Tag Archives: Atlanta

New Love: The Letters Festival

5 Nov

The Letters Festival

Something grand is about to descend upon Atlanta. Something. Damn. Grand.

It’s the Letters Festival.

Focusing on supporting and spreading the [good] word about small press literature (*swoon*), on November 14th-16th the Letters Festival will be hosting series of readings, workshops, author talks and other dreamy things in Atlanta. Their line-up will make you salivate: Jericho Brown, Mary Miller, Roxane Gay, Scott McClanahan, Blake Butler, & Matt DeBenedictis, to name a few

Obviously we, the people of Vouched, are über pumped about this and want you to be too! So over the next few weeks we will be doing everything in our power to drum up the excitement and anticipation in your little hearts.

Why?

BECAUSE [WE LIVE LIFE IN CAPSLOCK AND] THIS IS AWESOME.

Learn more about the organizers of the Letters Festival here. Checkout their indiegogo campaign and then donate to them here. Then follow them on every social media platform. Do it!

Loose Change Magazine wants to go to print!

14 May

With the closures of some of our favorite publishers and literary journals over the past few months, I think it’s important we keep our chin up and focus on some new and exciting developments that are being made with other journals. Tyler brought our attention to the good stuff at Matter Monthly last week. Now I’d like to draw your attention to our friends at Loose Change Magazine.

logo

Loose Change is ascending! In March they released a new website and their third volume and threw a party to celebrate. Now they’re in the process of raising funds to release their first ever print issue! Read all about it their power2give fundraiser page.

TONIGHT! Vouched Presents at the Goatfarm!

7 Feb

I know everyone is as feverishly thrilled for this evening’s reading as I am. Look how feverish this book is- it’s burning! *

vouched_0207b

 

More details about the reading on facebook.

*No books were harmed in the making of this reading. Who do you think I am, Guy Montag?

 

ATL Bookmarks @ Creative Loafing: 7 Atlanta Literary Events To Hit This Week

12 Nov

Here’s a list of this week’s literary happenings up at Creative Loafing! The VouchedATL table will be set up at two of the seven events listed: this Wednesday at Write Club Atlanta ch. 18: Turkeys and other Foul Things and WE AIM TO MAKE YOU SO EXCITED! (Kill Your Darlings and VouchedATL present readings from Nick Sturm, Molly Brodak, Jenny Sadre-Orafai, Kory Oliver, Laura Straub, and P.I. Navarro).

Read more about these and more events at Creative Loafing.

Vouched on the Road: Atlanta with Jamie Iredell

27 Jul

Photo by Koneko Photography

Jamie Iredell is everyone’s favorite ATL uncle-type. He is the kind of guy who balances the grown-up living (watch him beam about his daughter; dude is Mr. Poetry at SCAD; serious working writer with a handful of books in the works/contracted) and the rad go-go-going (the man loves to hike; he co-hosts ATL’s reading series Solar Anus; one of the coolest talk-over-a-beer guys ever).

I came across Jamie’s work a few years ago when I won a copy of his book The Book of Freaks over at HTML Giant. I dove into that thing. I dive back into that thing when I need a reminder of how wacky life can be cool. Here is a freak for you.

Also the trailer:

Pre-Visit Interview with Jamie Iredell

1. How long have you lived in Atlanta?
10 yrs.
2. What are your favorite pieces of Atlanta?
The thighs, drumsticks, and wings.
3. What brought you to Atlanta? What keeps you in Atlanta?
PhD. in creative writing. That my wife has a good job and that she pays the bills.
4. How has Atlanta influenced your writing?
I frequently write the word “y’all”
5. If you could live in any city, what would it be and why?
Chicago, and I think you know why.
6. How’s the literary scene in Atlanta?
It actually sucks, compared to comparable cities of the same size. Much smaller cities (San Francisco, Portland, OR, Austin, TX, etc.) have far more lively literary scenes. Atlanta’s not much of a reading city, and I don’t know why that is, but my guess is the city’s youth, lack of a tradition in the publishing industry, and such.
7. Describe Atlanta in three words.
Hey, tee, hell.
8. What are you most stoked to show me in Atlanta?
I don’t know. My baby? She’s cute. You probably don’t like babies. I’ll show you a strip bar where most of the strippers also have babies, the evidence of which is sometimes way too apparent.

All of my previous interactions with Jamie were like my first two this visit–chattering, drinking beers, being at a reading. This guy is a busy dude with family, with teaching, with writing, but he makes it, he makes it happen, he makes it out to readings and organizes readings and supports supports supports.

