About this book

A casual friend, in an effort at making conversation over a glass of wine, asked me, “When do you write?” I was, as they say, completely taken aback. Why did he need to attack me!!! I looked all around. We were at a café. I didn’t want to make a scene. I took a deep breath, invented an excuse for my sudden departure. In an effort to forgive him, I went home and got right to work, my intention being to find in the language I use, a way . . . you might say creating a chant . . . to banish the lurking destructive potential of the word “when” as applied to the process of creating a poetic text. Forgiveness is still in process, though I do use his question for the title.

The photo on the cover is by Ursula Schorn.

The author

Gordon Carrega
Photo by Ursula Schorn

Books of my poems and prose poems are available on amazon. I have also published in various magazines, such as Paris Review, Five Fingers Review, Ironwood, Volition, Bombay Gin.

My identity as a poet took shape while living at the Russian River, 1971 to 1975. I lived in the Villa Grande with several musicians. The oft-repeated joke was they had their guitars and I had my typewriter. I suppose I was a “drop-out” for I had given up my brief career in New York as a newspaper reporter, moved out to San Francisco, never managing to find the right flowers for my hair, managing however to stalk North Beach, having a brief conversation with Alan Ginsberg after he and Philip Whalen had done a reading. I discovered the Russian River, the Villa Grande community, on an aimless hitch hiking trip up north to Eureka, Ca., and, having been promised a winter of heavy rain accompanied by flooding, which would ensure my being cut off from the rest of the world, took the offered opportunity to take up residence in the Villa Grande, first returning to San Francisco to arm myself with my manual typewriter.

What followed was my contact with other poets, getting published, doing readings, managing somehow to pay the rent and buy enough nuts and tofu to cultivate my lean and hungry look. Of course there is always what happens next and in my case that was my decision to attend Sonoma State College, at that time a college with a very active poetry scene, completing my master’s in English in 1976. Then continuing to accept my destiny, which meant working for a living, while of course exploring various escape routes, one route being a sojourn at Sonoma Mountain Zen Center, living in a cabin way back in the woods. Of course I did my best to follow the schedule, meditation, work, and in the afternoons retreating to my favorite Glen Ellen bar or Cotati café, never admitting, even to myself, that meditation had become my favorite form of faking it, sometimes getting back to the center in time to stagger into the evening meditation.

Leaving the Zen Center, moving to Berkeley was next on my agenda, most likely in order to complete the lifeline of my cool California identity. Of course I enjoyed the Berkeley cafés, which inspired me to visualize the existential glamor of Paris cafés, and then . . . surprise! A love story. I moved from Berkeley, California, to Berlin, Germany, in 1987 to continue my relationship with Ursula whom I had met in 1985, during the year she spent in California further developing her work as a dance therapist. And thirty-seven years later I am still in Berlin, still in relationship with Ursula, still doing my best to further my thirty-seven-year career as a freelance English teacher, having taught at colleges, businesses, language schools. Real life at last, along with the opportunity to say I am from California, watching the longing and fascination as the California dream enters the eyes and ears of my Berlin listeners.

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