Gloria Frym on Making History Real
An interview with Gloria Frym, from The Write Stuff series:
Gloria Frym is a poet and prose writer. Her most recent book is The True Patriot, a collection of proses (Spuyten Duyvil, 2015). She is the author of other short story collections—Distance No Object (City Lights Books), and How I Learned (Coffee House Press)—as well as many volumes of poetry, including The Stage Stop Motel and Mind Over Matter. Her book Homeless at Home received an American Book Award. She is twice a recipient of The Fund for Poetry Award, the Walter & Elise Haas Creative Work Fund Grant, the San Francisco State University Poetry Center Book Award, and several California Arts Council grants to teach poetry writing to jail inmates. She chairs and teaches in the MFA in Writing program at California College of the Arts in San Francisco. For interviews, reviews, and more, visit her CCA faculty page.
When people ask what do you do, you tell them…?
I write and teach at an art college. People who ask deserve an answer they can understand, though I only came to feel this way recently. With some people, in my punk period, I used to act bratty and say things like, Oh I stare out the window a lot and curl my hair.
What’s your biggest struggle—work or otherwise?
Anger with injustice and corporatism.
If someone said I want to do what you do, what advice would you have for them?
You can only do what you do and do it with everything in you.
Do you consider yourself successful? Why?
Oh dear, another trick question. I am successful at A, B, C, D, but not so much with E, F, G, H, etc. I do like to write a Z.
When you’re sad/grumpy/pissed off, what YouTube video makes you feel better?
My Aunt H. She was denied a visa to America because she couldn’t count backwards in Polish. She died in the Holocaust in her late teens. She makes history real.
Who did you admire when you were 10 years old? What did you want to be?
Miss Simmons, my teacher, who sent me a postcard of a gothic church from England during the summer. So I wanted to be a teacher. Why did the lamb love Mary so? Because Mary loved the lamb, you know.
Describe your week in the wilderness. It doesn’t have to be ideal.
For someone born in Brooklyn and whose people came from the shtetl, how about an overnight? Four of us in our early 20s are in the Sangre de Cristo mountains of Northern New Mexico. We drop acid. I am told to gather small branches. I name every plant I see. I realize there is a difference between cow patties and horseshit. It’s such a revelation, though neither smell. Hurry up, I hear someone calling. I can’t stop admiring the singularity of each stick. I bring an armful back to the others and learn how to make a campfire. At night the stars.
Would you ever perform a striptease? Describe some of your moves. Feel free to set the mood.
Sure. You put your right foot in, you put your left foot out, then you take off each sock and wiggle your toes and do the hokey pokey, that’s what it’s all about.
How much money do you have in your checking account?
Who knows? Not even the Shadow knows.
What’s wrong with society today?
The same things that were wrong in 1000 BC only more so.
Are you using any medications? If so, which ones?
Eyedrops. All the better to see you my dears.
What is your fondest memory?
The house is quiet and the world is calm, meaning no parental unit is home. I sit in a chair next to my new baby sister who is sleeping in her crib, I’m reading a novel.
How many times do you fall in love each day?
What would you like to see happen in your lifetime?
Global socialism quickly adopted by North America.
What is art? Is it necessary? Why?
yes, yes, because
When you have sex, what are some of the things you like to do?
Talk until someone shuts me up.
What are you working on right now?
If there were one thing about the Bay Area that you would change, what would it be?
Eliminate private vehicles.
A night on the town: what does that mean to you?
A long walk with many stops and a loving person or two or three by my side.
What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever seen?
A man in a suit and tie walking an armadillo on a leash in a crosswalk in Manhattan and no one staring.
What can you do with 50 words? 50 dollars?
not good with math
What are some of your favorite smells?
Proust’s lime tea
If you got an all expenses paid life experience of your choice, what would it be?
Flying and sky diving lessons in no particular order