Poet, Playwright,Israel Horovitz: Nurtured by a father of choice, not chance.
Interview with Doug Holder
Israel Horovitz, the noted playwright, screenwriter, and director of a new major motion picture : My Old Lady, (Based on his play of the same name) told me at an interview at the television studios at Endicott College, that we have our fathers of chance, and our fathers of choice. His father of choice was the renowned playwright and poet Samuel Beckett, who he met in Paris as a young man. Horovitz, at age 75 has released a first book of poetry Heaven and other Poems, that might not have been birthed if it wasn't for the influence of Beckett. I had the pleasure of talking with Horovitz about his long and fascinating career in the theater, and his distinguished experience with the arts. This interview was a special production for my Somerville Community Access TV show Poet to Poet: Writer to Writer.
IH: Well... the French laud louder. I joke in an interview with the New York Times that in a former life I was an escargot--loved by the French. But it is more like if you love me, I love you. I have many strong relationships with young troupes in France. When I am not in Gloucester, I am in France. or Greenwich Village.
DH: Your poem " On Boulevard Raspail"-- is a beautiful piece about you passing a young girl in Paris. A moment of time not corrupted by the jealousy, anger, etc...that a relationship can bring. The beauty is in the passing. You wrote that you told Beckett you felt bad because you stole this line from his poem: " the space of a quietly closing door." So as Eliot put it: " 'Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal."
IH: That is such a complicated question because I never intentionally did that. Obviously you write from what you know. What happened was that I was out running in Paris one morning. I often did training runs. I collided with this really pretty young woman. And we fell down and we were looking at each other. Wordlessly she got up and walked away. I wrote this poem of perfection in the passing. Anyway, I was having dinner with Beckett.. I was having a reading but I didn't invite Beckett because he never went out. He said" You are doing a reading?" I said,"Please come." Then he asked me to read the poem. I read it and he responded: "Boy, that's lovely." Then I told him I inadvertently taken the last line from his radio play Cascando. He said " Oh yes--I stole it from Dante." He translated my poem. Like me, Beckett didn't write poems with publication in mind--we was writing them for himself.
DH: I remember hearing that when Beckett opened his play Waiting for Godot in Miami the whole crowd walked out. Has this ever happened to you?
IH: Yeah it did --Bert Lahr starred in it. This happened with me and my play The Indian Wants the Bronx. (Al Pacino starred in this)We would do the play for anyone who wanted to see it. This was before it opened in New York. We did at one place called the Canoe Place Inn in the Hamptons on Long Island. The place had a 1,000 seat capacity. Only three older ladies with big hats were in the crowd. During the middle of the play they left. Pacino, with that distinctive voice said: "What are we going to do now?"
All through your life
You see the shooters
Firing guns into the sky
You wait for something to return to earth
But nothing ever falls.
You ask your parents
Why the shooters shoot
You ask ‘What is their target?’
Your parents look away.
Your father dies
You feel the pain.
You see the shooters, once again
And once again
You ask your mother ‘Why?’
This time she weeps
And starts to die.
And when she dies
Your childhood dies.
You search and find the shooters, once again.
You climb into the chamber of the tall one’s gun
And wait your turn.
(c) Israel Horovitz 2013