If you go
What Alex Stein will read from "Made-Up Interviews With Imaginary Artists"
When 8 p.m., Thu., Apr. 8
Where Benders Tavern, 314 E. 13th Ave., Denver
Boulder-based Author Alex Stein has tapped into the worlds of Chicana Poet Lorna Dee Cervantes and Author Joanne Greenberg among others, getting his readers closer to the way some of the creative and innovative leaders of the day think.
His latest book, "Made-Up Interviews With Imaginary Artists," is one he said he hopes will inspire readers to be more honest in their own self-expression by showing the fruits of interviews with several who already lead by example.
"(Readers) will learn that Lorna Dee Cervantes wed herself formally to the spirit of poetry during her teenage years in a ceremony in a parking lot, presided over by her deepest, secret self," Stein said. " How Pat Ament, to his continuing embarrassment, tore pictures of his favorite climbers out of library books so that he could be nearer to them, and then one day found himself climbing with some of these idols, looking into their real faces as they ascended together.
"How much like a dream one can live inside one's life.
"How a Cecilia Vicuna art exhibit at the Whitney Biennial was understood perfectly by the museum guard who attended it, such that in her absence he was able to explain it to a pair of callow, gum-snapping teenage girls, who palpably did not know, listening to him explain, that they were inside one of the miracles that art can create in the daily world."
"Made-Up Interviews With Imaginary Artists" meanwhile explores the interview as an art form and as a channel for getting people to register the message.
"The art of the interview is really the art of listening. A good interview is really an act of translation," he said.
The opening pages of Stein's work gives the reader a bird's-eye view of some of the most impressed-upon feelings from a student in his days studying for a master's degree in literature. It leads into his formation of a passion for exploring the interview itself as a medium of not just questioning, but listening.
He wants readers to glean that everything is a matter of perspective.
"There is nothing that can make us better than we are," Stein said. "Not honorary degrees, not Nobel prizes. It's a good thing to bear in mind."
With the book, he desired to bring readers, and himself, a little closer to a few notable "geniuses" of our time. Stein's interview subjects in the book include Pat Ament, Peter Grandbois and Cecilia Vicuna. The first part of the book consists of real interviews. The last part is imagined interviews with made-up subjects Stein said are much like himself.
"Especially Lorna Dee Cervantes and Cecilia Vicuna are geniuses with really strong streaks of bravery," Stein said. "I think it's good for people like that to be heard. I think honest, brave people are rare. I wrote the book mostly so I could be near people like that.
The interviewees, Stein said, were a good course in bravery for his own expression.
"That's just what happens when you're around people who are brave," he said. "The models you have around you are really all you have to weigh yourself against. These are people who teach, not doggedly but just by being themselves, how to express the self bravely and truthfully. That's very hard for me, but I feel an obligation when I see people like this to live up to these standards."
The book, Stein's third, also reaches out to readers as an exercise in sincerely listening to, caring about and registering what another has to say.
"It's important people that are aware that to hear somebody else is very difficult," he said. "It's something that has to be practiced, and it takes time and patience for people to hear each other and to listen to each other."
He also stretches to get a reader to grasp a better understanding of language.
"The way Lorna Dee Cervantes and the way Cecilia Vicuna speak is like music," Stein said. "They make themselves vulnerable. They feel that's okay. That human beings should be honest and vulnerable they can be examples of that kind of life."