I understand you’ve published a first book of poetry but are reluctant to be called “poet.”

Yeah, that’s right. William S. Burroughs was great in Drugstore Cowboy but I wouldn’t call him “actor.”

Who are your poetic influences?

In one sense Robert Lowell, Sylvia Plath, Denis Johnson, William Carlos Williams and a host of others have all had a profound influence on me. In another way my strongest poetic influences are my parents and my endless quest to fathom my own psyche.

How would you describe your poetry?

I wouldn’t describe it. That’s like describing a martini instead of drinking it.

Do you take yourself seriously?

God, that’s a loser question.

If you were to say something that might inspire someone or at least get them to read your poems, come to a reading, or even buy your book what would it be?

I’ve got a puppy and a gun. If you don’t buy my book the puppy dies.

What should people know about you?

My love life looks like an abandoned August Strindberg play. And I stopped excelling as an athlete in sixth grade.

Who was August Strindberg?

Jesus, how did you get this job?

You take the name of ‘God’ and ‘Jesus,’ if not in vain, at least too casually.

This interview is so fucking over.

That’s all the time we have.

Um, my book is called Swimming From Under My Father.

What’s it about?

Sports. You are without a doubt the worst interviewer I’ve ever met.

Thanks. We’re out of time.

You’re repeating yourself.

Tune in next week when I interview actor Michael O’Keefe.

Fat chance.

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As an actor, MICHAEL O'KEEFE has garnered both Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations. He has appeared in the films Michael Clayton, Frozen River, The Pledge, Ironweed, The Great Santini and Caddyshack. Television audiences will remember him as "Fred" on Roseanne. Other TV appearances include The West Wing, Law and Order, House M.D., The Closer and Brothers and Sisters. He's appeared on Broadway in Reckless, Side Man, The Fifth of July and Mass Appeal, for which he received a Theater World Award. As a writer his lyrics were in the Grammy winning song "Longing in their Hearts," which was composed and sung by Bonnie Raitt. He's also written with Irish singer songwriter Paul Brady and numerous other composers. His writing has appeared in BOMB, Lake Affect and Chaparral. He holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Bennington College.

28 responses to “Michael O’Keefe: The TNB Self-Interview”

  1. Gail Cullen says:

    Excellent…you are good…YOU…

  2. very funny! look forward to see your book… :o))

  3. Marcella S. says:

    Hey Michael, great interview, very good answers! Some could have been from me!
    Can´t wait to read your book, but it´s not available in Germany, have to buy it on amazon USA now. Unfortunatley this will take some time, but I´m patient!

  4. Esther Haller-Clarke says:

    So flippin funny, you’re a very whitty man – it must be your Irish genes. I think your next book should be an extension of this interview

  5. norvie bullock says:

    Love it !
    (T/Y) xo

  6. Veronica says:

    Well now…I’ve one for you…

    Roses are red Violets are blue,
    I’m schizophrenic
    and so am I!

    Kidding of courser. that was a very nice touch super cute.
    Thanks for sharing the link.

  7. Ronlyn Domingue says:

    What an excellent, evocative title! Delving into the psyche will do that sometimes, eh? I hope the success you’ve enjoyed in other pursuits carries over to this one.

  8. Megan DiLullo says:

    I am so tuning in next week to read your interview about actor Michael O’Keefe.

    Welcome to TNB. I look forward to more goodies from your perspective.

  9. Zoe Brock says:

    Thanks for this, you put a beaming smile on my face. Welcome to the Nervousness, I hope you stick around to enjoy the mayhem.

  10. On behalf of the entire Arts & Culture crew, I’d like to request that actor interview, pleaseandthankyou.

    Welcome aboard!

  11. Michael:

    Yesterday I heard from James that you’re in Russia working on a new film. So good for you, my friend!

    Onward and upward…

  12. Tony Braunagel says:

    You are a clever boy with all of those sharp little quips. At least you had some attractive females respond to your interview, I mean that’s something. It makes me want to buy your book.

  13. First, welcome to the site, Michael. Awesome to see you here.

    Second, small world. I went to Saint Peter’s College in the late nineties, where I studied theology with Robert Kennedy. I’m not sure how close you both were, but he mentioned several times during classes that he was going to try to have you come in to talk to our class. We had just read his book Zen Spirit, Christian Spirit. That visit never materialized, probably due to schedules, so we never got to meet you.

    Which, obviously, is unfortunate.

    Maybe this time around.

    And hysterical interview.

  14. AXS says:

    Funny, I’m not all that fond of actor Michael O’Keefe–kinda gives me the creeps. But you really humanized him. Truly excellent job.


  15. AXS says:


    That was a compliment.



  16. I thought the interviewer was downright hostile. He bullied that poor man until he would have said yes to any accusation, no matter HOW scandalous.

    (welcome aboard, sir. Glad to have you).

  17. Judy Prince says:

    Satirizing both the interviewer and the interviewee—nice, goofy, playwrighty touch, Michael!



    • sharon mayberry says:

      Couldn’t agree more. Not only hilarious but got celeb interview down to a T.
      A great comic vignette.

      • Judy Prince says:

        Sharon, anybody who (I think) agrees with me is automatically on my friends list.

        So did Michael ever come back from Russia?

  18. […] 3. TNB Self-Interview, Michael O’Keefe […]

  19. Amy Johnston Bridges says:

    Read the interview. So clever! Knew you as a kid in Larchmont. I applaud all your success! But cant help thinking… such high class problêms you have… handling the press…. interviews…. movie shoots, etc. Wow. Must be tough. Really though, best of luck with the poet thing 🙂 Aim

  20. This is the best Self Interview. ever. and it is so over.

  21. Kay Alibrandi says:

    I loved the interview. The sarcasm and wit reminded me of your father.
    I enjoy your work and look forward to the book. On another note, you are very handsome in person!

  22. Kevin McCarthy says:

    More than funny interview. You can’t help your poetic side. What I mean is, it has depth, tofu.
    I’ve been submitting to Lake Effect. It’s in my home town. I’ll wear them down.
    It’s about time I got your book, Michael.

  23. Great self interview. Tried to buy your poetry book. The two poems I found online were great. Have you thought of posting the poems on your website? Or do readings? I know, easy to make suggestions for others.

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