Jorge Luiz Antonio and Regina Célia Pinto


It is with great pleasure that Museum of the Essential and Beyond That and we welcome the visual poet David Daniels, living in Berkeley, California, USA, for this interview.

We are very sure that the e-reader will also be enchanted with the dialogue that we have had in our interview. While our conversation was developing, the great admiration we had of the poet David Daniels was confirmed by means of the sensibility of this human being who loves life, familiy, children, cultivating Peng Ching, loving culture and knowledge.

And we could see that this same kind human being, comprehensive, happy, who is David Daniels, also is revealed in the construction of his poetry and themes.

In his main work, which is THE GATES OF PARADISE, each poem is a "gate" which completes itself with other "gates", that is, links to his friends' sites. And the "gates" of the friends is a work in progress, in permanent construction, that reveals that David Daniels makes more and more friends.

And it is interesting to notice that his friends are persons and, also, his favorite readings. So, we find "gates" of W. Somerset Maughan, Guillaume Appolinaire, Simias, Teocritus, among others.

Later YEARS came, a biography in visual poetry. The content and the form, before essentially made of black letters, in this work is made with colors and different shapes. Among original approaches of visual poems, our attention was led to the emails which Kenneth Goldsmith maintained with David Daniels. Goldsmith is the founder and one of the distinguished members of Ubu Web and one of the first persons who collaborated to publish The Gates of Paradise. By this tribute, David assumed the world visuality that is around us and made it a poetry.

HUMANS is his latest work under construction, in which David has been building his friends' visual and poetic biographies. Persons, images, words and sounds compose a new poetic experience of this poet.

But, instead of continuing to talk about him, it would be better to listen to him.

RCP > We would like you to tell us about your childhood and about your formation. When did you decide to be a poet or, better than this, a visual poet?

JLA> The relationship between word and image, for you, is much more than an ilustration of word, or even a visual resource for making poetry, especially because you do, and very well, a lot of artistic work with computational technology. So what does technology represent for your making poetry?

DD> My father took me to museums and plays and operas and films every week so that by the time I was 7 my mind was gorged with impressions of art. When I was little sometimes I wished I was looking at pictures when I was reading books. And sometimes I wished I was reading words when I was looking at pictures. I was probably prejudiced by films which were pictures that spoke words. When I wrote I wished I could write pictures. When I painted I wished I could paint words. When I was 16 I read a little book by Ernest Fenollosa and Ezra Pound-

The Chinese Written Character As Medium For Poetry -

JLA> Very good resource , David. I've already read this text, and others by Fenollosa and Pound, in Portuguese, and wondered to have a kind of Chinese character to write in Portuguese too.

DD> (going on) This little book that some people hate and some people love showed things like how the Chinese word for snow was the word for rain with the word for brush under it- Rain That Could Be Swept With A Broom.

I liked this idea very much. Later I met Gim Fong Moy who wrote Chinese out of Dragons and Phoenix.

I studied with him.

In the 1950's I stumbled upon The Greek Anthology - Vol 5 - Loeb Classical Library - 1953 - Book XV - MISCELANEA EPIGRAM 21- The Pipe Of Theocritus- A picture of the pipe of Pan in words written about Pan.

And a few more

This was my true beginning of my idea of my Self as a Technopaegnian or SHAPE POET.

Application of my ideas was impossible for me until I got a computer .

Some people have tried to create shape poems with a typewriter. No one could write the shapes I write without a computer.

RCP> You said that your father gave you a good formation in Art, what is wonderful, but I know that you spent some years studying painting and that you have copied El Greco's, Rembrandt's and Renoir's works. I read you have earned your living for a couple of years copying old masters. So, you know how to paint in a western way. However you love Chinese culture. I am not speaking only about the Chinese written, I am speaking about the Pen Ching (Japanese Bonsais are a copy of Chinese Pen Ching) too. I would like to know:

400 pound US Sumo Wrestler named for fat light pink blossoms

1- Were these years you spent studying paint a regular formation or were you a self taught, studying by yourself?

