Awful Interview: Todd Seabrook

19 Sep

Todd Seabrook This is Todd Seabrook. Todd’s real first name is William, but that’s no matter. He hails from Ohio, was educated in Colorado, and is working on scoring his Doctorate from FSU as. you. read. Along with getting a host of awesomeness published over the years, his chapbook, The Imagination of Lewis Carroll, was the winner of this year’s chapbook contest at Rose Metal Press. We’re celebrating its release here in Atlanta at a big ol’ party at the Highland Ballroom, hosted by 421 Atlanta (who published his collection The Passion of Joan of Arc earlier this year) and Rose Metal Press. To celebrate, Todd allowed me to awfully interview him.

So, Todd. (Or should I call you William? Mr. Seabrook? W.T.? – you tell me!) with release about Joan of Arc and Lewis Carroll now, I’m guessing you’re a bit of a historian. Is that true?

I have always gone by my middle name, a family tradition that was created, I assume, to make sure there is always a source of confusion in my life. So you may call me Todd, thereby fulfilling my parents’ penchant toward single-syllable middle names, chaos.

If I am a historian, I am a terrible one. It does not take an acute reader to know that Joan of Arc did not actually burn at the stake before standing witness in her own trial, or that Lewis Carroll did not kill the same person twice in two separate duels. But I still maintain these biographies are very accurate, except for all the things that didn’t actually happen, of course. I’m guessing such a statement does not qualify as good historical methodology, but these books are not interested in history so much as the individual characters. I am a fan of Joan of Arc and Lewis Carroll, and I write their life as a fan would. Their stories have been in our culture for centuries, and have somewhat fossilized over the ages, shorn and condensed into banal trivia questions. In order to show what they accomplished—Joan of Arc, a 19-year old girl, single-handedly saving France from becoming England II, and Lewis Carroll telling a story one afternoon on a whim that is still being told today—accuracy took a back seat to the dramatic, the colossal, the impossible. I am a fan, not a historian, and these books are my noblest attempts at true fan fiction.

Historical fan fiction – I like it! What other historical figures are you a fan of? I’m a total fangirl for Teddy Roosevelt, personally.

I have written two other magical realist biographical chapbooks—if that’s what these can be called—one on J. Robert Oppenheimer and one on Steve Prefontaine. I would also add Robin Hood into my list of favorite historical figures even though he never actually existed. But obviously such quibbling details concern me not. It is an incongruous melee of people, who share very little with each other (different eras, countries, ages, talents), but they all stand out to me as people who were exceptional at what they did, and that is why I am drawn to them.

Great choices! Wouldn’t it be funny if they all did have something in common that we just couldn’t possibly be aware of this day and age? For instance, maybe they all had a peanut allergy. Or maybe none of them were very apt at climbing trees.

What if I am their only connection, and they all existed solely so that I could write about them in a series of limited-run chapbooks. What grand design!

Wow! That’s so Being John Malkovich. Remember that movie?

I do, one of Kaufman’s best.

I couldn’t agree more. Did it make you want to take up puppetry, a little? Do you think you’d be good at that? Do you have any other comparable secret hobbies the world should know about?

In a related field to puppetry, I am a juggler, and own a  set of juggling balls and pins. I am also a marathon runner, which is why I have a preoccupation with Steve Prefontaine. Aside from running and juggling, my friends know me as a lover of cats,  a fan of science-fiction and  ICP, and a collector of beer caps, which, as I see them all together, seems like another odd assortment.

 That is quite a menagerie of talents. Will you be juggling at this Saturday’s reading? No pressure! But other than your juggling act and reading – what are you looking forward to most about this weekend’s festivities?
I will be dressed as the Mad Hatter for the reading, and I may bring my juggling balls, or maybe even my pins, just to delight the crowd. I can’t wait to see who else will be dressed up for the event, and I am looking forward to reading with Laird Hunt (making a reading-Laird-Hunt sandwich). All in all, I can’t imagine a launch party that could be any more fun than this.

Single Sentence Review: The Book of Joshua

12 Sep

The Book of Joshua 02j

The Book of Joshua
Zachary Schomburg
Black Ocean 
128 p // $19.95

This is a journey without a departure, which makes it endless – an expedition through the space between grief and trauma, an unwieldy terrain that aching with hunger.

