Joe Gould only wrote about himself. Then Joe Gould died, and Joseph Mitchell revealed his secret, and then Joseph Mitchell stopped writing, and then Joseph Mitchell died.
JOE GOULD AND JOSEPH MITCHELL BY MATT LEVIN 34THPARALLEL MAGAZINE ISSUE 21
The fates of Joe Gould and Joseph Mitchell were inextricably intertwined. Joe Gould died, interned in a mental hospital, in 1957. Seven years later Joseph Mitchell wrote Joe Gould’s Secret. He wrote nothing for the next thirty years, and died in 1992. There must have been something in Joseph Mitchell that died, or decayed, or withered away with Joe Gould’s undignified demise.
Joe Gould was a Bowery bohemian, through and through. He scrounged up money from begging, from his wealthier acquaintances, from tourists who appreciated seeing a breathing, authentic New York bohemian, to spend on beer and martinis. He was gifted food at diners, then proceeded to eat with a spoon whatever ketchup he could get his hands on, because it was free. He was a short man, under 100 pounds, who wore second-hand suits that were too big and had a wild Orthodox Jew beard. He slept in so-called flophouses, as the parlance of the ’40s went, and wandered off his bleary-eyed hangovers on the Village streets. He had made an enemy of many a downtown intellectual, predominantly for his poems, read around town and at organized readings, The Barricades and My Religion. The latter went: “In winter I am a Buddhist/And in summer I am a nudist.” I imagine little Joe Gould reciting this solemnly, but with a mischievous twinkle in his eye. He would wait a beat, then grin his wide-eyed, bearded grin, wait another beat for a response, then lurch on down the block, clutching a composition book under his stubby arm.
34THPARALLEL MAGAZINE ISSUE 21
THE POEM FAMILY
ALEXANDER J MOTYL
YAMAHA OF THE YUKON
LEORA, FULL AND EMPTY
SARA M DEGREGORIA
TRICK OR TREAT
My work has ranked as a finalist in a Glimmer Train Press contest and also is published in Saw Palm: Florida Literature and Art, a literary journal run out of The University of South Florida’s MFA program. RP7983@aol.com
I have a BA in English and Cultural Anthropology from the University of Northern Colorado and an MFA in Poetry from the University of New Hampshire.
ALEXANDER J MOTYL
I write non-fiction in order to make some sense of things. I write fiction in order to make some sense of people. I write poetry in order to make some sense of myself. And I paint in order to stop making sense of anything. My poems have been published in Mayday, Counterexample Poetics, Istanbul Literary Review, Orion Headless, The Battered Suitcase, Red River Review, Green Door, and New York Quarterly. I teach at Rutgers University-Newark and live in New York.
I write short stories, novels, screenplays, children’s literature, and translations in Tamil. I was born in Tamilnadu, travelled all over India, and now live in Chennai. I organise story-telling camps for schoolchildren, all over Tamilnadu. sramakrishnan.com
A student asked me, “Why do I write only when I’m unhappy?” I told her, “When you’re happy, you want to go out and eat icecream and play. When you’re sad, you follow an inner path to understanding through writing.” My play Golden Ladder (published in Women Playwrights: The Best Plays of 2002) was produced Off Broadway, as was my first play, Another Paradise. My poetry collection, The Woman Who Married Herself, finalist for the Sinclair Poetry Prize, was published by Evening Street Press, and my novel, The Candle of God, was published by Outskirts Press. My poems and stories have been published in The Greensboro Review, Poet & Critic, Sycamore Review, Notre Dame Review, Parabola, The Bellingham Review, Blue Unicorn, Marlboro Review, Gaia, and other literary magazines and anthologies.
I have published seven short stories: Big Jim in The Rejected Quarterly, Guerrilla Marketing in The Berkeley Fiction Review, Down the Road a Piece in 34thParallel Magazine Issue 11, Don’t Ask in Ampersand, Somewhere There’s a Pony in The Zodiac Review, Zora in Blue Lake Review, and Trail Etiquette in Soul Vomit. firstname.lastname@example.org
Besides Billy Mays’s grave, I also visit music festivals, film festivals, festival festivals, and the like. I can be seen with a tiny notebook, frantically scribbling down experiences and sketching fancy-looking chairs. I have kept a journal since the age of seven and hope to continue writing and living my dream. email@example.com
I’ve written in journals for as long as I can remember. I just write whatever the moment calls for: observations, poems, story outlines, conversations I’ve overheard, conversations I’ve had, descriptions, pithy one-liners that I wish I would have said. My writing is published in Third Wednesday, Suddenly Lost in Words, The Washington Pastime, and Aries.
Zwerling is Assistant Professor at the University of Texas Pan American. He teaches playwriting, screenwriting, and dramatic literature at the graduate and undergraduate levels. In Issue 16 of 34thParallel Magazine he interviewed playwright Lee Blessing.
The relationship between Joe Gould and Joseph Mitchell fascinates me because it seems to strike at the tension in writing between public exhibition and private introspection. Writing is an intensely personal endeavor that demands public exhibition, and in this respect it seemed that Joe Gould and Joseph Mitchell were drawn to each other as different sides of the same coin.
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