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But, being too long among angry and violent men, I made a decision. I imagined linking language, graphics, and sound in a new incantatory, rising-off-the-page art form. An answer to the artist query may lie in beguiling a more personal question as the Spanish poet Antonio Machado does: ? I spent another week in my Y room alone, her picture propped up on the desk, its message resounding like a wind chime. Tired of music and writing, I’d head to the library and sit on the cool concrete floor, between the stacks, the lit section, reading at random as I’d done as an adolescent. Lectures, textbooks, note-taking, scholarship, which I wasn’t opposed to—and yet, hadn’t they already annualized my life: from kindergarten to sophomore in college, fifteen straight years of calendared thinking, September-to-May. If I were to study the graphic potential of poetry, what place would music and the guitar have in my creative major? I still kept a notebook, putting down ideas in long freewheeling paragraphs, often on Greyhound bus rides.A voiced poetry, I called it, music for eye, ear, and mind. I wish I could say now that I recognized how categorical my dual enthrallments for words and for music were but I didn’t know then. At twenty, I’d written a novel about an angst-ridden boy, growing up in northern Wisconsin.The fingerpicking minstrels were part of the folk music boom in the 1960s.I loved the sauciness of a singing voice and a talking guitar—Mississippi John Hurt and "Spikedriver Blues," Dave Van Ronk and the "St.

I dropped out of school to work worked on oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico and tow boats on the Mississippi River. In my admissions’ essay to UW, I boasted that I would parlay poetry, Chinese ideograms, and American speech habits into a "creative writing" major. It’s an intrigue, why it is that artists intermarry one form with another.By noon, I was cooked and I’d go for a swim in Lake Mendota. Eventually my fingers dropped the pen and I picked up the guitar. That ax was my pal, a yellow-blond Yamaha FG-140.Back at my desk, my guitar would be on my lap, my writing journal open before me. Either I noted down the rough cut of a song, chords and lyrics, or I sketched in prose my latest anxiety, trying to say exactly what it was I was after by re-enrolling, this time at the University of Wisconsin. I’d bought it in Nashville nine months earlier on my way to Louisiana with a buddy; we worked in the Gulf of Mexico on boats supplying equipment to oil rigs.(Written 2005 - 2009) How perfectly alone I felt that Labor Day weekend, 1972, staying at the YMCA in Madison, Wisconsin, getting ready, after a two-year hiatus, to reenter college.I had a tiny room, maybe ten by ten, a bed, a desk. I loved the solitude: no parents, no job, no girlfriend. I’d rise at dawn, sit in the straight-back chair at the desk with two drawers; it reminded me of the varnished desk and the blotter pad on top where I did my homework as a kid in Ohio. The heat slowly built until the brown-brick tiles radiated steam like a sauna. Those queries voiced in words alone only intensified what I couldn’t answer.

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