Williams, Mason, 1938- / Them poems
Introduction, pp. 9-11 ff.
INTRODUCTION Writing Them I wrote a lot of poetry in my youth, especially in college and also while I was in the Navy. I was stationed at the Amphibious Forces base in Coronado (San Diego), California. Since I lived only a couple of blocks from the ocean, it became a major source of inspiration. I would go down to the beach every evening after dinner in search of seashells, driftwood, or whatever else one might find. I always came back with at least some seashells and usually an idea for a poem or two as well. I once came across a barstool (upside down) with a dead harbor seal right next to it. I wrote a poem about what a wild party it must have been. For a while I endeavored to inscribe my beach and ocean poems (with India ink) on the insides of seashells and, the next evening, take them back to the beach and throw them into the sea. I always hoped I would find one of these shells washed ashore again, but I never did. I often wondered if anyone ever found one. My first them poem was written as part of this routine. On weekends I'd usually go down to the beach during the day. It was December 15, 1962, a Saturday. There was a buzz in the air that seemed to be affecting everyone. People were doing all those beach-y things they do on a beautiful, sunny California winter's day. In particular, lots of people (especially little kids) were dig- ging furiously in the sand. The high-energy level of everyone pickin' away with shovels and sticks was infectious. It felt like being a part of a communal treasure hunt! So I sat on a rock and wrote, "Them Sand Pickers." I wrote "Them Banjo Pickers" the next day. I didn't realize right away that I was working out a poetic form that could be used to explore other subjects. It was my friends Ed Ruscha and Joe Goode-L.A.-based artists and bud- dies from my high school days in Oklahoma City-who inspired 9
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