Awful Interview: Michael Martone

4 Oct

Michael Martone is another of those illustrious people I’ve long heard the name of from so many who’ve known him, studied under him, saw him read, etc., and who I can’t be more excited to welcome to the Vouched Presents pulpit. His quirk and wit are renown on the reading circuits, and if you had any hesitations about coming to tonight’s reading, I hope this interview settles it for you (because it’s the last Awful Interview before tonight!). See you at Vouched Presents tonight!

You seem to have a real love affair with the state of Indiana. What’s your connection to this glorious state?

We met at Butler University. I was a freshman; she was a sophomore, a Kappa–Kappa Kappa Gamma. Keys to the kingdom of God. I was a houseboy there and served the formal dinners wearing white gloves. This was long ago, back in the days when there were hours and curfews and the courting was public. For hours we walked, hand in hand, in the secluded Holcomb Garden. I guess you could say she was my first true love. I thought she was the one, but she wanted to play the field, she said. There was this Teke, he took her sailing out on Geist and that was all she wrote. She never looked back. Broke my heart. I took to wondering Indianapolis, writing poems on demand down on the Circle. Would you like a poem today, I would ask a stranger passing by. A what, on what? the stranger would answer. On anything I would beg. Ok then give me a poem about Indiana the stranger would say. Indiana, I repeated? And then I would begin…

I have to ask: could you write our readers a poem-on-demand right now about Indiana?

Well, I could but I need a few things first. I need a subject. I could write one on Indiana, I suppose, but the whole exercise of the RKO Poets–a group I co-founded in the 70’s at IU–was to write an instant PERSONAL poem. Also it costs 25 cents. Our slogan was: A poem must not mean but be 25 cents. So if you want one, let’s see the cold hard cash.

I can give you that. How about bibliophilia as a subject, and are you willing to extend me a quarter’s worth of credit until the reading?


The love of bibs.
The big plastic ones
with the splayed out lobster graphic
all red and
snapping after the crumbs of
letters spilling
from your mouth
of words undigested
slightly masticated
rich morsels
pulp and paste
boldly sansarifed and flip flopping
also red with reading.

That’s fantastic. I think I’m going to read that on Tuesday as part of your intro. Which, speaking of Tuesday, the reading is to celebrate new books, and you have a new book. Tell us about that.

It is called Four for a Quarter and it is a collection of 44 fictions about things that have to do with 4–the four winds, the four seasons, the four chambers of the heart, 4H club, four blood types, Mount Rushmore, the Fantastic Four, etc.

That’s an excellent premise. Maybe a bit dated, as those machines are still around, but now it’s 4 photos for a couple dollars or something crazy. Definitely not just a quarter anymore.

I actually used to love those photo strip machines, because as you can probably guess, one of my favorite movies as a kid was Karate Kid, and I’ve always held the position that a date is not a date without getting in one of those photo booths and getting a strip of cute photos. Do you remember that? Did you watch Karate Kid?

Yes, I did. Many movies have used the photo booth. The French film Amelie comes to mind. But romantic montage is made fir the photo booth and vice versatile. I like Ralph of KK but he is also in movie called Crossroads where the character name is Martone. And of course he is in My Cousin Vinnie!

Ah yes. Crossroads. That’s the movie where Ralph played guitar against the devil, yeah? How much would you say that’s influenced your writing–playing guitar against the devil, I mean?

Well, I am all for doing the work at the crossroads. My patron is not the devil but Hermes, god of thieves, of bankers, of transmission of all kinds. Hermes is the mediating hero, the confuser of categories, the breaker of boundaries that by breaking them then redraws them. The crossroads is were it’s at!

Well, you’re in luck! The Murphy Building, where Vouched Presents is located, is actually at the corner of a major crossroads of Prospect, Virginia, and Shelby Streets, not to mention it’s in Indiana, the designated “Crossroads of America.”

With that in mind, do you have anything you’d like to say to tonights attendees, or to people considering being attendees tonight?

I’ve arrived in Fountain Square and am thinking about rolling a game of duck pins! Lots of construction going on and the square shaping up! I’d say come on down. Get lost doing it. Then, get found!

One Response to “Awful Interview: Michael Martone”


  1. “As white and clean as new paper” – Visiting Writer Michael Martone « She throws the burning books into the sea. - October 5, 2011

    […] reading Monday & Tuesday night with Michael Martone. Actually, beautiful isn’t really the right word. I could say amusing instead, or […]

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