William Walsh is the author of Unknown Arts, Ampersand, Mass., Pathologies, Questionstruck (all from Keyhole Press), and Without Wax: A Documentary Novel (Casperian Books). He edited an anthology of fictional appropriations called RE:Tellng (Ampersand Books). His work has appeared in Annalemma, Artifice, Juked, New York Tyrant, Lit, No Colony, Caketrain, Quarterly West, Rosebud, and other journals. He lives in Massachusetts with his wife and their four children.
An excerpt from Unknown Arts appears in Issue Thirty-Three of The Collagist.
Here, Walsh answers questions "in the form of excerpts"--with further excerpts from Unknown Arts.
All responses are derived from Ulysses by James Joyce, 1922.
He reflected on the pleasures derived from the literature of instruction rather than of amusement as applied to the works of William Shakespeare for the solution of difficult problems in imaginary or real life.
1. What is writing like?
Two apples a penny! Two for a penny! That is how poets write, the similar sounds. But then Shakespeare has no rhymes: blank verse. The flow of the language it is. The thoughts. Solemn. Like Shakespeare's face. Shakespeare's reverence.
I may as well warn you that if you want to shake my belief that Shakespeare is Hamlet you have a stern task before you. After God Shakespeare has created most. Shakespeare is the happy huntingground of all minds that have lost their balance.
Too poetical that. Music did that. Music hath charms, Shakespeare said. Quotations every day in the year. To be or not to be. Wisdom while you wait.
2. What isn’t writing like?
Shakespeare's ghost. I mean, whether Hamlet is Shakespeare. It is the ghost, the king, a king and no king, and the player is Shakespeare who has studied HAMLET all the years of his life which were not vanity in order to play the part of the spectre. Shakespeare, a ghost by absence. The world believes that Shakespeare made a mistake.
Trenchant exponent of Shakespeare. praises of Shakespeare's songs ineluctably preconditioned to become. What went forth to the ends of the world to traverse not itself, God, the sun, Shakespeare?
3. When you do it, why?
To create a figure which the world will set beside Saxon Shakespeare's Hamlet.
(And) payment at the rate of one guinea a column to the writer. With the help of God and His blessed mother, I'll make it my business to write.
4. When you don’t, why?
The birth of William Shakespeare over delta in the recumbent neversetting constellation of Cassiopeia.
(And) the plays of Shakespeare's later years. Shakespeare himself forgot. Good Bacon: gone musty. Rutlandbaconsouthamptonshakespeare. Shakespeare. Shrewridden Shakespeare…
THE FACE OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE, BEARDLESS, APPEARS. IN THE MIRROR.
What does Shakespeare say?
—GOODBYE, NOW, GOODBYE! WRITE DOWN ALL I SAID AND TELL TOM, DIEK AND HARRY I ROSE FROM THE DEAD. WHAT'S BRED IN THE BONE CANNOT FAIL ME TO FLY... GOODBYE, NOW, GOODBYE!