Thursday, March 29, 2012

Bunch Of Pals Asking Me Questions: Part 1

1. Have you always been stoked? What was the first thing you were stoked about? - Mark Neely

I’ve always felt this often-overwhelming appreciation/joy/rattling about the art and people and moments that “touch” me. Like weirdo life does, it has evolved. As a kid, I didn’t really know how to deal with it or what it meant, so I yapped and yapped about everything, sports and girls and trapper keeps and hair gel, but mostly about myself. As a teenager, I started listening to/hanging out with this local band, Away With Vega, and their lead singer, Zack Melton, who was about four years older than me, through girl troubles and school distractions and etcetera, would unleash at shows, dance around, flap his arms, boogie in the parking lot to Hall and Oates. And that was when I started letting my stoked-ness out, when I realized that was cool and okay and fun. When I like (here meaning really like it, feel it in the gut, can’t shake it) something, I holler. When I like something, I get on the interwebs and tell someone. When I like something, I throw dollars at it. Because a lot of my life is fogged by depression, shaded by social anxiety, lost in my own selfishness, being stoked is my defense mechanism, my way of being a normal loving human being.

The first thing I remember being stoked about was when I found an Ultimate Warrior action figure. I don’t remember my age. I was in elementary school, I think. It was at the Indy Toys R Us. I was shaking it above my head and going WOOT WOOT and my mom was like I’M NOT WAITING ON YOU ANYMORE and gave me twenty bux and waited in the car.

2. What is your writing process? - Jim Chambers

It is something like this:

- I’m not good at going from blank page to full draft. I start with a cluster of words. Example include: I’ll do an erasure of a blog post that I really liked, I’ll take some phrases from my phone that I’ve typed in an ongoing Note of possible lines, I’ll do a sestina, etc. A lot of this starting material eventually gets edited out or changed, but it gives me a place to start. Most of the clustering is done on my phone or on paper. About half of my drafting is done on paper. The other half is done on the computer.

- Most of my poems, especially in this book, have been through 6-10 drafts, the earlier ones being major revisions and changes, the later ones being tightening of language, word choice, that type of stuff. I typically edit on the computer, though I used to be that dude with a stack of printed poems, scribbling edits on the bus.

- A big part of my process is exchanging with trusted friends and writers. These include (and are not limited to) Layne Ransom, Laura Straub, Diana Salier, Christopher Newgent, Mike Krutel, and Todd McKinney. I never send first or second, usually not even third drafts, to these people. This is like the step right before I’m thinking of sending the poems to a journal, unless a special case arises. This is vital for me.

- Revising never really stops for me. I still edit poems from my first chapbooks.

3. You leave your book in three places. What are those places and who do you hope finds them?- Layne Ransom

1. In a random mailbox; the owner of that mailbox.

2. In a disc golf basket; some rad golfer who just hit his/her first ace.

3. My urn; some nice person who is interested in how my ashes are doing.

4. Was there a defining moment in your life when you knew you had to write or have you always been a writer? - Laura Straub


I find origin stories fascinating. Growing up in small town Indiana, how did you come to writing poetry? - Christopher Newgent

I didn’t read a book, like engage with a book, care about a book, until I was 16. It was The Great Gatsby. (And though I love the book still, I have no clue how that was the book!) From there, I read more classics, then read some contemporary stuff that intrigued me in my late teen years like Eggers and Klosterman (Also, this journal-type book by the sports talker Mike Greenberg called Why My Wife Thinks I'm An Idiot had a strange effect on me. I remember that was the first moment I cared about other people expressing themselves.), then I found the BSU Writers Community my freshman year of college and it has been all rolling up and down a stupid hill since then. Defining moment: I’d say when Todd McKinney read a Dean Young poem at Writers Community. It was the magical experience of community and energy and discovery. Writing made sense as a contemporary living thing after that moment.

5. Where do babies come from? - Ryan Rader

Go ask your mother.

6. If your book were a song what would it sound like? Who would play it? - Layne Ransom

I’ve actually been thinking lately, after hearing Matt Hart’s band Travel’s new album (which comes with his new book) (which puts a bunch of his poems to songs), that I’d love to try this with some of my poems.

Problem is: I don’t know how to make music.

Solution: I have some talented music friends.

Dream friend backing band: Ryan Rader, bass; Cody Davis, drums; Christopher Newgent, guitar; Frank Schweikhardt, guitar; Layne Ransom, keys; Nick Teaford, anything he wants as long as he’s a part of it.

Sound: My goal would probably be like part State Champion (the start/stop pulse), part Cap’n Jazz (the wackiness), and part In The Face of War (the spirit, man, the energy).

Even talking in this Word Doc about this makes me overwhelmed with anxiety and regret. The biggest regret of my teenage years is not learning an instrument. The people I listed above are such for real artists, in my mind. I don’t know if I could handle it.

7. If you were a cocktail, what would you be? - Laura Straub

8. Do you ever think about names for your hypothetical children? And what are they? - Ryan Rader

You know, the whole 2ish years I was married, I never really thought about or wanted kids. We did have names picked out (girl: Kaylee Sue—combo of our middle names + both of our moms’ middle names) (boy: Zachary Evan—my best friend’s name + a name we both thought was neat). Now, I think about kids constantly, probably because I’m around them all day, probably because I wanna go back back back. Names now: (girl: Maggie Sue) (boy: Abraham Evan). Those first names are built for camping and riding bicycles and being read poems and living in a cabin. We should all be so lucky.

10. When will there be daily meetings about you? - Ashley Farmer

That is a freaking question! It should be soon, as much as I’ve been hollering, as much of a mess as I’ve been making. On a hospital bed with my arm inches out of socket, I thought the next day they’d start. The last time I told a human I loved them, but not myself, I thought it’d start. The last time I flew a kite with 27 first graders and I was the one who refused to go inside, I thought it’d start. But that’s all a bunch of boo-ha-ha anyways. Imagine the cost of such operations, tremendous!

11. What is Your Favorite Painting Tonight? - Ashley Farmer

Most previous nights, I'd say Number 1, 1950 (Lavender Mist) by Pollock, that wild emotional mess. I stood in front of that thing with my ex-wife, then girlfriend, and we both said WOW. That was a good word then.

Now, though, Tonight, as you say, I'd say, every 8.5x11 white construction paper sheet doused and dripped and rubbed with water color pictures of flowers that my kids made today, hanging from yarn and paper clips around the classroom. Some are blue tulips smiled on by the sun. Some are hunks. Some have hatchets centimeters from the stem. Some have red Xs where the artist wanted to quit but I wouldn't let them, wouldn't give them a new sheet. They are the most beautiful things I've ever seen created.

12. What do you think of these rising gas prices? - Laura Straub

It suxxxxxxxxxxxxx. I haven’t owned a vehicle for four and a half years. A month ago, I bought an S10 pickup. That first time I filled up, fifty bux, that sucked. Then, I remembered how much I spend per gallon of booze and I thought SHUT UP YOU IDIOT.

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