Ben Pleasants: So let's go back to your second book, no let's just go back to the Gagaku: How many would you say you have written over the past 40 years?
Steve Richmond: Eight- or nine-thousand. You know, just put the music on…about two weeks ago, I wrote no poems for three months, and then six in the last 14 minutes. They're very short now.
BP: I've always thought that the Gagaku form is sort of sketching, in other words they are very short things, like a person who does a beautiful line sketch, like Matisse or somebody like that, you look at it and think 'Wow, I couldn't do that.' And that's my impression, of what your Gagaku's mean, 'cause they are short. They seem to come in a massive wave, sort of almost like having a stroke, they just come flying out with all this stuff, and you get it all down, almost the way…
SR: That's the way it used to be. Now it's survival. I use it as a sort of last resort. When things really get… months will go by…I got the music right next to me, it's like math, it works. It's just, you know, time to write…usually lasts about 25 minutes. I don't even submit 'em anymore, unless somebody asks.
BP: People do ask.
SR: Yeah…this guy from Orange Tangerine, in England, read the piece in Beat Scene…anyhoo, he sent me a great letter, said he's doing this anthology …sent me certificates for postage, I sent him seven or eight.
BP: Where is he from?
BP: Ok, that's great. You know what, fuck the U.S. they never get it.
SR: They'll come along, you know, after England.
BP: They're always the last, you know.
SR: U.S. is just, you know, into the election.
BP: Well, take a look at the publishing industry of New York City, it's basically run by about five guys.
SR: …Bukowski picked up on Ask the Dust. You know, he picked up the soul and rhythm of the man's voice and added…and from there on it's a…you know, I was with you and Bukowski at his place once, I took you over to visit him. I remember Bukowski saying, "Ah, don't mention the title, don't mention that book." I was half asleep, and you said…I know he didn't want me to read Ask the Dust at that moment, because he knew I'd pick up on the fact that Bukowski was born in the Year of the Monkey, and "Monkey hear, Monkey say," he picked up on [John] Fante and he took that, you know, it's like me listening to Gagaku music for the first time, Bukowski reading Ask the Dust for the first time…it gave him a voice. I mean a new voice. Since Fante became a screenwriter, Bukowski had this great basic voice…to work with.
BP: He reinvented poetry because he used the forms of prose that Fante gave him and he wrote them as poetry and that really changed the whole world.