Tag Archives: Vouched Presents

A Very Vouched Birthday Party FAQ

10 Jul

After blitzing the internet with Single Sentence Reviews, Raffle Prize Announcements, and other promotional things for about a month,, I realize you may have some questions about the upcoming festivities. So here’s our first ever Vouched Presents FAQ.

When does this shin-dig start?  

7pm, approximately. I estimate readings to begin between 7:15 and 7:30.

Is there a cost for admission?

Nope, you can attend for free! That being said, there will be things for sale: food from the Good Food Truck, drinks, popsicles from the King of Pops, t-shirts, books, etc. so it would be very wise of you to bring money with you in case you may get hungry, parched, etc.

I heard there’s an art opening involved too, can you tell me more about that?

Happily! We’re lucky enough to have the very talented Atlantan sculptor, Duncan Shirah, host the opening evening of his exhibition ‘Tools’ in conjunction with our party. He’s even been kind enough to donate his sculpture “Wood Pecker Awl” as the grand prize of the evening. Here’s what that looks like:

You can learn more about Duncan Shirah at his website or in these interviews with Dashboard Co-op and Scoutmob.

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 WINK, Wren’s Nest Publishing Co., 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!

Where do my donations go?

Donations will be split evenly between the Wren’s Nest Publishing Co.  and WINK. Vouched Books will not be keeping any of the money donated.

Where can I learn more about the Wren’s Nest Publishing Co. and WINK?  

Both organizations have really splendid websites, which give background information on both of their tutoring organizations, the work that they do, and other information about how to get involved.

You can learn more about the Wren’s Nest Publshing Co. here!

You can learn more about WINK here!

I only attend parties where there are photo-booths. Will there be a photo-booth?

YES! Our good friends at Smilebooth have been kind enough to donate us a photo-booth for the evening to better capture all of the debauchery.

Can I win multiple raffle prizes? 

No. Sorry, but that just doesn’t seem fair. Winners will be collecting their prizes at the Vouched Books table throughout the evening where we will be keeping track of who wins what.  One prize per attendee.

What’s the Goatfarm, are there goats?

In their own words: The Goat Farm Arts Center is a major visual & performing arts center in Atlanta. What was once an underutilized historic site went through a major expansion and was given new form in 2009. Part of the expansion opened up 20,000 square feet dedicated to five new performance and exhibition halls and spaces. The Center now hosts classical & contemporary music concerts, traditional and experimental theatrical performances, film screenings, contemporary dance performances and art exhibitions.

And yes, there are real-life goats!

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

Yes, there will be at least 1 dozen 3′ circular balloons. There will not be bears.

Vouched Presents Indy, Aug. 16: Tadd Adcox, Russ Februaryy, Meghan Lamb

9 Jul

Vouched Presents Indy is dog-daying this summer with a Chicago invasion trio: Tadd Adcox, Russ Februaryy, and Meghan Lamb: and myself? Okay. Here goes nothing.

Tadd has just released his first collection of short stories, The Map of the System of Human Knowledge, so he’s striking out on some readings. Being a native Indianapolisian, he wanted to come back and show Indy what he’s become, with friends Russ and Meghan along for the ride with their yelling and sloshing.

Note: We’re holding this reading at the new Indy Reads Bookstore, which opens this weekend at the very north end of Mass Ave. in downtown Indy. Indy Reads is a rad organization that promotes literacy efforts around the city. Libations should be available, with donations going to support Indy Reads and all the goodness they do.

Get there; let Tadd draw you a map.

Single-Sentence Review: THIS IS WHAT WE’RE UP AGAINST by Ben Hersey

26 Apr

The man flapping out his Whitman-inspired glow at a recent event

by Ben Hersey
The Chuckwagon, 2008, $4 (postage included)

Ben Hersey came to Indiana for the last Vouched Presents Reading and read, no no silly, the right word is performed, or maybe exploded is an even better word, stomping around in a hockey jersey, doing some wild stuff with lettuce, chomping and sniffing and whatever, pulling this character, angry and afraid from Boston, unstable and shouting, from his body, and here in this book those words, those beautiful tragic scary scenes Hersey expelled from his body, are captured, quite remarkably, quite intact, as much as can be hoped, proving this shit can be shaking in person, but even on the page, man, his take on rattly emotion and fucked-up existence thrives.

An awesome excerpt at The Chuckwagon (where you can buy this wonderful thing for only four bucks!)