Southern Comfort Tour Ladies

This visit, I saw my first Solar Anus reading, a series Jamie runs with Blake Butler and Amy McDaniel, usually at the Beep Beep Art Gallery in Atlanta. Packed to the gill-slits, this month’s reading hosted the Southern Comfort tour with Elizabeth Ellen, Mary Miller, Donora Hillard, Brandi Wells, and Chloe Caldwell, with special guest Scott McClahan. And from this one and the chatter I hear about the others, this series is how I dig them: a little rowdy, beer-provided, cooool space, and post-reading hangage.

Photo by Michael Straub

The next night was the big Vouched ATL birthday party, a special event that featured twenty of Atlanta’s brightest writer-people reading selections of work written by students in Wink and the Wren’s Nest , creative writing tutoring programs in the city. The event was a fundraiser for these two groups, and seeing so many kickass writers, like Jamie, using their reading spirits to celebrate these rad kiddos and organizations was a really special moment.
My last day in town was reserved for our big adventure, hiking to the top of Kennesaw Mountain. Jamie, a West Coast guy who grew up wandering the forests and nature out there, is a fun fun dude to follow on a trail. He knows the history, like about the battles that took place there in the Civil War. He knows the nature (hope this is allowed to be mentioned: he’s writing a series of prose poems right now about the trees of Atlanta). Even better, I have this love of nature that gets amped up in the rain and it started raining in the middle of our trek. A perfect BIG way to chop my way out of the city.
After a long week of readings and drinking and this mega-rad hike, before leaving ATL, I had to have me a final big hefty meal. Jamie delivered, taking me to DBA BBQ, one of those stick-it-to-your-ribs places.
My longest, busiest stay of the road trip (and sadly last of these Vouched posts), Atlanta was a kind, exciting place, a full scorecard of the literary and the wacky and the rowdy and the relaxing. And that is exactly the kind of time Jamie showed me, a lot of major goodness packed into one awesome writer-guy.

Time to get yer ARTLANTIS on!

1 Jun

Atlanta! As you are probably very well aware, it is festival season. Festival season is the best of seasons because it poses as a great excuse to sit around, talk with friends (old and new!), drink lemonade, and SELL BOOKS ALL DAY.

Logo by R. Land

Tomorrow the Vouched Atlanta table will be set up at Artlantis, an arts festival hosted by Beep Beep Gallery and The Druid Hills Baptist Church. My friend Amy McDaniel and I will be there all day, 10am to 7pm (just like last year). So come by, check out all of the awesome new titles we have for you, maybe have us read you a poem or two while you sip some lemonade? It will be fun!

Druid Hills Baptist Church
1085 Ponce De Leon Ave. NE
Atlanta 30306

June 2nd, 2012 10am-7pm

Hope to see you there!

[If you're not there, I will assume it's because you're prepping your submission for our Every Laundromat in the World chapbook contest, which is open for entries today.]

Awful Interview: Tyler Gobble

23 Mar Burger+King+Kids+Club

There’s a good chance that if you’re familiar with our humble website here, Tyler Gobble MAY MAKE CAPSLOCK COME TO MIND, or maybe he makes you think of this: !!!!!

What I’m saying is the name Tyler Gobble should make the words JOY and ENTHUSIASM come to mind. If they don’t come to mind, I entreat you to read this interview thoroughly. If after that if they still don’t… I feel sorry for you.

Tyler’s words are all over the internet. His work has appeared in PANK, NAP, decomP, Everyday Genius (with Christopher Newgent), and Used Furniture Review. He also authors the Vouched Satellite column over at Small Doggies. His chapbook Goodness is a Fine Thing to Chase is included in The Fullness of Everything at Tiny Hardcore Press.

Tyler will be hitting the road with Vouchers Christopher Newgent, Matt Bell, and Brian Oliu on the Over the Top Reading Tour, and lucky for Atlanta, they will be stopping by on Friday, April 6th to read and drink and be all sorts of merry. YOU SHOULD COME.

So Tyler, if you could have brunch with any writer ever, dead or alive, who would you brunch with?

Can I request a switch to brinner? Something about brunch seems so obvious, so common that I don’t even think it is a distinction. Like breakfast, lunch, dinner, it is a meal. But brinner oh boy, some fried eggs and bacon with a glass of OJ at 8 pm, now that is a real distinction, a cloud who gets low and becomes a vehicle.

I have been saying this for years now–I wanna take Abraham Smith to get some brinner and have him read the menu to me. Maybe we never order a thing. Maybe I show him pictures of my dad and he sees the resemblance. Maybe I put free blackberry jam on free crackers and leave a dollar and we walk out together. Maybe he leaves while I’m washing my hands. Maybe he orders something that is not on the menu like an eagle egg or waffles and gravy. Maybe we are served.

