Two Interviews with Basil King

Two fascinating interviews with Basil King have recently come to light, both in which Basil discusses the artistic and poetic philosophy behind Learning to Draw/ A History.

The first is a conversation between Kevin Ring and Basil King for the the UK magazine Beat Scene.  The article is called Basil King Learns to Draw with the following header:

An Englishman abroad. As a young boy Basil King was taken off to America by his family and it seems he was never the same. The American skies were so much bigger. And yet Europe has never left him as he travels through his life, filled with his own art, Black Mountain College, Robert Frank, Leroi Jones, Nathaniel Tarn, Paul Blackburn, Joel Oppenheimer, H.D., William Carlos Williams, De Kooning, Charles Olson. In Learning to Draw/A History Basil King, artist and poet, takes us on a journey through his artistic life during the second half of the Twentieth Century.

Kevin Ring is the proprietor of  of the Beat Scene and Beat Scene Press, about which more  information can be found here.  He describes the magazine as follows:

BEAT SCENE is the magazine of the Beat Generation.  That’s Jack Kerouac, William Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, Charlses Bukowski, Richard Brautigan and co.  For those that don’t know us – we are a paper magazine – 68 pages at present – devoted to the Beat Generation and associated writers, artists, musicians and whomever.  We have been publishing for twenty four years and the magazine has grown in that time.  

The second interview is a conversation between Thomas Fink and Basil King for the ASK/TELL Blog that can be found here.  The title is Basil King and Thomas Fink: Exchange on Basil King’s “Learning to Draw/ A History” (Ed. Daniel Staniforth. Cheltenham, UK: Skylight Press, 2011).  

Here is a snippet from one of Basil’s responses:

I have no map when I start. When I paint I have a figure or a group of figures in mind – or writing I start with one or two people from real life, history usually, not my personal life. As I start other people will come to my mind. But first, whether in painting or writing, I have to place them. Am I going to talk in terms of biography or some insights I have about them? 

As this progresses, I begin to know more. I begin to see a bit more clearly. 

I’m travelling down a road, yes. Very often on the most familiar route, I’ll see something I never saw before. And that prods me on to the next thing. I do like Pound’s idea of a map but it isn’t particularly useful to me. Too many things come into my head, I see too many things all at once. But I have learned over the years to find space for the things I think about. I suppose that’s why there are jumps.

Thomas Fink is a fine poet and artist in his own right.  His fifth book of poetry, Clarity and Other Poems, was published by Marsh Hawk Press in 2008. His poem Yinglish Strophes 9 appeared in Scribner’s Best American Poetry 2007, selected by Heather McHugh and David Lehman. Fink’s paintings hang in various collections.

More information information about Basil King’s art and writings can be found at KING INK.


About Daniel

Writer & Musician
This entry was posted in American Literature, British Literature, Literary Criticism, Literature, Poetry, Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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