Gapers Block has ceased publication.

Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
 Thank you for your readership and contributions. 


Monday, August 15

Gapers Block

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The "interviewee" for this week insists that he remain nameless. Since befriending him some time ago, I have found him to be one of the more interesting barflies I have had the privilege of coming across. Born in the late 30's in Chicago, he was on his own — having dropped out of school and thusly having been kicked out of his home — by the age of 15. He proceeded to build an impressive criminal record. Wanted by the police, he provided false documents on his age and name in order to serve in the Korean War. Upon his return from over seas, he resided in a flophouse on Madison Street, and began working as a laborer. Today, he lives in an apartment on Chicago's deep South Side and is a self-employed plumber. He works for cash, period.

The other day he handed me the following self-interview. Wow, I never would have thunk it. I have made no judgment of his intent — right or wrong, I have no capacity to determine. I present this to the public wishing to hell I could state his name.

Advice to young poets who hate school?

Good. And once you override the temptation
To speak over others in the conversation —
Even better. As you pull through time you will
Come to a time in which you believe a modicum
Of acceptances affords You the privilege of work —
Shop money, but know: The time spent away from
Poetry is priceless. The hour you will have to write
Per day, per week, Will pressure immortality out
Of your depths. Respect the office and the bar stool
Mutually. To spend your days as a "professional"
Poet is rather like being a poet by way of "occupation."
Grow up. Be a plumber. School is death. Death is not
A poem. Poetry is never worth dying over. To be sure,
Stay clear Of hanging with the mid-day poets. Know:
Seung-Hui Cho needed a midnight poet before his dark
Hours, one to relay the compassion that is absence
— One to cuddle his anxiety, sedate his kill-seeking
Mind: "School's not worth even speaking over."

Advice to young poets who hate school?

If you are old enough to purchase poetry, you are
Rhetorical enough to still adore ignorance. If you are
Game enough to love ignorance, you are too smart
To want to ignore the desperately priceless. Grow up.
School is too insular for outsiders — reach out for
Differences but never for opposites. Be critical
Of parenting if only because parents give you to
School. Know: blame disintegrates unreason, where —
As reason tends to invent that which you will blame.
Forgive parents, but never forgive school. Doubt
Passion but deal with it. Befriend plumbers and know:
Teachers are merely purveyors of "occupation."
There is right, there is wrong. Answers tend to be
Right or wrong: Subjectivity exists, only in the pre-
Emptive actions of the real world: The cultivation
Of young minds is rash, not poetically speaking.

Advice to young poets who hate school?

Stay away from poetry readings — like narcissism,
They are as reactive as the media are to a mass
Murderer's manifesto. Know: Constriction of time
Emblazons the loner's gift to all that is priceless.
The hour you'll have to write within each day
Or week will force your depths out of mortality:
A loner is the poet who seeks The Killer Inside
Me over East of Eden. Buy drinks for plumbers.
Be absent in the eyes of poetry readers, be public
In the reading lists of pulp novelists. Earn your
Diploma, hang it on a wall, and dust it regularly
— Any trophy must be thought to aloud: "School's
Not worth even speaking over." After Seung-Hui
Cho's darkness we did not need a mid-day poet
Rousing a student body to prevail. This is the thing
About life: We need to prevent the need to prevail.
We need a midnight poet to pussy the Devil from
The "occupation" of his compassion. Advice
To young poets who hate school: Grow Up.

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About the Author(s)

John Hospodka is a life-long Chicagoan, and today lives with his wife in Bridgeport. He does not profess to be an expert in anything; he's just a big fan of the arts and is eager to make more sense of them. Direct comments or suggestions for interviews to

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