Best Thing I’ve Read This Month: Sprezzatura

10 Sep

sprezzatura-cover-front640

Sprezzatura
Mike Young
Publishing Genius 
132 pp // $14.95

 

Mike Young doesn’t fuck around – but does he? This collection will make you pause and think things like “Wow, it’s great to be alive” but also it will make you think, “I wonder what the weather’s like in Switzerland right now?” What I’m saying is that you’ve got to follow the thread, follow Mike Young. The thread is a colorful thing that’s all tangled and strung in odd, unexpected ways. If it gets dark – don’t worry! – it’ll lighten up soon. If it’s too bright just shade your eyes and squint a little. It’ll all even out soon enough.

 

 

 

Single Sentence Review: Bangalore

9 Sep

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Bangalore
Kerry James Evans
Copper Canyon Press
96 pages / $16

Not every soldier goes to war, but these are stories of battle just the same.

Single Sentence Review: The Way We Sleep

7 Sep

Front Cover - 5.21.12

The Way We Sleep
Edited by C. James Bye and Jessa Bye
Curbside Splendor
220p/$14.95

Whether we are nestled or sprawled, heavily cushioned or atop a hardwood floor – these slumber stories occupy the most intimate of spaces: just as much the pillow made by the crook of a heavy arm a the endless expanse of our technicolor dreams.

 

VouchedATL (& friends) at the Decatur Book Festival!

26 Aug

2013 DBF Logo Hor

It’s Labor Day weekend which in Atlanta means the Decatur Book Festival is taking the city by storm! Once again, the Vouched table will be set up at the festival all weekend, this time we’ll be sharing a booth with the 421 and Publishing Genius in the ART | DBF pavilion, and in really good company there, neighbored by arts organizations such as our pals at BURNAWAYDad’s Garage, Deer Bear Wolf, Mike Germon & John Carroll, Lily & the Tigers, and more! You’ll find us in BOOTH 324 – 325. 

Here’s a map!

2014-map

(it’ll get bigger when you click on it, promise.)

As always though, there will be plenty of other things to do and see at the festival. I’ve compiled a list of events below that may help, but I heartily suggest you take a peak at the full schedule of events here. For updates on events throughout the weekend you can check out VouchedATL’s twitter page, and of course, the Decatur Book Festival’s twitter page!

Here are some highlights from the weekend’s schedule for you!

Saturday, August 30th

10 a.m.: Labor of Love: Running a Small Press – (Marriott Conference Center Ballroom C) moderated by Amy McDaniel with panelists Bruce Covey, Matt DeBenedictis, Amanda Mills, and Adam Robinson

10 a.m.: The Wren’s Nest Scribes (The Decatur Recreation Center Studio) listen to the works of the students of the Wren’s Nest KIPP Strive Academy 1

3 p.m. – 3:45 p.m.: Best American Poetry Book Launch (The Decatur Recreation Center Gym) featuring Jericho Brown and Patricia Lockwood!

5:30 p.m. – 6:15 p.m.: Worth A Thousand(At the Decatur High School Stage) a collaboration between Vouched Books and #WeLoveATL. Readings from Thomas Wheatley, Christina Lee, Alex Gallo-Brown, and Amy McDaniel, inspired by the photographs of David Voggenthaler, Wes Quarles, Jennifer Schwartz and Stephanie Calabrese.

5:30 p.m. – 6:15 p.m.: The Wren’s Nest High School Publishing Co. (The Decatur Recreation Center Studio)

5:3o p.m. – 6:15 p.m.: Yells & Oats: Write Club Atlanta tackles the classics (the Decatur Recreation Center Gym)

 

Sunday, August 31

12 p.m.: LGBT Poetry (Eddie’s Attic Stage) Megan Volpert, Matthea Harvey, and Mark Wunderlich

2:30 p.m.: The Collected Works of Lucille Clifton (The Decatur Conference Center Ballroom) Jericho Brown, Kevin Young, Sharan Strange, and Dana Greene

4:15 p.m.:  Emory University (Local Poetry Stage) Bruce Covey, Jericho Brown, Gina Myers, Dana Sokolowski

A Very Vouched San Francisco Birthday Party FAQ

22 Aug

After blitzing the internet with Raffle Prize Announcements, Awful Interviews, and other promotional things, I realize you may have some questions about the upcoming Vouched San Francisco festivities. So here’s our third ever Vouched Presents FAQ for our first ever Vouched SF birthday.

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When does this shin-dig start?  

