Sitting Down With Some Small press Poets
Edited by Scot Young Some of these were previously published in Side of Grits and other notable places on the internet. A.D. Winans A.D. Winans is one of the few writers I have met (and I've met too God Damned many of them) who doesn't act like a writer or think of himself continually as a writer and maybe that is why he writes better than they do. I always prefer a poet I can tolerate for more than ten minutes. That's rare and so is A.D. --Charles Bukowski A.D. Winans is a San Francisco-based writer and poet who became involved in the West Coast Beat scene in 1958. By his own account, he has lost count. But, he has been published in over 500 magazines and published over 45 books. A.D. is a small press legend and a survivor. He counted his friends as fellow poets Jack Micheline,Bob Kaufman and Charles Bukowski and misses them. At 72 years old he has a myspace page http://www.myspace.com/adwinans, with 188 friends and writes there frequently. He doesn’t go to North Beach much anymore, says it’s not the same, but his writing is still just as real as it ever was. Nothing is really new in poetry, but A.D makes it sound fresh and original. His poems are his children. He will tell you that and poetry is his life. He once played pool with Janis Joplin and Pete Seeger told him, “the real heroes are the men who work to bring home the bread to put on the table, and the mothers who sing their children to sleep at night.” One of his friends, the late Charles Bukowski, said of him "A.D. Winans can go ten rounds with the best of them". I contacted him about a year ago wanting advice on how to be a poet and learned that it is not something you become. He gives advice by not giving it. Just about every silly question I asked him, I read the answer in one of his poems. Damn, but…the answer was already written. He did tell me once, “I think the best thing you can do in poetry is not get caught up in the poetry game.” My wife reminds me of that when I start to go off… Maybe Seeger had it right about the real heroes. Some of us are heroes and some are poets and a few every now and then are both. Scot: Who were your early influences when you began writing poetry? ADW: Early on I wanted to be a novelist and writers like Jack London, Hemingway, Fitzgerald and Steinbeck were my heroes. When I returned home from Panama in 1958, I discovered poets like Brautgan, Corso, Micheline, Kaufman, and other Beats who influenced me. But earlier than this, poets like Pound, Eliot, William Carlos Williams, Ann Sexton, Sylvia Plath and Sandburg caught my attention. Especially Sandburg who wrote on subjects that were relevant to me and in an accessible language. Scot: How do you think the business has changed since you first became published? ADW: The biggest change is that corporations have taken over the literary publishing houses that once were the lifeblood of poets and writers. So that now it is a business. The biggest change in the small press world is there has been an increasing number of poetry "business" boys who kiss ass and trade favors to get themselves and their friends published. To some extent this has always existed, it's just become more prevalent and less hidden than in the past. Scot: How often do you write? Do you have a routine? ADW: I don't have a routine. I write when the inner voices tell me to write, much like the late William Wantling. I can go months without writing a poem and then within a matter of weeks (or less) write a large number of poems. I used to try setting time aside each day to write, but it didn't work for me. It's the same way with my prose. I'm not a formula writer. I have to write the story and then try to find a market for it. Scot: Many say nobody reads poetry anymoreâ€”if true, why is that? ADW: It appears for the most part that the majority of people reading poetry are other poets. There are some people in the nonwriting community who read poetry, but it's the responsibility of the poet to reach them by writing on subjects that are relative to their life and writing it in a clear language they can understand. Academic poets almost exclusively write for other academic poets. The language school poets don't write for the every day working man and woman. What average Joe out there would be interested in what they are writing? It's like MFA poets writing uninteresting poems for other MFA poets. The late Jack Micheline and Bob Kaufman were exceptions to the rule. The problem is getting accessible poetry to the average American. The small press has no meaningful distribution and no large publisher is going to publish this kind of poetry. Scot: How has the small press scene changed since you were in the business? ADW: I don't know what you mean by business? The small press was never a business. There will always be a small press scene. The Mag's come and go. Only the names change. I guess the biggest change is that the Internet and web now allows anyone with money to buy a software program to set up and create their own zine. There is both good and bad to that. I prefer the print venue although I don't deny you can reach a wider audience through the Internet. Scot: What was your greatest writing accomplishmentâ€”what made it so? ADW: I don't know if I can name any one accomplishment that stands out. I had a poem of mine set to music and performed at Tully Hall (NYC), which I guess might be my l5 minutes of fame. Publishing a literary magazine for l7 years certainly ranks near the top. Winning a 2006 PEN Josephine Miles Literary Excellence Award was an honor. A press is currently working on releasing a boxed set of six Cd's of mine (from past readings), which I am quite excited about. All my accomplishments (if you can call them that) are like the children I never had. Those children are and will be part of my archives at Brown University. Scot: What advice would you give a young poet? ADW: Just to be yourself. Don't be afraid to take risks. Never sell out. You can't put a price on integrity. Scot: If you were left with one book of poemsâ€”what would it be? ADW: I don't think I can name just one. It would do injustice to all the others that would deserve mentioning. Scot: If you could change something in your professional life, what would it be? ADW: I don't consider my writing a profession. I consider it a necessity. So there is nothing I would change since my life and my poetry are one and the same. Scot: Are there any new poets out there that will change the way we look at poetry? ADW: That's not for me to say. I could give you a list of several poets I see as having this potential but whether they will change how we look at poetry is another matter. I don't see any Micheline or Kaufman's out there. You have to live poetry and not just write it. You need to become involved in the community you live in. You need to give something of yourself that goes beyond putting a pen to a piece of paper. Scot: What is one thing about A.D. that we don't know but need to know? ADW: That I am not the tough, hardnosed poet that some people see me as. I have a soft side that only my true friends know. Scot: What does it mean to be a poet? ADW: I think if you asked this question to a hundred poets you'd get a hundred different responses. I have said over and over again that my life and poetry are one and the same, so the question has no relevance to me. I do know what poetry is not. Poetry is not "Holy." Poetry is only holy when it loses its holiness. I wish those poets who walk around with an invisible Capital "P" on their foreheads would understand this. Scot: If you had the opportunity to talk to Jack Micheline or Bob Kaufman one more time, what would you tell them? ADW: I'd tell them that I love them. I'd ask them how it is out there in the void? I'd tell them I'm still trying to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I'd tell them they haven't been forgotten. And I'd tell Kaufman, can you believe that this country has come so far as to nominate a Black man for President of the U.S.? I'm sure Micheline would be singing to the stars over this news. Christopher Robin While looking over Wiliam Taylor Jr’s web site one afternoon I came across some pictures of him and Christopher Robin. There was no explanation in the caption, but I figured they must be friends. I came upon his name on other sites as well. It kept popping up, but still held the mystique of something transparent. One time in my chats will Bill, he mentioned Christopher Robin. He said, if you like my stuff, you’ll like his. Good enough for me-- maybe an interview. Bill Taylor also said Chris was an undiscovered gem. I couldn’t find any contact info on him except a PO Box. Who the hell writes anymore? Answer: Christopher Robin. I ordered Freaky Mumbler’s Manifesto from LuLu and when it arrived I gave it a quick read. Oh shit—not like Taylors’s stuff at all. Not better, nor worse--something different. It is 97 pages of poetry that you cross the street or turn your head to avoid when