April 6th: Vouched ATL Presents Review!

10 Apr

On Friday, April 6th the Over the Top tour made its pilgrimage to Atlanta! It was grand!  It was amazing! If you weren’t there- you wish you were! Once again we found ourselves at the Goatfarm, but this time at the Warhorse coffee shop. Our readers were: Jesse Bradley, Tyler Gobble, Melysa Martinez, Christopher Newgent, Amy McDaniel, Brian Oliu, and Matt Bell. This time we were lucky enough to have Jesse Bradley film the readings, so if you weren’t able to make the trip to our little corner of earth, you may indulge second-hand via the world-wide web.

First off was Jesse Bradley himself! Here’s a handsome picture of him in romantic lighting.
Jesse says ‘y’all’ like a boss. You probably want to hear for yourself. WISH GRANTED. 

Next up was the charming Tyler Gobble. He is so freaking charming you don’t even know. He is so charming I’m doing everything in my power to steal him for Atlanta. Look how awesome he looks. Look how awesome he is when he reads out loud, some new stuff and some of his portion of The Fullness of Everything.

Then, my beloved Melysa Martinez. Holy Moses she is so awesome. Not only does she hold Atlanta in the palm of her hand, but then she reads and she holds us in the palm of her hand too. See? 

After Melysa we all had to catch our breath. Everyone was so in love with everyone. There was a lot of shaking of hands, hugging, laughing, and drinking.

We came back for the home stretch. Christopher Newgent! Vouched Founder and all-around swell guy who happens to be my best friend. Be jealous. Here’s a picture of Christopher being super excited. Who can blame him? We were all having so much fun. Here’s Christopher reading

Amy McDaniel is the loveliest of lovely things. Just look at her!

Amy is, has been, and will always be completely enchanting. She read a small part of a bigger thing. We all were at the edge of our seats! I can’t wait until she unleashes the bigger thing in its entirety. Here, be enchanted. 

Brian Oliu was up next. He read some from his portion of The Fullness of Everything (Tiny Hardcore Press), and  a bit from his latest release Level End.  (Have you seen the packaging for the gold edition?! It’s in a DVD case and includes CD filled with an ebook file, an audio recording of Brian reading his work, videos of boss battles, etc.! We were all like WHOA!) When he was finished we all felt like we had defeated Ganondorf. 

Speaking of champions: Matt Bell was our final reader. He had us howl like wolves when he read. It worked!  By the time he had finished reading everyone in the audience had started a mental countdown for the release of Cataclysm Baby. Honestly, he knocked the wind out of everyone as well as rocked our socks off. We were all barefoot and breathless when he finished- it wasn’t weird.

April 6th has made its mark as one of my favorite days of 2012 so far (definitely my favorite day since AWP this year).  I cannot thank our readers enough. You were all so splendid! Thanks so much to Jesse Bradley, Brian Oliu, Tyler Gobble, Christopher Newgent, and Matt Bell for making the trip to Atlanta. Thank you to Amy McDaniel and Melysa Martinez for sharing your words with us as well as your elegant southern hospitality. Thank you so much to the Goatfarm for allowing us to read in such a beautiful space. Thank you to everyone who helped me promote the reading: Gina Myers, Kory Calico, Bruce Covey, Jamie Iredell, Blake Butler, Matt Sailor, Laura Carter, Jenny Sadre-Orafai, and Deisha at Bang! Arts Management and Promotions, and others.  Most of all, thank you to our wonderful audience for participating and supporting our readers with such fervor (& for howling, Roll Tide-ing, and SPRING BREAK!-ing).

I’ll be setting up the Vouched Atlanta Table at the next chapter of Write Club Atlanta: Death & Taxes, tomorrow at Push Push Theatre at 9pm. Come and say hello!

Awful Interview: Brian Oliu

27 Mar

Brian Oliu and I don’t know each other in person per-se, but I know enough of him to exclaim “Roll Tide” when we meet. I also know enough of him to say that he has awesome taste in cover art, and  *SPOILER ALERT* knows exactly how terminators eat ice-cream.  His collection of Tuscaloosa Missed Connections, So You Know It’s Me, was released on Tiny Hardcore Press in 2011. His  collection of lyric essays based off of videogame boss battles, Level End, will be released in April of 2012 by Origami Zoo Press, which may just be the most epic thing to drop since the defeat of Sephiroth.

