1) when you chose the name Erik, why did you spell it with a K instead of the more usual (at least to americans) C?
I think it has to do with a fondness for the germanic over the romance. that and my middle female name began with a K so it was very handy in shifting my signature. now I sign my first name with a capital E followed by a squiggly line and a capital K, remnant of the old middle name. EriK. or E~K, to paint a more accurate picture.
2) i know about jackson and about your nick, Catdoc. can you articulate what there is about cats that pleases you so much? do you feel that cats are like you (or you are like cats), or is it more a matter of opposites attracting?
my first words were "Hi there, kitty!" spoken to Leo, the household cat at the time. this should explain everything. Leo left the family before I actually formed any memories of him so I don't know what I learned from him but a couple of years later Smudge came on the scene and lived until I was 26 and had long ago moved out. I'm quite sure that she had as much influence on my character formation as my parents did. maybe more.
I am not sure what the draw is based upon unless it is simply that I knew cats before I knew any other animals so they impressed themselves on me as the essence of Animal. we do share some characteristics like quiet (usually..) confidence in our own version of things and the ability to sleep 60% of the time. I'm also good at sitting still for long periods which has always made me a favored cat chair.
really I have an affinity for all nonhuman animals but have gotten to know cats best and we seem to suit each other. when I worked for vets I always felt a special empathy for the cat patients, who were always much more freaked out at being in the doctor's office than your average dog would be. I think I have some idea what it is like to feel completely out of your element and to be certain that the creatures around you mean you only harm. I suppose that says a lot about me too.
other than that cats are simply beautiful but so are many other people.
3) at what age did you start reading gertrude stein? did you like her style right away, or did it grow on you? does she as a person hold meaning for you?
I think I first read her when I was about 26 or 27, and although I liked her repetitive style, at the time I was still seriously depressed and found her content (yes one can discern content in Stein!) to be way too cheerful. so I stuck exclusively with Samuel Beckett for awhile longer as he was suitably gloomy. I still love Beckett but about 5 years ago returned to Stein and found her delightful.
I'm not sure what you mean by holding meaning as a person. this may be a deliberate misunderstanding on my part as I wish to add a word about how one might understand the text known as Stein, and that would be to say that the fact that there is often no narrative structure to follow (and sometimes no syntactical one either) is exactly where the meaning lies. think of abstract painting and the way it asks questions about visual and intellectual perception itself.
otherwise she isn't really a personal hero except in a literary way. I mean I think she led an interesting life and it took some courage to be openly attached to Alice but in my inimitable timidity I am just sure that I never would have been able to make it through one of her salons. she was way the hell more sociable than I and I fear she wouldn't have liked me very much. here Beckett still reigns as authorial and temperamental model.
4) if i could award you a year's paid sabbatical starting tomorrow, where would you go? what kind of things would you do with the year, if you didn't have to worry about classes, teaching, or finances?
I would get on a train and go to Chicago and then I would get on a train and go to New York and then I would get on a train and go to Chicago again and then I would get on a train and go to Seattle and after that I would get on a train and go to Los Angeles and then get on a train and make my way across the desert southwest stopping here and there to camp out.
when I was done with that I would take a boat to Europe and ride their trains. all this train riding would be accompanied by much writing and reading.
if the year was not yet over I would then come home and split my time between writing songs and learning everything I've always wanted to know about computers.
somehow I think I would need two or three years for all this. do you think you could swing that?
5) do you take greater pleasure in the poems you write than you did in the music you made when you were in a band? can they be meaningfully compared? which do you love more, music or poetry?
tough question. they are different although I did write lyrics that were sometimes as nonsensical as my poetry (ask me about the song about underoos. you know: the underwear that's fun to wear). music is more intense to me and so the junky within prefers music whereas language is where I work out my more abstract ideas. music is a more immediate, visceral release whereas poetry is a bit more rarified, although often intense in its own heady way.
I don't know which I love more. do I have to choose? I spend more time listening to music than reading or listening to poetry but I spend more time writing poetry than I do writing music.