Oh man! Brinner is such a delight! I love the idea of you and Abraham Smith chatting it up over sunny-side up eagle eggs at a Waffle House outside of Tahlequah, OK on route 540. I wish it were possible to make that happen, and we could  instagram it happening. Everyone would heart it. You would have the most popular picture of the day. What’s it like to be so popular?

I think you misspelled ‘police officer’. And yes, I am a police officer, or at least I applied to be a volunteer one in this poor wacky town of mine, or at least I thought about it, or at least I have debated that whole common skip-the-MFA-and-go-straight-to-cop-college thing.

Okay okay, I know you didn’t have a spelling error, you’re freaking Vouched ATL for golly goodness sakes.

So, lets start over–thanks thanks for saying that I am popular. Or possibly popular if that whole pic thing worked out.

I work with first graders all day and from 8-3 I am popular. I walk around and everyone knows my name, even the pretty student teachers. How neat!

Also, I am the tallest person in the building at a towering 6 foot tall.

Is that what being popular is all about? Like you walk into a place and look for that handsome face over the less-developed heads, soft and wacky, and it is yours?!

One time I read that if you want someone to like you, you should take him/her to a place where everyone knows your name. I think that means the interwebs.

For real, I googled my name and there were 1,120,000 hits. WOW.

HAHA. I have been dilly-dallying around for this point–I finally found the place where people value what I value.

Or google yourself and feel rad.

One time I was watching an episode of Degrassi: The Next Generation (a popular Canadian teenage melodrama)( I am neither Canadian nor a melodrama) and the students formed a band and the band sang a song “Google My Own Name.” It was terrible, but also catchy.
Have you ever seen that show?

Yes, I have.

I remember I bought my first box of condoms after seeing the episode where that swooshy haired goofy yet horny kid (me being a swooshy haired goofy yet horny kid) knocked up that awkward Liberty girl, who oddly enough looked like my first girlfriend. It seemed like a worthy lesson at the time.

IT WORKED I HAVE 0 KIDS.
Also, I have a hard time remembering that tv is not real, a reason perhaps I don’t watch it often, (Seriously, I weep and weep watching Greys Anatomy ALL THOSE PEOPLE DEAD, CHEATERS, SO SAD).

I remember seeing Drake for the first time, thinking, AW HOW COOL that kid in a wheelchair is breaking into the mainstream!

I know! Sometimes when Degrassi is on I think “This is what the Burger Kings Kids Club would be like if it came to life. That or all of the pictures in my high school health books.” They have such a politically correct sprawl of gender/race/ability/sexual orientation, it’s mind blowing. Except I don’t think any North American Indians are represented in the show.

What do you miss more: Burger King Kids Club or Book-It?

Book-It for sure. I am a sucker for some za. One time, I traded a Dr. Grip pen and a Christina Aguilera CD for two Book It coupons. As much as those items could come in handy now, I stand behind my decision.

Would you call your fondness for pizza an obsession?

Obsession it seems is that mysterious pulse in my calf, like another heart, yet how and why and where did it go, it is now in my right ear. A man starts addicted to porn, then he is addicted to sex, then he is addicted to pressing his naked body against his apartment sliding door, then he does not think about sex ever but hiking, constantly, it is hiking, end goal as sitting in a stream fully clothed. Today he is looking at a couple of deer trying to walk on the concrete road that separates two forests.

That is not pizza at all. Za is that strange decision one makes in the middle of a sunny day or maybe a rainy day, I don’t think it matters. What matters is that what follows is good, great, more great! That man decides, screw this creek for today!, and goes plays disc golf and gets his first ace. Or he stays indoors, say in a hotel lobby and meets a woman and before he knows it, they are naked in her room, the white sheets endless, his body, not pulsing at all, but content and soaking up the artificial light and totally cool with that. He puts on his boxers and says, TODAY IS A DAY OF A LOT OTHER DAYS.

As I see it, this whole issue you’ve proposed is a matter of the body and how it behaves. Always reckless and weird. But is it a daily taketh, a moment-to-moment circuit, a little Pac Man constantly blinking after goodness, real or not? Or is it a taste, za being such to remind me of those years of stuff-stuff-stuffing myself, a lot of tiny nibbles that may happen maybe twice a decade, the taste lingering a lifetime?

I am saying a slice of pizza is infinite in its sticking ability. My obsessions don’t stick. They are the sticking itself.

You know my current obsession is the idea of you, Matt Bell, Christopher Newgent, and Brian Oliu reading in Atlanta at the same reading. Tell me, what are you most excited about? Why should people come and hear everyone read?

