neglecting the other elements of your existence, you are to be commended.

And then you get all these toys. You’re convinced you’re doing all this for a purpose so you don’t realize how tired you are. How many people are convinced they’re not supposed to be happy? That they’re not supposed to be tired or ask for a rest?

I spend a lot of time on the road and there’s always this notion that a writer writes every day, that if you’re not writing every day, then you’re not really a writer. I’ve had some terrible financial times where I was teaching three or four classes a term, driving to San Diego from LA to teach once a week. I was on three or four planes a week. And that, to me, was a lucky life! I was and am a privileged member of this poetry community! I was working so hard and I was so scared all the time that I could not write every day because I just had to get four hours of sleep a night. I just had to.

People say things like, “if you’re not writing every day, then you’re not a writer.” And I think, how many young people are there who really believe that in their bones and then come up against their own economic reality? The fact is, if you have kids at home and two jobs and bills to pay, you’re probably not going to write every day.

Zbigniew Herbert talked about how there are ox poets and there are cat poets. Ox poets are the ones who just grind every day and write no matter what, and cat poets are the ones who write when it strikes them, when they’re able. And so many people attach such guilt and shame to being that kind of cat poet. Everyone is supposed to be the diligent ox poet.

If I wanted an office job, I’d work in an office.

Haha. Yeah!

And there are people who write every day because they love it and it’s a necessity for them. But there is that ox mentality! The idea of pushing diligently like that no matter what is going on around me is just not me. I worked in an office for two years. I was terrible at it and I hated it. I don’t want to do that as a secretary, nor do I want to do it at a munitions factory, nor do I want to do it as a poet. I think it’s that most of us are neither oxen nor cats. We’re something else. If I’m not writing every day, I’m not failing as a writer. But if I’m not thinking every day, if I’m not making something with my brain every day, I might start to feel I’m not doing so well. There are days when I don’t write, but there’s not a day when I’m not daydreaming.

I think about Fady Joudah or C. Dale Young, who work these super intense, super intellectual day jobs and then get home and find time to write.

They are both superheroes. They’re dear friends of mine. C. Dale and I go back many many years, we teach together at Warren Wilson, and it’s amazing watching a guy like him teach. You can feel how those two things feed him. He’s an extraordinary person, but he’s also an extraordinary example of why, in a creative writing program, it’s worth telling those kids who have other interests that they can pursue those other interests. It’s okay to tell the writer who’s great at science, “you can go be a chemist.” C. Dale’s is always the name I use. His and Fady’s. I have a lot of students who want to go to medical school and also want to be writers. Pound for pound, C. Dale has to have one of the most rewarding lives of any person I know. And I think that’s one of the reasons he’s been as successful as he is, and also why he’s been able to be the kind of citizen he is in our community.

It’s important to acknowledge the other paths for writers to put food on the table. You shouldn’t have to win a Guggenheim in order to get an operation. I know people who want to get that NEA so they can get dental work done.

That’s insane. That’s a uniquely American phenomenon.

 Right. It’s useful to have these models to look at, to point my students toward. You can earn a living where you’ll be able to keep writing no matter where you’re teaching or if your book gets published or if you win prizes or whatever. I think it would be great if the money prizes were more separated from people’s day to day ability to keep going.

What would that look like?

Sometimes I wonder, where’s the poet’s poet laureate? The poet laureate has a job, to bring poetry to the larger community in America, but sometimes I wonder, where is the second poet laureate whose job it is to think about how, if poetry is so important to this country, we can keep poets healthy? SAG can do it for actors. You could have adjuncts get paid more. You could make sure that everyone has health and dental insurance. We could help poets with childcare.

An alien civilization looking at ours would think it so unimaginably strange that we have to worry about these sorts of things so much.

People in Europe already do. An alien civilization would look down and think, “How can anyone be expected to make beautiful art when they’ve had a toothache for three months?”

And the resources to fix what ails most anything are so abundantly present anywhere you go, but access is restricted from the people who most desperately need them.


It just seems so, so strange.

I wonder why they don’t have panels about this at AWP. Maybe they’re there and I just keep missing them. Maybe it’s there in addition to all the wonderful panels about various poets and teaching practices and all of that. I really hope that I’m missing the panel that’s about how we help our people get better healthcare, about how we figure out how the ten-thousand attendees can get mobilized, can get help.

And with Lewis Hyde’s notion of this gift economy and the generally gregarious nature of our community, we should be able to figure something out, right? Because the situation as it exists at present leads to all this chafing and subcutaneous animosity. There’s a weird gross undercurrent that’s very antithetical to the spirit of a poetry community.

I hope there’s that meeting in Minneapolis.

So, are you going to be reading from the new collection tonight?

You know, it’s interesting. People have this notion that every poem needs to stand on its own in a book, that if a poem can’t stand on its own, it doesn’t belong in the book. With this new book, I do want the poems to work on their own, but I also want them do something bigger together. It’s been really surprising to me, in a way, that I’ve had more publications with this book than I ever did with my first two books. People are choosing poems from my manuscript that I really didn’t believe would be chosen. That makes me feel good. It wasn’t something I’d prioritized, each of them being able to live individually. I’m more interested in the larger thing, with this one.

In terms of reading, it has a sort of build. It requires a sort of patience from the audience. I’m not at the point in my writing yet where I’m ready to stop reading poems from the first two collections. It’s so strange to talk about one’s self in this way, and it’s not my intent to sound boastful at all. But some people really did connect with those books.

Absolutely. I did.

And that’s great. I have to say, people especially responded to the first book. I, in some ways, prefer the second. I really am grateful for the first book, and it has had a kind of life I never could have imagined for it. A lot of people who don’t generally read poetry read that book.

