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The Latest, the Most Updated, Interview With Writer Ron Price: Part 1

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Preamble-Part 1:

I began to put the following sequence of questions and answers together as I was about to retire from full-time employment as a teacher and lecturer after 32 years in the classroom, and another 18 as a student. In the first 15 years of the reinvention of myself as a writer and author, editor and researcher, a poet and publisher, an online journalist and blogger, a scholar and reader, the years from 1999 to 2014, I added more material to what you could call this simulated interview.

This is the 26th simulated interview in 19 years, 1996 to 2014. There is no attempt in this particular series of Qs & As to be sequential, to follow themes in some logical pattern, or simulate a normal interview. I have attempted a more logical-sequential pattern in my other 25 interviews over those 19 years.

I have posted literally millions of words on the internet at 100s, indeed 1000s now, of sites. Readers who come across this particular interview of more than 15,000 words and more than 38 A-4 font-14 pages, will gain some idea of the person who writes the stuff they read at whatever sites on the world-wide-web where they come across my literary effusions. Readers wanting access to these sites and my work, my posts at these sites, need to simply google my name RonPrice followed by any one of dozens of other words like: forums, blogs, poetry, literature, philosophy, history, religion, cinema, popular culture, inter alia.

There are some 4000 to 5000 other Ron Prices in cyberspace. Readers must ensure they are accessing my posts and my writing, and not those of some other chap with the same name as mine. I have posted this interview for the interest of what has become an extensive readership, my constituency of readers, and others who come across my work for the first time, or for whatever number of times, and for whatever particular reason.

Preamble-Part 2:

2.1 The questionnaire concept which I utilize below was originated, so I am informed, by French television personality Bernard Pivot after what was called the Proust Questionnaire. The Proust Questionnaire is about one's personality. Its name and modern popularity as a form of interview is owed to the responses given by Marcel Proust(1871-1922), the French novelist, critic, and essayist.

At the end of the nineteenth century, when Proust was still in his teens, he answered a questionnaire in an English-language confession magazine belonging to his friend Antoinette, daughter of future French President Félix Faure.

The magazine was entitled "A Place to Record Your Thoughts and Feelings." At that time, it was popular among English families to answer such a list of questions that revealed the tastes and aspirations of the talker.

2.2 James Lipton (b.1926) an American writer, poet, composer, actor, and dean emeritus of the Actors Studio Drama School at Pace University in New York City, utilized the following questionnaire in his series of interviews entitled Inside the Actors Studio. The series premiered in 1994 and has been broadcast in 125 countries around the world reaching 89,000,000 homes, so I was informed several years ago on Wikipedia.

2.2.1 Lipton asked the following ten questions:

1. What is your favorite word?
2. What is your least favorite word?
3. What turns you on?
4. What turns you off?
5. What sound or noise do you love?
6. What sound or noise do you hate?
7. What is your favorite curse word?
8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
9. What profession would you not like to do?
10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

2.2.2 My answers were/are:

1. God
2. ****
3. My instinctual and human needs for: food and drink, silence and sounds, sensory and especially sexual stimulation, oxygen and physical comfort, shelter and work, love and kindness, as well as the pleasures that come from the satisfaction of these instinctual and human needs.
4. Noise, loud and aggressive people, conversation after one to two hours; most of the TV currently available to me, a great deal of printed matter. When the needs referred to in #3 above are not satisfied.
5. Some classical, jazz and popular music, some human voices and silence.
6. Any loud sounds, some human voices.
7. ****
8. I was a student and scholar, teacher and tutor, lecturer and adult educator from 1949 to 1999. Now I am enjoying new roles: poet and publisher, writer and author, editor and research, online journalist and blogger.
9. Law and medicine, work in the biological and physical sciences as well as the trades.
10. Well done and now tell me about your troubles in life while trying to serve Me.