How lucky are we, by we I mean us four dudes but also you and your audience and the goats and etcetera, to be able to stumble down the map and get together and read work and drink beer and laugh? It is 75 and sunny outside here in Indiana and a goose just honked and kept going. I haven’t heard real gunfire in my 23 years of being alive. HOW TREMENDOUSLY THANKFUL.

I saw Matt read from Cataclysm Baby at an off-site reading at AWP, and I’m still shaking. And the whiskey has even worn off!

I saw Christopher arm-wrestle Matt Rowan, a major beast of a man and AWP, arm-wrestling champ, and though defeated, I like Christopher more than I already did (and he’s already high up on my RAD DUDES list). Oh and his writing is pretty neat too.

In a world where we ask things to settle down, where we want the props of life to stay on the ground, Brian Oliu’s  lyric essays float in that space between my head and my chest, pulsing up and down.

Also, J. Bradley & Melysa Martinez are both for real writers I know on the interwebs and it’ll be neat to see them in the human form.

I’ll probably act like an idiot, so if you like that kinda thing, you should come and we will hang out!

Also stoked for: the goats, your porch, meeting your husband, hopefully karaoke, meeting Ludacris (he has my invite!)

HEY PEOPLE YOU SHOULD COME TO THIS READING BECAUSE DON’T YOU KNOW HOW WACKY LUCKY WE ARE TO BE ALIVE AND ABLE TO DO SUCH SILLY THINGS

Awful Interview: Jessie Donaghy

7 Feb

Jessie Donaghy is more than your average good samaritan. Though she is very very much a good samaritan. Atlantans may have heard of her via her good work with Wink, and also recently the Wren’s Nest. Jessie writes, and she writes beautifully. Lucky you! You get to hear her read next Monday, February 13th at the Goat Farm!

So Jessie, how is your day so far? What have you been up to?

Hi Laura! This morning has been interesting…I went to yoga, but just as I was walking up to the door to the studio, they locked me out! I admit I was seven minutes late, but really? I decided to stop by Sam Flax to return some markers on the way home, and I got lost in their Paperie for a good 30 minutes, as usual. Have I told you that paper is one of my biggest weaknesses? I don’t know what to do with myself when I encounter cute stationary or journals. I have also recently become obsessed with sealing my letters with a wax stamp. But I digress. Now I am home, chatting with you and eating cinnamon raisin toast.

Stamp as in wax stamp/seal or sticker stamp? What do you think the root of this recent obsession? I have a large collection of journals and stationery as well!

Good old-fashioned wax stamp/seal. I think that personal letter correspondence is becoming a lost art, and with it, all the fun trappings of sending and receiving letters. For example, who still writes with an inkwell and quill pen? And yet, it’s so legit. There is something very satisfying about crafting a letter to a friend. Apart from the words you write, you also get to create an aesthetic and tactile experience, which an email cannot do. Wax seals are just another way to make letters more individual. Just last week, I sealed all of my wedding invitations. I burned myself a couple of times and it took forever, but the end result was completely worth it! It was fun to use the letter “M” of my future last name :)

Has being a future Mrs. effected your writing in any way?

I will admit it has been harder to remain disciplined in my writing. A wisp of a poem will start to come, and then I remember I have to confirm something with the caterer. Before I realize it, the poem flits out of my mind and probably alights into someone else’s imagination. The bane of a poet’s existence. Also, with book project deadlines coming up with Wink and Wren’s Nest, I have been focusing more on getting kids to write rather than writing my own stuff. Is that hypocritical of me? Be honest.

Hmm. You put me between a rock in a hard place on that one. I’m going to say no, for the sake of self-preservation. If it makes you feel better, I’ve been working on the same few short stories for eternity.
How do we get ourselves out of our writing ruts? Let’s come up with a plan!

Let’s! I’ve noticed that when I actually take the time to go for a walk in my neighborhood (Grant Park), I come home emptied of a lot of my busy thoughts and I am more ready to hit the pages, or rather, laptop. Also, I went through a season where I made myself write 3 pages as soon as I woke up every morning. Most mornings it was just plain garbage, but I found that getting those initial words out of me cleared the way for better words to come forth later on that day. What works for you? We should combine our forces to combat writer’s block (or perhaps it’s more like writer’s procrastination).

Walking/running has always helped me conquer the day and clear my head as well. I actually just re-read a short story by Andre Dubus about a weightlifter, and he argues that he gets too wound up and can’t think straight if he doesn’t go to the gym. I think there’s a good argument for that. In any case, for a really long time I also used to write for about an hour first thing every morning, but since my husband and I got a puppy in late October it became very difficult for me to focus with her romping about the room and being 100% adorable. Needless to say, my morning discipline has fallen to the wayside.
Do you have any advice? Also, have you ever read Andre Dubus?

