—-I was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1942.
—-No, I wasn’t. I was born in Salem, Arkansas in 1942. I always say I was born in Tulsa tho. Because we moved there when I was only a few months old. So that’s where I grew up. In Tulsa, Oklahoma.
—-A lot has happened between then and now, but somehow, today, I just don’t feel like writing about it. It doesn’t seem all that interesting. And it’s just too complicated.
—-What’s important is that I’m a painter and a writer. Queer. Insecure about my looks. And I need to please people too much. I work very hard. I’d give my right arm to be madly in love. (Well, my left.) And I’m optimistic about tomorrow. (Optimistic about myself, not about the world.) I’m crazy about people. Not very intelligent. But smart. I want too much. What I want most is to open up. I keep trying.
“Back in Tulsa Again” and “Autobiography” are reprinted from Collected Writings of Joe Brainard, edited by Ron Padgett, with an introduction by Paul Auster (The Library of America, 2012). Reprinted by permission