In 1977, Bill Berkson and Bernadette Mayer began a kind of interview correspondence where with they exchanged questions and answers on a variety of topics. This mutual interview continued well into the mid-80s (and still continues intermittently between Berkson and Mayer today). A book on their letters, questions, and answers titled: What’s Your Idea of a Good Time? was published a few years ago (you can find it on amazon and Alibris).
I recommend it for Bill and Bernadette’s incendiary answers, of course, but also for the questions posed (great material for cocktail parties, I might add). Often the questions one asks can be more revealing than their answers.
Here are some questions posed in the collection. I invite people to respond and pose questions of their own.
What’s your idea of a good time?
What does distance mean, in poetry?
Are poets “normal”?
What is luck or blessedness? Is it related to the sublime?
Are you the same person you were 10 years ago?
How do you decide what to wear (regardless of the weather)?
What do you think of Rousseau’s paintings?
Is poetry a residue? And of what?
What’s the worst thing you’ve ever done?
What is your secret inner life?
Are you interested in the Mafia?
What poems do you know by heart?
How often do you think about death?
How do you feel about children watching television?
Do you like J. Pollock’s paintings?
What are your rules for your own behavior?
Tell me something you don’t understand.