DD> I can remember sitting in a Humanities class (Literature, Music, Plastic Arts) at the University of Chicago when I was 16. The teacher had a slide of one of Raphael's paintings on the screen. She asked if anyone wanted to use a pointer stick to explain the composition. I never thought that a painting had a composition before this moment. I just looked at paintings. I remember I spontaneously leaped up, walked to the screen, picked up the pointer, and explained and pointed out the composition for a half hour. When I sat down someone asked me : "How did you know that?" I said: "I saw it." Evidently, I saw everything I looked at. I watched people do things and then I could do them. In 1960 I spent a year living in Chinatown in Lower Manhattan. NYC.

I was 27. I liked to write Chinese. It is very GONGY - GONG GONG GONG BANG BANG CRASHHH CRASHHH. ZING. ZING. BIRDS CHIRP YING YING. DEER CHIRP YO YO. There can be a direct connection between the mind that created the brain and what it watches your Self doing. Many Chinese write every morning to see what shape their mind is in.

I have never tried to learn how to paint or do anything else. I have always tried to do things I love.

This is where I learned everything. Here is my art school - The Art In Painting - Albert C. Barnes. A Sportsman's Sketches - Ivan Sergeyevich Turgenev. My Childhood - Maxim Gorky. Bleak House - Charles Dickens. The Wolf Man - Sigmund Freud. Typhoon - Joseph Conrad. Preface to Cakes and Ales - W. Somerset Maugham. Sculpture - Constantin Brancusi. Lives Of The Caesars - Suetonius. Drole de Drame (Bizarre-Bizarre) - Jacques Prevert. Les Infants du Paradis - Jacques Prevert. Les Voix du Silence - Andre Malraux. Bachianas Brasileiras - Heitor Villa-Lobos. Gulistan & Bhustan - Saadi. The Monk At The Piano - Giorgione. Goldfish In A Glass Tank - Henri Matisse. Don Giovanni - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Symphoney 3 - Ludwig Van Beethoven. Metamorphoses - Ovid. The Technopaegnia in The Greek Anthology. for example .

I don't believe in small divisions. I believe in large wholes. I am grateful of my intelligence. I am grateful of my emotion. I am grateful of my body. I am grateful of life and the world we all love so very much.

I am NOT an extruded, everyone has to be the same, robot. I am a Self educated cultivated motivated human. I love to embroider around facts. I love to wear my talent, my erudition, and my fearless ability to create on my sleeve. I don't like rules and I don't like fences. Don't fence ME in.

RCP> 2- Which do you think was the best influence to your work, the western art or the oriental art? Are you capable to say what you "caught" from the western culture and what you caught from oriental culture?

DD> It is all the same to me. I have been into WORLD ART for a long long time. I read Malraux's THE VOICES OF SILENCE when I was 16. THE IMAGINARY MUSEUM. It proves visually it is all the same. I believe the time has come with the internet and TV for people to realize that Art is Art. There are statues of Buddha in India that look like the Greek god Hermes because the Greeks were there. There are so many things in Greece that come from the Turks because they were there. Beethoven's 9th symphony ends with a Turkish band. They used to say that every bank in the USA looks like a Greek temple and every power plant is where a Cathedral would be in Europe. I just want to create beautiful visual poems, paint with fonts, sculpture with lines, and frankly until 2 years ago, I never believed anyone would ever even read them! I believe that one thing that gives beauty and life to my poems is that they are surrounded by air. The Chinese Cezanne Persian idea (The rosebud shaped dome locks the blue sky down onto the building) of blank negative space as "air" as important as the object of the poem. The poem is like the sensations we have of our bodies, thoughts, feelings. The blank space is the air we live in, inhale, exhale, and hold. So life is not crammed into a box -- It is wide open. It changes. It moves. It is, as Freud said of the elements of the mind, as "dynamic as the acrobats in a circus who are always moving into taking each others place. As water in a stream. As air in the lungs. As happy families -- Always changing. Always the same.

RCP> 3-Tell us anything about your Pen Ching: which is the relation of the Pen Ching and your "shape poetry". Are the Pen Ching "shape poetry" alive ? Which came first, your bonsais or your visual poetry? Perhaps, to take care of a Pen Ching, establishing its form and where it should grow or can not be related with the way how you build your poetry. Tell us about your process of creation. Do you think first how will be the shape (image) or how will be the subject? I already know that you work text and image simultaneously. However what I would like to know is if you are a visual person who sees first the image and after imagines a subject to it or it is just the opposite?



