Questions asked October 10 and 11
Why did you start writing so late? (In 1985 Baz was 50 years old.)
I had one abortive attempt after another from the time I was a student. I had one idea about making money by writing “The Black Mountain Bean Book,” with bean recipes and tales of Black Mountain, where I first leaned to cook. Nothing. Nothing. I didn’t really start until after my first visit to U.K. – my first visit since leaving at age 11. It was a shock.
When I got back to the U.S. I had a temporary job teaching painting and drawing. I was filling in for a friend at Rutgers Newark. There was a huge gap between her morning and late afternoon classes. I sat in my friend’s office, began using her yellow legal pads, and I couldn’t stop.
The poem mirage and the movie MIRAGE begin that way: “It was 1985 and I was writing a poem.”
What was it like being a woman at Black Mountain College?
Difficult. Attitudes about women were very much of the times, that is Olson’s were. I was unfortunately quite inured to the idea that women were some kind of “other” and not ever to be full members of the boys club. 1956!
Your painting is sometimes abstract and sometimes figurative. Why?
I can’ t separate one from the other.
If you were going to study art today where would you go?
I don’t know what I’d do now. If I were a teenager today I might want to do something completely different. As it was I’d begun painting when I was 14.
- Note: At the Veg Box, we screened Basil King:MIRAGE – the film by Nicole Peyrafitte and Miles Joris-Peyrafitte. At Kent University, the next day, we screened the art is not natural video of Basil by George Quasha (see YouTube), and a 30-minute excerpt of Cathryn Davis’s film Fully Awake: Black Mountain College. Most of the interviewees in this film are people who had been students there. This is an ongoing project aimed at showing how the school actually functioned. See http://fullyawake.org/