He’s reading in part of the Over-the-Top tour and will be gracing us in Atlanta on Friday, April 6th!

Are you a ghost? Be honest.

No. Although I am often compared to a robot of some sort because there is a belief that I do not sleep and I am working all of the time–or at the very least online and on a computer providing information for the masses. My neighbor has taken to calling me ‘Skynet’ ala the Terminator franchise. So, to answer your question, there is a good chance that I am the ghost in the machine. So, yes.

Oh man! It would be grand if you were the terminator. But how would a terminator eat ice cream?  

One lick at a time, I suppose. The Terminator is a robot with human skin around it–I wonder if this expands to the tongue. You don’t really get a good look down Arnold Schwarzenegger’s mouth in the film, so I cannot be sure. Is it a metal mouth or a human mouth? These are the questions that were never answered in the sequels.

Yes, I think these are critical things we need to know. If you were Awfully Interviewing the Terminator, what would you ask him first?

I’d probably ask him if he would like some ice cream, and he would probably say ‘Affirmative’ and then I’d bring him ice cream, but he wouldn’t recognize it because it wouldn’t be Dippin’ Dots, which everyone knows is the ice cream of the future. Then I’d probably ask him who the robots have been reading lately and if robot sci-fi is about a bunch of humans showing up acting funky.

I hope that robot sci-fi is all about humans sitting around on a Sundays, reading their papers, mowing their lawn, and drinking milk out of the carton.
What’s your favorite road-trip song? You know, the one you play really loud to get yourself awake and pumped again after driving for too long.

Robot Sci-Fi! So horrifying. I’ve been a lot of roadtrips lately–I did a summer book tour of the entire Midwest with a few friends & I’m always hopping in my car & going some place. When I was starting to lull, I’d put on G-Side’s Huntsville International to keep the party going. Great balance of rapping along & sounding awesome with some crooning as well.

What do anticipate you, Matt Bell, Christopher Newgent, and Tyler Gobble rocking out to on your road-trip to Atlanta for the reading? Boston? Jovi? Rachmaninoff?

You know, I’m not sure. They’re some nice Midwest boys, so I don’t really know what they listen to. I like to think that we would continue the trend of listening to southern hip-hop on the way over. Maybe some ATL All-Stars. Outkast seems like a must, right?

As an adoptee of the ATL… yes that certainly is a must! There’s nothing like Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik to get the party started. Maybe you could also bust out some Janelle Monae, or T.I if you’re feeling saucy.  Have the four of you discussed a possible wrestling match finale to the tour? It could make things interesting. How do you think that would pan out?

No discussion as of yet, although fatal-four-way matches are always dicey. Is it an elimination match? Or is it first to a pin-fall? Because I think Gobble is crafty enough to wait until the three of us punch each other out, hit our finishers, and snag a quick pinfall on a schoolboy roll-up. If it’s elimination, the obvious choice would be Newgent, simply because of his AWP-famous biceps. Don’t rule out Bell, however–he looks like he might’ve wrestled in highschool. As for myself, I have a weight advantage, but my cardio is lacking. However, I have an intricate understanding of professional wrestling so I feel as if I can use that to my advantage.

All of those scenarios make total sense. The fight could really conclude any way and I wouldn’t be surprised, a lot like a choose your own adventure. Did you ever read any of those? Did you enjoy them?

Loved Choose Your Own Adventure books! My mother worked at a library and so I’d be there every other day after school. I’m pretty sure I’ve read every single one of the original series. I absolutely adore the covers as well. I made my students write them (I teach a game-based Creative Writing course at the University of Alabama) and they came out really great. Also, did you know that the majority of those books are translated into other languages? International folks absolutely love them.

I did not! Wowzers! What was their original language? My instinct says “Dutch.”

The Netherlands is all about some Choose Your Own Adventures. Also, surprisingly, pretty much all of them are translated into Catalan of all languages. Even the late-era ones that no one read. My entire family is from Barcelona so I of course geeked out when I heard this.

That is stupendous! If there was a Choose Your Own Adventure book for the reading coming up on April 6th, what would your ideal ending be?

There are a few Choose Your Own Adventure books that have an ending that is unreachable: meaning that the only way you can get there is by flipping through the book (which is obviously against the rules of Choose Your Own Adventure!) I’d like to think that there is an ending that no one can possibly see coming–some sort of lovely utopia involving kind words and a couple of beers. Outkast too.

Awful Interview: Tyler Gobble

23 Mar

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.