I think maybe the title piqued people’s interest.

That’s probably true. But one of the things about writing this third book is that it’s made me really fall in love with that first book again. I can really see what I was trying to do. This new book has me looking at it like a reader again, instead of as the person who wrote it.


Given that we’re driving at night and it’s kind of spooky, do you want to tell me your Robert Creeley ghost story?

Oh yeah! I’ll tell it. It’s not a spooky ghost story though. I think it’s a beautiful ghost story. So I had this amazing fellowship in Marfa through the Lannan Foundation. It’s one of these amazing ones where you just get a letter in the mail.

You don’t apply for it?

No, you just don’t know how it happens. I got it in 2011. I had been in Hudson, New York reading for no money, and we were so broke. We were so broke. We could literally barely put food on the table. I couldn’t understand what I was going to do. I was working my ass off and I just didn’t know what to do. I’m not someone who has other skills. It’s not like I could go and be a plumber, you know? This is what I do, and I do it well, I think, and I am passionate about it. I was really in this place where I had no idea how I was going to keep going. I had no idea how to survive. I was working as hard as I could and nothing was happening. Or, lots of things were happening, but none of it was turning into any kind of financial security.

 It was a thing where I went to the train station a put my ATM card into the thing to get my ticket and was thinking, “please let me have enough money for this ticket.” And I was on this train and just started crying. I felt so devastated. I didn’t know what to do. It was a moment where I thought perhaps I would not be able to stay alive much longer. That I might have to not be alive anymore. I think this is an experience too many of my poet friends have had. We need to address that economically and pragmatically within our community.

I got off the train, and I looked at my Blackberry, and there was this thing that said Lannan Marfa Residency. I opened it and it said, “You’ve been awarded a residency at Marfa.” I wrote back and said, “I think you’re saying I got this fellowship. But I realize maybe you’re saying you want me to help pick who should get the fellowship.” I was trying to recognize that would be an honor too, trying to not be ungrateful. And two seconds later, they wrote back to say, “No, it’s you. You’ve won the fellowship.”

Haha. That’s great.

You’re given $100 a day, you’re given a Prius for the time you’re there, and you’re just given the solitude you need.

How long was it?

Six weeks, and it can be up to twelve. It’s just unreal. It’s really solitary. There’s a town and the townspeople are wonderful but they are also told never to knock on your door. You really are given complete solitude, but the minute you want to go to dinner, you immediately have someone to go with you.

So I got there and I would write all during the day, I’d walk around and do all that. Then at night, I would watch an episode or two of "True Blood" before bed. One whole wall of the place was windows, floor to ceiling, beautiful windows and a sliding glass door. So the first night, I finished up my episode and then looked out the sliding glass door, and there was a group of little fox kits looking in.

Real ones?

Yeah! This is the thing, there’s so much wildlife; you’re right in the middle of this desert ranchland. But every night, this would happen! I would watch "True Blood," I would stop and go look out the glass door, and they’d be there staring up at me, these little babies, and then they’d run away. There were lots of other animals around too. There was a phenomenal turkey who would chase all the poets.

Now, I never dream about poets, really, but I had had this dream about Dana Levin, who I didn’t even know at that point. It turned out that she had lived in that house before me as a Lannan fellow. Then, I dreamt about Jean Valentine, who had also lived in the house.

But, the last night I watched "True Blood," I went looking for the little kits and saw them scamper away. A little while later, there was this scratching at the front door. I just went and locked the door, didn’t think too much of it. I checked out the front window onto the porch and didn’t see anything. I went into my bedroom and looked out that window, which also looked onto the porch. Standing on the porch, looking at my front door was the mother fox. She had been the one scratching at the door. She was huge and she was beautiful. It really felt like a visitation. It was an incredibly intense moment. I had never seen a fox that close up. Since then, I see foxes everywhere.

I gave this reading in Provincetown, and I had heard there were foxes around, so I said something like, “Oh, I really wish the fox would come to the reading. This reading is for the fox.” I kept reading and reading and reading, and at the end, I said, “I guess the fox isn’t going to come.” And as I was walking out, all these people came running up to me pulling me outside, and there was this fox just standing by where we lived, sitting under the tree and looking at us.

Haha. That’s crazy.

Anyway, this fox was sitting under the window, totally unconcerned. And that night, I had this dream that Robert Creeley was in my bedroom, standing above my bed looking at me. And then, he took all of the comforter and the pillows and he made this nest, and he lifted me up and put me in the nest. Then he packed the pillows around me. It was so beautiful and so comforting. In Marfa, I always woke up at six in the morning, but that morning I slept until noon. I don’t know that I’ve ever had a better sleep than that night.

So I woke up and kept doing my life there, and I had dinner with these people from the Lannnon Foundation one night when I was there. I told them about my dream and they sort of got all quiet. This guy, Douglas, the amazing manager of all the homes, said, “You know, we don’t talk about this, but Robert Creeley died in your house.”


  Or, he didn’t die, but he collapsed there, and he was taken to Odessa where he ultimately passed. But, he was in that house. In fact, when you see photographs of him in Marfa, he’s often in the office I was working in. I didn’t have any idea about that. Obviously they don’t tell people because they don’t want to freak them out. But I just felt so incredible. It really felt like a visitation.

It sounds like one. When you were describing the dream I got goosebumps all over.

I feel like crying! It was so beautiful. It was a real visit. And the fox brought it. It was very linked. I just really felt him there all the time. Not in a spooky way, but I think his energy was there.

Interview Posted: March 30, 2015


"The Year I Didn't Kill Myself"

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