Interviews with Borges are rare, though given that he’s one of my favorite writers of all time, I try to find what I can. Here’s one with Artful Dodge:
I’m given an idea; well, that idea may become a tale or a poem. But I’m only given the starting point and the goal. And then I have to invent or concoct somehow what happens in between, and then I do my best. But generally, when I get that kind of inspiration, I do all I can to resist it, but if it keeps bothering me, then I have to somehow write it down. But I never look for subjects. They come to me in a cage, they may come when I’m trying to sleep, or when I wake up. They come to me on the streets of Buenes Aires, or anywhere at anytime. For example, a week ago I had a dream. When I awoke- it was a nightmare – I said, well, this nightmare isn’t worth telling, but I think there’s a story lurking here. I want to find it. Now when I think I found it, I write it within five or six months. I take my time over it. So I have, let’s say, a different method. Every craftsman has his own method, of course and I should respect it.
And here’s another with Don Bell.
Also, because I must, one of his poems, called The Other Tiger.
A tiger comes to mind. The twilight here
Exalts the vast and busy Library
And seems to set the bookshelves back in gloom;
Innocent, ruthless, bloodstained, sleek
It wanders through its forest and its day
Printing a track along the muddy banks
Of sluggish streams whose names it does not know
(In its world there are no names or past
Or time to come, only the vivid now)
And makes its way across wild distances
Sniffing the braided labyrinth of smells
And in the wind picking the smell of dawn
And tantalizing scent of grazing deer;
Among the bamboo’s slanting stripes I glimpse
The tiger’s stripes and sense the bony frame
Under the splendid, quivering cover of skin.
Curving oceans and the planet’s wastes keep us
Apart in vain; from here in a house far off
In South America I dream of you,
Track you, O tiger of the Ganges’ banks.
It strikes me now as evening fills my soul
That the tiger addressed in my poem
Is a shadowy beast, a tiger of symbols
And scraps picked up at random out of books,
A string of labored tropes that have no life,
And not the fated tiger, the deadly jewel
That under sun or stars or changing moon
Goes on in Bengal or Sumatra fulfilling
Its rounds of love and indolence and death.
To the tiger of symbols I hold opposed
The one that’s real, the one whose blood runs hot
As it cuts down a herd of buffaloes,
And that today, this August third, nineteen
Fifty-nine, throws its shadow on the grass;
But by the act of giving it a name,
By trying to fix the limits of its world,
It becomes a fiction not a living beast,
Not a tiger out roaming the wilds of earth.
We’ll hunt for a third tiger now, but like
The others this one too will be a form
Of what I dream, a structure of words, and not
The flesh and one tiger that beyond all myths
Paces the earth. I know these things quite well,
Yet nonetheless some force keeps driving me
In this vague, unreasonable, and ancient quest,
And I go on pursuing through the hours
Another tiger, the beast not found in verse.