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!)


Vouched Presents Christle, Gobble, Hersey

20 Feb

The long awaited return of Vouched Presents Indy is at hand! Join us for a night of poems and performances by Heather Christle, Benjamin Hersey, and Vouched’s own Tyler Gobble. As always, beverages will be on hand for your faces so come thirsty.

RSVP to the Facebook event so we know to expect you!

Proceeds from the evening go to support Second Story Indy, an organization that connects local youth with literature and encourages expression and learning through creative writing.

Awful Interview: Robert Pfeiffer

7 Nov
Whether it be his thoughts on John Mayer, his own creative process, or in his own writing: Robert Pfeiffer is going to tell it to you straight. Just get a load of these poem titles from his poetry collection, Bend, Break.
  1. Tooth-brushing: A Love Poem
  2. Fishing off the Jersey Shore
  3. A Slaughter of Earthworms
  4. The Sound the Wind Makes
  5. The Fall of the Shit-house Writer
You see what I mean? You will love his sincerity too, especially after you hear him read at this Wednesday’s Vouched Presents.

If you saw John Mayer on the street, what would you do?

I would like to think that I would buy him a beer, and have a long , thoughtful discussion with him about how his breathy puss-rock is an affront to all things I respect in this life.  ..  But I would probably do something lame like ask for a picture with my cell phone

What kind of beer would you buy him? Also, what’s with the faces he makes when he sings?

A pint of something hearty and rich so we could talk for a while.  He strikes me as a microbrew drinker.  I can’t explain those faces.  You know, part of me thinks of him in a kind of tragic sense.  I heard him say once years ago that he wanted all of his music to sound like Stevie Ray Vaughan’s”Texas Flood.”  Well then, explain that “Run through the halls of my high school” song!  He strikes me , actually, as a talented guitar player who fell into that sad trap of gearing all his music towards middle and high school students, rather than toward himself.  But maybe I’m projecting here.

How are you projecting? I wish all of his music sounded more like “Texas Flood,” or even more Allman Brothers-y… that would be amazing.

Projection may be too strong a word.  But I do think that anyone who toils in creativity had to worry about sacrificing the self for public acceptance.  Even in graduate school or in any other workshop environment, the poet might subconsciously, or consciously tailor work to be pleasing to a familiar audience, and that is dangerous.  When I started out writing I was composing what I thought was great, but was really just journal poetry.  Then I started working towards an audience, an I fear I went too far away from my own creative instincts. .. that thing no one can name that made me want to write. I think this is pretty common.  For a guy like John Mayer, you throw in the millions of dollars and the adoring fans, and he doesn’t stand a chance.

How did you manage to find your way back to your creative instincts?

Well I think I’m still on the way back there.  Being a bit removed from the who grad school workshop environment is a double edged sword.  On the one hand, they keep you writing and on your toes… on the other it’s kind of a fake reality.  Eventually you have to go back to full-time work and find time to write while juggling a family and a job and other responsibilities.  But for me  one ting that helped me in an effort to rediscover myself was simply seeing how some of the poems that were getting published were not the most popular in workshop, even though I liked them quite a bit.  There is so much subjectivity in the business of writing, a some point you need to start trusting yourself.

A fortune teller told me to trust my instincts a few weeks ago. Have you ever had your fortune told? If so, has any of it come true?

I never have, but I think it’s so interesting. I’d love to do it. How was it?  I’m sure there are a whole mess of phonies out there, but I do believe in a lot of the supernatural in many ways.  I totally believe in poets like Blake and Yeats, who were “seers”. Incidentally, and this is a total coincidence and nothing truly magical or supernatural, but I got a fortune cookie three months before the birth of my daughter (who was two and a half weeks early) which says “remember this date three months from now.  You will receive a special gift .”

Take that fortune cookie doubters! I’m glad to have had my fortune read. The fortune teller kept it a little vague, but there was enough specificity to give me a shiver or two. Overall the future was auspicious, so I choose to believe in her. Any forebodings would not have left me satisfied. Of course, she probably knew that.

Do you ever wish you were a ‘seer’, like Blake and Yeats, or do you feel there’s too many consequences involved with that?

 Yeah, if a fortune teller told me something like “Fear Death by Water”  I’d probably be paralyzed. It  Were you nervous at all?   seems like a conscious choice to believe in the positive side of the future, so I try to do that as well.  In some ways, being a seer would be great, but today we’d probably lock up or shun poets who claimed to be seers.  Yesterday’s seer is today’s  schizophrenic.

