why do you keep harping on past misery‘?‘ Well, my answer is ‘now‘s my chance‘. I don‘t think those things that happened to me are unique. I think it‘s happening to a huge chunk of people. Domestic violence is extremely common battered children. battered women. A lot of women see it as black and white men are evil and women are loving. I think that the sadist. power-mongering. dominant. Caligula personality crosses all economic. racial and gender lines. All I know is that you‘ve just got to try to avoid people like that and it‘s not always possible.‘

Talking with Karol is like going through the emotional equivalent of a roller coaster. At times she appears close to tears as the she talks of her mother. at others she exhibits the subdued optimism of a person who knows that she is finally in control of her own destiny.

‘So often.‘ she continues. accelerating. ‘people go to their graves acting out the conditioning which has been formed by age seven. They become encrusted with ideas that they‘re right and the rest of the world is wrong and they become neurotic about preserving their own ego. So they remain unconscious. You have to do a lot of self scrutiny and have the humility to admit that your way of life is incorrect and that‘s the reason why you‘re miserable. I had to forgive my mother and grandmother in order to own my own life. All of the energy which I now give to my writing. I devoted for fifteen years to overcoming mental illness.‘

Now. though, poetry is Karol‘s dominant obsession but success is not easy. She was booed offstage at an anti-censorship gig for having the temerity to recite ‘Why I Choose Black Men For My Lovers‘ to a ‘white-trash‘ audience. Her poems. whilst seeming to be spontaneous outbursts. are in fact lovingly (or maybe hatefully) crafted.

‘What every artist says is that a sign of mastery is being able to do your art and make it look effortless.‘ she says. the words flowing as ever. ‘Actually, I‘m really slow and it‘s really painful. I‘m never stuck for ideas and I don‘t have a problem with the blank page. But it‘s like playing chess; ifyou make one movement then there‘s a thousand ramifications. You have to consider every word and select the one that‘s going to be pertinent to the composition. But you don‘t only have to make the move. you also have to make the chess pieces and the board. It‘s like the ultimate brain-teaser. Being as neurotic as I am. the only peace I ever feel is when I finish my poem and then it‘s like “Pheeew“.‘

After forty minutes of conversation one feels that. in this fragile ego. one has witnessed every insecurity imaginable. But there‘s little doubt that La Loca is on the upturn and her second European tour in less than a year will hopefully allow her to ditch the day job. Finally she seems to be content. . . or is she? Yes. damn it. she is.

‘The tour seems. in many ways. to be a self-aggrandising enterprise but my motives really aren‘t that way at all. Still. ifsomebody were to scream at me that l were a pompous shit and that all of my actions were in self interest I‘d be at a loss to properly deny that. But after having more than 36 years of self-effacement and self-abasement and always denying my own needs. I‘m pretty guilt-free about finally considering myself first.‘

La Loea will be appearing as part of ‘( ‘lzin Maxie: New American Writers in l’erjOrmanee' at The Third Eye ('entre. Glasgow on Saturday 141/1 July.

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