walking the dog. It is honest, raunchy, and from the heart, just the way Robin has lived it. Like he says, he writes for himself, to provide a bit of clarity to this messed up world. It was good stuff, so good I ordered his chap, Angleflies in My Idiot Soup from platonic3waypress.com and I wasn’t disappointed with that selection either. I would also recommend Zen Baby. For a couple of bucks it is worth every penny and then some. You may send Chris a little extra to keep you from feeling like cheap ass. Christopher Robin has been invisible to all except his friends and maybe he prefers it that way, but I think he has something to say. If Hipster’s Were Garbage Men I would be one if they had been given lobotomies I would be one if they were unsure of their next dime, never graduated from college, had no resume, I would be a hipster instead of a mumbly-headed American douchebag with bad tattoosthey throw their black hoodys onto their front lawns their cd’s and their books, in their semi-bad neighborhoods where they drink beer on their crumbling front porches & I move in for the kill….. I am the king of cool then, on my yellow bike, selling their books and wearing their clothes I even have pictures of hipsters I have never met on my fridge I get them from garage sales they throw away their lives like they throw away their philosophy booksthey are college kids and philosophies don’t last forever sometimes I buy their bad art for 50 cents or a dollar because I feel sorry for them they gave up their art dreams way too early but they are over it, they don’t care! they’re headed for austin or san francisco or l.a. tomorrow anyway in their tiny compact cars they’ll find another bad neighborhoodunlike some of us, they don’t have to live in one forever they come to my flea market spot on Saturdays, (not till afternoon of course!) they like to buy 80’s recordsit makes them feel ironic “dude, this is so bad, what if we like collected all this music just cuz it was bad?” I sell their books right back to them, after rescuing them from the sprinklers, camus, kerouac, orwell, all in excellent conditionand I’m sure I will do this more than once because I am the garbage man of hipsters that is my job. Scot: You are a poet and a publisher. Which do you find the most satisfying? Chris: As a poet I am only writing for myself, and it’s more satisfying in the way that I don’t put a lot of expectations into the finished product, no deadlines and nobody to please. Publishing zines and chaps is really the opposite; it’s my own creativity, ultimately, but so many other people are in my head. A lot of editors have told me the same thing, it’s hard to know what to give your energy to in the course of a day, especially if you have very little of it, energy, that is, which I often do. Scot: How many chaps do you have out? Which one is your favorite? Chris: I have three chapbooks, Who Will Pay the Royalties for the Voices in My Head, Freaky Mumbler’s Manifesto, which I published on Lulu last year, and the recent, Angelflies in My Idiotsoup from Platonic3Way Press. My first book, which came out in 1999 will always be my favorite, mainly for sentimental reasons. The first edition was typed and laid out on an old word processor, created long distance (over the phone) by a very good friend of mine who was also surviving on disability; and each book was hand sewn and stapled by her, 200 copies total. She believed in me and it really meant a lot to me that someone wanted to help me get my writing out. Scot: Your friend William Taylor Jr. gets a lot of his material from the streets and bars of SF, where does yours come from. Chris: I don’t hang out in bars too much these days, unless I’m looking for William Taylor, Jr, but like him I do spend a lot of time in my own neighborhoods, walking aimlessly and talking to the unfortunates, and I am one, but I don’t meet as many prostitutes as he seems to (at 3 a.m.). Nowadays I don’t write as much about the streets because I no longer live on them. My inspiration might come from stealing fruit from trees in the summer time, the end of the world, politics, my crazy friends, poverty, being a throw-away poet on ssi, synchronicity found around every corner, the magic of the everyday, the list goes on. Scot: Why do you write? Chris: For my own clarity, the process of writing distills things for me, maybe I can be in the world a little easier once I’ve broken it down, it clears my head and helps me take the world and my own problems less seriously. I’d like to be able to break it all down into very short, tight sentences, but I’m not there yet. Scot: Unlike a lot of today’s poets, there is not much of Christopher Robin on the internet. Is this by design or failure to market? Chris: Well, because of a certain cartoon character who spends a lot of time trying to steal my identity, you’d have to search pretty specifically. There’s a bit on my zine, Zen Baby, a lot of reviews over the years, (though there was another book that came out with the same title, after I started publishing); and thanks to Charles P. Ries a lot of reviews on my chapbooks. But it’s true I don’t submit a lot of poetry to online publications, I still prefer print, its more tangible, feels more permanent, and I prefer it. And I don’t google myself too much, I’ve heard it can make you go blind. Scot: Tell us about Zen Baby. Do you take submissions or solicit? Chris: I started Zen Baby Zine in 2000. I’d quit drinking a few years earlier and was completely unemployable (still am, mostly). I call it the Literary Hijinks of Glorified Nobodies. It’s a bit of a literary mosh-pit, poems, continents, classes, ideas, all clashing and getting together in a mess of glue and smeared ink. I rarely solicit submissions unless I really like someone’s work and haven’t heard from them for a while. I get a lot of submissions, almost all of them through regular mail. The reason I don’t put my email online is because email submissions are too hard to keep track of. There is a lot of prisoner input, both artwork and poetry; (I also run a distro for prisoner-made zines, I Press On! Publications); it includes artwork, semi-coherent socio-political rants, and tons of small press poets and often some (mildly) juicy small press gossip (but not the mean kind, only satire). Scot: Do you have a writing routine? Chris: No, but I prefer to write late at night, unless internet porn or games are competing for my attention, or I like to spend an entire Saturday afternoon not getting dressed or brushing my teeth, just cigarettes and coffee, and not eating really, but that doesn’t happen enough, sadly, so I write whenever I can no longer stand the fact that I’m not writing. Scot: I have seen pictures of you at a typewriter. So, how do you write—longhand, typewriter, computer? Chris: My good friend and favorite writer Joe Pachinko took those pictures at my house. I think he wanted to camp it up a bit, he’s a clown and typewriter aficionado himself. I collect typewriters, I cherish them, they are treasures, but most of mine are badly in need of repair right now. They will also be our best mode of communication when the lights truly go out. I actually do most of my writing on an Alphasmart3000, which is just a simple, battery operated portable keyboard with no bells and whistles. It was invented for kids with ADD who get distracted by Internet porn, and I plug it into Word for editing and printing. It’s the best thing I’ve ever found, a nice middle ground between a typewriter and a computer. Scot: Who were your favorite poets growing up? Did you have a major influence? Chris: I discovered Bukowski when I was 15. I also read a lot of Brautigan and the Beats as a teenager. My mother owned a bookstore, so I discovered a lot of writers that way. Scot: Who are your heroes? Chris: I don’t really believe in heroes, but I have some ideas: G o AWOL, feed a hungry person, don’t fear the government, stand up for your rights and of those around you, don’t be silent, speak up for prisoners, publish your own shit, don’t join any groups. In a fascist country, these are heroic acts, in my opinion. Scot: What is the most unlikely place you ever gave a poetry reading? Chris: I’ve read at people’s houses, in bars, in the parking lot outside of our open mic after they closed our venue recently, don’t know how unlikely those places are. I don’t know if reading inside of a Laundromat for 4 years counts, there are other readings in Laundromat/Cafes but not many, I suppose. Long live the Wired Wash Café! Scot: What is it to be an underground poet? Chris: To be invisible except to all of your friends, to be mildly appreciated by those who have nothing else left in life; being constantly busy sending letters and obscure mail art for no apparent reason to people I’ve never met. Life in a mailbox is not a lonely life, though some would say it might be futile, but I don’t mind. We create community from wherever we are, virtually or through the mail. I know people from all over the country and