Time Sits High on a Throne of Calcium: An Interview with Robert Mezey

In 1987, when I was three years out of graduate school and expanding my views of contemporary American poetics, I undertook an eight-hour interview, comprised of four two-hour sessions, with my former Pomona College English professor, renowned poet Robert Mezey. Each session of our interview began with the poet’s arrival at my cabin high up on Mt. Baldy, located in southern California’s San Gabriel Mountains. Because Mezey would be a bit breathless from the altitude (7,500 feet), we’d sip cups of chamomile tea before I clicked on my reel-to-reel tape recorder. Suffering from a skin ailment that required direct daily exposure to sunlight, he spent part of each interview discreetly sunbathing nude on my deck (I once told him that wearing his birthday suit was apt for the editor of his much-heralded anthology, Naked Poetry). Clothed or unclothed, Mezey illuminated our discussions with his characteristic wit, passion, humility, and erudition.