We continue our series, Woodstock Profiles, with author, poet, man about town (literally), Will Nixon.
**See special treat at end of the profile!**
Writer. My latest book, co-authored with Michael Perkins, is “The Pocket Guide to Woodstock.” Our previous book appeared several years ago,“Walking Woodstock: Journeys into the Wild Heart of America’s Most Famous Small Town.” We also contribute “Walking Woodstock” columns to the “Woodstock Times.”
As a poet, I’ve published two collections in recent years, “My Late Mother as a Ruffed Grouse,”and “Love in the City of Grudges.” In Woodstock people know me as a walker. Out on the Hudson Valley poetry circuit, though, people know me as the guy who wrote a series of poems inspired by “Night of the Living Dead.” I guess that makes me a zombie poet trail guide.
When did you first come to Woodstock?
I left midtown Manhattan for a Catskills log cabin in 1996. After five years with a wood stove, I found my way back to modern heating by moving to Woodstock.
What made you decide to put roots down here?
Roots? How did you know I grew roots? Here’s the true story.
After the March rains, I masturbate
over the thawed soil to plant more of us.
Hatched naked as mushrooms, we never grow
the green skin needed to survive by the sun alone,
so we must step off our roots, hungry
and curious, perfectly disguised
as fellow humans, cocky and protected
by ethical principles, scientific understanding.
Then a bee crawls in our ear to pollinate
the thousand folds of our brain.
Laden with dewy residue
of dreams and Godly visions, the bee
grows too heavy to fly but can’t stop buzzing
anymore than we can explain this sudden desire
to roll naked in mud, cloak ourselves
in seeds and minerals, dress in trumpet vines
that blossom and feed hummingbirds
at our breasts. Earth again, we forget the reason
we could be anything but pagans.
That’s a poem from “My Late Mother as a Ruffed Grouse.”
When you have a full day to yourself – what is pure bliss to you?
Sitting at the computer in the creative flow.
Tea or Coffee?
Venti Latte upstairs at Joshua’s.
Best Kept Woodstock Secret (that your willing to share)?
The view from the Woodstock Land Conservancy property at the western end of Mount Guardian. You’ll appreciate how much bigger the mountains we have really are than they often appear to us from the roads.
Yoga, Pilates, or Qi Qigong?
If money was no object, what would you do or acquire?
I’d take my twenties back. (See my poems in “Love in the City of Grudges.” I spent those years in Hoboken.)
What would others be surprised to learn about you?
My name appeared on the cover of Life magazine when I was just a teenager.
“Will Nixon Resign?”
Where have you not traveled that your dying to? or Where have you been that you would want to go again?
Again: Alaska and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Central and South America.
The first time: I’m not so sure. I’ve turned into a homeboy in my old age.
What is your favorite season to “Walk Woodstock” and why?
They all have their advantages. The other day I walked my old favorite, the loop that includes Plochmann Lane, Glasco Turnpike, Rock City Road, and Mill Hill Road. Along the way, a yellow motorcycle zipped by, then returned a moment later. It turned out to be a friend of mine, who stopped to say hello. We had a good long chat, the perfect way to bring a muggy summer afternoon to an end. In the winter or the rain, no one ever stops to say hello.
Who or What inspires you and why?
Lately, I’ve been fascinated by the lives of some of the Woodstock Arts Colony figures whose lives somehow illuminate my own. The latest “Woodstock Times” has my article about George Ault, who painted here during the 1940s and produced a series of masterpieces long after his art career had gone into decline. He lived to paint–and did. I admire his faith in his chosen calling.
Village History Walk on Saturday, July 28th at 10 am at the Golden Notebook at 29 Tinker Street in Woodstock guided by Will and special guests. Can’t make it this Saturday? That’s OK, you have 4 more attempts to redeem yourself every Saturday in August.