overseas, and I probably will never meet most of them. The small press and zines are the only truly free press that we have left, that is, not controlled by corporations or government, vital and necessary forms of communication, I say. Scot: If you could ask a literary figure a question—a sit down--who would it be and how would it go? Chris: I would love to talk to Jack Kerouac, he’s appeared to me in a lot of dreams that I chronicled in a zine many years ago. I don’t have the dreams anymore, sadly, but I considered them a gift, as I have felt a spiritual kinship with him for years. And I wouldn’t mind talking to Allen Ginsberg or Neal Cassady, but I wouldn’t ask them anything, I would just sit silently and listen while they babbled on about important, mystical and nonsensical things. Scot: When not involved in poetry, what occupies your time? Chris: Riding my electric scooter, playing internet games, making, copying, distributing zines of all types, riding the nearby roller coaster, writing letters, drinking coffee, smoking, listening to Flipper records, sleeping, watching Adult Swim Cartoons, swimming in the river, going on road trips, gambling, collecting clowns, doing odd jobs. I stay pretty busy. I play constantly, and avoiding manual labor also takes up a lot of my time, never enough time in a day. Scot: What writers today do you like to read? Chris: Joe Pachinko, Nicole Henares, William Taylor, Jr, Misti Rainwater-Lites, Michael Lites, Jennifer Blowdryer, Lauren Masaka, Nancy Gauquier, Debbie Kirk, Brian Morrisey, John Sweet, Jesse Beagle, Bruce Isaacson, Todd Moore, S.A. Griffin, Scott Wannberg, John Dorsey, David S. Pointer, Charles P. Ries, Frank Walsh, those are just a few of my favorite poets right now. Scot: Does poetry really matter? Chris: Not really, but it matters to those of us that write it. Too many writers, very few readers and/or buyers. I try to support a few poets that I really like, by actually buying chapbooks from them, trading is great but we all gotta eat, and the small publishers who do good work, they should be supported. As far as the mainstream goes, poetry might be considered the lowest form of art right now. I blame slam poetry and constipated- academic-poetry for this. Slam poetry has tried to turn poetry into an MTV commodity, and it’s succeeded, it’s popular and lucrative, but that’s where the conformity and lack of soul comes in. People don’t realize there are alternatives to these types of poetry, so they ignore us where it might count. There are so many amazing books from small press writers, really good writers, who should be on the bookstore shelves, not just in our living rooms. It is a shame how many good writers go under appreciated and unnoticed in this culture. Scot: What question would you like someone to ask, but they never do? Chris: “Can I cook dinner for you and then have sex with you and then leave you alone so you can write poems about me?” Well, I get that sometimes, but not enough. Correspondence here: Christopher Robin P.O. Box 1611 Santa Cruz, CA 95061-1611 Links: www.literaryrevolution.com www.outsiderwriters.org www.wiredpoets.com MK CHAVEZ I have found over the years there are poets that influence. Poets that spark something we may not even be aware of and poets you go back to because you can't get enough. MK Chavez is all three of these. I began reading her one day on the recommendation of William Taylor Jr. I found she is a woman who has walked in the shadows and the light and writes with intelligence on both. Chavez’s work tells a story that begins in the gut and hangs there like waiting for the day the ringing stops. She writes with passion and compassion. At her website she writes: Poet MK Chavez writes about the beauty that can be found in ugliness, the mystery of feeling bad about feeling good, little birds, big consequences. She is co-host of Acker’s Dangerous Daughters, a San Francisco reading series of Cherry Bleeds. Her work has been published online and in print. Her poetry chapbook “Virgin Eyes” is available through Zeitgeist Press."Visitation" Chavez's second chapbook is available through Kendra Steiner Editions. Scot: How do you mark your successes as a writer? MK: I know that I'm doing ok when I feel dissatisfied. Scot: If you were left with one book of poems--what would it be? MK: If I had to choose today, it would be Woman Who Sprouted Wings, which is an anthology of Latin American Women poets. Scot: Do you see a gender bias when it comes to the poetry biz? MK: Yes, but I don't think men should be discouraged. There are few interesting male poets that show great promise; they should just keep at it. Scot: OK. My bad. Many say that nobody reads poetry anymore--if true why is that? MK: I read poetry and you read poetry, so clearly that's factually incorrect. While it’s true that poetry doesn't hold the same social status that it may have once did, you know, in the days of yore…but it's still relevant and unlike other forms of documentation, poetry stands the test of time, if it’s good. Scot: Many guys list Bukowski as an influence, who were your early influences when you began writing poetry? What led you to poetry? MK: I don’t feel influenced, inspired yes, but influenced never. An early inspiration cocktail might be a combo of Sylvia Plath, Yehuda Amichai, Anne Carson, Sandra Cisneros, Luis Rodriguez, Lewis Carroll, Carolyn Forche, Margret Atwood, Ai, and Wanda Coleman. Scot: What is a MK Chavez poem? MK: I really hope I’m not that predictable. Scot: How often do you write? Do you have a routine? MK: Not so much of a routine; I write whenever I can, sometimes at 6am, sometimes at 2 am. If I’m at a boring event, sometimes I sneak off and find a place to write. I’ve written in all sorts of place. I do write everyday…I guess I’m a bit greedy that way. Scot: OK, so why do you write? MK: It’s the ultimate form of art, and the best form of rebellion Scot: Who published your first chap and how did that materialize? MK: My first chap was published by Zeitgeist Press. Bruce Issacson & Julia Vinograd, the editors at Zeitgeist provided all the support and guidance that any new author could want. And of course sharing the same press with writers like David Lerner, Jennifer Blowdryer, Joie Cook, Jan Steckel, Danielle Willis, and Jack Micheline is pretty sweet too. Scot: What was your greatest writing accomplishment—what made it so? MK: I’m not sure if it qualifies but quitting my job sure feels like a writing accomplishment…there’s more time to write now. Scot: Is the Bay area the place to be for a poet? Does place influence the writing content or does it come from somewhere else? MK: I have a bunch of different places that feel like “the place to be a poet,” so I guess it’s all relative. John Sweet says that his work is influenced by the cold winters in upstate New York, and I think he’s on to something because there is a very different feel to the work that I’ve written in New Orleans and the work that I’ve written in Hancock, New York. Scot: What advice would you give a young poet? MK: Don’t listen to advice from old poets Scot: What is one thing about MK that we don't know but need to know? MK: I have a pretty nice right hook. Scot: What was your first published piece? MK: My first publication was in the 2RiverView and two poems were published at the same time, one was Virgin Eyes, and the other was The Oldest Profession Scot: It is the last poetry reading on earth, what will you read? Autobiography #6 I once dated a guy named Toast; I like toast ok; but it makes me feel thirsty; I like being in the desert; I’d rather die in the heat than drown in the sea; I don’t know how to swim; I like moist toast, moist is a dirty word; I always knew what I wanted to be; indelible ink; don’t want to be erased; read Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland five times in a row; imagined the meaning behind the words; I looked and I looked for the opening; this happened when I was seven; dusk is like people; my people; caught in the in-between, the middle, the limbo place; I am haunted by my mother; she’s behind every door; doors with splinters and rusted knobs; and now the long shriek as they break open; I am her; I am the product of an immaculate conception; it wasn’t her fault; she thought that she was giving birth to a weapon; I turned out to be a different kind of virgin; I was born wearing a leather corset, red lipstick, mist, damp fur, wet grass, rock salt; if I had a superpower it would be to evaporate; dust— human dust; recipe as follows; please to mix poetry and prose, add water, make flesh; I live amongst the Drosera capensis, snap traps, and rain lamps; plastic wet machine, my tongue laps up language; I look at art; I look at you; I look at art; I like to watch Cathead’s face, the way the skin on her nose wrinkles when she’s about to ask a question; I’ll sweat it out in a small room to hear Forche’s poems about ears; tell me; lets watch the red dust pour down the white house walls; listen; there is always