Preamble-Part 3:

Below readers will find my own 35 questions, questions I began to ask and answer back in 1998 and 1999, as I was about to retire from FT teaching, and a teaching-student life going back to 1949, half a century. These questions were last updated on 8 May 2014.
1. Do you have a favourite place to visit? I’ve lived in 25 cities and towns and visited over 100. I have lived in 37 houses and would enjoy visiting both the houses and the towns again for their memory, their nostalgia, their mnemonic, value. When writing about these places as I do from time to time, I would benefit from such visits, but it is not likely that I will visit any of them now in the evening of my life for many reasons not the least of which is my lack of funds and my disinclination to travel any more.

There are dozens of other places I’d enjoy going as a tourist or travel-teacher, circumstances permitting, circumstances like: plenty of money, good health, lots of energy and if I could be of some use to the people in those places. My health, my new medications for bipolar disorder, medications I’ve now had for over five years, prevents me from travelling.

1.1 Tell us a little more about your health both before your writing began in earnest in the 1990s and before. Rather than go into detail here I will simply refer you to my 90,000 word and 200 page(font-14) account of my experience of bipolar 1 disorder as well as the section of my website on the same subject. You can google “Ron Price BPD”.

2. Who are your favourite writers? The historians Edward Gibbon and Arnold Toynbee, Manning Clark and Peter Gay, among a long list of historians I keep in my notebooks; the philosophers Ortega y Gasset and Nietzsche, Buber and Spinoza, among another long list I keep in my notebooks; the Central Figures of the Baha’i Faith and Their successors Shoghi Effendi and the Universal House of Justice; the poets Rainer Maria Rilke and Emily Dickinson, William Wordsworth and Roger White; the psychologists Rollo May and Alfred Adler, and a host of others notes about whom I keep in my notebooks, as well as writers from many other disciplines.

3. Who are your favorite artists?

Part 1:

There are several dozen art movements and hundreds, if not thousands, of artists that can be accessed in both libraries and now, with a click or two, on the internet. I will name two famous artists whose work I like, and two whom I have known personally: Cezanne and Van Gogh, and Chelinay and Drew Gates. I find it just about impossible to answer a question like this given my eclectic tastes. In question #2 above I named several of the many writers who were and are "my favorites", but I found there were too many names. That is also the case here, and so I do not intend to make a long list.

Part 2:

As my years of retirement from the world of jobs and family commitments, community and volunteer work, the nose to the grindstone stuff, so to speak, lengthen as they have since 1999 to 2005--by which time I had relieved myself of most of the activity that had kept me busy for decades, I find there are more and more artists in the history of art whose work I am just finding out about and learning to appreciate. I did not feel, and I do not feel now, as some writers and poets felt after completing their major life-work: ‘The work that I was born to do is done.’

George Chapman said repeatedly that the publication of the final volume on Homer left him nothing more to do; he would now (at 71) ‘do nothing forever and ever’. After 15 years of my retirement from FT work, I felt, in some ways, that my learning about artists, and all sorts of other people in other fields, had just begun.

4. Who are your favorite composers, musicians, vocalists and singer/songwriters? How can one choose from the thousands in these categories? It is the same problem as in the previous two questions. Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, Liszt, Rachmaninov, Hayden come to mind as composers but, goodness, there are simply too many to list. I placed a list of my favourites at several sites in cyberspace. The list had more than 100 people and 100s of their works. Over the years, I’ve had at least a dozen different favorite composers including: Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Chopin, Brahms, Debussy, Stravinsky, Dvorak and Rachmaninoff. My favorite composer seems to be the one whose musical world I’ve been immersed in most deeply at any given time.

Sergei Rachmaninoff was a master of translating melancholy and nostalgia into a musical language. He was cured of a profound writer’s block through hypnosis, and he dedicated his beloved Second Piano Concerto to his psychiatrist, Dr Nikolai Dahl. I dedicate my love for music to my mother and father both of whom played the piano in our home as I was growing-up.

5. Who are your heroes? The Central Figures of the Baha’i Faith, Beethoven, Emily Dickinson, a large number of men described in ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s Memorials of the Faithful(1970, 1927) and many more that I come across in reading history and other social sciences, the humanities as well as the physical and biological sciences. Again, the list is too long and its getting longer with the years as I head with what seems the speed of light to the age of 70 in 2014.

