By his own admission he is
Izy: First round is on me.....what are you drinking?
Kortas: I'm going to stick with a tonic and lime; it's not that I'm averse to something stronger, but my "off" switch tends to get stuck, and before you know it it's 3:00 A.M., and I'm doing an impromptu Chris Isaak medley on the back porch. And the neighbors tend to look unkindly on that.
Izy: I am not very familiar with Mr. Isaak, but it strikes me as hilarious that you'd serenade your neighbors with a sampling of his catalog. I gotta ask, is Chris Isaak a favorite of yours or just a drunken stand by?
Kortas: I'd categorize him as a port in an inebriation-driven storm. He's certainly not a favorite of my neighbors, at least not anymore.
Izy: I gotcha. For some reason, when I have had a martini too many, I always end up singing Neil Diamond’s Cracklin Rose. It's been a while since our last discussion ...what's new?
Kortas: I've been in the process of moving from rural fixer-upper to another for some months now. That is all the new I need, thank you very much. From now on, I don't move, I just burn.
Izy: I'd like to address your blog profile which reads: The Golgafrincham Times-Picayune once referred to the writing of W.k. kortas as “much like Vogon poetry, but without the same level of technical expertise and musicality.” Which references Douglas Adams and your classic sense of humility. If given the option of living in a universe solely created by Douglas Adams or just our regular universe with it's regular irony which would you choose ?
Kortas: That's a tough call; I think there is enough irony in each one for any person (or writer, for that matter) to chew on. Adams' universe has the Triple-Breasted Whore of Eroticon Six; that may or may not give him a leg up.
Izy: I have noticed that you continue to write poems despite the world coming to close on the 21st. What's the point?
Kortas: Well, since there's no reason to Christmans shop, I have all this extra time....
Izy: I've had a bit of a poem crush on your poem Drinking with the Iranians, December 1979. Can you walk me through how that poem started in your brain? Also, would you be willing to lend me your poem brain for the weekend?
Kortas: I had a cousin who was in college at the time, and there was a sizable Iranian contingent in his dorm. Now, think about where these kids were at the time--these weren't the kids of the Ayutollah's followers, but try telling the yahoos in the ROTC program that, and God only knows what awaited them once they got home. The poor bastards were screwed seven ways to Sunday. That's a pretty fair piece of meat to work with.
You can borrow the brain any time. I'll even waive the nickel deposit.
Izy: Assuming you had to formulate your poems into a brash corporate slogan: what would your poetry mission statement be?
Kortas: Oh, I'd just modify the blog title a little--"KortasPoems, LLC, Because Mediocre Means Better Than Some!!!"
Izy: What was the last book you read that you really hated?
Kortas: I don't think I've ever hated a book--that's an awful strong emotion to bring to a piece of writing. I've been disappointed by books--not long ago I finished William Kennedy's Chango Beads and Two-Toned Shoes. Now, Kennedy is a fine, fine writer, and the prior novel--Roscoe--is one of the four or five finest novels I've ever read. Kennedy is in his eighties now, though, and I don't know if he's just lost the fastball or if he knows that this is the last novel he'll ever finish, because there is a lot of Things You Must Understand in the novel. I think what often happens to a writer is he stops trusting his readers, and doesn't want to risk them not discovering things for themselves. The characters in this novel don't have conversations, they make pronouncements, and that's a very disheartening thing to see from a great writer.
Izy: Candy canes or gingerbread?
Kortas: It's tough to put Kool-Whip on a candy cane.
Izy: Rough drafts in pen or pencil?
Kortas: Technology has ruined me. I do everything on the keyboard now.
Izy: Scenario: there has been an unlabeled tin can in your cupboards for years, do you open it?
Kortas: Naaah. Let Nature take its course. It'll explode eventually.
Izy: What is the first book you ever read twice?
Kortas: I try never to read a book just once...the earliest book I have a recollection of reading is Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle In Time, so I guess that would be first.
Izy: Least favorite day of the week and why?
Kortas: Difficult call. I have to do to certain tasks at work every Thursday, so I guess that makes Thursdays a bit predictable for my tastes...but it's payday as well, so I'm torn.
Izy: Boy Named Sue or Folsom Prison Blues?
Kortas: Folsom Prison Blues, without question.
Izy: There is a jukebox at an all night diner at the end of the universe, what is the most commonly played song on that jukebox?
Kortas: Wow, now there's a poem waiting to happen. I think it would be a 45 with the last four minutes of Genesis' "Supper's Ready" on it, as everyone knows that is the song that plays when God or whoever comes for you.
Izy: What is one book on your bookshelf that I should read before I die?
Kortas: That's a tough question. I'm tempted to say Spoon River Anthology, because if you read Masters you'll see a lot of him in my style. That said, the final answer would be John Gardner's Nickel Mountain. I will never write a novel, because that is the novel I'd want to write, and it's been done now.
Izy: Favorite curse word?
Kortas: I have a fondness for the phrase "Shit O Goodness"--I have no idea where I first heard it, but it's stuck in my head now, to which I say...well, you know.
Izy: Favorite way to spend a friday night?
Kortas: I guess it depends where and when we are. I used to like to sit outside on a July night and listen to Bob Prince broadcast a Pirates game on KDKA, but no one has games on fifty-thousand watt blowtorches anymore, so now I'm just game for anything relatively quiet and relaxing.
Izy: One thing that makes a poem terrible?
Kortas: I think you have to realize that there just isn't anything new under the sun. No one is the first person to experience unrequited love, or an alcoholic father, or the suspicion that maybe the world isn't always a friendly place. If you think you are experiencing some unique emotion, and you write from that perspective as a starting point, you are dead in the water.
Izy: Worst piece of writing advice you ever received?
Kortas: Well, one of my teachers thought I should write right-handed. Other than that, I can't remember much advice good, bad, or indifferent.
Izy: One question you'd like to ask the toads ( and they will leave your answers in the comments)
Kortas: Doesn't the world have enough poets? Shouldn't we be doing something else with our time?