What are the primary vehicles you use to support your practice—what makes it possible?
My feet. I often write or jot en plein air or in museums. I wander into sensation, perception, thought. The ground, the feet, and the imagination are always in conversation.
When did you know you were going to be an artist?
I write because I have to—there’s nowhere else to go. But I didn’t think of myself as an artist until a painter at the Hambidge Center referred to all the fellows as artists. She means me too, I thought, almost 50 then.
What do you miss most from your childhood?
Long Island tomatoes for lunch at the kids’ picnic table, which I think my dad built. Lying under the magnolia in bloom. Reading without responsibility. Skittering across the hot sand into the ocean. The mock orange. My mother.
What music are you listening to, and which books are on your bedside table?
Music: Pablo Casals, Bach’s Suites for Unaccompanied Cello; Dame Janet Baker, conducted by Sir John Barbirolli, Mahler’s Kindertotenlieder; Mercedes Sosa; Thelonius Monk.
Bedside reading: Elizabeth Kolbert, The Sixth Extinction; David Finkel, The Good Soldiers and Thank You for Your Service; W S. Merwin’s translation of Dante’s Purgatorio; Renee Ashley, Because I Am the Shore, I Want to Be the Sea; Naomi Shihab Nye’s poem, “Kindness.”
What do you most daydream about when you are working?
The writing is the dream wave that surfaces enough to emerge as language. All that doesn’t surface is the dream undertow.