American poet Alan Bernheimer discusses his next poem, Merrill Gilfillan and a living, breathing souvenir from Maui…
NOWHERE: What are you working on right now?
AB: Finishing a 13-part poem called “The Spoonlight Institute.” Polishing a translation from French of anecdotal memoirs about Blaise Cendrars, Guillaume Apollinaire, René Crevel, Pierre Reverdy, and others in Paris.
NOWHERE: Tell us about the greatest trip you didn’t want to come back from…
AB: The rainy, Hana Bay end of Maui, when our daughter was eight. We spent our days alternating among the Red Sand Beach, the White Sand Beach, and the Black Sand Beach. The small dark cattle munched on overhanging red flowers. We met a guy whose job was shinnying up palm trees to harvest fronds that he wove into hats, bowls, and birds for sale to tourists. That looked like a good life to me. Our daughter gave frilly names to animals, like Annabelle for the town donkey. We ended up bringing home a fawn-colored orphan Chihuahua-X-terrier puppy that was cadging treats at the Black Sand Beach. Rosabelle, which friends consistently misheard as Roosevelt.
NOWHERE: How about a trip you would never go on again?
AB: Orlando. “Why”?
NOWHERE: What’s one thing you never travel without and why?
AB: Something gripping to read. I’m not much good at meditating.
NOWHERE: Who is your favorite travel writer and why?
AB: Merrill Gilfillan, whose explorations of the Great Plains (Magpie Rising), the Appalachians (Burnt House to Paw Paw), and the High Plains (Chokecherry Places) inhabit place and imagination (Klein-bottle inside-outs of each other) on a psychically interstellar scale.
Alan Bernheimer was born a New Yorker in 1948. Coastal inclination since. Europe before the age of reason. Graduated from Yale in 1970, and worked with words at various jobs. High-tech marketing for a long spell, and now solar. Bay Area resident for 30 some years. His book The Spoonlight Institute (Adventures in Poetry, 2009) can be purchased here. View his contribution at nowheremag.com. Illustration by Sara Mayti.