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Mort and Joe KUSP
Joe Stroud and Mort at KUSP - 1989

Excerpt from Striking Through the Masks

On Interview with Jack Gilbert

When Joe and I took over the poetry show on KUSP radio in 1985, we journeyed to San Francisco to record a conversation and reading with Jack. It was a rich evening but overlaid with sorrow, for Michiko had died the previous year. Jack had written a dozen elegiac love poems to her and later that year published them in a chapbook. Almost all of them appeared in his next book, The Great Fires: Poems 1982 to 1992. Jack’s approach and method in The Great Fires were the same as in his previous book. The poems revisited personal events he had previously written about, but now they were infused with a strong sense of compassion. Memory was the dominant concern, but it wasn’t accompanied by nostalgia or melancholy; rather, with the sense of celebration for the tiniest experience—a sunset, a trail of ants, a late afternoon
walk to the sea. And if his reminiscences were personal, as in his other books, they were never confessional.

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