What is the last book of poetry that took your breath away?
The Autumn of the Patriarch by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. The mind of a dictator going gradually insane with power and paranoia in his isolation. Marquez is a master.
Whose music inspires you to write?
The Doors STRANGE DAYS album. Thelonious Monk. Beethoven, Stravinsky, Mahler, Charles Ives the great American classical composer of realistic portraits of ordinary American life, Gershwin, Ellington.
What are your three favorite films of all time?
Citizen Kane directed and written by Orson Welles. Still unequalled in its style and its artistic/poetic use of the camera, a study of the personal life behind a public person that is a profound critique of political power.
La Strada directed and written by Federico Fellini. At one and the same time social realism and fable, the tale of a circus strongman and a naive golden-hearted woman, with Fellini’s poetic directing style and tremendous performances and chemistry from Anthony Quinn and Julietta Messina.
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre directed by John Huston based on the novel by B. Traven. A great study of greed and gold prospecting and human nature shot on location in Mexico , it has Walter Huston’s and Humphrey Bogart’s greatest performances, and is the greatest adventure movie of them all.
What is a concert that you saw in person that you will never forget?
The Doors/ Albert King at the Long Beach Arena, January 1970. Albert King gave a scorching blues show until midnight, doing 3 encores that brought the house down each time. Then The Doors, chomping at the bit to play after Morrison’s arrest in ‘69 and their virtual banning from the concert tour. They did a 3 hour show late into the night past 3 am, doing long jazzy/bluesy versions of all their classics, including an hypnotic, spellbinding version of The End that had most of the audience out of their seats and rushing the stage as the music built to a climax and Morrison did his shaman dance.
Complete this sentence: “If I were to teach a course on the works of one author, that author would be…”
Fyodor Dostoyevsky. I don’t know Russian, but I’d still teach him in translation. Dos has taught me more about human behavior and the deepest issues of human morality and spirituality than any other author. Especially CRIME AND PUNISHMENT. No other novel has ever entered the mind of a character in action better than Dos does with the murderer Raskolnikov.
CHARLES BUKOWSKI’S GROUPIE
After Frank and Jane have driven over the green Vincent Thomas bridge from Long Beach
to San Pedro to go to Amalfitano’s Bakery for Frank’s favorite chocolate/walnut fudgies
tells Frank to drive by Charles Bukowski’s house
driving down the hill with the port of L.A./Long Beach red cranes in sight Frank knows
the way by heart
“Look the trees have been pruned and you can see
the window of the room where Bukowski wrote!”
Jane says with delight
Jane has told Frank many times that Frank and Charles Bukowski are her favorite poets
and Frank looks for a few moments at the window where Charles Bukowski looked out
at the green bridge and the port’s red cranes
then Frank heads on down the street
“Let’s go round the block and look at it again! I want to feel Bukowki‘s spirit!” Jane says
Frank lowers his brow and frowns
“Why would I want to see it again?” he says
“Why would I want to be Charles Bukowski’s groupie?!”
Frank steps down harder on the accelerator
Jane once knew Charles Bukowski
in one of his letters he asked her to come do a Greek dance with him in his new house
on the hill
just because Charles Bukowski has sold thousands of times more copies of his books
than Frank has
and had several major motion pictures made of his work
doesn’t mean Frank should drive around the block to look at his window again
Frank has his own window
where he writes and looks out at the next door apartment building’s laundry room
and a red ACE HARDWARE trash can
and someday after he’s dead he will be famous and people will cruise down 2nd Street
in Long Beach
and point it out
after the gardeners have pruned back the fig tree in front of it
but as Jane says, “C’mon Frank!”
at the last moment Frank hits the brakes and jerks his arm and turns
his Toyota right at the intersection and starts the drive around the block like he has
dozens of times before
Why be small?
He’ll never be able to drive by his own window
after he’s dead
and a magnificent view of the 40-ton cranes in the largest port in the U.S.
sure does beat an ACE HARDWARE
After receiving his B.A. from University of California Riverside, then in 1974 dropping out of the U.C.L.A. Ph.D. program in English literature, Fred Voss has worked in factories for 35 years. Starting as a steel rule die maker in a gasket factory and then a steel cutter at a blast furnace in a steel mill, Voss moved into the steel mill machine shop and began his 32 year career as a machinist, working 20 years in aircraft plants during Southern California’s aerospace heyday. First published extensively in Marvin Malone’s Wormwood Review and UK‘s Bete Noire, Bloodaxe Books (UK) published Voss’s poetry collections Goodstone (1991), Carnegie Hall with Tin Walls (1998) and Hammers and Hearts of the Gods (2009) which was selected one of Top Seven Books in 2009 by the UK‘s leading Socialist newspaper, The Morning Star. Fred Voss’s poetry appears regularly in Poetry Review (London), Ambit (London), The SHOp (Ireland), Atlanta Review, 5 AM, Nerve Cowboy and Pearl, and he and his poetry have twice been featured programs on National BBC Radio 4. Voss has done 6 reading tours in the U.K., reading at the Hull Literature Festival, The Aldeburgh Poetry Festival and The 2008 Ledbury Poetry Festival. In 2011 he headlined the University of Pittsburgh‘s Writers Festival. First extracted 2006 in Ambit (London), MAKING AMERICA STRONG, is Fred Voss’s first novel.
Making America Strong (2011) (Novel)