I must meet this puppy! I have that same issue when my cat, Josie, comes to visit me in the morning. She has a glorious fluffy, white belly that begs to be pet. But I digress. I have read Andre Dubus, and I would have to say that one of my all time favorite short stories is “A Father’s Story”. It gets me every time. While we are on the topic of shorts, I must admit that I really admire Flannery O’Conner and how she wrote almost every day for 3 hours even though she was terminally ill. I may or may not have visited Andalusia and Flannery’s grave at some point in my life. Authors like her and Dubus make me want to be a better writer.

Me too! Any other literary heroes you would like to mention? How do they influence the way you write?

In regards to non-fiction, definitely Annie Dillard and Thomas Merton. They both had a way of conveying great depth and meaning in such a beautiful and simple manner. I have learned to be more patient in observing nature from Dillard, and have become more introspective through reading Merton.

When it comes to fiction, I have a knack for the French epics. I cannot decide if I love Hugo’s Les Miserables or Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo more. I am enamored with stories that can be peeled back layer after layer. The thought of scheming up and executing a book like Les Mis is beyond me. I feel pushed to write more and write longer when I read books like these.

For poetry, Mary Oliver is my default read. A great deal of my writing is inspired by the natural world, so her imagery resonates with me. I have also recently discovered Natasha Tretheway, who teaches over at Emory. She writes a lot about her relationship with her mother, and about growing up in the South. Her approach to these topics caught me off guard in the best way possible.

Who do you think would win in an arm wrestling contest: Victor Hugo or Alexander Dumas?

I can’t help but project Hugo and Dumas’ protagonists on them: I see Hugo as a lumbering gentle giant of a man who used to be on the chain gang but now tries to make recompense by raising orphans, and Dumas as mysterious millionaire with a glorious moustache who is out to get all his ex-friends who double crossed him. From being on the chain gang, Hugo would have sheer brawn on his side, but he would feel bad about being able to win so easily so he’d hold back. Dumas, with a prison history of his own, would start out determined to win, but seeing the compassionate nature of his foe, call for a truce and order them both a round of bière de garde, because, of course, this arm wrestling match would take place in a French beer cafe.

What if you joined them at the table? What would you tell them about our reading on February 13th to encourage them to attend? What kind of beer would you order?

I’d be so starstruck I wouldn’t trust myself to say anything of substance. I’d probably grab a piece of parchment, scribble something to the effect of: “Napoleon Bonaparte still lives. Come see him read poetry at the Goat Farm on February 13th at 8pm. Also, can I have your autographs please?”. Then I would order a St. Bernardus Abt 12, take a deep breath, and mosey on over to their table.

Awful Interview: James Nichols

3 Feb

James Nichols’ Mom is awesome. James Nichols is pretty cool too. He goes on long walks, which he refers to as EpicWalks. He doesn’t really get Valentine’s Day Presents. One time we both read on a rooftop to some people, thanks to the lovely Loose Change Magazine. That was when I decided that James Nichols was a swell guy, and that he should probably read at a future Vouched Presents. Well, the future is next Monday, February 13th.  Here are some things James Nichols and I discussed.

So the next Vouched reading is the day before Valentine’s day. Is Valentine’s day an important holiday for you? What’s the best Valentine you’ve ever received?

Valentine’s Day has never been a big day for me.  When I was younger, I didn’t care for Valentine’s Day because I couldn’t get any girls and was resentful.  When I was in my early and mid twenties, I didn’t care for Valentine’s Day because I never had any money to take a girl out on a nice date.  Nowadays, I’m married, so the sentiment behind the holiday is a bit moot for me.  By that, I mean that I don’t find a need to have one day set aside to remind my lover of my love; shouldn’t I be doing that every day?  Still, I think I’ll cook my wife a nice meal and consent to a cozy evening of romantic comedies…

The best Valentine’s Day gift I ever got was when I was about eight.  My mom gave me a Nintendo game called Gradius.  It was rad.

Your Mom sounds awesome.

Oh, she is.  She’s kind of like a hippie who was never really a hippie.  Y’know, she never led the life, wore tie dye or protested Vietnam or anything like that, but she’s a very cool, open-minded lady, so sweet and thoughtful. She’s big on English literature and the BBC and things like that.  A big Anglophile.  She’s tried to pass that on to me, but I have trouble getting into the whole Jane Austen/Bronte sisters tip.  I’m more of a Francophile myself.  Still, I’m a big fan of hers.  How could I not be her biggest fan, with her giving me awesome Nintendo games for Valentine’s Day?