When I was 50 In 1983 I thought I better get ready for old age with something I like to do. We have a beautiful climate here in Berkeley California. We are directly in line with the COOL Pacific Ocean air pouring through the Golden Gate. We are under a HOT southern sun. Cool. Air. Hot Sun. We have the most even temperature on earth along with the French and Italian Riviera and the west coast of Greece. We have no rain from May to October. It is easy to give growing plants exactly the right amount of water they need. We have fog a lot. I decided to cultivate Pen Ching. They need a temperate even clime to survive the winter without being buried in the earth or in glass which inhibits fresh air. Japanese Bonsais are a copy of Chinese Pen Ching. Most people who cultivate dwarf trees are very generous in useless explanations and very ungenerous in useful explanations. I bought some small trees from a nursery and turned them into Pen Ching. It only took me 10 years to learn that bright sunlight, wind, lots of water, lots of sand and gravel for drainage, very little food, pinching off all new growth, and biannual cutting back roots keeps trees small.

APPLE TREE 10" tall

They are like sculptures that grow themselves. The less you fuss over them the better. I try to let them be trees not cleany weany starving tortured less is less religious addicts. I try to let my visual poems grow without interfering. I am very careful to let them be what I see them becoming. I see the image and the subject at the same time. I am a harmonious human who breathes with their entire being. I learned this from Frank Lloyd Wright's ideas of ORGANIC interrelated architecture where everything is interrelated to every thing else. They come from what he called manlight. Today we better call it human light.

RCP> Have you done another kind of work or activity based on oriental culture?

DD> I do not believe that there is a Western Culture or an Eastern Culture. I believe there is a HUMAN culture. I do not believe there are races. I believe there are human beings. I am a human being.

However people must not forget where they come from. My ancestors for thousands of years have been Jews. I am a Jew. I am simultaneously a 70 year old human being who creates visual poetry, watches small trees, spider chrysanthemums, roses, and human beings grow with affection. I spend twenty dollars a day on candy. My food is impressions of children smiling.

RCP> In your book "The Gates of Paradise" there are many poems as "The Transformation of Salami and Pastrami Rebar Into Dueling All Beef Ball Park Hot Dog Gates where one realizes that the terminology has the influence of your childhood . The book "Years" tell us about your childhood itself. There we can see forms as a cookie, an apple, an ice cream.

You told us: "My food is impressions of children smiling." And we know how you are enchanted with your God Daughter Estella Virginia.

Will be that your childhood or the childhood in general feeds your poetry or part of it? Why do you think it happens? Do you believe that artists always had the child inside themselves?

The title of your book "The Gates of Paradise" sounds very poetic, sophisticated and a little bit religious but the titles and the language of its poems are sometimes humorous and colloquial. The flux Garden Gates, for example, shows all kind of "meaningless" and imaginative transformations. Is this opposition voluntarily ironic, just for showing the many ways you have seen living and dead human beings struggling to find happiness inside of themselves or outside of them? Or is Poetry just the real Gate of Paradise? Do you consider Poetry an "ax for the frozen sea within us"? Could you speak to us about this?

Recently, you sent to "Webartery" the "Homeric photo of the hurricane Isabel".
I asked you if you have ever seen a hurricane and you answer:

O yes. I was 4 or 5. My house was in the BIG hurricane of 1938. The one at the end of the novel - Portrait of Jennie by Robert Nathan - 1940.
My job was to go down to our basement in a bathing suit and open the storm drain which did nothing for hours because not only the sewers but the street was full of water - 2 feet deep and red from the brick red clay of Essex County NJ. We all tried to walk and swim in the street and pretend we were in Venice.

The next day my little friends and I climbed all the giant trees in our neighborhood because they were all on the ground.

You always sent us NASA photos of auroras and other scientific subjects.

