An Interview with Dragon
Where did you get the name Taz?
I always thought I looked like "Taz", the cartoon character. Just his expressions. He just wants to do a-quick-fast-one-in-a-hurry. But he has a beauty about him. He's just a character and I've always thought of myself as being a character. I didn't want to use the name as a bodyguard, but I wanted to be Taz on paper. No matter what he is doing, Taz is spinning and whirling, getting from one space to another...he is fast, doing his job.
Why did you want to be fast?
I wanted to be fast because I wanted to get people's attention in my writing. I've been writing since the late 50s but I never had a pseudonym. I didn't like that. I wanted to be another character where I could work through and be another person in my writing and Taz was born like that.
So you named yourself "Taz"?
Yes. I used to sit and think that I could make words like "Tenacious", "Anxious", "Zealous".....to write with Tenacity, being Anxious to write, to have that Zeal that comes from my words. Dragon couldn't do it. It was hard to do it as Dragon. Dragon had other jobs to do. He was bodyguarding. But when he cooled out, he could become "Taz". I didn't like to autograph my poems as Dragon. It was more accurate to sign them as "Taz", because Taz was freedom. He was a way of expression. It's almost like when a football player puts on his pads or a ballerina puts on her shoes. Taz is a character that I put on to write. When I started writing, I was drawing and writing to escape. I could get into my sketches and drawings and then I didn't worry about anything. Then, all of a sudden, I had a teacher at McMichael Junior High in Detroit. Miss Gloria Tennant was her name. She really pushed me in the direction of writing. She was the first person to ever, ever say I had talent--and I was 12, 13 years old then. She was just a constant spark plug. Then I found that writing was a way of expressing some deep emotional feelings that I had seen, felt, tasted. That's how I started writing in the early days. One of the first poems I ever wrote was "The Poor Man's Prayer". I am that old man now. I am just trying to hold on to what I have. I sensed a lot of things around me when I came home from the service. I saw people having a hard time. They were just trying to hold on to what they had. Then I sat down and it just came to mind. This old man is saying, "There's a lot of people that can't rest their feet, they don't have food," but he has those things and he is trying to keep what he has. That was the first real poem I wrote with deep emotional feeling. I remember reading it to my mother and she said "Wow." That was my mother and she probably saw herself in that poem.
Taz writes about life, love and social injustice. It seems like it is easier for "Taz" to express and be heard than it would be for Robb or Dragon. Do you feel that is true?
Yes. That is very true. I treat it like a glove. I take it off and put it away...for a year, sometimes two. Then, there comes a time when I have to put that glove on, and I write poetry and stories one, after the other.
Can you pinpoint the reason for this? What motivates Taz to write?
The need to express. Just the need to express. Sometimes its anger Sometimes its love. Sometimes its passion. Sometimes it is flat out injustice.
How do you write? Do
you think of a title first? Do you think of yourself as a messenger?
I was on
the road with The Temptations and I was working out, early one morning in
Virginia at our hotel. I was by the pool. As I was working out, I
was looking in the mirror. As I was standing their punching, I saw a
reflection of me in the water, reflected in the mirror. I thought, "Image
Behind the Image". For several months, I thought about this title and how
I could convey the feelings I had about that title. I told Victor
Carstarphen, The Temptations' keyboard player, about the dynamics of the
poem I was writing. I read it to him on a flight. He agreed that the
title fit the text.
Read "Image Behind the Image" by Taz.
was on the road writing, I used to drive three of my best friends crazy.
They are Kerry Turman, Terry Weeks and Buster Marbury. I used to call them
everyday and read them poems. I think that after a while they purposely
refused to answer the phone, because I drove them crazy with my calls.
They were the only ones that truly listened to me and understood me about
writing. Now that's where Tenacity, Anxiety and Zeal
comes in. Because, I poured my soul out to them and they listened.
Then, before the cycle is complete, I have to have someone sit down and read the
poem to me, and then I will know if the poem is finished. Most of
my friends that are close to me have to read my poems to me, because I am too
close to the poems to actually hear them.
So many of your "tales" end
with the adage, "Nothing is As it Seems". Why do you do that?
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