William Goyen


William Goyen interview, June 1975 by Robert Phillips:

“As a literary person, I truly am the offspring of my mother and women like my mother. There’s no woman like a Texan woman in her eighties. She wouldn’t have a clue as to what a ‘southern’ lady was. Hers was a singing way of expressing things, and this I heard so very early that it became my own speech; that’s the way I write. I love spending money to talk to her on the phone in Texas an hour at a time because it’s just as though the curtain that came down on an opera last night goes right up when I call her tonight. The aria goes right on; it’s wonderful.”

“The natural world has such a secret power for me, it is such a source of strength and affirmation. . . . But then there are human beings, too, and they, too, are beautiful and treacherous and full of such mystery. God knows we need someone to tell us the human is beautiful these days, and we need to hear over and over again that even in our ugliness we must be loved into something more than ourselves and more than ugliness. My side is on the side of the human being, and the human being moving in nature, which is spirit; and nothing else seems important to me, and if I thought I could not spend my life laboring to perceive and to understand and to clarify what happens to us in the world, then I would want to die.” – Selected Letters, 114-115


I extracted a portion of one of Goyen’s short stories for a monologue in my drama class when I attended San Jacinto Junior College in Houston. The man is simply one of the best Texas writers ever, in my opinion. His words were written to be inhaled . . . and to be spoken.


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