Precisely my point! High five for your Mom. Here’s a question: as a Francophile, do you find you have more in common with Thomas Jefferson or Bill Maher (both noted Francophiles themselves)?

I’m gonna go with Thomas Jefferson.  Not that I think I’m presidential material or anything, but I like his style:  getting appointed as Colonial Ambassador to France (that job must have really sucked), maintaining a lavish wine cellar, telling the British what for, hangin’ at Monticello…it seems like a good way to be.  Bill Maher I like as well, but he’s a little snarky.

Don’t forget Thomas Jefferson also edited his own version the Bible. Even Bill Maher isn’t that bold. So, why do you write?

I’d like to say there’s a grand plan behind why I write, or some vital agenda that I’m trying to put forth, but it’s simpler than that.  Writing is my zen time.  It’s a way for me to process things without going insane. I’m not putting out page after page of gorgeous literature on a daily basis, but as long as I get a few lines down, or an observation, or my impression of the day, I feel good.  Writing is equilibrium.

That sounds very therapeutic. Have you ever practiced yoga or Fun Shway? Do you think Thomas Jefferson would have?

I’ve never done anything like that, mainly because I have the flexibility of a brick wall.  But I’m not against it.  Thomas Jefferson may or may not have have been into yoga (he seems like he’d be a bit too pragmatic), but I know Ben Franklin would have been all about it.

Vouched: How would you back up that claim?

Read any of his correspondence or parts of his Poor Richard’s Almanac;  the man was into self-improvement and living well.  Were he alive today, I know you’d see him in a spin class or something, sweating it out in lycra pants.

How often do you work out?

I don’t work out in the conventional sense.  You’ll never catch me in the weight room or anything like that, or entering marathons.  But I am a big walker.  At least a couple times a week, I’ll go out on what I call EpicWalks, which is basically me walking around with no real destination in mind for five to ten miles, depending on how much time I have.  I like to take Marta to some stop I’ve never been to, get off the train and just walk around in the neighborhood that station serves.  It’s amazing some of the things you see like that, on the ground, that you’d never see from your car or even from a bike.  Atlanta is such a car-fixated culture.  It’s nice to be out on the street with no car or iPod, just letting the city soak into you.  It’s good for the soul, and for the writing.

Have you ever encountered something bizarre whilst on an EpicWalk?

Boy, have I.  Almost every time I step out on these walks, I see something that blows my mind in some way or another.  Usually, it involves bums.  Like this one time, I turned a corner in Taco Town and found myself in the midst of a straight-up hobo brawl.  I’m not sure what had happened to provoke it, but there were two guys beating the tar out of two other guys, like a hobo Battle Royale.  I had to run to the other side of the street to avoid being wrapped up. Another time, I was putzing around near Castleberry Hill and a homeless guy wearing sweatpants walked up to me and asked for the time.  There’s nothing particularly strange about that, but–full disclosure–the guy had a massive tent pitched in those fudgies, if you know what I mean.

So many funny encounters…I watched a guy propose to his girlfriend outside of Hooters on Peachtree Street.  It was romantic.  I’ve had pit bulls sicked on me in Peoplestown…I was attacked by a squirrel in Grant Park…I shot craps with a guy with no legs outside Underground…I walked past the cast and crew of The Walking Dead while they were filming here.  I thought it was a Tyler Perry movie until I saw walking corpses.  That kinda killed me.  I could go on, but then you’d have to title this interview “Crazy shit James Nichols stumbles across while walking around in Atlanta.”

Hypothetically, say you came across a few of the interesting people you mentioned between now and our reading on February 13th. What would you say to entice them to attend the reading? Also, these three people are all very different. One for instance, could be the aggressive squirrel in Grant Park. The second person may be the legless craps-shooting gentleman you mention. The third person may be Jon Bernthal.

To the squirrel, I say, “Look man, I’m not all that bad.  Maybe you were having a tough day and decided to lash out.  I get it.  We all do it.  But do yourself a favor and come to the Vouched reading.  Soothing words, good people, ambiance, beer.  And plenty of furry friends.  If you still hate me after that, then perhaps I deserve to be attacked.”

To my legless buddy:  “Hey brah, I know you’ve been dealt a bad hand in the game of legs, but if you come to the Vouched reading, I guarantee you that–at least for a couple hours–you will feel as if you are soaring on gilt-gold wings.  I’ll drive.”

To Jon Bernthal, or rather, his character, Shane:  “Shane!  I found a place safe from the walkers.  It’s on the outskirts of town; it’s secure.  It has a good perimeter , excellent lines of sight, and there are goats for milk and meat.  Everyone can stay there comfortably, even Dale, even Laurie…wait, sorry to bring her up.  Anyway, come on man.  It’s our only chance…DAMN!  WALKERS!”