Is your interest in these subjects related to your magic childhood, to your poems - a way of increasing shape and content of them or it is part of your interest in the world we live and subject to the talks with the friends that come to the warehouse where you have some chairs, paying for this...

Tell us how you discover that you could earn a living just talking…

DD> The Transformations in the Flux Garden Entrance to The Gates Of Paradise are inspired artistically by Ovid's Metamorphoses. Someday people will look on its people turning into can openers and washing machines and cages and bottles and body parts - All in much the same ways we now look on Ovid's Greco/Roman gods and their victims.

Photos from space and sweet little children are new things never before seen. When you are 70, it is very rare to eat something you have never eaten or experience an event you have never experienced or see or hear or smell or taste or touch something you have never had a sensation of before.

And if you want to see The Truth look in the face of a smiling child. Laughter is the truth flying up from the depths of the human being. Happiness is a buried treasure. If you realized there was a treasure buried inside you, would you dig inside you until you found it? Would you say 'Open Sesame' to a rock wall inside you and see it open to a cave full of magnificent treasure? To a tiny invisible engine surrounded by light messengers spinning a gigantic gold and ruby and pearl and blood cocoon around its Self?

When children are born they are a fine invisible engine as soft as the mirror on a pool of silk water inside a clumsy automobile. As they grow they crash in accidents and get dents and scrapes and road dirt all over their automobile. They are trained to forget they are an invisible engine inside. They are forced into believing the totality of their being is fender and bumper dents and scrapes and road dirt. They are taught by their owners to devote their life to speeding and crashing and hauling and listening to a loud ridiculous radio and repairing and painting their fender and bumper dents and scrapes. Whenever they say - "I have an invisible engine." (Which is as close as they are able to come to "I am an invisible engine.") or "I can hear the tune of my invisible engine."- They are told that they are crazy, or to go on a boring drive they hate, or it is God, or you must become as solid as a rock wall. Early in their young shining fluttering life most humans have totally forgotten they are an invisible engine.

No matter how hard they struggle to lick the shoes of their owners and mechanics- Some humans once in a while hear the tune of their engine. It sounds something like a star on the tip of their tongue. It sounds like a sand grain on the tip of their tongue and they fail to realize that to make a pearl one must clam their shell. And sometimes some of these people like to talk with people who are able to allow themselves and others to realize the tune of their engine and to live from the tune of their engine. I am one of many who have friends who sometimes see the tune of their engine who pay to come to a warehouse where they have chairs.

The frozen sea within human beings is their belief that they are rock solid fenders called feelings and bumpers called thoughts. Real feelings are spontaneity. Real thoughts are intuition. These small glows are the invisible drive shaft and the invisible fuel of their invisible engine.

My poems are created by the intuition and spontaneity of my invisible engine my Self.

As I sing in my preface to The Gates Of Paradise:

Regina, these are wonderful questions. I hope I am giving good answers. I'm trying to do the best that I can do. There is nothing more for me to say on the present question.

JLA - Don't worry about it, David. Your answers are very good. Regina and I are trying to do the best in order to make you feel free, and your answers please us, and of course the readers in the future, very much.

DD> Anything further on this subject can be found in my poem YEARS at:

JLA> When I first heard the title of your site (I knew your book before) - The Gates of Paradise - I felt it was a little bit religious. I accessed your site and enjoyed the way you used the key "The ... Gate" for including people, sites, egroups, and so on. Your site became collective for you could receive your friend in your gates. And the Paradise should be to have many friends around ...
Did you make the site first, and, then, printed the book, or on the contrary?
How many years did you spend in thinking and creating this book?

