Poetry Mini Interviews is a wonderful project from Thomas Whyte in which he posts short interviews with poets and posts them weekly in bite sized chunks. Recently I had the pleasure of answering some thought provoking questions for Poetry Mini Interviews. The last question was posted today and you can read all five segments here.
Here is a short video of me reading a piece from my new chapbook. I hope you dig it, and please feel free to subscribe to subscribe to my YouTube channel…. and of course , my new chap is still available via Amazon.
I have two new poems up in the new issue of the excellent French journal Pro/p(r)ose! It is a pleasure to once again be featured in this magazine, and have the opportunity for my work to receive exposure internationally. Their journal is definitely worth checking out if you are fluent in French, or like me, modestly trying to learn. I hope you’ll check out my new poems.
I am very eager to be featured in more French journals, both in English and in translation. I am also interested in re-issuing previous chapbooks in French. Editors or translators out there feel free to get in touch, or point me in the right direction.
I am proud to have two poems included in the new online issue of Pro/p(r)ose Magazine. I am excited to be featured in this excellent French journal, as it is always a pleasure to be featured internationally! I hope you’ll check it out!
I’m also happy to report that I will have even more good news really soon.
Recently, I was invited by Rob McLennan to submit to a fascinating blog project called My (Small Press) Writing Day. It’s an interesting look into the creative day of your average small press writer. It’s quite addictive and I recommend checking it out.
My post went up recently and I hope you’ll give it a read. I had fun writing it, as it’s something I never gave much thought to. I’ve dreamt about what I would like an ideal writing day to look like, which it looks nothing like with day jobs and real life often taking priority. I always felt my writing day was haphazard… but like with many things in life, once I looked deeper a theme emerged. My writing day is not perfect but it is mine, and it is better than not writing at all. You can check out My small press writing day here!
New Year’s Eve has always been my favorite night of the year. Whether I was a crazy kid partying like it was the last night on earth, or a bit older quietly drinking rum and cokes with a notebook and contemplation, it has always represented the closing of a chapter and start of another. Maybe I’m just a romantic underneath this façade, but I’m a sucker for the symbolism of the closing year. For me, it is a time for self-reflection and evaluation; it is also a time to focus on the coming year.
As 2018 looms, I couldn’t be further away from those carefree nights, and Times Square might as well be a different planet.
I’d love nothing more than to be at home with my wife and a stiff drink, listening to good tunes while the ball drops. Perhaps it is more fitting that I am once again ringing in the new year in this factory where I spend so much of my year. Here in my little lab, with John Coltrane wailing over the hum of machinery, instead of rum I’m drinking bad black coffee in a Styrofoam cup. The years sneak up on you in this place; we usually only measure time here in increments of a twelve-hour shift.
I haven’t been near as prolific as I had hoped I would be this past year. Is it an artistic block or am I simply uninspired? Is it possible for the creative juices to simply dry up without warning? I have done some writing this year, and been published in a handful of places. Likewise, my work with sound has been limited this year as well.
Despite my lack of productivity, it’s been a rejuvenating year. I shifted from being the artist back to being the student. I’ve spent much time reading, listening, studying, and contemplating. After an entire adulthood of artistic output, I felt it beneficial to become a student of life and arts again. I needed the recharge, both mentally and physically. It was time to finally stop and figure out who in the hell I am.
Now as this chapter closes and a new one begins, I feel the creative juices bubbling up again. Will it be a prolific year? I don’t know… I’m not much of a resolutions guy. I do know that however prolific the year is exactly how prolific it needs to be. However, I can guarantee I will never quit. I’ve been doing this my whole life, sometimes I am prolific and sometimes I am not, but the need never leaves me.
I’d like to think I will own 2018 (and will sure as hell try) but it will likely include more emotional highs and lows, money stress, artistic insecurity, and long, cruel factory nights. That’s okay, because it will also include laughs, good times and misadventure with family and friends. There will be bad times, but they will be outnumbered by the good, and if I’m fortunate, I’ll be here writing something terribly similar in 365 days.
Happy New Year!
Blk/Mas collaborator Shawn Blackburn and I have a new ambient/drone project in the works entitled Thieves Of The Bleak Earth. The new year will be here soon bringing recordings and shows, but until then I would like to remind you that there are plenty of sounds over at Awareness Factory Recordings to keep you busy. There you will find Blk/Mas and some solo stuff, along with older projects like Stickfigure and Zilbread. You can stream them free or buy the digital downloads for cheap, which is always appreciated.
I would also like to invite you to check out my YouTube page where you can find live noise performances, glitch art, and more. I plan to update more frequently there as well, and plan to start with some spoken word videos really soon. While you’re hitting up my social media, make sure you follow me on Twitter and Instagram too!
In an effort to be more present on this blog as the new year approaches, in addition to new material, I will be revisiting older pieces of writing that were ‘lost’, under read, or are no longer available elsewhere. This particular piece was published way back in 2009 with Associated Content. I don’t think much has changed since I penned this one, and it seems just as pertinent as ever.
Underground Poetry Takes The Wheel
No matter what scene or subculture you find yourself in there is always the “Us versus Them” mentality. For instance, when I was a young man playing in bands it was always indie vs. mainstream… now years later as a poet it is the seemingly endless battle between the underground and the academics.
Now by all qualifications, I am an underground writer. Most of the writing I read would be considered the same as well but still, I have really tried to stay away from the underground vs. mainstream argument for several reasons.
