Philip Lamantia’s Last Interview

“Note: In July 2001, I was asked to interview Philip Lamantia for a local Bay Area magazine. It was meant to be a puff piece for a general audience, but Philip took it quite seriously as an opportunity to discuss his spiritual life and its relation to surrealism and poetry. He felt his views on Catholicism in particular had been misrepresented by a few unscrupulous journalists and wanted to set the record straight. But interviewing Philip was difficult. He spoke not in paragraphs but in volumes, with labrythine digressions which sometimes never returned to the ostensible subject at hand. We quickly had to abandon the ordinary Q&A approach in favor of his writing and phoning in various remarks, from which I reversed-engineered questions. While I assembled these discrete units into a plausibly conventional journalistic profile, he continued to refine his statements and, occasionally, change his mind, for he constantly interrogated his own beliefs. Paragraphs appeared and disappeared. As both deadline and word-count loomed, I managed to pull together a version that had his approval if not his entire confidence that I’d made him understood. The point, in any case, was moot, for the publisher deemed the discussion too esoteric for his target audience and promptly killed the piece. Not long afterward, in October, Lamantia fell into a lengthy depression from which he never fully recovered before his death on March 7, 2005 at age 77. To my knowledge, this is the last interview in which he participated.”Garrett Caples

Read Complete Interview Here.

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