DD> I didn't really think about writing my 350+ poem-ed poem The Gates Of Paradise. In the 1960's I was director of an arts and crafts department at The Brooklyn Hebrew Hospital For The Aged. I painted a small 1X2 foot painting of a gate made of weather every few weeks to have something to do in my unused time at work- I was inspired by Buchner who wrote his great play Danton's Death in over 40 or 50 short scenes in part because he was working in his father's laboratory and could only write while his father who hated his son's writing was out of the lab. Buchner would open a drawer with his manuscript in it as his father left the laboratory and write until his father came back. At which instant Buchner shut his drawer. Vicissitude can be a magnificent mother of art.- Each small 1X2 foot gate would be an expression of a type of weather I had experienced. As I painted them I was aware of which other gates they would be next to: Above: Below: Left Right: I would take these paintings home and place them on the wall next to each other to eventually make a large 6X8 foot gate/painting out of them. I have seen and heard many gates: Rodin's Gates Of Hell: Mussorgski's The Great Gate Of Kiev: The blue tile Gate Of Babylon: The Minoan Lion Gate: The Iron Screens in Spanish Churches: The Ikon Wall Gate in Russian Churches: The Arc de Triumphe: The Brandenburg Gate: Ghilberti's Gates of Paradise, The Japanese wood gates in the ocean. Etc. I was very busy in those days. Doing many many things. I forgot the idea of gates until I wrote the poem The Gates Of Paradise for 3 hours each morning from around 1988 to 1999. About 13,000 hours. It developed spontaneously as an expression of my life: I never believed in Paradise in a religious way. Heaven and earth are inside of us and outside of us here on earth: In the Gospel of Saint Thomas, Jesus says: "If you think heaven is in the sky the birds will get there and you will not. If you think heaven is in the ocean the fish will get there and you will not. If you think heaven is in the earth the worms will get there and you will not. The kingdom of heaven is inside you:" Rumi said, "Paradise is a garden under which rivers run full of fountains." I believe this means the garden is the sensations on our skin, The blood rivering under it and the fountain of the physical and mental hearts when I realize I am alive . I wish to live. I love life with my entire being. I have seen many people seek paradise in many, many ways inside and outside and in between of their Self. (That which they were born from. The Self created the brain and its tools.) I tried to express and depict human intricacy and complexity and ecstasy and despair in all these ways in a visual poem.

At first these shape poems may seem meaningless and trivial but they are absolutely accurate images of what has taken over the inside of human beings.

I created my web site in 2000 after my poem The Gates Of Paradise was finished (1999.) The whole story of it and many ideas about it are at:

JLA> From now on I would like to talk about your newest Years. The title has the same characters of The Gates of Paradise, that is, built by birds, but you included colors and more material from Internet and WWW. Instead of many parts, each part is a year. And there are not numbered pages, and it means for me that a reader can start reading from the page he/she wants to.
Tell us your general project for this book.

DD> Here is the preface to my poem YEARS: "David Daniels has been making words out of pictures and pictures out of words for over 60 years: He is a common person: As common as dirt and grass: From the plumb of his wine dark mind cellar here is a taste of each year of his life:" My idea is to recreate in a visual poem an authentic taste of a moment or more of each year of my life- As I lived it- As I remember it: As I have the accurate inner sensation of the taste of this moment or more.

Halfway through YEARS I became artistically and technically able to use some color. I tried to make Years enlarge visually like when in the film: The Wizard Of Oz the little girl opens the door and the film changes from sepia tone to color: In 1962 Earth became a technicolor Oz for me due to a sea change in my life that led me into a permanent inner joy: This is metaphored allegorically in fact in:

And 1962:
(1962 A)
(1962 B)
(1962 C)
(1962 D)
(1962 E)
(1962 F)
(1962 G)

The pages in my 250+ page visual poem YEARS are not numbered because the section titles ARE numbers. YEARS is written in a sonata form. A,B and C are the first wandering off and returning movement. D is the long slow heavy second movement. E and F are the springing third movement. G is the galloping fourth movement.

JLA> Whenever I can I used to show your books to my students and/or friends. I like to notice people's comments, especially during some classes I need to teach text interpretation.
In your case what I noticed is that you have a good communication all the time. I never forgot people's admiration when they looked at your big printed poems in the II Mostra Interpoesia, in São Paulo, October, 2001.