Awful Interview: Joshua Ware

20 Jan

Josh Ware is mysterious. This is the last known likeness of him, it was created on June 3, 1983. He has a line of black hair, yellow skin, blue eyes, and one red lip which smiles. His feet start near his knees and he has abnormally large hands. He will be reading at the next Solar Anus reading series in Atlanta at the Beep Beep Gallery this Saturday, January 21st at 7:30 in the evening. He has a book Homage to Homage to Homage to Creeley from Furniture Press Books. If you abbreviate the title of his book it looks like this: H2H2H2C.

Tell me a bit about your sunglasses. Do you wear them often?

First, my apologies for the delayed start on this interview; I woke up late and then had to walk Olive. Anyway, as far as my sunglasses are concerned: well, I purchased my first-string pair at a sunglass kiosk in the Cherry Creek mall in Denver for $16 (Several times, in fact, as this particular brand cracks easily in the heat). That’s important to me because I break or lose sunglasses with great frequency, so I avoid pricey models. I also like my first-string pair because they have large lens and wide frames. My cranium is abnormally large, almost caricature-like, so a smaller pair would make my head look even larger (Gabe Bacon used to call me “Waretermelon” in high school because he thought my head was the size of a watermelon). Finally, the lens are polarized so everything looks more vibrant; it’s kind of like, when working with an image in a photo-editor, over-saturating the colors so it appears to be in technicolor. A technicolor world is much more enjoyable than a non-technicolored world; I find nothing redeeming about absolute realism. O, the other thing is that overhead, fluorescent lighting affects my eyes in a very negative way, so I need to wear them if a room is illuminated in that manner. My second-string pair of sunglasses are gold-rimmed, rectangular-shaped aviators. I purchased them at a Family Dollar in Lincoln, NE for $6 on a walk during the Spring of 2010. While they’re not good enough to be first-string pair (the lens are a bit too small) they come in handy when my first-string sunglasses are lost or broken. The thing is, the stems are so thin, I thought they would bend or break easily; instead, they’ve been surprising resilient. To answer the second part of this question, yes, I wear them often. Of course, I realize that people usually consider sunglass-wearers (especially when inside or at night) to be assholes; so, I’d just like to take this moment to say that I’m not an asshole.

 I feel as if I stumbled upon the perfect first question for you. You’re quite the sunglasses connoisseur. Have you ever considered freelancing as a sunglasses consultant? Sometimes I see people with sunglasses on and think they could have made a better eye-wear decision. You could really help with that.

Recently, I rescinded the final semester of my funding at University of Nebraska and moved back, at least temporarily, to Denver, which means that I have officially joined the ranks of the unemployed. Given my recent joblessness, I’d considered just about any form of employment. Freelance Sunglasses Consultant (FSC) sounds much better than Male Prostitute At A Truck Stop (MPTS); I mean, the chance of contracting a sexually transmitted disease is much lower in the former of these professions than it is with the latter. Also, I could probably work from home as a FSC, whereas I’d be hanging out in a lot of dirty, interstate bathrooms as a MPTS. Sure there’s a certain charm associated with a truck stop bathroom (given all the zany graffiti on the backside of the stall door’s and whatnot), but there’s more downside to that profession than upside.

What other professions have you considered entering? Do you have any secret talents? For instance, can you juggle?

In a perfect world, I would be a two-guard or a small forward in the National Basketball Association with a skill-set modeled after former Cleveland Cavaliers swingman Ron Harper. Genetics, sadly, put a quick end to this career aspiration. I find this to be one of the great tragedies of my existence. While in Nebraska, I’d try to keep my skills sharp by playing hoops with some other poets, such as Trey Moody, in case an NBA franchise came calling. I’ve always been a strong defender, rebounder, and do well scoring in the post, but over the past few years I’ve also honed my mid-range jumper. If I could add a more accurate 3-point shot to my repertoire, I’m quite certain that I’d be unstoppable at any level of play, regardless of my height.

I think, perhaps, I also would have made a fantastic astronaut; I know this because I love space ice cream. As a child growing up in the Cleveland area, my grade school would often take us on field trips to the NASA Glenn Research Center. In the souvenir shop, small, air-tight bags filled with dehydrated, Neapolitan ice cream were sold; I’d purchase loads of those things and gobble them up, almost instantly. I think, for the most part, people hated it, claiming it tasted like cardboard; but the fact that I enjoyed them so thoroughly seemed to indicate to me that I was destined to be propelled into outer space on the top of a giant missile filled with rocket-fuel. This, of course, never happened either. Maybe writing poetry has been a way for me to deal with my failures as an astronaut and a professional basketball player.