someone being erased; maybe i love sleep; the drowsy flesh slow like; yess…a good sensory buzz; Albuquerque, sound of sizzle; hiss of the aerosol can; a chemical kiss; the kind that makes toast; i rubbed that sharp rock, left a shiny spot got on a train; i could say more; but no; there’s an X here. Scot: Ok, now your bio/memoir in six words? MK: MK Chavez likes toast Scot: What music do you listen to? MK: I listen to everything, but I do go through phases, currently into Leadbelly, Leontyne Price, Melingo, Elvis Costello, Butthole Surfers, Pink Anderson, and Bajofondo Scot: Do you listen to music when you write? MK: Sometimes, but only music that has minimal or no lyrics at all. Scot: What is next for MK Chavez? MK: Some really cool projects. Paul Corman-Roberts, Tony Dushane, and I are in the deep in the editing process for Cherry Bleeds Greatest Hits, and I'm lucky enough to be one of the contributors in an upcoming Lummox anthology with William Taylor Jr. (who is also editing) Miles J. Bell,Christopher Cunningham, Father Luke, Hosho McCreesh, and Christopher Robin. I also have another chap with that hot little Texas press Kendra Steiner Editions that comes out in January. Scot: What question do you wish you would have been asked? MK: Tell me a secret. Scot: Ah, well then tell me a secret-something about Maria, that nobody else knows but you? MK: The love of my life lives in Cornwall, England. Find out more and what's next for MK Chavez at: www.littlebrownsparrow.com William Taylor Jr. William Taylor Jr.’s last collection of poetry, Words to Songs Never Written, is a must read. I will admit that I find little that holds my interest in contemporary poetry. I discovered Taylor after I discovered A.D. Winans. Maybe it was Winans that pointed me his way. Anyway, his name kept popping up in various online publications. I liked his work. He was compared by some reviewer as picking up where Bukowski left off. I am not sure I agreed with that or if that was a kiss of death for any new poet. I picked up his first book, So Much is Burning on Amazon, liked it. But Words to Songs Never a Written is by far the best collection, bar none, I have read lately. When I first read his work online, I criticized it as worth reading, but without any grit. After all, walking the streets of San Francisco and slipping in a back alley bar for a cold one—should have some grit. When I read his collective work I changed my mind. Taylor doesn’t need the grit of Bukowski, he has his own voice—a somewhat gentle, yet true, voice of life’s observations and the street seen a little bit differently. I ordered my copy from Taylor and when it came in the mail, it was late fall. I had just raked the damp leaves around my yard, had them piled up and was watching them smoke and smolder—not wanting to burn. They were a good 20 feet from my greenhouse, so I sat down on the porch and began reading. About halfway through I smelled something like plastic melting. Yeah, the pile of wet did burn and the wind blew a spark up against the greenhouse catching hold of some drier leaves—melting the bottom two feet all the way around. This filled the greenhouse with thick smoke and nearly burned down the house as both are connected. Like I said, I am not one easily captivated by much of anything. So, get the book, bookmark his web site and stay tuned for his next release from sunnyoutside press. And if you wait long enough, the wind will take care of the leaves. Scot: Who were your early influences when you began writing poetry? WT: I first really started writing poetry late in High school, and I remember being really into some of the Romantics; Byron and Shelly in particular. Soon after, I discovered Thomas Hardy and e.e. cummings, both of whom I also loved (and still do). So my earliest work was of a rather archaic, romantic nature. Rhyming and strictly structured. Sonnets and what not. Scot: How often do you write? Do you have a routine? WT: I’m always jotting down phrases and ideas as they come to me, but I do most of my writing a few days a week when I don't have to work. I'll get up and work on some pieces, edit some stuff, try and put together all the scraps of ideas I've collected over the week and see what I can do with them. Later in the day I'll take a walk around the city, have a drink here and there, and collect more images and ideas. it's an ongoing process. Scot: Many say nobody reads poetry anymore—if true why is that? WT: Poetry is generally pretty low on the average person's list of things to read. Everybody writes it but nobody really wants to read the stuff. People either think of poetry as very academic and incomprehensible to the average reader, or just really sappy, teenage journal kind of tripe. And this reputation is at least partially well deserved. There's a lot of bad poetry about, it's hard to make the time to slog through it all it find something that is real and well done. Scot: What poets do you read? WT: Two poets that I always go back to for inspiration are T.S. Eliot and Robinson Jeffers. I can just pick up their work and read a bit and be reminded why I read/write this poetry nonsense in the first place. As far as more contemporary stuff, there's some good folks in the small/independent press: MK Chavez. Christopher Robin. Miles J. Bell. Chris Cunningham. Hosho Mccreesh. Some others. Scot: What advice were you given as a young poet? WT: I don't remember being given much advice as a young poet, other than "stop that nonsense and find something useful to do". Scot: Has living in San Francisco helped you develop as a poet? WT: I think so. It's a great city with a lot of distinct neighborhoods and a lot of rich literary tradition. All you have to do is step outside and walk around a bitâ€Śyou'll find something to write about. Scot: What does it mean to be a poet? WT: I believe there is a quote by T.S. Eliot, something along the lines of "I understand the desire to write poetry but I don't understand what people mean when they tell me they want to be a poet." I think a poet, and an artist in general is someone who is affected by life in a way perhaps a bit more intense than other people. They feel and see things that others might not notice and have the ability to express them in a way that reveals to people ways of seeing that they might not have discovered on their own. Scot: How did your first book deal come about? WT: I've done a number of chapbooks over the years with numerous small presses, but my first real book was published by sunnyoutside press. They had published my work in the past, when it was an online journal, and when they started doing books, I guess they were kind enough to think of me. It was a similar thing with the book I did with Centennial Press. I had been published in Anthills, the literary journal published by Chuck Nevsimal of Centennial Press, and we had been planning on doing a book together for some years. And when the time was right it happened. I'm currently working on a new collection with sunnyoutside. Scot: If you were left on an island with one book of poems or a single author's workâ€”what/who would it be? WT: Gosh, I imagine it would have to be Jeffers. His collected works. He's got an amazing body of work, and his vision and poetry always puts my head in a good place. Scot: I have read the North Beach poetry scene has died. Is there a community of poets still thriving there? WT: I go by North Beach once a week or so...there's still a few decent bars and some interesting folk to be found. There are still readings and open mics and people still hang out at Cafe Trieste and drink coffee and wear berets and call themselves poets. I'm not sure how much good poetry is actually being created. There is the sense of people still trying to hold on to the beat thing, but that era has come and gone, and it's a bit sad to try and pretend it's still going on and that you are part of it. And these days North Beach is way too expensive for your average poet to live in. As is San Francisco in general. You can safely say that North Beach is not the epicenter for groundbreaking poetry that it once was. Scot: WT: Scot: Are there any new poets out there that will change the way we look at poetry? I'm not sure if I know of anyone out there right now who will exactly change the way people look at poetry...as time goes by it gets harder and harder to do something really new...I think it is enough to have an original voice and say what you have to say in your own distinct fashion. That being said, I think the work of Christopher Robin out of Santa Cruz is a largely undiscovered gem. What is one thing about William Taylor Jr. that we don't know but need to know? WT: I don't know if there's anything that needs to be known. When not writing poetry I am probably reading comic books or playing videogames. Scot: If you had the opportunity to talk to any poet who would it be and what would you say? WT: I would like to have had the chance to share a few drinks with Anne Sexton. Misti Rainwater-Lites Many of