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The ten thousand things and the one true only.

by Kip Manley

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Things to keep in mind:
The secret of poetry.

At first, I didn’t want to be a novelist—I wanted to be a poet. And I was a poet: I had already published poetry, and I had respect as a poet. I had readers, reviewers, and people liked me as a poet. I was considered a first-class poet. And I knew that if I was also a novelist, I was going to lose my glamour. But it’s also more than that, because there’s something sacred in the figure of a poet: The poet doesn’t get stained by the kind of labor that a novel implies. Being a poet is another thing.

I hid my first novel, a very violent novel about children; I hid it in the deepest corner of a drawer. And then I wrote a second one, on children too. Then I knew I was doomed. I was a novelist, and I had to publish the first one. After writing my second novel, I wrote a third novel, also about children. I wanted to do another one, but it was no longer need but desire. I needed to write the first ones; with the fourth and fifth ones, it was more the joy of telling a story. And I did not want to repeat the same book, out of respect for what a novel is and out of love for my profession. The idea of making one book similar to the other one seemed dishonest. So I needed a different space. I started looking for a different setting, because that would force me to write a different book. And I was right: The setting forced me to another form, another attitude toward language, another treatment of the characters. But with my same obsessions.

I have these obsessions that I don’t know how to name. But they gnaw at me. And they eat me alive if I’m not writing. So I write.

Carmen Boullosa


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