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Champagne & Irish Bacon

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James Liddy (Irish, poet, teacher, gay, rebel) resides right here in this snow shush tree-lined town we call Milwaukee. His most recent book, The Doctor’s House, published by Salmon, is considered a rather “unconventional autobiography.” Read it! Mr. Liddy’s work defies labels, combining American and Irish contexts, states of history, states of love and joy. He was interviewed by John Tyson (poet, publisher, house painter) who produces irregular poetry readings at Voss books in the wonderful Third Ward. Tyson bounced a few e-mails in Liddy’s direction. Here is the result: Tyson: What achievement are you most proud of? Liddy: Having gotten away with it. At any given moment what’s in your refrigerator? Champagne and Irish bacon. Leaving a room, party or life…how do you want to be remembered? As the whistle blower on the gods, and as the voice of Orphic hangover. Favorite movie: Strawberries and Chocolate. Whiskey? Doesn’t count, only screwdrivers and Pimm’s Cup (well-dressed). Snack? Mashed potatoes. Did poetry pick you or did you pick poetry? She picked me up on golden wheels. What books share your bed? Elizabeth Costelloe by J.M. Coetzee. Umberto Saba’s Conzoniere. Met any cute boys lately? They make them all the time, so there’s nowhere a man or woman can go for rest or vacation. Isn’t Milwaukee one of your favorite places? City of watering holes. City of Archbishop Weakland. Do you write every day or as the spirit moves you? Which spirit when? The Holy Ghost drops in at regular intervals; I always put the kettle on for her. Who of note have you encountered who can’t hold their liquor? The mayor, the aldermen, but not the priests. What advice would you lend to how a poet should conduct his/herself in a mostly straight, policy-driven, puritan country? Fuck the begrudgers! Illuminated/blackened childhood memories? The radio was so vivid in my childhood. Hitler on it one day, John McCormack the next. Most disturbing teenage fantasy? That I was crowned Queen of GreatBritain and Northern Ireland. I find living near a huge body of water immensely inspiring. Having grown up in Ireland, don’t you find that true? The Milwaukee Renaissance…Zack, Jacob, Mike and others…turn lake water into wine. We in Ireland did the same, but it was whiskey. What part of the poet spends the night and what part goes home? The part that goes home reads page; the part that stays reads skin. Paddy Kavanagh, great Irish bard and your old mentor said, “you write about what’s right in front of you; that pint.” How does this relate to whom the Poet decides to fall in love with? The person you fall in love with is right in front of you because of your extra-ordinary exertions to achieve that position. The person you fall in love with has a pint in their hand which you bought. The person you fall in love with has the right mouth to sing your favorite hymns.
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