6pm, approximately. I estimate readings to begin between 6:15 and 6:30.

Is there a cost for admission?

Nope, you can attend for free! That being said, there will be things for sale: merchandise from 826 Valencia (the world’s Premiere Independent Pirate Supply Store), books from Vouched and our readers, and of course, drinks and more drinks at the bar. Every $5 you spend at the birthday party (on Vouched or 826 Merchandise) gets you an raffle ticket for one of our sweet prizes! And a portion of drink and book sales (and 100% of 826 merch sales) goes to support community programs at 826 Valencia!

What are the totally sweet raffle prizes?

Oh, you want a list? Fine. Here you go:

  • Ticket vouchers for you and a friend to Literary Death Match, plus five (5) Cyrano-de-Bergerac-style texts from world-renowned love and dating expert Adrian Todd Zuniga for you to send to someone you like (or whoever you want–we aren’t here to boss you around)
  • An 826 Valencia gift pack!
  • Everything our intern found on the streets of the Mission in one day!
  • A gift certificate for a free haircut at Edo Salon
  • A sweet gift pack from Litography
  • Surprise gift pack from famed comedy bad boy and/or family man Scott Simpson!
  • A book gift pack from The Rumpus!
  • [Get stood up on] a date with Dave Eggers!
  • Vouched Books gift pack!
  • A year-long book-of-the-month membership to Vouched Books!

How do I win those totally sweet raffle prizes?

Great question! Participants in our raffle will receive 1 raffle ticket for every $5 donated or spent on 826 Valencia or Vouched merchandise. (So say, for instance, you buy a book from me that costs $10. For that you will receive not only your book, but 2 raffle tickets! Which could win you all sorts of amazing prizes!)

Wait, so who is reading?

The evening will start out with the re-launch of Portuguese Artists Colony, so as you come in, you will vote on writing prompts to give to the four live writers. Then, you watch (and Michael Mullen, songwriter for Pocket Shelley and The Size Queens, will make beautiful music) as they have 10 minutes to turn out a beautiful response to that prompt. They read what they wrote, and you get to vote on the piece you like best!

Our live writers:

Jenny Bitner

Heather Bourbeau

Kwan Booth

Casey Childers

Our featured readers:

Maisha Z. Johnson

Scott Simpson

Maw Shein Win

Sarah Griff

Tim Toaster Henderson

Jelal Huyler

Amy Berkowitz

Where do my donations go?

All donations will go to the 826 Valencia. Vouched Books will not receive any of the money donated.

Where can I learn more about 826 Valencia?  

You can learn more about 826 Valencia here!

I heard there will be a chapbook-making station and a pile of donuts. Is this true?

Our chapbook-making station will be run by the delightful Jason Schenheit! We will also have a poetry station and a photobooth for taking wedding portraits with the sea (we are talking about pirates, after all). Every rumor you have heard about the donuts is true.

What’s the Milk Bar, is there milk?

The Milk Bar is a beautiful bar and event venue in the Haight. This event is BYOM.

The poster has a lot of balloons. Will there be balloons?

Yes, there will be balloons. There will also be a bear, though he is unlikely to harm you.

Are we going to party? Really?

Yes. DUH.

Awful Interview: 826 Valencia’s Pasha Parovoz

21 Aug

pasha-introspectiveTo the left you see a picture of the world-renowned actor, philanthropist, and pufferfish: Pasha Parovoz. He’s been in the city he calls home, the ever-creative and weird hub of culture that is San Francisco, since February of this year. Fresh off his return from shooting Moby Dick 3: The Reckoning in Brazil, he’s been working to lose the weight he’s put on in the wake of the film’s moderate success in anticipation of his next role (whatever that may be). I traveled to the Mission District and sat down outside of Pasha’s humble tank in the fish theater at 826 Valencia-—the non-profit where he devotes all of his time to entertaining children and adults–to talk to him about his work, his life, and his passions.

Mr. Parovoz, Pasha, thank you for meeting with me. My first question is regarding your influences: who made you want to act? Who gave you your first taste of the stage?

Oh, you know it was the fish I associated with, really. It also helped that that one of those fish was Balthazar, Eddie Cantor’s striped bass, who, as you know, essentially brought maritime vaudeville to the mainstream (pun intended).

You worked with Balthazar the Bass? He’s a legend, but no one’s seen him in decades.

Oh yes, well he was already quite isolated when we met, but as he’s gotten older he’s become very coy.

