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Cookie Mueller writes British Columbia—1972

This may sound apocryphal, but it’s true; I sat behind Cookie Mueller at Saint Mark’s Church while she wrote British Columbia—1972. I sometimes showed up early at a poetry reading because it’s a perfect place to sit and read or edit work; just about as good as being on a bus. Cookie was going to be reading that night, and when I got there she was already sitting up front writing in a notebook, all of her concentration focused there, bent over her work. This was back when the church was being renovated after the fire, in the small chapel where the folding chairs are now placed facing west, but back then were placed facing north, just like in the main chapel, and people often stood in the back, where you could come in by a west entrance into a little vestibule where it was OK to stand and listen, drink and smoke—it isn’t there now, but remains clearly in my memory with many a ghost.

Nobody else was there, but us. I sat behind Cookie and at intervals from my work watched her calmly relentlessly write without an edit or a break; she was a current, a flow there on her page. After awhile the audience started to come in, and when she finally did get up to read, what she read was the piece that she’d been working on; it was hilarious with many good laughs and delightful surprises.

I’m not sure if she wrote the whole story there while I watched, but as she read, I had the feeling that she had. I’m not sure how many people are aware of Cookie’s writing, but I have taken the time to put this story here, the one I watched her write. It’s alive, and was published with a collection of other stories in 1990 called Walking Through Clear Water In A Pool Painted Black, a year after Cookie’s death, by Semiotext(e). Thank you, Chris Kraus.

Cookie Mueller with John Waters, 1977. Photo by Bobby Grossman. Cookie Mueller with her son Max, 1976. Photo by Audrey Stanzler

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