Tag Archives: Solar Anus Reading Series

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.

Awful Interview: Jeff Alessandrelli

19 Jan

Jeff Alessandrelli is not blurry. He is a poet with a book. The book is a book that he wrote and it is good. The book is called Erik Satie Watusies His Way Into Sound. It is published by Ravenna press. Jeff Alessandrelli travels. He also reads out loud. He will be reading out loud at the Beep Beep Gallery in Atlanta this Saturday the 21st at 7:30 pm. 

You live in Nebraska, are you a fan of Bruce Springsteen’s album Nebraska? Also, what are the first three things a person should know about you?

Actually, funnily enough the only Bruce Springsteen album I own and have really ever listened to is Nebraska—I used to live in Portland, OR, and when I made plans to move here a friend gave it to me as a gift. I’m not a huge fan of The Boss, but I like that album well enough. Three things: I have a dog named Beckett Long Snout, I’m originally from Reno, Nevada and have a healthy amount of NV pride (I am decidedly against the TV show Reno 911!) and my favorite musicians include Pavement, the Rolling Stones, Erik Satie and the Notorious B.I.G. Bonus: I collect records. I grew up skateboarding.

What does having Nevada pride entail? Does your love of your home state influence your poetry much?

Having Nevada pride basically consists of pronouncing the state’s name properly—it’s neh-VA-duh, not neh-VAH-duh (so many people, especially non-Western politicians, pronounce it neh-VAH-duh) and sticking up for it when it’s referred to as California’s bastard step-child or something. It’s a great state and where I lived in Northern Nevada you could ski or snowboard in the winter (up at Lake Tahoe, which is a half-hour away from Reno) and go swimming in the Truckee River in the summer—it’s definitely not a big desert wasteland of a place; there’s a lot going on.

Since I’ve moved around quite a bit since I lived there—I left permanently in 2005, although I still go back 3-4 times a year—I don’t think being born/ living a substantial portion of my life in Nevada influences my poetry much. Although last year I did write a longer poem called “A Lover’s History of Nevada” that not so indirectly references my fondness for the state. I learned some cool facts while writing it, among them that in the Death Valley region of Nevada there is a creature known as the kangaroo rat that can live its entire life without drinking any type of liquid and that Las Vegas has more hotel rooms than any other place on earth (the last one probably isn’t too surprising, actually).

 If you were a kangaroo rat and someone offered to buy you a drink, how would you respond? Secondly, if the Notorious B.I.G were a kangaroo rat and someone offered to buy him a drink, how would he respond?

Biggie as a kangaroo rat would probs accept the drink, but have all sorts of highfalutin demands (i.e. ice but not too much ice, shaken not stirred, etc.). I would accept it also, but be worried that I was letting down my non-drinking kangaroo rat brethren, and after finishing it I’d keep it to myself. Loose lips sink ships in the desert, especially with regards to the lifestyle of a kangaroo rat.

I can see life being a bit cut-throat in the desert. So when you come to Atlanta to read, do you intend to visit any tourist attractions?

Hmmm…Joshua is driving (we’re reading in Athens on Thursday the 19th and then heading back to Atlanta), so it’s kind of up to him. I personally would like to visit the old palaces of famed Atlanta Hawks Dominique Wilkins, Moses Malone and Stacey “The Plastic Man” Augmon. Maybe check out some Civil War sites too? I realize the profound difference between those two attractions/destinations.

That is quite the profound difference.

Yeah. I’ve never actually been to the South–except for Charlotte (does that count?). My friend Mike is a banker and I went down there a couple of years back–I didn’t realize Charlotte is the banking capital that it is, 2nd most popular behind New York (at least according to Mike). So I’m really looking forward to it.

Also, what’s your biggest pet peeve regarding stereotypes people have of Atlanta/ the South? Do you hear a lot of stupid/ annoying/nonsensical ones?

 Hmm… I think Charlotte counts. I spent a good portion of my childhood in Charlotte, but Charlotte then is a lot different than Charlotte now. They don’t have the Hornets anymore, which is a bummer.
As far as stereo-types go, I can’t really think of anything off of the top of my head. That being said, when I first moved to Atlanta and was waiting tables,  I found it very aggravating when someone would try to order a Pepsi. Honestly, this is Coca-Cola town, only Taco Bell carries Pepsi on tap.
Do you have any stereotypes of the South you’ll be confronting in coming here?

I don’t think so, in all honesty. I’ve always been a history buff—I minored in it as an undergrad—so the South has always fascinated me specifically because so much of America’s history resides there. But having grown up in the West that history didn’t get talked about a whole lot; from what I remember we were on more of a Manifest Destiny tip in elementary and junior high. Also, RIP the Hornets. Grandmama Johnson was the bee’s knees.