6. Who has been your greatest inspirations? Roger White and John Hatcher in my middle age, Jameson Bond and Douglas Martin when I was a young man in my teens and twenties as well as a host of others, too many to list, in these years of my late adulthood, 60 to 70. Now in my late adulthood, the years after 60 in the lifespan according to some human development psychologists some new inspirations include: the essayist Joseph Epstein, the writers Bahiyyih Nakhjavani and Udo Schaefer, a number of poets and writers whose works I had never had time to read or did not know even existed---again the list is getting longer since reading and research, writing and editing have become much more central to my life, to my daily activities than during my years of employment: 1961 to 2001.

7. If you could invite several people for dinner from any period in history, who would you choose and why? I would not invite anyone because I don’t like to talk while I’m eating. After dinner these days I like to watch TV for a few minutes and then go to bed. I’d chose the following people to have a chat with at some other time during the day, but I would not have them all come at once. I would take them as follows:

7.1 Pericles: I’d like to know what went on in Athens in the Golden Age, as he saw it. I’ve come to know a great deal about Athens in the 5th century BC since I taught ancient history and I have many questions which, of course, I could answer by reading. But there are so many views of the man and the times.

7.2 Roger White: I’d like to simply enjoy his gentle humor and observe that real kindness which I could see in his letters and in his rare interviews.

7.3 My mother and father and my maternal grandparents: The pleasure of seeing them again(except for my grandmother whom I never saw since she died five years before I was born) after all these years would, I think, be just overwhelming.

7.4.1 Douglas and Elizabeth Martin, 7.4.2 Jameson and Gale Bond and 7.4.3 Michael and Elizabeth Rochester. These people were all university academics or the wives of academics who had a seminal influence on my developing values in the formative period of my late teens and early twenties.

7.5 There are many others in another list too long to include here.

8. What are you reading? In 1998, my last year of full-time employment, when I began to list these questions and provide the answers, I had fourteen books on the go: eight biographies, four literary criticisms, one book of philosophy and one of psychology. Now in these early years on two old age pensions, 2009 to 2012, I am reading mostly material on the internet and that reading list is too extensive to list here. I never go to libraries any more and, due to a lack of money, I never buy any books, although my wife does occasionally and I browse through what she buys. The internet is overflowing with enough print to keep me happily occupied until I die. My son bought me David Womersley’s 3-volume edition(1994) of Gibbon’s famous work in 2010 and after 3 years I’m up to page 140 underlining as I go the passages that I may use one day in my own writing.

9. What do you enjoy listening to in the world of music? I listened mainly to classical music on the classical FM station while living in Perth in the last dozen years of my FT employment(1988-1999) as well as some from the folk, pop and rock worlds. Now that I live in George Town northern Tasmania in these years of the early evening of my life(1999 to 2012) this is also true only hardly any pop, rock and folk and much more jazz and classical. I have written about my tastes and interests in music since my adolescence in other places and I refer readers here to the section of my website on music for the kind of detail that would lead to prolixity if I included it here.

10. What food could you not live without? I would miss my wife’s cooking and Persian and Mexican food if I was cut off from them. It must be said, though,(answering this question 14 years after beginning to answer it) now that I live in northern Tasmania I rarely eat Persian and Mexican food. Now that I am retired I hardly miss these foods. I enjoy the food I get, that my wife and I prepare and only eat a Persian meal or a Mexican meal perhaps once a year now. Do I miss it? Yes and no. I enjoy eating when I am hungry; hunger is the driving force and I enjoy many, many foods when I am hungry. If I could not have some of these foods I’d be happy with many others.

Updated 06-16-2014 at 07:44 AM by Ron Price (to make some corrections)



  1. Ron Price's Avatar
    11. What do you do when you feel a poem coming on? I get a piece of paper and pen or go to my computer/word processor and start writing. Most of my poems take less than half an hour. My latest booklet of poetry comes from my poetry factory, as I have occasionally come to call this location for my production of poetry in George Town Tasmania, Australia where I write these pieces. I have also calculated the number of poems I have written per day over the last 32 years after a hiatus of 18 years(1962-1980) in my pioneering life in which no record was kept even though I was writing poetry very occasionally, very rarely, at the time.

