I eventually just imagined being a little boy who was quote unquote ‘normal’: who could learn like all the kids around me that I felt excluded from. And I imagined myself into one of these and into someone who could read.
I was well into middle age when one of my children, then in the second grade, was found to be dyslexic. I had never known the name for it, but I recognized immediately that the symptoms were also mine.
There is a gap in my work from ’84 to 2002, 18 years where I stopped writing. I was working at fiction and other things and starting a school and getting married and starting a family, but I wasn’t writing poetry for the better part of 15 years.
I never doubted my talent. If talent was the circus, then I was its ringmaster and audience, applauding its every move.
I’d grown accustomed to seeing myself as someone who, if fallible and unworthy, had nevertheless managed to do one thing well enough to get recognition for it.
I do think that there is a profound reservoir of creativity and imagination in everyone I’ve ever met, and sometimes if someone is persistent and perversely obstinate enough to persevere, then they want to be helped. There is a way to help them.
I’m a painfully slow reader. And to this day, I mean, I love reading, and I’m very careful – very selective about what I read because I don’t read very fast and, therefore, not a great deal.
I think I was 16 when I had the thought of maybe being a writer. And this is complicated, something I only now understand, because when I was young, having dyslexia and not knowing it made reading such an ordeal.
I think one’s relationship with one’s vulnerability is a very delicate and precious relationship. Most people try to hide, disguise that vulnerability, and in doing that, you, I think, diminish a great source of power.
I come from a family of Russian immigrant Jews who were all big storytellers, who would get together, and one would try to top the others’ stories, and stories would get bigger and bigger. And the lying aspect, the exaggeration, would get large.