I am a nomad. Yet I have always had an obsessive need to communicate - to belong and to connect. It is therein that the drama lives. Perhaps one could say that it’s rooted in family history; a family thing – issues resulting from early years of uprooting, change, integration and necessary adaptation or perhaps better, call it a human thing – issues steeped in as many years and more of being and trying to be a human being: loves and losses, communities and isolation, friendships and jealousies, objectification, marginalization, objects, people, failure, success, celebration, disappointment, longing and joy.
I have made my way and continue to make my way through a spectrum of communicative arts: music, dance, song, acting, writing, conducting, directing, speaking and translation. For the longest time this variety was a source of anxiety – I felt I needed to choose. And then I realized that each of these is a shimmering piece of a mosaic that the glue of my soul stretches, bends and holds firmly yet pliantly in place to maintain the integrity of my whole being. Each part informs and complements the other in a constantly mutable symbiosis.
As a child I wrote for hours (and could design a mean race car!). Then singing came as a boy soprano soloist in the cathedrals of Italy then London. And I wrote. Then came the US, New York City, Interlochen and the piano, the violin, ballet, concerts and more concerts. And still I wrote. By then writing was (like) breathing, as was singing, playing music and dancing.
More music, more concerts, more living: Paris, London, Moscow, Helsinki, Rome, and Marrakesh. Then, in 1995 came actual drama: the art of it - acting: the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, Mike Leigh, my Broadway stage début and the Hollywood sets of Universal, Paramount, Woody Allen, Sydney Lumet, the Coen Brothers and Spielberg: this new, more external kind of drama. Drama, with which you say things you have to say, say things you need to say and don’t say things and yet those things speak loudest of all.
And through it all my writing has remained a constant. In the midst of this polymathic timeline poetry revealed itself with full force – the poems of my guiding mentors: the visionary, Philip Levine, Pablo Neruda, Richard Hugo and James Wright moved me and molded me. The beauty of Larry Levis and the soul-stirring duende of Lorca profoundly shook me and I found a home. Each word, the one preceding it and the one following chosen and conjured like musical notes for some indelible melody or striking chord – complete with harmony, silences, accents, dissonances, conflict and resolution.
Writing for me is a many-limbed appendage, a vast collection of tributaries that is music - that sings, that dances or sometimes yearns to dance or move, that is discursive and meditative, inclusive and holds my breath and a million or more other distinctly particular and personal breaths.
My writing is a collective of breaths swirling in my rib cage and informed by a thousand different words, a thousand different musical notes, a thousand different gestures, a thousand different movements.
I now know that the poem in my head, the one that pushed me to the page, begged me - or dared me to be born is almost never the poem that comes out. I suppose it’s like anything born of or with free will and which possesses its own special will to live: once I’ve given the seed, once the juices flow through any sort of birth canal and make it to the ambient air there will, at that point, be forces that come into play that are no longer entirely my own or under my exclusive control.
To forget that each word is a life unto itself is to strangle it dead before it can even take a step.
New York, NY
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