us look back at our bios once they are printed and wish for a retraction. The freshness or cleverness of the time turns into the same old cranked out shit. This interview needed a unique introduction for the lady who screams pussy to the world. Not the same old recycled crap of she did this after she did that. Not another list of credits either. I needed to crawl into the mind of Misti, look out her eyes and say hey fuckers this is Misti Rainwater-Lites. But who can really do that and make it believable. So, I asked her for something tender, something outrageous, something totally different. I got this; Misti Rainwater-Lites is a cracked teapot. She has tried to sell herself on eBay but nobody wants to bid on a bat shit crazy broke ass poet who has one mixed media painting to her name. The title of the painting was Screaming Pussy but is now Crazy With The Cheez Whiz. Misti is currently working on a comedic pornographic horror script with Matt Finney and Michael Lites tentatively titled "White Trash Werewolf" with Evan Stone, the best porn star on the planet, in mind. Misti will not give blow jobs for publication credits but she might send you a lipsticked autographed copy of one of her many self-published books because she's ditzy like that. If you would like to purchase a collection of 63 PEZ dispensers that includes Yoda (Misti's favorite) and a bunch of other exciting characters, contact Misti at email@example.com. Misti is also selling metal lunchboxes, Barbie dolls and collages at rock bottom (with the depressed American economy in mind) prices. Misti is interested in writing children's books, teaching tap dance lessons to little gay boys and learning how to box so she can beat people up and get paid for it. Misti also dreams of someday reading her poems in rainbow sequins at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas. Speaking of rainbows, Misti also dreams of someday owning a retro motor court somewhere in the Land of Enchantment called Inn of the Rainbow, which will include a honeymoon suite for gays only. Misti will conduct gay marriage ceremonies at the motel. She will get her license online. Scot: What is a Misti Rainwater-Lite poem? Misti: The smart ass short answer is "a poem written by Misti Rainwater-Lites." Two words tend to come up a lot when other people describe my poems: confessional and insane. I've come up with a new word to describe my poems. That word is "crucifried." That is me being cute and playful with the English language. Most of my poems are spicy extra crunchy crucifried, like what you might find at Popeye's if Jesus had been a chicken. People might read this interview and think that I think I am Jesus. No. I do not think I am Jesus. I do not think I'm a chicken. I think I'm a survivor who throws a mean pity party. I think I'm a crazed clown banned from the birthday party circuit. I think I could never hold down a job at Popeye's because I would eat all the chicken and mashed potatoes and biscuits and would not get along well with the other employees and would give the customers too much change. Also, I would call in sick a lot. Scot: A lot of male poets list Bukowski as an influence. Who first inspired you to write poetry? Misti: I first started writing poems in my Snoopy diary when I was nine but those poems rhymed and went on about rainbows and unicorns. In college I wrote poems influenced by Jim Morrison. I cannot name one lasting strong influence. I guess lately I've been most influenced by Anne Sexton just because for the past couple of years I've kept going back to her poems. I've got almost all her books. I've bought more books by Anne Sexton than any other poet, with the exception of Bukowski. I don't like to talk about Bukowski. He's received more than enough press. Scot: Do you mark your successes as writer? Misti: I crow about my successes. I brag. I self-promote. In many ways I'm still the insecure kid begging my mom to watch me cartwheel or jump off the diving board. I feel successful when someone asks me to be on their radio show. I feel successful when someone publishes a book for me. My small press success is pretty much the best I can hope for. The world is not banging on my door. Oprah still hasn't invited me to sit on her couch. I've slept on Christopher Robin's couch. Thus, I am successful. Scot: What makes a good poem? Do you have a feeling when you know you got it right? Misti: I know I'm onto something when I can feel my face burning and my hands shaking as I type it out or when I'm laughing out loud or when snot pours from my nose and tears pour from my eyes as my fingers fly. If I read one of my poems and it leaves me numb or apathetic how the hell can I expect a complete stranger to get anything from it? I appreciate and adore all kinds of poems. I like poems that play around with the English language and take risks but don't make you scratch your head so hard that your scalp bleeds. I like narrative poems that don't make me say,"So? Thanks for the page from your diary. Now what the hell am I supposed to do? Wipe my ass with it?" I like craft. I like complexity. I like poems that don't preach (I've been guilty of writing those) or offer easy, pat answers. Scot: I have had some female poets tell me, I wish I had the balls to write like Misti. So tell me…what does it take? Misti: I've received that compliment before and it always confuses me. I guess my tragic flaw is that I'm like Ally Sheedy in "The Breakfast Club." I pour my purse/heart out and invite the whole world inside. I don't think,"I can't dump the contents of my purse out in front of these strangers! I've got tampons and Polaroids of my bush in there! Eek!" Some people have told me that I'm brave. I really don't think I am. I am simply sharing my experiences and my insights, the horror and glory of my life, the best way I know how. I'm not an extrovert. I'm extremely reserved. I put it all on the page. A girl I'd "known" online for years through a poetry community called me on the phone once and was shocked when she heard my voice. She said,"You are not what I expected." I asked her what she'd expected. She said,"I don't know...combat boots?" I was in the Army for a few months, by the way. People are always surprised when I tell them that. Scot: Has motherhood changed the way you look at life or poetry? Misti: Motherhood has made me more mindful of boundaries and time. I've never had much tolerance for bullshit. Since giving birth I've discovered that I have zero tolerance for bullshit. The women in my family tend to give to the point of depletion. The only female relative of mine who refused to give everything away was my great-grandmother, Marie Crenshaw. Mamaw Crenshaw would testify from her recliner in her trailer house, a can of beer (or in later years a CocaCola) in one hand and a cigarette in the other. I remember the time she told me about her second husband, about how he hit her once and she took off her high heel and gave him a black eye with it. My grandmother, Mamaw Crenshaw's daughter, would coddle me and the other grandkids and sugar coat stuff for us. Mamaw Crenshaw didn't play that. I had more respect for her than any other person, man or woman, I've ever met. I am fiercely protective of my son. I am also fiercely protective of myself. I touch on this in my latest chapbook, The Kitchen is Closed, published by Jack Henry of d/e/a/d/b/e/a/t press. If people don't get me, I don't hand them Cliff Notes. I don't have time for that. The people who do get me are the ones I work on maintaining relationships with. Scot: What books do you buy/read? Misti: I prefer to buy small press books but sometimes I buy mainstream books, like Love is a Mix Tape by Rob Sheffield. I just finished reading that book. It depressed all hell out of me. I love anything by Christopher Robin and Joe Pachinko, two of my favorite writers and human beings in general. I buy poetry books almost exclusively but I've gotten into Chuck Klosterman lately. He cracks me up. Scot: How important is marketing to the success of a poet? Misti: I'd say marketing is pretty damn important if a poet wants to actually sell books. I've tried MySpace and blogspot to minimal success. I've done the guerilla thing. I've left business cards and poems of mine in mainstream poetry books in used bookstores and chain bookstores. I've sent letters to various magazines. I've sold chaps at readings. My next idea is to buy an ice cream van and paint my blogspot url and some of my book titles on the sides. I'll drive around blaring cds of myself reading my poems. I'll sell my books, copies of Instant Pussy, sex toys and Atomic Fire Balls. Scot: Does the sense of place/location influence your work? Misti: I've discovered an ebullient resilient geography within myself. Texas and New Mexico have crucifried me. Or have I crucifried myself? Maybe if I'd lived in Alaska and Oregon my poems would be the same. I know when I lived in Albuquerque I got goddamn sick and tired of the provincial poetry that saturates the