What was the last local restaurant you patronized? Cozy’s Café on 75th Street for breakfast — an unassuming, friendly place, where Cozy herself brought me a birthday cupcake, candle lit, on August 31. How beautiful, to see that candle moving through the dim light of the early-morning café.
Where do you drink? Lisa doesn’t drink, but we both like the bar below Raphael Hotel in the Plaza. We like its mellow atmosphere and its equally mellow music by Max Groove. I don’t much like the name of the bar, so I won’t mention it.
Favorite arts organization: The Writers Place, clearly a phenomenon as a grass-roots, volunteer-based organization. Go there.
Favorite place to spend a significant portion of your paycheck: Costco, I say sheepishly.
Where do you like to take out-of-town guests? I host many out-of-town writers and for several years have been taking them for lunch at Cascone’s Grill on Fifth Street. Andrei Codrescu, Robert Pinsky and others. They love going to a local place with good food, and we have our best conversations there.
“Kansas City got it right when it …” Quickly set a curfew for young people in the Plaza and in other parts of town. I think this was not punitive but healthy — for adults to be seen acting with clarity, civility and gentleness.
What TV show are you embarrassed to admit you watch? Restaurant Impossible. That guy is great.
Celebrity you’d like to take on a gondola ride: Anne Lamott. Can you imagine the hilarity?
Person or thing you find really irritating at this moment: The current Kansas governor, for his dismantling of the Kansas Arts Commission.
What subscription — print, digital, etc. — do you value most? Harper’s. I could not be without it; neither could I be without Ploughshares, The Georgia Review and The New Yorker.
What was the most important thing you learned in school? The law of diminishing returns, from macro economics. I learned that there comes a point when more input into a project yields less and less output. This has had philosophic implications for me, which are positive, not negative. The law opens me up to the possibility of leaving certain things in the past and moving forward more productively. That’s the work.
Describe a recent triumph: I received an e-mail on my birthday, in August, from the editor of the magazine Poetry International, saying that it would publish one of my poems. That’s a rare triumph, almost as good as having written the poem in the first place.
New Letters on the Air can be heard on KCUR 89.3 at 6 a.m. Sundays and online at newletters.org/radio.