For one, good poetry is good poetry regardless if it’s released by a major press or the most underground publisher. It doesn’t matter if it’s penned by the most D.I.Y. street poet or the Poet Laureate.
Secondly, it would be one thing if the academic poetry community was rolling in money and best-selling books, but they are not. No one is reading their poetry either.
So I try to keep out of it.
The question begs to be answered. Why is poetry in the state it is in? When I contemplate the question, that’s when I tend to reluctantly take sides and the finger wagging begins.
If poetry has a bad public image would it not be the fault of the ones in charge of what the general public sees?
Most people have their first brush with poetry in high school where they have some of the biggest load of kings English shoved down their throats. Oh sure, they let you read the occasional safe Whitman poem, but other than that it’s the same old trite crap that it takes an English professor to decipher for you. Poetry so workshopped that it is devoid of any meaning or emotion.
Is it any wonder why most people don’t read another verse after high school? This is the general public perception of poetry, which really is pretty silly. Can you imagine people being so closed minded about any other form of art? For instance, can you imagine someone who has never heard music before hearing one song of one genre and basing their entire opinion of music in general on this one song of one genre? Someone asks them what they think of new generic radio hit and they say, “Oh, I don’t listen to music. I listened to it once in high school and I just didn’t care for it.” It’s absurd, considering music is a limitless sea of genres where there is virtually something for everyone. Just like poetry.
We can even go so far as to say a member of the general public decides to attempt poetry later in life and they go to their local bookstore. Unless they sift through the books in the poetry section and stumble upon some of the more adventurous books, they will probably just go to the magazine section and pick up Poetry Magazine or The Paris Review…. and have instant horrible flashbacks of high school.
Of course, there are always the more subversive types in the know searching out underground poetry, music, etc. But for most the source of information comes directly from the ones in control of public image.
The ones who represent the public face of poetry are the academics and they have failed at capturing the imagination of the average reader.
They have failed to relate to the impoverished, the factory worker, the auto mechanic, etc.
In short, these people are in the driver’s seat. You do not wrest control by tapping on their shoulder and politely asking them to please let you drive for a while. For one reason, they wouldn’t even let you in the car in the first place.
Are they going to easily let go of the little bit of poetry success there is? Are they going to instantly let go of their college internships and minuscule amount of money that is being made? No, of course not.
Quite simply, we have to take the driver’s seat. We have to take control of the P.R. machine.
Then the people can begin to see what poetry can be. Poetry can be exciting; it can be rock and roll. Enlightening poetry does not mean hours of study, it can be that instant moment of realization.
So how do we carjack the poetry machine?
I don’t know. I’m a factory worker and so called “underground” poet. If I had a clue I would probably not be writing this right now. All I can think is we keep doing what we are doing. We keep writing, we keep publishing, and we keep pushing the hell out of our little shows. We become full time non-stop promoters not just of our poetry, but of poetry its self. We don’t just preach to the choir, we preach to the mob. We write poems for the factory worker to the office worker. We tell the academics to pull over, this is now our car.
Writing is not a dying art form, but it is rapidly changing. Writers typing words into computers like this is becoming a thing of the past. Of course, writers and luddites alike have been saying for a long time that technology is killing writing; the only difference now is that I am not sure it is entirely a bad thing.
William S Burroughs stated that words are a virus and cited the advantages of hieroglyphic language. He also stated that words were tools of the control machine and used cut-up as a means to subvert said machine and reality as well. The cut-up method lives on to this day and has been utilized by artists far and wide both underground and mainstream, myself included. We all came to cut-up for varied reasons, but largely because ordinary writing had reached an impasse. Cut-up was taking us places that traditional language could not go. We knew, at least subconsciously, the limits of language. Experimental literature is alive and well albeit still in the fringes of modern literature. Some authors are moving beyond language entirely and defining (or re-exploring) the boundaries of ascemic literature.
However in the everyday world, language and how we perceive it may be changing more rapidly than it is in the art world, we just don’t think about it. Whereas outdated notions of tradition or formula inhibit many artists, technology adheres to no such boundaries.
The internet has changed the way we receive information and it would seem language is going through a slow metamorphosis. People are putting down magazines and newspapers to gather information online. Books and chapbooks are giving way to e-books. Blogs have given way to Facebook which has given way to 140 character tweets. Language is getting lean, like haiku. It is mutating and merging with image. The new language is a strange synthesis of words, images, sounds, hyperlinks, hashtags, and emoji. Literature is changing, as well as how we disseminate information. The way we “read” is changing accordingly.
It’s an exciting time to be a writer, provided you are not bound by the printed page. Of course the theories I am expounding are nothing new. There are innumerable artists far more talented than I that have experimented with form, communication and the new language for much longer than me and with much more precision. They too have realized the limits of language and how to overcome these limits. Still yet, I feel the need to reiterate and express the ideas to myself at the very least. You see, for all of my experimentation and grand ideas sometimes I still get hung up on words. I still get stuck on the label of “writer” which often leads to frustration as an artist. After all, how can the concept of “writer” remain the same if the concept of “reader” has evolved? Basically, how do I sell something no one is buying? We too must evolve and drop all notions of what a writer is. We must purge ourselves of noir imagery of the alcoholic writer with a cigarette dangling from his mouth slamming keys on an old Corona typewriter. Exterminate all rational thought. That is another lesson Burroughs taught us, but like the Buddha in the road we must also slay Uncle Bill and all of his wisdom. Nothing must stand between the artist and total freedom. Not you, not me, not words.