DD> Thank you for telling me this Jorge. It makes me happy to hear that people enjoy my poems and that my poems can add more pleasure to people's lives. Hand washes hand. What Noel Coward said on this was "Modern Art and Modern Poetry and Modern Music have a tendency to bore the public. THE PUBLIC DOES NOT LIKE TO BE BORED." Post Modern Art has in many cases tried to increase the boredom of the public even more. Many people are ignorant or living in a difficult place and are afraid to come out into the world with their true Self. There are so many people all over the world cursed to sit all day in all those dreadful tedious offices, people so bored with their jobs that they will search the internet and EVEN at times read poetry! What a large opportunity for a poet to reach and even enjoy an audience! I have thousands of people from over a hundred countries visiting my site every month. This is happiness. I hope some of the ones from India are some of those magnificent poor wonderful children who search the web in the computers that wonderful man cements into slum walls all over India for them.

JLA> The poet dialogues with the painter and from this negotiation we have a visual poem. Is that true?

DD> I would put it this way: In Shape Poetry the poet is the painter and the painter is the poet. The painter is simultaneously and spontaneously telling the poet HOW to shape and the poet is simultaneously and spontaneously telling the painter WHAT to shape. The Human Being is the engine with which the Poet and the Painter drive their work to life.

JLA> We don't know each other personally, but all the time Regina and I have been exchanging emails with you, we feel a good person who feels himself very well and irradiates sympathy.
Can you tell us something about it?

DD> Lev Tolstoy: Anna Kerenina: "All happy people are alike: All unhappy people are different and incessantly cultivating different forms of unhappiness." All happy people are alike and like and are like their own and other peoples happiness. I have noticed that it is not a sin to be happy in Brasil.

JLA> In Years you started a relationship with the third dimension by means of the use of colors. I am based on the poem which starts with "morning and afternoo][n, and evening, that".
Do you feel you are going to make 3D poems in the future, or use this resource from the WWW?

In the circled poem "After reading", you started images with the letter "o" in some colors. A kind of change in your visual poetic communication is coming out, isn't it? It is a kind of trajectory from words to image. I bet you are going to use images themselves next to words in your next book, then, perhaps you are going to animate it in the WWW.
Is there a possibility of occurring what I am thinking of?

DD>Words for me are the complication clay. Pictures are the easy forming wet clay. I enjoy making pictures in an easier way than I enjoy making word formations. I have a small gift for words - the liberator of humanity. I have a great gift for color - the melody of visual art: But I will never leave meaningful human words out of my poems because people like them and people are in great need of direct encouragement to pursue life, liberty, and happiness - Especially young people who love our earth so very much and wish so excitedly to be able to watch their Self and other Selfs and our life on earth itself grow with affection.

JLA> What is your project for the future?

DD> Cultivate my Pen Ching in my garden. Make words out of pictures and pictures out of words simultaneously on my computer. Fill with even more shape poems. Do at least 200 Humans for my poem HUMANS:

Watch my 3 children grow with affection. My son Chris (47) you know is a fine poet/translator of Portuguese. His translations of the work of Pessoa are outstanding. He is also an expert Electronic Technician/Editor for a huge law book publisher: He was major domo at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Boston at age 20. He became a fine chef. My daughter Gina (23) is also very talented: She is one of the world's foremost Middle Eastern Dancers and dances at the most important Middle Eastern Night Club in Los Angeles. She is a student at the University Of Southern California Film school. She has made several small films, and is already working on production in Hollywood films.

This film 'Autismic' is a 26-minute documentary Gina made on her own that has been on Public Television. It explores the personalities of five children with Autism.

My daughter Rachel (24) is also very talented. She is very E language literate. She has lived on her own and supported her Self since she was 15. She is what they call in California a "Razzle Dazzle Wheeler Dealer Get Out Of My Way Money Maker." She drives around all day and all night in her dark glasses in her dark purple Mercedes with dark tinted windows - TV on the dashboard, giant music speakers booming in the car trunk, meeting with people, generating friendship and facilitating commerce. Among many business she has created on her own, she has established her own web design business:

We old people know a wonderful happiness and calm when our children each earn a better living than we do.

The secret of my children's success is that I have always encouraged them to enjoy life in whatever way they wish to enjoy life.

David Daniels now has but to encourage everyone he comes in contact with to cultivate their own garden with affection - And perhaps to replace his long lost Weather Gates painting - I may yet paint a giant Weather Gates Of Paradise made of many small paintings in my spare time. And I will always remember Jorge Luiz Antonio and Regina Celia Pinto.