As far as secret talents, I feel as though I excel at small talk; this isn’t so much a “secret” talent, but it’s a talent nonetheless. Far too many people discount the ability to talk to strangers, acquaintances, business contacts, etc. about mundane or inane subjects with no goal other than to fill awkward silences. Small talk, I believe, is the foundation of Western Civilization and should be honored as such. Why this has not yet happened is beyond me. Eventually, when small talk does take its rightful place in the pantheon of talents and skills praised in our society, people will finally understand that I can contribute something to our culture and the general well-being of humanity. Until then, I will slave away in obscurity.

With your skill set though, if you were to make enough small talk with people about small talk’s importance, don’t you think over time other people would make small talk about you and your small talks on small talk, and then eventually you would become 1. notoriously talented at small talk 2.small talk would gain importance and therefore maybe even 3. You could be a spokesperson for small talk. Like Jared Fogle for Subway?

Sorry for the time lapse; I had to swing by King Soopers to pick up some Airborne, Ricola, Hals Mentho-Lyptus, and firewood. I came down with a scratchy throat and nasal congestion the other day. Coupled with the always eventually fatal entitilitus I contracted from Ronnie Fucking Dobbs, the past 48 hours have been trying.

As for actively championing small talk for the sake of advancing both its stature and relevance, well, we’ll see what happens. As for Jared Fogle, I’ve never been a fan; although, I salute Subway for retaining Michael Phelps as a spokesperson after the whole bong-photograph scandal. It’s important that multinational corporations not shy away from hiring recreational drug users to appear in their advertisements and marketing campaigns. I mean, that’s an entire, mostly untapped demographic that ad agencies and marketing departments have neglected for decades. I have to believe that there have been innumerable late-night food runs to Subway by stoners of all-ages simply because Phelps appears in those commercials.

I agree, the Phelps endorsement + the $5 foot-long campaign have a really strong appeal to stoners, especially college kids. How big of a fan of Mr. Show are you, on a scale from 1-10? Have you watched The Increasingly Bad Decisions of Todd Margaret?

The first two seasons of Mr. Show are genius, and I don’t even believe in the concept of genius, which makes my assessment of those seasons all the more amazing. To that extent, on a scale of 1-10, I’d say I’m a 9.23 for the first half of that series’s run. Seasons three and four are solid, but not as spectacular as the first two; thus, for the second half of the series’s run, I’m a 7.18.

I’ve never seen The Increasingly Bad Decisions of Todd Margaret, but I do love Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!, which Bob Odenkirk (I think) produced. Heidecker and Wareheim are so disturbingly funny, not to mention hyper-intelligent. Although, my favorite sketch from Tim and Eric is the Pussy Doodles sketch featuring David Cross. And, yes, Will Arnett (who, from a quick Internet search, appears to be the other lead in The Increasingly Bad Decisions) and Cross are brilliant in Arrested Development, particularly the second season.

What makes you not believe in ‘the concept of genius’?

“Genius” seems to be a self-aggrandizing concept that is a hold over from the Romantic period and employed today by those wholly insecure with the fact that any artistic creation is a confluence of influences and sources in perpetual relation with one another, manifesting themselves within an artwork. If anything, I like what Gertrude Stein said about “genius,” which is: “It takes a lot of time to be a genius, you have to sit around so much doing nothing, really doing nothing.” Maybe she meant that sincerely, but I’m hoping she was being ironic; no doubt, she thought herself a “genius,” though. A direct correlation, to my mind, exists between “nothing” and “genius,” in that the former is the definition of the latter. Of course, I don’t believe in science or Netflix either, so I could be wrong.

I met a girl in college who didn’t ‘believe’ in napkins. She had ranch dressing on her face. She wasn’t being ironic and it was a little disturbing.
Your disbelief in ‘genius’ is not disturbing.
Name five reasons people should come and hear you read on the 22nd.

Although I feel much shame that, it appears, I was just compared to a ranch-dressing-faced hippie you once knew, I will still answer your final question:

1. For starters, I’ll be reading with Jeff Alessandrelli. In addition to being a fantastic poet, Jeff has the rugged but casual good looks of a Hollywood star (similar to Tom Jane) that women and men alike swoon over. He may also wear a Biggie Smalls tee-shirt, which would be an added bonus.

2. Door prizes, such as macramé braclets and a ½ pound bag of cocoa nibs.

3. I’ll read all my work in an effected voice, much like that old recording of T.S. Eliot’s recital of Four Quartets.

4. There’s a good chance that either Jeff or I may “freak out”; you can interpret “freak out” in manner you’d like.

5. Glad handing, back slapping, and much ballyhoo will be had by all who attend.

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