    In the first years of my life, 1943 to 1962, the influences on my writing of poetry included: my mother and grandfather, the primary and secondary school system in Ontario and the university I attended. The Baha’i Faith after 1953 was also a poetic force. All these poetic influences were completely unrecognized as poetic influences at the time since my interests were mainly sport, getting high marks at school, having fun, and dealing with life’s quotidian and sometimes anxious events.

    A. From 1 August 1980 to 22 September 2012 there have been 11,734 days(circa).
    B. The number of poems written per day is calculated using the following data: 7075(circa) poems in 11,734 (circa) days to 22 September 2012. That works out to: 1 poem in 1.65 days or 4.3 poems/week.
    C. The maths: 11,734(days) divided by 7075(poems)

    11. How important is life-style and freedom from the demands of employment and other people to your creative life?

    Part 1:

    These things became absolutely crucial by my mid fifties. The Canadian poet, anarchist, literary critic and historian George Woodcock (1912-1995), once said in an interview that it was very important for his literary work that he could live as he wished to live. If a job was oppressing him, he said, he had to leave it. Both Woodcock and I have done this on several occasions, but I did not leave the jobs I did in order to write—except for the last job in 1999 when I was 55.

    Woodcock broke with a university and I broke with three Tafe colleges. It's a derogatory thing to say it's a form of evasion, of avoidance or cowardice, said Woodcock, but you have to evade those situations in life in which you become insubordinate to others or situations in which others offend your dignity.

    Part 2:

    Woodcock went on to say in that same interview that when one acts dramatically or precipitately—like resigning from a job or losing one’s temper--it often has consequences that are very negative. He gave examples from his own life and I could give examples here; I could expand on this important theme but this is enough for now. Readers who are keen to follow-up on this aspect of my life can read my memoirs. Everything in my memoirs is true, but it has been "filtered and worked on". Readers tend to think a memoir is a chronicle or record of a life but, as the memoirist Kate Holden says, “it's a much more subtle form. You're compressing, eliding, using your craft.” She uses her craft to present a good story and I use it to present what I hope is a good analysis, some accurate and honest, useful and helpful reflections on life to those who read them.

    For the poet T.S. Eliot, the failure to live, the failure of emotion to find its proper expression, is an obsessive theme of his work. This emphasis is so repetitive that it amounts to a compulsion. ‘The Buried Life, the idea of a life not fully lived, is the central, animating idea of Eliot’s poetry.’ So writes Denis Donoghue in the London Review of Books, Vol. 29 No. 2, January 2007 in his review of T.S. Eliot by Craig Raine(Oxford, 200 pages, 2007) I quote these words from Donoghue because, as I reflect on my life thus-far, to the age of 70, the freedom I have found since taking a sea-change at the age of 55 has enabled my emotions to find "their proper and full expression." This has taken-place in ways I had not known in the more than five decades of experience that were in my memory-bank: 1948 to 1999.

    12. Were you popular at school, in your primary, secondary and university days?

    Part 1:

    I certainly was in primary and secondary school, but not at matriculation or university. I did not have the experience many writers and intellectuals have who received early wounds from the English school system among other influences in life. It wasn't merely the discipline at these schools; it was the ways in which boys got what was called the school spirit. In most English schools it is a brutal kind of pro-sporty spirit that militates against the intellectual who is looked on as a weakling. I was popular at school because I was good at sport and I got on with everyone.

    I certainly was not seen as, and I was not, an intellectual. I was good at memorizing and that is why I did so well, but at university I could not simply memorize; I had to think and write my own thoughts and my grades went from ‘A’s’ to ‘C’s. This was also due to the beginnings of episodes of bipolar I disorder which has afflicted me off and on all my life.