scene there. I would drag my husband to the readings and apologize to him afterward. We would have fun making fun of all the chile pepper/coyote/curandera poems. I'm not talking about a specific ethnic group, either. All kinds of Albuquerque poets wax poetic about the New Mexican landscape. Albuquerque is the most gorgeous, culturally rich place I've ever lived. I'm now living in an ugly toxic culturally bereft town that brings to mind the shit smear on Satan's shorts but I'm writing the same kind of poems here that I wrote in Albuquerque. Scot: Print or online? Misti: I don't like online for numerous reasons. I prefer print. It's easier on my eyeballs and I like taking books with me wherever I go. Scot: What makes Misti laugh? Misti: I have a weird sense of humor. I have never been a big fan of "South Park" or "The Simpsons." I don't like most of the crap on Comedy Central. I laugh at scary movies that aren't supposed to be funny. I laugh at pompous, ridiculous people, like the guy in Albuquerque who in all seriousness read a poem in a kilt and a Scottish brogue. I laugh at myself. I'm ridiculous. Scot: What was your first published piece? Misti: My first published piece was a poem called Morning Musings. It was published in the campus literary magazine when I was enrolled at Southwest Texas State University. I won over a hundred bucks for that poem (don't recall the exact amount) and the Gates-Thomas Excellence in English Award. I didn't know I'd won until Tuesday morning when I showed up at my British-American poetry class and the professor congratulated me. The awards banquet was the previous Friday night. I missed out because I was hiding from the world in my dorm with a disconnected phone. Scot: What is it to be an underground poet? Misti: It's a bit of a tease. If you achieve any amount of success as a small press poet you might, if you're me, trick yourself into thinking you're a rock star like Ronnie James Dio. I'm not David Lee Roth. Not everyone has heard of me. The people who have heard of me bow down to me saying, "We're not worthy! We're not worthy!" They buy my $35 t-shirt and say everything they know they learned from me. I'm being facetious. I'm only semi-famous and that's only online and among prisoners, thanks to Christopher Robin and Bran Scam. To be an underground poet is to be a fan of masturbation, basically. Scot: Do you see a gender bias when it comes to being published? Misti: I don't see a gender bias. Scot: What is the next project? Misti: I don't know what I'll come up with next at lulu.com. I'm writing poems for Bill Shute of Kendra Steiner Editions that won't be published until next July. He asked me to pick my favorite month for a project he's putting together next year. I told him that October is my favorite month (because autumn is my favorite season and Halloween is my favorite holiday) but July inspires me more poetry wise, for some reason. Next Exit: Ten will be published by KSE later this year. I've got a 69 flip chap coming out on Tainted Coffee Press. Justin Hyde will be on the other side. I can't wait to see how that turns out. I've got a full-length poetry collection coming out on Tainted Coffee Press called Cuntasaurus Rex. Rawr! Scot: How did Instant Pussy come about? Misti: Ever since I heard that Harvey Danger song in 1999 I've told myself,"Yeah, I wanna publish zines, too. That sounds cool." In 2005 I discovered Zen Baby. Then I met this crazy Hoosier online. He wanted to put together a zine with me. I moved too fast for him. I published my first Instant Pussy in December of 2005 with much help from my husband. We put it together at Kinko's. Instant is because I reply to submissions with a quickness. Pussy is because I used pornographic images. Instant Pussy just sounds right. Of course everyone knows pussy is never instant. Pussy takes time. Scot: What advice have you been given as a poet? Misti: I haven't been given much advice. Christopher Robin sent me some poems once for Instant Pussy and wrote something like,"If they don't bleed, send 'em back." That has stuck with me. Poems should bleed. Scot: It is the last poetry reading on earth. What poem will you read? Misti: Oh fuck. I'm stumped. Shit. Let me go through my files. My son needs a bath and I need a beer. Okay. Here ya go. This is a long motherfucker. I published it as a chap at lulu.com. It's called : Sex Tape Texas flag America flag two bold red white and blue rectangles whipping majestic over the parking lots junked out with decal plastered hunks of shiny metal â€ŚI must be in Texas, Americaâ€Ś I'm sitting in the air-conditioned haven of my mother's white car I am listening to soft rock I am crying I am trying to strengthen myself for Wal-Mart Supercenter Texas America is not at fault for any of this this 35 year old mess in a thrift shop t-shirt purchased in 2004 made in the 1980s that was when the New Kids on the Block were most popular Daddy your raincloud girl is bloated Mom your eldest is in a panic when can parents in good conscience RESIGN??? what will I do when you are both dead and there are no more barriers between myself and God's immaculate yawn? right at this static moment you are both alive and I am alive and I am doggy paddling spluttering in this salty little sea of same not much changes the struggle to survive goes on and on ad nauseam much like a Bee Gees record that keeps skipping "stayin' alive! stayin' alive! stayin' alive!" staying alive slays me taking plastic spare change bloated bags to the store hoping to find an operating Coin Star machine hoping to have enough for milk/bread/cookies, maybe the sun is exploring my skin steep some tea and make yourself at home, motherfucker thanks for the memories sun spot souvenirs from living a mile closer to you, Goddess Sun, for five glorious hellish delicious grotesque years Goddess Sun you are my mama always prying into my business my pet name for you is Cindy for spring break I want to take myself alone to Portland or Peru I want to make love to the moon and create a black sheet blue bulb cave that hums like a spaceship floating aimless through an infinity of stars but right this very cherry nOw (just realized how fat the "o" in "now" isâ€Ś) (and wOwâ€Śhow OW is now!) I am quite stuck I am in a box surrounded on all sides by jalapeno juice dripping barbed wire imagine the scratch imagine the burn bravery has nada to do with it I am not dumb enough to attempt escape imagination is what I got in spades I am afraid of variables, possibilities I have broken bread with the variables I have finger fucked the possibilities a million and one crumbs later I am what you might call cautious a thousand cum stains since I am what you might call careful but is that the truth? no that is not the truth you see I am the veteran of cups you see I am the court jester of hearts yes love to me is free like confetti like candy I am not a hippie although I do believe in astrology and I do appreciate candles and omens and symbology and the Doors especially "The Crystal Ship" and "The Soft Parade" but I'm not that kind I'm not earth mama benevolent I'm not kind to the Earth and blatantly stupid people my heart is NOT: Come on in! The gang's all here! Here's a bowl. Here's a bed. We're all God's sugar cookies! I dig your sprinkles! but my heart IS: wOw…you're smarter than I could ever hope to be! your style doth shine! Snoopy Valentine! you're the most brilliant writer I've ever read! You should be PUBLISHED! you should be AVAILABLE in Barnes & Noble! FUCK! I want to get naked and crawl inside your BRAIN! …I'm that kind of slut… …I'm that kind of whore… …I am not true… …I am not faithful… …I am not mentally monogamous… …the world is filled with brilliant pens… oh hell…write all over me, that's my fantasy! me! naked! in YOUR bed! dripping ink covered in your words scrawled all over with your genius your penis is an afterthought but hell…shit…piss…fuck…damn cantaloupe watermelon honeydew kumquat that is too bloody much to ask for (I know.) I am stuck inside my own box. I am living small in Misti World. I eat cardboard cake. I lick my finger and stick it out. Hmmm…looks like rain. The claps of thunder are to be expected. I was born and will die tornado dizzy. The thing is…I'm a witch. I created a candy house smack dab in the middle of Diabetes Forest. I specialize in impulsive decisions. I don't think things through. Nobody wants to blister their sweet gingerbread tummies in my witchy poo oven! Lots of brimstone verbiage up in that bitch! Ouch ouch ouch…no sugar daddy on this planet can withstand that brand. The brand is me. I have created my own brand. I am a kooky smeared unapologetic circus casino survivor. I'm purple. I'm pink. I'm black. I'm green. I lack the clarity and ooh pretty pretty of a kaleidoscope. My colors are not separate pristine but fucking tangled incoherent jumbled messy sloppy mixed…CONFUSED. Welcome to my mindfuck where it is kindergarten recess sack lunch scissors paste mosaic plastic beads wooden blocks all the day