Julien Poirier on the Hand Symbol that Gets You Backstage to See God
Julien Poirier was born in San Francisco in 1970. He has taught poetry in the New York City and San Francisco public schools and at San Quentin State Prison, and was a founding member of the Ugly Duckling Presse Collective. With Garrett Caples, he is the co-editor of Frank Lima’s Incidents of Travel in Poetry (City Lights 2015).
When people ask what do you do, you tell them…?
I tell them, “Actually, the correct question is ‘How do you do?’”
If someone said I want to do what do you do, what advice would you have for them?
If someone said that to me, I would probably blush. I would do my best to tell them everything they wanted to hear.
When you’re sad/grumpy/pissed off, what YouTube video makes you feel better?
I like this short movie that my friend Isaac and I made after we saw Godard’s Breathless when we were teenagers.
Who did you admire when you were 10 years old? What did you want to be?
John Travolta in Grease. I wanted to be cool.
Describe your week in the wilderness. It doesn’t have to be ideal.
Mud-smeared nights at the motel on 101 next to the miniature golf links in Tiburon.
Would you ever perform a striptease? Describe some of your moves. Feel free to set the mood.
Colin Powell striptease. I did it on Bush Street while the pigeons ate Rice. Donald Rumsfeld dressed as the lady from Psycho. Selling shoes. Obama at the blackboard, shoppers jeer at him. Spin some records on my nipples.
How much money do you have in your checking account?
Pretty much all my money.
What’s wrong with society today?
People have no folk.
What would you like to see happen in your lifetime?
I would like to see poetry usurp politics as the public obsession. And then let’s see what happens to the ice caps.
What is art? Is it necessary? Why?
Art is a hand symbol that gets you backstage to see God. Artists are God’s groupies and God looks like Robert Plant in a fat suit. Is it necessary? The necessity of a thing that exists is never really in doubt.
What can you do with 50 words? 50 dollars?
Breed 50 mules.
What are some of your favorite smells?
Freshcut lemon. Old mechanics’ shops.
If you got an all expenses paid life experience of your choice, what would it be?
I would go and see what death is all about.