How do you keep all the shows in the fish theater fresh everyday?

Well I work off the crowd, Del Close is a huge influence. I like to break down the fourth wall with the audience and put my face against the glass and just swim back and forth. It really moves them when I move. Some of the standards are the works of Tennessee Williams, the crowds love when I puff up at the famous “STELLA” line. Other than that I do Shakespearean classics. But it’s my monologues that really draw the people in, my words are so powerful that the other fish actually have to hide.

Your most recent work was shot in Brazil, that must have been thrilling.

Oh you can’t imagine. I always get self-conscious filming, though, because, as you know, the camera adds ten pounds, which for a pufferfish is a lot. It wasn’t easy with all that good food around. The krill off the coast of Brazil has an addictive flavor. But we had a great time, Moby Dick 3: The Reckoning has been doing pretty well in small midnight showings in cult theaters across the country.

Tell me about the place that you call home, 826 Valencia.

826 is a non-profit dedicated to supporting students ages 6 to 18 with their creative and expository writing skills, and to helping teachers inspire their students to write. Our services are structured around the understanding that great leaps in learning can happen with one-on-one attention and that strong writing skills are fundamental to future success. I live in the Pirate Supply Store in front of the writing center.

I understand you have a plug.

I’m plugging Birthdays.

Birthdays?

My Birthday, and more importantly your Birthday! This Saturday, August 23, we will be celebrating Vouched San Francisco’s Birthday at Milk Bar in the Haight district of San Francisco! It starts at 6PM. The proceeds from the event will benefit 826 Valencia!

Well I think we’re about out of time, you have a performance coming up right?

Yes, that’s right, thank you for your time and for interviewing me. Will you stay for the show? We will be performing a stage-adaptation of “Bonnie and Clyde”

Sounds amazing.

Best Thing I’ve Read This Month: Everyday Genius

13 Aug

Michael Seidlinger is at the helm of Everyday Genius this month and he’s been posting excerpts from works-in-progress by some really fantastic folks. Below are a few of clips from my favorites so far:

An excerpt from What Have You Lost? by Cari Luna

It would be pretty, wouldn’t it, to say I walked along the river, but I-5 cuts the east side of Portland off from the Willamette and so I would find myself walking parallel to the highway. But the highway had its own appeal, and then there was also the hard rusted beauty of the train yards and the cargo trains gone still and cold, waiting, and the occasional train in motion, wending its slow robot-driven way through town, its mournful whistle cutting through the air, the gray heaviness of Portland morning even heavier with the weight of that train song.

An excerpt from Jim’s Daughter by Alexandra Naughton

We send letters back and forth for two years, each letter revealing more than the last, with promises to see each other soon repeated unfulfilled, except for one time when your friend had to be in Philly for a family reunion and you tagged along, but after three months and no response, no letters and no emails, I feel defeated, sending one last letter. Your mother writes back, a short note and newspaper clipping with your wedding announcement.

An excerpt from Wichita Stories by Troy Weaver

I go into my best friend’s bedroom and lay down on his bed. I close my eyes. I wait. I start counting sheep to alleviate the boredom—not really sheep, just aloud to myself in the dark. I open my eyes, I close them, I open them, and I wait. I count. I wonder what could possibly be taking so long. I count some more. I think about Claudia Schiffer’s perfect boobs, stop thinking about them, start again, stop again, decide to lay on my stomach so I don’t start jacking off on instinct in my best friend’s bed.

An excerpt from Seeing Other People by Megan Lent

If I ever get a tattoo, it will be of a rose, in white ink, on my left shoulder. Except if you have a tattoo you can’t be buried in a Jewish cemetery.

Which doesn’t really affect me, because I will never die.

Awful Interview: Christy Crutchfield

4 Aug

Christy Crutchfield

To your left you see Christy Crutchfield. She’s fucking fierce. Christy penned a book. That book is titled How to Catch a Coyote. The book, like Christy, is fucking fierce. The fierce book may be purchased from its publisher, Publishing Genius, but only if you do so ferociously. You can do that here.

Christy is embarking on a book tour (possibly with a pack of coyotes? No promises.) …right now. You can follow that here. We caught up with her before she hit the dusty dusty and asked her a few questions about coyotes, Cocoa Puffs, and life in general. She had a lot of wise things to say.

So Christy, let’s get straight to the good stuff. When did you realize that you had such a gift for catching coyotes?

