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Tom Coffin Interviews Daisy Sidewinder
 
Tom - I've read your pieces on Moongate and am impressed by your sense of nature and the human condition. Can you speak to expressing these sensibilities in your poetry and prose?

Daisy - I love the planet and I love wandering over it. I  like plants and animals and rocks and mountains, as friends, not as members of other species. It all jells, I think. I see myself as a weed.  I'm not putting myself down here.  I think weeds are greatly underrated. They're frequently interesting to look at, and they're free.  Nobody sticks them in gardens and gives them borders.  Sometimes I'm a weed at the other side of the fence, watching the tulips and roses and daffodils in the garden. This is an analogy about my relationships with people, too, of course. I watch them from the edge of the garden. And I write about them. You get a different perspective when you're outside looking in.  I look for kindred spirits.  Sometimes I find them, in odd places. So, I don't know if I'm connected or disconnected when I write. I'm probably just being an audience who writes about the action.

Tom - Yes, I've noticed that you reference hobos in a couple of your pieces. What about the notion of how these outsiders become human catalysts wandering into your life and effecting changes?

Daisy - The hobos I refer to in my poetry are idealized and in my mind only.  hat is, I don't really know them. I like the idea of the hobo of the Thirties, people Woodie Guthrie probably met. I suspect that the average hobo has a lot more wisdom than I do.

However, I've had a lot of catalysts, and they've influenced every part of me, I think. There are two I'd like to talk about right now, though, because they taught me to things that directly influenced my writing and thinking, and then, like true catalysts, they disappeared from my space, unchanged themselves. I sometimes wish I could round up all my catalysts and say thank you.

The first was a Black Panther, back in Boston in 1968. I was sitting around
a pizza place with some friends and we were talking about politics. I noticed the Panther sitting there nearby, listening and looking cynical. Later he said my opinions were the most ignorant drivel he'd ever heard. I asked him why, and he said it would take too long, because I was just outrageously and impossibly ignorant, but if I was really interested in learning something, he'd give me a booklist. I was and he sat down and wrote one up. I read most of them. I think I still have the list somewhere:  Souls of Black Folk, Autobiography of Malcolm X, Manchild in the Promised Land, Marx, Nietsche, Tolstoy, I forget, but they were all great books. The list wasn't the whole catalyst thing, though.  It was a stranger taking time to educate me. It was also the idea, which has stuck with me, that when you fall in love with your own opinions, you really limit your growing.

Several years later, I was working in a casino in Las Vegas. We had a plague of moths, big brown and grey ones. They were everywhere, zillions of them.  I was stamping around swatting them away and probably looking disgusted. This old Mexican man asked me why I didn't like the moths. I said I thought they were ugly and gross, or something. He said, "You haven't really looked close enough," and he took my arm and led me to the front window, where a big moth was sitting. I looked at the moth a long time and noticed the beauty and intricacy and delicacy of that moth, and I realized that it was really very beautiful. The old man smiled at me and then went away.

These two strangers took the time to teach me.  he knowledge enriched me, and so did their kindness and courage. A lot of people, if they  think you're being stupid or wrong, won't even bother with you. They just hate your guts and go away.

Tom - I too have experienced the wrath of people who misunderstand my actions, and in many cases it's painful. Does hurt and or pain from others contribute to your perspective of outside looking in?

Daisy - I can't offhand think of anybody who has been wrathful toward me. I'm not sure whether I'm misunderstood or not, either, at least not often enough to make me worry about it.  Did you misunderstand something I said?  I don't think I really understand the question.  hat hurt and pain are you talking about?

Tom - I guess, I'm reading that the interactions of strangers is a meaningful part of your creative vision and that though some are positive, I sense that some have been negative.

"These two strangers took the time
 to teach me.  The knowledge enriched me,
 and so did their kindness and courage.
 A lot of people, if they  think
 you're being stupid or wrong, won't
 even bother with you.  They just hate
 your guts and go away."
This combined with an ousider looking in perspective led me towards notions of hurt and/or pain. I know that these can be powerful emotions and for some a creative muse.

Daisy - I didn't mean to imply hurt and pain. We all just play the hand we were dealt.  The people who got the royal flushes don't usually write poetry.

I also don't think it's necessarily a bad thing to mosey through the margins. You find interesting people there. When you go traveling, who'd you rather sit next to, a life insurance salesman or a Saigon whore?  And look at Superman. He spent most of his time being Clark Kent, but we aren't interested in the time he spent a week writing an article about a corporate merger. No, we want to hear about how he flew through the air and leaped over tall buildings. And Zorro, my personal favorite. He put on his mask and jumped on his horse and went anywhere he wanted.

Tom - What about your pets? I see you have written about dogs. How have they influenced your writings?

Daisy - Actually, at the moment, there is no particular dog who owns me. My lifestyle doesn't work for dogs right now. I spend a lot of time in foreign
countries teaching English as a Second Language, and dogs have difficulties
getting plane tickets and visas.

"Women Who Wallow With Fat Dogs" was actually a satire on our system. I see a society that is regulating us into zombiehood.  Zombidom? Somebody told me that political correctness is just another step toward mind control, and I agree.

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