She was born Sarah Breedlove on a plantation in Delta, Louisiana, where her parents had been slaves. At 14, she married to get a home of her own, to get away from a cruel brother-in-law with whom she was living. At 17, she had her only child, A'Lelia, who I'm named after.
I began to discover that, in addition to her stunning achievements, there were flaws as there would be in any person's life. I wanted to tell Madam's story in an honest, frank way.
This is the trouble with cheating: there are no acceptable rules, or laws. It could be a smile, or dancing to a song that you considered to be indefinably 'ours'. It can feel like cheating to go to a restaurant that you used to go to with someone else. Keeping photographs of exes can infuriate, like retrospective cheating.
When I first wrote 'Papa Hemingway,' there were too many people still alive, and the lawyers for Random House didn't want to OK it. But now all that's been filtered away by the passage of all these people. And having the fortune of surviving, I now feel that I am the custodian of what Ernest wanted the world to know about him and these women.
The laws of God, the laws of man he may keep that will and can; not I: let God and man decree laws for themselves and not for me.
The really clever people now want to be lawyers or journalists.
How accurately can the law fix the crime? There has to be a mechanism for very fast action. The law is like this: catch them and punish them.
A poem generated by its own laws may be unrealized and bad in terms of so-called objective principles of taste, judgement, deduction.
Each poem in becoming generates the laws by which it is generated: extensions of the laws to other poems never completely take.
In my mind's eye, Shakespeare is a huge, hot sea-beast, with fire in his veins and ice on his claws and inscrutable eyes, who looks like an inchoate hump under the encrustations of live barnacle-commentaries, limpets and trailing weeds.