An Interview With Fabler – by Sparrow, Guest Blogger

I spoke to Morton Fabler, the famous poet.

Sparrow: What’s it like, being a famous poet?

Fabler: It’s very gratifying.  Often I’ll be in a new city — say, Baltimore — and I’ll walk into a deli, and the guy behind the counter will ask, “Aren’t you Morton Fabler, author of ‘The Quintessence’?”  For some reason, they all seem to know “The Quintessence” — probably because it was in LIFE magazine.

Sparrow: Didn’t LIFE magazine fold in 1979?

Fabler: A lot of people think so, but actually LIFE was revived in 1998 as a weekend supplement to newspapers throughout the USA.  “The Quintessence” appeared in an article on muscular dystrophy.  A woman named May Clambes said that it renewed her faith in living.

Sparrow: Could you quote some lines from “The Quintessence”?

Fabler: You don’t know “The Quintessence”?

Sparrow: Well, I probably read it… but… uh… some of my readers may not be familiar with it!

Fabler: Okay.  Here are a few lines:

Each life returns
to its origins.
We are all
napping amoebas.

Sparrow: Napping amoebas?

Fabler: Pretty good, huh?

Sparrow: What does that mean, napping amoebas?

Fabler: In other words, we’re like amoebas taking naps.  Suddenly we wake up, and think: “Hey!  I’m an amoeba!”

Sparrow: And that’s death?  That awakening?

Fabler: There are many interpretations to “The Quintessence.”

Sparrow: You won both the Hutchinson Award and the Harkinson Award.

Fabler: In the same year!  I tell you, I had a lot of trouble distinguishing the Harkinson from the Hutchinson.  I was at an awards dinner at the Waldorf Astoria, and I kept asking people: “Is this the Hutchinson Award or the Harkinson Award?”

Sparrow: How do you compose your poems?

Fabler: You’ve heard of “method actors?”  I’m a “method poet.”  Suppose I want to write a poem about a rug.  I’ll lie on the floor for two or three hours.  Then I’ll say to my girlfriend: “Sandy, walk on me a little — but not too briskly!”  In other words, I’ll learn how a rug feels.  Then I’ll stand up, brush myself off, get to the desk, and start writing.

Sparrow: And that works?

Fabler: I once almost got arrested for entering a chimpanzee cage at the Bronx Zoo.  I bribed one of the feeders to let me in.  A policeman came, and was about to handcuff me, when I explained that I was Morton Fabler.

Sparrow: You’ve led a remarkable life.

Fabler: And I’m only 61!