Redux: August’s Wilt



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August Wilson.

This week at The Paris Review, we’re thinking about, well, August, and how the month is drawing to a close. Read on for August Wilson’s Art of Theater interview, Ben Okri’s short story “The Dream-Vendor’s August,” and Lucia Perillo’s poem “Beauty Bark.”

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August Wilson, The Art of Theater No. 14
Issue no. 153, Winter 1999


Can you say what first drew you to the theater?


I think it was the ability of the theater to communicate ideas and extol virtues that drew me to it. And also I was, and remain, fascinated by the idea of an audience as a community of people who gather willingly to bear witness. A novelist writes a novel and people read it. But reading is a solitary act. While it may elicit a varied and personal response, the communal nature of the audience is like having five hundred people read your novel and respond to it at the same time. I find that thrilling.



The Dream-Vendor’s August
By Ben Okri
Issue no. 105, Winter 1987

He sat on the bed. He stared at the almanacs of long-bearded mystics on the wall. Somewhere in him was the feeling that a pain he had lived with had suddenly edged towards the unbearable. He had the taste of tangerines in his mouth. He was two weeks into the month of August.

When July passed with its thunderous downpours, and when August advanced with its dry winds and browning elephant grass, Joe felt himself at the mercy of a cyclical helplessness.



Beauty Bark
By Lucia Perillo
Issue no. 169, Spring 2004

But I wonder what you make of us
growing crookedly out of the burial mulch:
us the brooded-by-death, the pricker-limbed, better get your leather gloves.
Good God my thorns are sharp, and my root’s so long
you can forget about screwdrivering it out.
But come August’s wilt you will praise my random flower.


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