When I almost hit one with my car.  If I hadn’t hit the brakes, I’d have more than caught one.

Oh my God, just typing that made my heart hurt.  I could never actually do that.  I did a lot of research about hunting and coyotes while I was writing the book, and it made me realize two things:  1) I Iove coyotes, and  2) I could never be hunter.  I barely eat meat as it is, and I’m pretty sure the closest to hunting I’ll ever get is fishing.

Don’t worry, I totally understand. How does one fish? I’ve never actually been.

I haven’t been fishing since I was a kid, and I’ve never caught much.  You need bait (crawlers for fresh water, shrimp for salt water), good rods and bobbers, and a lot of patience.

Here’s how coyotes catch fish:

Wowee! That’s incredible! Way to go coyote! Speaking of which,  I feel like I must confess something. Christy, I was a little sad when I discovered your book wasn’t actually a Count of Monte Cristo-esque revenge story told from the perspective of the Road Runner on Looney Tunes. (Are you mad at me?)

Yes and no.  Yes, because I always kind of hated the Road Runner (and Tweety Bird if we’re keeping score).  I know Wile E. is the one starting shit, but the Road Runner is always so smug about winning.  No, because not matter what I think of the Road Runner, I would totally read his revenge story.  I would really like to know what’s in the Road Runner’s head because he doesn’t say much.

 Shew. And yeah – what is with those Looney Tunes birds always being so snarky anyway? What’s with birds in general?

Oh come on.  Birds are great!  Songbirds, hawks, peregrine falcons.  There are lots of blue herons in Western Mass, and there’s something majestic about them when they fly.  Parrots creep me out though.  Maybe it’s a talking/cartoon bird thing.  The Cocoa Puff’s Cuckoo–the worst!

But Cocoa Puffs are so good! The milk! It’s the best, don’t you think?

I feel pretty meh about Cocoa Puffs.  And I love cereal.  I love cereal so much I had to stop buying it.  But yeah, not huge on the “chocalatey” kinds.  I hold out for Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Honey Bunches of Oats, and Peanut Butter Crunch.  I’ll give you the milk part though. (Are you mad at me?)

How could I be mad at you? You’re so endearing! And also, now that I know you’re not a fan of Cocoa Puff Milk and cereal milk in general – we make a dynamite duo. Plus, aren’t we about the same height and disposition? I feel like people may find that endearing.

I clock in at just (or just barely?) 5’2”.  I also remember you being a wee person.  How tall are you?   Does that mean we can share clothes?  According to facebook, you have really cute clothes.

Your disposition may be a little sunnier than mine, but that works well for a duo.  What would our duo name be?  Whoops, I think I just started asking the questions.

 Holy shit, I’m taller than you by one inch – that’s such a rarity! And yeah we can totally share clothes! Want to brainstorm some duo names? We go together like bourbon and lemonade. (Those go really well together.)

Those do go really well together.  Could we be The Boozy Lemonades?  What else goes well together? Chocolate and Peanut Butter?  Egg and Cheese (can I be Egg?)

The Endearing Duo?  The Dynamic Shorties?  I’m struggling here.

 We can keep brainstorming. (Maybe we can get a whole gang going!) But yeah, you can totally be egg, if we go that route. What are your feelings on breakfast, anyway? Do coyotes eat breakfast?

I love breakfast so much!  I will eat breakfast any meal of the day.  If I’m home for lunch, I almost always make a veggie scramble.  Coyotes will eat just about anything.  Animals,vegetables, fish, trash, pizza.  So I assume breakfast foods are on the list.  Breakfast hours, not sure.

Well, you’re a living testament to the fact that breakfast cannot be inhibited by menial things like time, right? Say, what are you most excited about your book tour? And more specifically, the release party in Atlanta on August 9?

I have been looking forward to this book tour all summer (it’s been getting me through teaching at summer camp this July), especially the release party in Atlanta.  I think I’m most excited to see friends, family, and all the amazing people in the lit community along the way.  I’m reading at some awesome series in the coming months (Federal Dust, Three Tents, Tirefire, Sunday Salon) and at some amazing venues (The Goat Farm, Lorem Ipsum, the Regulator Bookshop).  It’s a little scary to have a first book out, but people have been so supportive helping put this tour together (thanks to you too!).  It makes my heart so full.  Also, Atlanta’s my hometown, and Publishing Genius is now based there, which makes the release party even better.

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