    Part 2:

    As far as popularity now in the evening of my life is concerned, I have become my own publicist and marketer of my writing. I do not have a craving to be famous, nor do I have 'a horror of being known to like being known’ – as the classicist A.E. Housman once wrote. In the course of his life Housman turned down everything from the OM to the poet laureateship, not to speak of many honorary doctorates. And he refused all invitations to give lectures except for the ones that he conceived to be part of his job. I have never had nor will I ever have this problem as I begin the last decade(70-80) of my late adulthood and old-age(80+), if I last that long. In my years as a teacher and lecturer I had enough popularity to last me a lifetime.

    14. 1 You did not flower early as a writer. Tell us something about the origins of your prose and poetic writing.

    Part 1:

    Many writers flower early. Many of them become largely forgotten; whereas, I have a different type of creativity which seems to be growing in meaning and personal significance, in power and vitality, literally decade by decade, again, like the Canadian George Woodcock. This kind of creativity over the lifespan is actually quite abnormal, atypical. I seem to have been the tortoise or the bull if you're going to use the Taurean symbol. I have been marching forward slowly. I think what I am writing now is better than anything I’ve ever written in my life. Who knows what lies ahead.

    Just at the beginning of my retirement after a 50 year student-and-employment life(1949-1999) I was asked how I saw the years ahead. I quoted Denis Diderot(1713 -1784) the French philosopher, art critic and writer who said: ‘We erect a statue in our own image inside ourselves, idealised, you know, but still recognisable. Then we spend our lives engaged in the effort to make ourselves into its likeness." I quoted Diderot back then because it helped provide a perspective on how I saw the years ahead, my writing life after retiring and reinventing myself as an author.

    Back around 1998/9 I wrote: "My writing in the years ahead, being so very autobiographical, will be a process of erecting some likeness of myself, an ever-changing statue, partly idealized, partly the real me as I see the 'me,' and partly an exercise in social construction."

    Part 2:

    Some years ago a reporter from Musician magazine asked jazz pianist Abdullah Ibrahim a question about when his interest in music began. Ibrahim said he understood the logic of the question but that he couldn't answer it because music had always been part of his day to day living. I feel in a similar way about my relationship to writing. I can't remember a time when I didn't have a deep investment in writing. From 1949 to 1967, the age of 5 to 23, writing was the very source of my success and survival in school. If I had not developed the capacity to write well I would never have got good grades and gone up the academic ladder—but I had to work at the process back then. Any significant literary success, any published work, did not come, really, until I was nearly forty.

    The poet Geoffrey Hill(1932-) is a useful poet to bring-in here to help me answer this question. Hill is an English poet, professor emeritus of English literature and religion, and former co-director of the Editorial Institute, at Boston University. Hill has been considered to be among the most distinguished poets of his generation and to some he was the "greatest living poet in the English language". In June 2010 he was elected Professor of Poetry in the University of Oxford. I am not in his league, the league of the prestigious, but there is a hermetic obscurity in his later work.

    Part 3:

    Like myself, Hill wrote great quantities of verse in his late adulthood and old-age: his sixties, seventies and eighties, and only a relatively small number of poems before the age of 50, in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. The asymmetrical volume of his output is one of the more obviously remarkable things about a remarkable collection of his poems published between 1959 and 1995. His earlier work occupies only about 150 of its 940 pages, while the work of Hill’s later years fills the remaining five-sixths of the book.1 At the age of 50, like Hill, I was just getting air-born in my poetic life, although I wrote far, far, less than Hill did from the age of 20 to 50. (See 1the London Review of Books, Vol. 36 No. 4, 2014, "Rancorous Old Sod", Colin Burrow, a review of Broken Hierarchies: Poems 1952-2012 by Geoffrey Hill( Oxford, 1000 pages, 2013)
  2. Ron Price's Avatar
    This is enough of what is a very lengthy interview. Readers with the interest can access the rest of this interview at:

    Concluding Comment:

    I began asking and answering these questions, as I indicated at the start of this simulated interview, just as I was about to retire after a 50 year student and employment life: 1949 to 1999. I added more questions and answers, as I also said at the outset of this interview, in the last six years, 2009 to 2014. The last update to the above 35 questions, as well as the 10 questions that opened this simulation, was made 17 years after beginning this process of question and answer---on 16 June 2014. Total: 15,000 words and 38 A-4 pages.