Sirowitz's unique and refreshing style was embraced by many, and he released a book called Mother Said to critical acclaim and commercial success. A couple of years later he released a book called My Therapist Said. Now, Soft Skull Press has published Before, During, and After, which reads like a wicked mix of Woody Allen and Dr. Ruth. Obviously there are hilarious moments in the new collection, but there's also an odd beauty, as in "Round & Round The Circle We Go": "Our not having slept together,/she said, may be a problem/for you, but is a godsend for me./For once I don't feel like/I have to rush into a relationship,/but can spend time circling/around it, like an airplane/waiting to land."
When Sirowitz began reading at open mics in 1979, he admits it took him awhile to find a voice. "No one would look at me. They never wanted to say how bad I was. I tried to write like Bruce Springsteen and Patti Smith, and it just wasn't me. I couldn't quite do it, and then I woke up one morning and realized I had this interesting mother, and I could just write in her voice and that's basically what got me going; writing in other people's voices and not trying to pretend I was something I wasn't."
Hal's book tour has him paired--odd couple-like--with celebrated lesbian poet Daphne Gottleib. "I think we're both challenging gender and our roles. She challenges the concept of the seductive woman and I challenge the concept of the macho man, except I'm not macho." KEVIN SAMPSELL