Oh man, I loved Grandmama Johnson! I used to have a watch with her on it from the Burger King Kids club I think. Or maybe it was something else, Grandmama made it big because of Converses, right? Do you own any Converses?

Yeah, Grandmama Johnson was a Converse advocate. I do own a pair of Converse’s—they’re dirty and crusty and about 3 years old and are my designated “river shoes.” I wear them only when I’m floating or wading through a river of some sort. I actually haven’t used them at all since I moved to Nebraska, but I used them fairly regularly in Nevada and Oregon. Are you yourself the proud owner of a pair of Converses?

Formerly yes, my favorite pair were light blue, but they passed away after an unfortunate incident with a puddle back in 2007. Recently I’ve been wearing a lot of boots.
What would you say to Notorious B.I.G to get him to attend your reading here in Atlanta on the 22nd?
Maybe more importantly, what would you say to Grandmama Johnson to get her to attend your reading here in Atlanta on the 22nd?

To B.I.G. I’d emphasize the fact that music, poetry and rapping to music are interchangeable elements, and, as cliché as it might sound, the best rappers are also poets and vice-versa. Just like he had (has?) some of his raps memorized I have some of my poems memorized, and I try and play this memorization element up for audience effect. As for Grandmama I would simply make clear that if she doesn’t come to the reading my new river shoes are going to be a pair of old Adidas’—I assume LJ still has Converse stock.

Vouched ATL @ Artlantis with the Solar Anus reading series

8 Jun

This past Saturday I had the honor of setting up my first Vouched Books table at the third annual Artlantis Festival. The Solar Anus Reading series and I shared the booth for the day, which meant I got to spend the entire day with Amy McDaniel. It was a complete success. Books were sold, poems were read, mint-bourbon-lemonade and laughs were had, friends stopped by, and the whole day was full of merriment. Here are some pictures of our tom-foolery: 

A huge thank you to all of our friends who came by to support us, and all of the new friends we made. Special thanks to Jamie Iredell, Mark Basehore, and Blake Butler. And thank you most of all to Amy McDaniel for the lemonade, sandwiches, and all-around magnificence.

Atlanta Vouched Table

31 May

Vouched Books is launching it’s first colony in Atlanta! You may have heard that already, it’s been mentioned in a few different places. But this is my ‘formal announcement’ of sorts. As formal as I can muster, that is.

I’ve put off writing this. Colonization and colonialism have a terrible connotation from what happened between 1500 and 1800. Rest assured Atlantans, I’m not doing this the Portugese, English, French, Dutch, or Spanish way. This is not that kind of colony. Although I can’t speak for Pocahontas and her naked cartwheels through Jamestown. Please don’t doubt that I will do everything in my power to get the people of Atlanta to do naked cartwheels over small press books.

Naked cartwheels or no, this is a new kind of colony. Vouched Books in Atlanta aims to do much the same thing Christopher started in Indianapolis. We love words and the people who write them. Our mission is to get those works into the hands of the people of our cities. It will not result in a Trail of Tears or a caste system. We exist to raise up the writers we love, the words those writers create. There are so many that I know and love, and it is my mission to deliver them to Atlanta.

I feel so honored to offer this service to my city.

A colony cannot be launched single-handedly. First and foremost, Christopher has been the most wonderful mentor, big brother, and best friend I could hope for. He has walked me through this process step by step, introduced me to a lot of great people, publishers, and writers, and helped me get everything underway to do this correctly. There are plenty of new presses that I am so excited to have forged relationships with over the past few months, and many who we have already done established work with who have been equally supportive of the new colony.

Atlanta has a lot of great talent who have also been helpful, who there is no way I could have gotten this underway without them. Amy McDaniel, Jamie Iredell, and Blake Butler have been enthusiastic of the cause, even going so far as to helping me with a soft launch this June 4th at Artlantis (come visit us!). Then there’s the Purge ATL family , specifically Tim Song, Johnny Carroll, and Matt Debenedictus, who have been so kind as to assist me in organizing a launch reading upcoming in July, and helping me find different area events to get involved in. Wink Atlanta is another organization I have grown to know and love over the past few months, and I aim to continue to work with them closely into the future. They are a literary organization of writers who tutor Atlantan children in creative writing, and help the students publish and publicly read their work.

I feel so privileged to find myself aligned with so many people and causes. When this colony gets up and running it will be due to all of these assisted efforts.

To everyone who has supported and helped me with this cause, I solemnly vow to be the best damned Vicereine this city has ever seen.

So to start off with, if you’re in the Atlanta area, come to Artlantis and say hello Amy McDaniel and me at our booth at this Saturday June 4th! We’ll be in front of Druid Hills Baptist Church at 1085 Ponce De Leon Ave NE, 30306.

You can follow the VouchedATL twitter for news and updates as well!