Pop Culture
Sep 15, 2022, 06:27AM

I Want to Get A Cigar Now 

A 2009 Contemporary Poetry Review interview with poet Erica Dawson vs. a 2015 Smithsonian Archives of American Art interview with the late painter Raoul Middleman.

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Erica Dawson: There are a lot of great magazines out there. I’m sure I don’t read as many as I should, and I know I don’t look at as many as I want to read.

Raoul Middleman: Like, take - Life Magazine will take like monks burning up in Technicolor, in beautiful color.

Dawson: Sometimes it just happens. You just can’t pass up stuff like that.

Middleman: A kind of numbing process.

Dawson: It doesn’t matter.


Middleman: The other alternatives are either arty or too luxurious, luxurious in an old-time way which would become like fossilized antiques.

Dawson: It was all Nina Simone for about four months—in the car, grading papers, everything.

Middleman: You know, you can pick a cathedral. It can also be a Howard Johnson's.

Dawson: It seems like we’re often talking about, and resolving, opposites.

Middleman: I don’t believe that. [Laughs] I want to get a cigar now. 


Dawson: When I have an idea or think of an interesting phrase or line, I jot it down quickly on a Post-It and leave it alone. Needless to say, I completely regret that.

Middleman: Right. That's another tension. That's the kind of tension that would be flat at the same time it would be completely volumetric.

Dawson: Absolutely. But when I visit home now, it’s not Columbia anymore.

Middleman: Yes. The outside world could take on our desires given identity.

Dawson: At least that’s what a doctor would probably say. 


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