long…until it is Philosophy 101 until it is Theology Paint By Numbers until it is Get in Touch With Your Inner Pilgrim until it is Connubial Blistered followed by the usual America is Powerful and So Are You So Lose Twenty Pounds Stay Married For The Kids Color Inside The Dotted Lines And Be Happy Goddammit seminars. The coffee sucks. The coffee is instant. The cups are Styrofoam. The sweetener is artificial. The powdered cream is yuck. And the banter! God and all his tipsy cloud puking angels SAVE ME FROM THE SEMINAR BANTER!!! "Do you have any kids?" "Where do you work?" "Have you seen that new magic show in Vegas?" "Do you have the new Celine Dion cd?" "Who do you think will win 'American Idol'?" I'm a snob but I do not speak French and I don't have the Presidents memorized and I never played an instrumentâ€Śsuccessfully. Also: I buy purses and panties from Wal-Mart. Here I am at Wal-Mart. There is a full circle here. I began at Wal-Mart and am back there sitting crying trying in my mother's white car. "It's too late baby now it's too lateâ€Ś" oooh I hate this fucking song. Where are the Pet Shop Boys when I need them most. I need some witty gay optimism. Happiness is an option. Indeed. I can go West. Problem(s) solved. Neatly. I really would be happy with life if I lived in San Francisco. The Mission district appeals to me. I want to see rainbow flags but I don't want to have to live in the Castro to see them. The Castro is too rich for my blood. Too many boutiques, not nearly enough drag queens. I want the parade. I want to star in it. I have drag queen envy. I'm not a lesbian but I love looking at truly beautiful (not plastic fake trying too hard) women. I want to be that kind of woman. The kind of woman who does not exert too much effort. The kind of woman who can walk around naked but chooses not to. I want to inspire Sting songs. I want to inspire Robert Lowell poems. The trouble is Sting is married to his muse. The trouble is Robert Lowell is dead. I can be all blustery bravado and bullshit my way into heaven by saying: I shall write my own songs! I shall write my own poems! The trouble is I am musically challenged. The trouble is I have written too many poems. Chiefly, the problem is me myself I. I want to take myself out of the equation. I don't want myself in the batter. I turn as always to my maroon King James Rainbow Study Bible for inspiration. This book was written centuries prior to my conception! Yes! There is no Misti to be found in either Testament! I like the lions roaring in the Bible. I like the people fearing. I like the old men believing. I like the young women stirring shit up. Law. Wilderness. Sacrifice. Lust. Blood. Wine. Without. Faith. Torment. Asunder. Persecution. My kind of nigga. My bag of Cheetos. If life is a sandwich I want all of the above in between two slices of rye. Dry. No condiments necessary. I can chew chew chew my way into Kingdom Cum. Evan Stone will be there. He will be standing at the amethyst onyx gate. He will be wearing a black silk robe. As I approach Evan Stone crucifried extra crunchy slathered all over with funky plum and pomegranate sauce the robe will fall and reveal an appreciable erection that is singing my praises: Misti is Worthy Misti is Home Misti Can Get Up On It I Said GODDAMN Get Your Fine White Eternally Salacious Ass On Over Here, Sexy Thang! I will get up on it. I will wrap my legs around Mr. Stone and take take take what is so freely given. But I said I wanted to take myself out. But I changed my mind. I can be in the equation so long as it includes eternal sex with Evan Stone. I can be in the equation if I am allowed to Etch A Sketch away the senseless doodles of my clumsy finger life. I can be in the equation if given a license to provoke rhyme and slaughter reason. I like myself inside my intent. I love myself wrapped in desire. There are hidden things, jewels, Cracker Jack prizes, Happy Meal toys I can't quite grasp. Who am I, finally? What am I doing on this planet? Why am I here? How brightly am I allowed/supposed to shine? Well. I can tap dance on rock bottom. I've said that before. I throw pebbles at stained glass windows. The pebbles turn into Hello Kitty cupcakes. That, too, has been said but in a slightly different way. I don't have much to recommend but I walk the mile regardless. I invite myself to the banquet. I don't beg for crumbs. I don't ask, "Where am I supposed to sit?" I sit at the head of the table. I help myself to the prime rib and mashed potatoes. I take the cake. I eat the cake like I'm starving. I lick frosting from my fingers. I can hear the whispers and titters. I pretend like it's all applause egging me on. This is how I shine. I'll stop shining as soon as I am ready for the shadows. Right this poisonous berry now I am out of the box on a smoke break. I don't smoke so I'm fuming instead. I'm breaking plates over the heads of all the spit polished pretenders. They have been invited. Love is requited on their playground. Somebody is always there to swing them to the clouds and spin them dizzy with delight on the merriest go round. The dolls at my tea party agree. I'm the hottest bitch in town. I wish their mouths weren't sewn shut. I wish they could hug me back. I wish they were equipped with applause meters. I manufacture my own hype. I must. I am the believer in me. You can call me trickster zero. You can call me waifwifewonderblah. You can call me wackadoodle poodle. You can call me waa waa wack sheep. Just call me, darling. My number should be carved in stone. I'm greedy for the tawny rosy sprawl lazily licking moon puddles from your receptive flesh. I give good hum. I give good dumb. I give good tingle. I give good jingle. I can play. I can pretend. I can be the decoration in your dead sea. Let me be your anemone in state. I will never be sated. You should enjoy that for a while. I hope the weather forecast does not include me. I'm tired of being the tornado that ruins picnics. Let me be the rainbow hanging over the raindripping honey tree. Truly, sweetheartâ€Ś I am mucho fragilistic. I'm the dimlet lacking the olive but sassy with lime pulp. I'm Glowing Gimlet Girl. I'm Kiss Bar. I have omensity. My clitscape offers instanteternity. I'm gluetrue. I'm zoopy with femineek. My sprizzum leaves them gasping for air. My dumbbunnyhoppery scatters pink and purple eggshells across decadent dawn drenched lawns. I enshadow your intent. I make tents out of the tangles. My gutscrape, your thumbscum. The id is loose. Juice it up, boy. The tacos and Saturn tasks can wait. It's pony time! Giddyup shameless, Venus trine Neptune style! I want to run. I want to hide. I stand my small patch of ground on shaky legs with my fists to the sky. I'm present. I'm here. I'm not going anywhere. I'm spitting. I'm cursing. I'm singing. I'm winging it like the batty motherfucker you all know me to be. Inside my mother's white car I face down years like a firing squad. I see more than I let on. I am afraid of the bullets but what can I do? Regardless of my sweaty pleas the bullets will fly. There is no stopping the bullets. Bullets: enter here. Someday the bullets will be worms. Right now I'll take the bullets. The bullets can decorate me. I am holy. I am walking across the parking lot. I am walking inside Wal-Mart. It's almost like flying. You could say I'm a ghost. I give good boo. Wellâ€ŚI give the best BOO I can scare up trampled underneath the circumstances. This will suffice. This is my Valentine sex tape viscera blog kissy kissy text message to the world at large. Barge in on my party. Crash. Rude voyeurs. Autistic audience. Notice my resolute smile. Bask, motherfuckers, in my retarded resilience. Scot: You have a lot of work self published. What are your thoughts on this market? Misti: I know I'll never make my fortune at lulu.com. That really isn't the point. I'm just getting it all down and having fun in the process. Scot: If you had a chance for a “do over” what would it be? Misti: I had the chance to go to Lollapalooza in 1995. I didn't go because I had to work at Wal-Mart. People can say whatever they want about Hole. Courtney Love rocked in 1995 and I wish to hell I'd seen her kicking ass onstage in Austin. I also had a chance to drop acid in 1995. I didn't do it because of Wal-Mart. In 2004 I left my life in Albuquerque because I was terrified. I'd just divorced my first husband and was freaking out. I wish I'd stayed in Albuquerque. Scot: Tell me something about you that most people don’t know? Misti: I've been a mother since 1996. I gave birth to a beautiful healthy girl and handed her to adoptive parents I chose in my second trimester the day I left the hospital. I've never completely healed from that and never will but I think that was the best choice I've ever made. Scot: If you could sit down with any writer, who would it be and how would it go? Misti: I'd sit down with Tim Murray. It would go well because I would shoot him with a red water gun and he would share his onion rings with me. Miles