(The interview format reflects questions I’ve been asked about Alberta)
Q: You were a teacher, the book is about teaching, it’s autobiographical, right?
A: Yes and no.
Q: Can you explain?
A: Well, yes it is autobiographical, but certainly it isn’t factual.
A: Well, I think everything is processed. It’s a bit like a cow. Rumination. They have seven stomachs; and I think we have seven dimensions (maybe they do too) and only three or four of them connect directly to the material world. Beyond that it’s mainly about imagination, spirit, possibilities. So if you process stuff beyond those three or four dimensions everything changes. Then you might start writing books, or music, or making movies. Or get a satisfied mind. Reality does not have to be all that solid, or material.
Even so called non–fiction, a reporter still has to use their senses first,. And process perceptions. So does a science-fiction writer. It's just the form you choose to give it. I think fiction and poetry are the more communicative forms. I used to read John Le Carre to understand the world. But he writes fiction.
Q: How about inspiration. The muses? Shakti?
A: I think creativity is the feminine principle, that connects us to everything. So there is intuition, and that connects to inspiration, and puts a form to what we have inside, and sparks us to get it out. Anything that does that could be called a goddess.
Q: So people shouldn’t think “This is what teaching is like. This is what the world is like. This is what the people you worked with were like.”?
A: No. People are always telling me that the world is precisely not like it is depicted here. And they are correct. This is fiction. And there are characters and situations that you might find in any school. My main characters though are the least factual and the most real and interesting to me. They told me the story, through who they really were. I had something else entirely in mind when first I invited them in.
To answer your other point for a minute: There’s not all that much about teaching in the book. I mean there’s much more about teaching, in another book of mine called “You Are An English Teacher!” However that is also autobiographical. I lived through experiences, and processed them, and then wrote about it in that book, but in the form of suggestions about teaching English.
Q. But that book is considered non-fiction.
A. Probably, but I know it is fiction. But just because something is fiction doesn’t make it not true, or not real. Just like something called non-fiction, the news, documentary, reality TV and so on isn’t necessarily completely true or real. We live in a world where we have to know inside. Maybe we always have. You can’t necessarily rely on what people tell you is true or real. But there is something called poetic truth. It's usually about how people can be in all extremes.
Q. Know inside?
A. Well, do you love anyone?
Q. Yes I do!
A. How do you know you love them?
A: Did Macbeth exist?
Q: I don't know.
A. I mean several people have read this book [Alberta] ….
Q. Hang on a minute. That means that there isn’t really that much you can really know. Like you can know who you love, or who you don’t. What else can you really know?
A. Maybe it's more about what you do?
Q. We’re getting side-tracked here. You were saying, about this book [Alberta]?
A. Well people would read some and then they’d say something like, "So that’s what teaching is like?” and “I’m, trying to figure out who Alberta really is!”
Q. And they say that because they think it’s autobiographical i.e. factual, because you were a teacher? They think Matt Green is you!?
A. Yes, factual. Real. But, funnily enough, they also think it’s disguised of course. Is that real? Like is Donna Farfrae a real head teacher, who has simply been given another name and beautiful nose?
Q. And bigger breasts?
A. (Laughs) And she had fantasies about her colleagues. I mean how would I know that?
Q: Maybe she told you about her fantasies? She might have put them into that “insanely honest” book she wrote.
A: Maybe, I do love her for that.
Q: If everything is subjective, autobiographical, then there is no real truth, right?
A: I think that there are people, every now and again, whose subjective perception of the world actually corresponds to the way things are. The truth. They can help us see it too. And we tend to love or fear them.
Q: Anyone in mind?
A: No. I think it’s very rare. But – “out of the mouths of babes”.
Q: So, now I realize that “Alberta” is autobiographical, but it isn’t factual.
A: Yes indeed, and what difference does that make? It’s about life that’s been through seven stomachs and then presented to the world. Hopefully there’s a bit of milk along the way somewhere. But it's ultimately entertainment, especially the writing of it.
Q: Will you ever write your autobiography?
A: Maybe. It would be a story, which I might call an autobiography. I do write poetry though, and that is my autobiography, pretty much.
Q: Thank you.
A: Thank you.