Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020, 7pm
138 N Main St, Sebastopol, Calif.
“Michael Shapiro’s finely tuned, informed and intimate interviews strike to the heart of the matter.” ―Tim Cahill, author of Hold the Enlightenment
Creative people have a certain spark: a brightness in their eyes, an inquisitive way of looking at the world, a desire to make things. But that spark doesn’t reside solely in people seen as creators. It’s in all of us, just waiting to break out.
In this collection of interviews with some of the most creative people of our time — musicians, authors, explorers, and chefs — these makers speak about what drives them, what helps them to see the world in fresh ways, and what inspires them turn their visions into art.
During the past decade, Michael Shapiro has interviewed some of our most creative luminaries. Yet it’s not simply that Shapiro has had access to so many supremely talented people — it’s that he gets them to go deep. These interviews serve as a gateway for each one of us to chart our own creative paths, enrich our lives, and bring our true selves into the world.
Each chapter starts with a biography then segues into Q+A. Among the authors and writers and other artists profiled in the book are:
Smokey Robinson • Barbara Kingsolver • Francis Ford Coppola • Jane Goodall • Amy Tan • David Sedaris • Graham Nash • Pico Iyer • Joan Rivers • Merle Haggard • Lucinda Williams • Frances Mayes • Judy Collins • Melissa Etheridge • Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson • Lyle Lovett • Robert Earl Keen • Dave Alvin • SF Giants broadcaster Mike Krukow • Jerry Garcia Band keyboardist Melvin Seals • Phil Cousineau • Godmother of soul Sharon Jones • Richard Thompson • Hardly Strictly festival founder Warren Hellman • Oceanographer Sylvia Earle • Oral historian Studs Terkel • Ukulele wizard Jake Shimabukuro • Irish author Dervla Murphy • and many more
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Amy Tan on truth:
I realized that if I described what I felt—the complexity of it, the history of it—in a fabricated story, paradoxically, I’d find truth through creating fiction. … Every single moment I’ve had is not a lost past; it is completely a continuum of who I am. All of these moments are who I am. Writing fiction is finding the meaning of my life, what I think, what I feel I have to remember, what I know about myself.
Photo by Julian Johnson
Francis Coppola on conviction:
Very often films start rubbing the audience the wrong way if they’re doing something a little different than what is the norm. So films like Apocalypse Now weren’t exactly heralded as “Oh wow, this is terrific,” at the time. But (those films) stood the test of time, and over the years, little by little, sort of changed what movies were like. I always say that the things you do when you’re young that get you fired are the same things that later get you lifetime achievement awards.
Photo by Sofia Coppola
Melissa Etheridge on passion:
I grew up in the Midwest where we didn’t talk about our feelings at all even though we were burning up from them. I started putting my passions and emotions into my music. I remember thinking in the beginning: Oh wow, this is so personal. Is it going to be too personal? And the more personal I got in a song, the more universal it was, the more that people all over could relate to it. I learned early on this is the key, to be open enough, to be able to corral your emotions and fire, and then put them in a song.
Photo by Lauren Dukoff
Barbara Kingsolver on originality:
It’s really important to me never to write the same book twice, not even close. What gets me to my desk every day is the thrill of doing something absolutely new that I’m not at all sure I can really pull off, because it’s exciting. I have no interest in the sequel, in doing the same book over again. Every time I construct the architecture of a new novel, I stretch myself in a new way and there’s always something that seems impossible. I could go through all 14 books and tell you the impossible thing, or the thing that seems impossible to me at the outset, the thing that scares the dickens out of me.
Photo by Steven Hopp
Pico Iyer on spaciousness:
Living in Japan has taught me that creativity is a lot about taking things out. In Japan, they’ll make a room as empty as possible. So that there is only one flower and one scroll left, and that means you have to bring all your attention to that scroll and that flower. That means you see everything you need—and more—there. The creative activity in Japan is really about sifting and minimalizing, making things as spare as possible, partly because that is how you spark creativity in a reader. And on this side of the Pacific, I go to a hermitage where the main blessing is being free of an internet or cell-phone connection. It’s amazing how even 72 hours in silence can completely clear you out. I often notice now that in airports we have so many recharging stations for our devices but very few for ourselves. And it’s really ourselves that need the recharging.
Photo by Brigitte Lacombe
Folk musician Greg Brown on poetry:
Poems, good poems, are music really. And when you hear a good poet reading, they’re really singing their poems. Poetry without the musical element to me, it’s not poetry, it’s something else. … Poetry is not a position paper or anything, it’s a song. So people like Allen Ginsberg, Gary Snyder, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, William Carlos Williams, Walt Whitman, these all have been very important singers to me.
Photo by Roman Cho
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