J. Bell If you want to become a better writer/poet, you must read good poets. Miles Bell is one of those poets. I can’t even tell you how I discovered Miles Bell. I figure it was from William Taylor or another poet I was reading at the time. Google brought up some work. I liked it. One thing leads to another, just like everything else in this world. The interview is below and I will review a couple of his chaps very soon. Miles is another good one to add to the short list. Everyone needs a book or two of his to add to their collection. Scot: What has been the most rewarding event in your writing? Miles: I would have to say there are two events, impossible to separate. The first was getting into the car of the guy who gave me a lift to work every day with a fistful of letters I’d picked off the doormat on the way out, opening one and finding my poem “Family gathering” had been accepted for publication by Coffee House Poetry. In the back seat of a clapped-out motor than stank of angling equipment and early-morning blues I very nearly burst into tears. It was only 6 weeks after I’d begun writing and maybe the 5th poem I’d ever sent anyone. The second was getting a call from my pal Luke saying the chapbooks we’d combined to produce had arrived at his record shop, biking down there straight away and holding one in my hands. I wouldn’t say I’ve been blasé about the subsequent 100-odd publications and 5 chapbooks but I’ve taken it all in my stride a little more. Maybe I’ve learned to be a little cooler. Scot: Who were the writers that influenced your poetry? Miles: Two people above all others, really, Bukowski for showing you didn’t have to be impenetrable to write poetry, and my friend Tim Neave, also a poet, and who although different in style and ethos to me has encouraged and advised from the beginning. I owe him a lot, although I suspect neither of us would be comfortable with me telling him so. After that, there’s a whole host of writers…I like to think I change styles depending on what I’m trying to do in a poem, so sometimes I’m in a Ray Carver mood, sometimes a Todd Moore approach works better. I suspect it’s a cliché of sorts but most things I read, see, like, or have an effect on me will influence the writing that falls onto he page, even if it’s invisible to anyone but me. Scot: I have been told the poetry scene is strong in the UK. Miles: Have you? That may well be, but I’m afraid I don’t really keep up to date. I just write stuff, irrespective of what’s happening elsewhere. I’m by nature wary of scenes, gangs, movements. There’s nobody’s banner I’m comfortable trundling under, not even mine sometimes. Scot: Is online publication as noteworthy as print? Miles: I think it’s becoming more accepted. Of course there’s nothing better than having a magazine like Remark or Words Dance that you feature in, that you can hold in your hands and read, for giving you a warm poetry-slathered glow, but people are getting round to the idea that in the technologically-aware zeros (I will NOT say “noughties”) online publication is as valid. It’s easier for editors, quicker for writers, and much less work for the dear old postman. Scot: What does Miles Bell do for entertainment? Miles: Well, I’m a reclusive family man. I build Lego skyscrapers and trucks with the boy, walk around the garden barefoot with the wife, and Nintendo figures large. I surf the net, looking at stuff. So much interests me and I never get tired of reading, whether it’s Philip Roth or Wikipedia. I did venture to a couple of pubs today with my old friends Ju and Brian, where we drank cocktails and discovered it’s easy to write Tom Waits songs. All you have to do is imitate his growl and sing stuff like “I got a pocketful of dreams and strawberry bootlaces/looking for somewhere to lay my head, a fifth of whisky and some sausages/Saw Ramone at the corner, he was sailing today/for tomorrow, dear boys, and that broken shore”. Try it, it’s fun. Scot: If you could sit down with a famous person from history, who would you choose and why? Miles: This is so difficult, for the same reason I never got a tattoo. I change my mind with the weather. Too many to narrow down to just one. I believe the standard “dinner party” question involves 6, doesn’t it? But as far as today goes, I’ll say Jack Kerouac, to talk about loss, and love. Scot: What current poets do you read? Miles: Very few. I don’t really read poetry. I know the argument goes that I should, given that I write it myself and all, but so little of it interests me. I look out for anything blogged or published by S.A. Griffin, John Dorsey, William Taylor Jr, Ed Churchouse, Aleathia Drehmer, Todd Moore, Pris Campbell, Wayne Mason, a few others. Some “names” in the very small circle I’m aware of just confuse me with how ordinary their writing is in compared to the relative success of their scrawlings. Oh, and I read Rob Plath’s 5 poems a day, for the same reason people watch Road Wars. Scot: Pie or cake? Why? Miles: Again, depends on the day. Pie is good for dessert, cake is good with coffee. Splinters in my lily-white ass from sitting on the fence, I’m afraid. Scot: What one question would you like to be asked? Miles: How’s your Clyde? Scot: We have lost some great poets in the last 20 years, Who do you see on the horizon as the next big poet? Miles: “Big” poet…that’s a little oxymoronic, if you’re talking about the poetry I like and read and deal with. Even the big names like Heaney and Duffy sell very little compared to novels or travel guides or books about farting. But if there’s anyone I know writing today that someone who knows nothing of poetry, yet has half an ounce of literacy in them could pick up and appreciate, it’s William Taylor Jr. He’s a friend of mine, so I don’t want to go overboard for fear of embarrassing him, but nobody writes a sadder line. He has 2 PM stillness in an old man’s pub and 2 AM in an upstairs room with a bottle of good red and the stereo on low, the slow hours, the crushing roll of time, absolutely nailed to the page. Honestly, the man is so fucking good it makes me want to give up writing and collect stamps, sometimes, until I remind myself that the only thing to measure yourself against as a writer is yourself, and the tyranny of the blank page. Scot: Does poetry really matter? Miles: Matters to me. Scot: Any advice for beginning poets? Miles: Keep yours eyes open, and it’s all about the little things. Scot: How does one crack into publishing? Miles: Perseverance, and a little luck. Unsure if you’re talking about chapbooks or poems in magazines…I was lucky in that I had 3 or 4 poems published really quickly so I never got down about rejection. They don’t mean anything, just that your poem isn’t going to be in that mag that month or quarter for any number of reasons. Just keep reading zines to see where your stuff might best fit. No point me sending stuff to the Paris Review or The North. As for chapbooks, again, see what sort of thing the publisher produces, get your manuscript neat and proofread it 19 times, and always start your email as if you’ve just met the editor in the street. Scot: How many books do you have out and where can they be purchased? Miles: Ok, the first chap I did was “The finite beat”, published by The Audacious Art Experiment. All sold out, I think. Then I did “Icarus Rex” myself, only 25 copies and they’re all gone. Chaps still available: “Murder the darkness w/ laughter & stories” (Verve bath Press) “Let’s get visible” (Blackheath Books) “Propaganda for an ego” (Scintillating Publications) Coming soon, I have a chap “Everyone knows this is nowhere”, published by the fine people who bring us Zygote in my Coffee. Other than that, there’s a big book in the pipeline, can’t say too much about it because not much is finalised, but it’s going to be a book of about 22 old poems and 28 new ones, plus the whole of “Icarus Rex”, my epic poem. Scot: What do you do to market your work and /or yourself? Miles: Very little. I’m terrible at it, and need help. I think of myself as just the writer, and maybe I could do a little more flagwaving, but I think it has to be primarily the job of the publisher to get the word out. Aside from that, I do interviews. Scot: Who are your heroes? Miles: Don’t really believe in the concept. My grandpa, maybe, for teaching me how beauty is everywhere if you look. And my friends, for reminding me life should be a fucking hoot. Scot: What do you strive for as a poet? Miles: Just to write one good line after another. Scot: Do you belong to a community of writers? Miles: I’ve made many friends through the interwhatnot, there’s a sense of community in that there’s a bunch of people who message each other now and again, but I wouldn’t be comfortable with being part of a movement of any kind. Scot: It’s a sunny Sunday afternoon in England, what would Miles be doing? Miles: Reading the paper, eating toast, kissing the wife, playing on the N64, Gamecube or Wii, and teaching the boy about volcanoes, all at the same time.