Did you know Kerouac was a diagnosed schizophrenic? That’s how he got out of military service so quickly. But I agree with you, mysticism isn’t exactly embraced in our culture any more.

I did know that, and I’m so glad you brought up Kerouac.  Speaking of getting back to artistic intent… Kerouac is my first real literary love.  I turn to him whenever I have writer’s block or feel like a phony.  His work is like a family member to me… Or at least a shrink.

Interesting and awesome choice of shrink. What do you think Kerouac would think of our upcoming Vouched Presents reading next Wednesday?

I think he’d be in to it!  When there would be readings in San Francisco  at the  Six Gallery or at City Lights,  Ginsberg or Snyder would be reading their poems, and Kerouac would be whooping the crowd into a frenzy, passing around his bottle of cheep red wine… just in  total ecstasy.  It must have really been something to behold!  Say what you want about Kerouac, and there are plenty of people who have lots of bad things to say … what with the idol worship and everything, but the man had an admirable, whole-hearted passion for art.  That is something we  should all hope to have.  It helps me remember why I ever sit down to write anything.  I love him for that.

Awful Interview: Michael Martone

4 Oct

Michael Martone is another of those illustrious people I’ve long heard the name of from so many who’ve known him, studied under him, saw him read, etc., and who I can’t be more excited to welcome to the Vouched Presents pulpit. His quirk and wit are renown on the reading circuits, and if you had any hesitations about coming to tonight’s reading, I hope this interview settles it for you (because it’s the last Awful Interview before tonight!). See you at Vouched Presents tonight!

You seem to have a real love affair with the state of Indiana. What’s your connection to this glorious state?

We met at Butler University. I was a freshman; she was a sophomore, a Kappa–Kappa Kappa Gamma. Keys to the kingdom of God. I was a houseboy there and served the formal dinners wearing white gloves. This was long ago, back in the days when there were hours and curfews and the courting was public. For hours we walked, hand in hand, in the secluded Holcomb Garden. I guess you could say she was my first true love. I thought she was the one, but she wanted to play the field, she said. There was this Teke, he took her sailing out on Geist and that was all she wrote. She never looked back. Broke my heart. I took to wondering Indianapolis, writing poems on demand down on the Circle. Would you like a poem today, I would ask a stranger passing by. A what, on what? the stranger would answer. On anything I would beg. Ok then give me a poem about Indiana the stranger would say. Indiana, I repeated? And then I would begin…

I have to ask: could you write our readers a poem-on-demand right now about Indiana?

Well, I could but I need a few things first. I need a subject. I could write one on Indiana, I suppose, but the whole exercise of the RKO Poets–a group I co-founded in the 70’s at IU–was to write an instant PERSONAL poem. Also it costs 25 cents. Our slogan was: A poem must not mean but be 25 cents. So if you want one, let’s see the cold hard cash.

I can give you that. How about bibliophilia as a subject, and are you willing to extend me a quarter’s worth of credit until the reading?


The love of bibs.
The big plastic ones
with the splayed out lobster graphic
all red and
snapping after the crumbs of
letters spilling
from your mouth
of words undigested
slightly masticated
rich morsels
pulp and paste
boldly sansarifed and flip flopping
also red with reading.

That’s fantastic. I think I’m going to read that on Tuesday as part of your intro. Which, speaking of Tuesday, the reading is to celebrate new books, and you have a new book. Tell us about that.

It is called Four for a Quarter and it is a collection of 44 fictions about things that have to do with 4–the four winds, the four seasons, the four chambers of the heart, 4H club, four blood types, Mount Rushmore, the Fantastic Four, etc.

That’s an excellent premise. Maybe a bit dated, as those machines are still around, but now it’s 4 photos for a couple dollars or something crazy. Definitely not just a quarter anymore.

I actually used to love those photo strip machines, because as you can probably guess, one of my favorite movies as a kid was Karate Kid, and I’ve always held the position that a date is not a date without getting in one of those photo booths and getting a strip of cute photos. Do you remember that? Did you watch Karate Kid?

Yes, I did. Many movies have used the photo booth. The French film Amelie comes to mind. But romantic montage is made fir the photo booth and vice versatile. I like Ralph of KK but he is also in movie called Crossroads where the character name is Martone. And of course he is in My Cousin Vinnie!

Ah yes. Crossroads. That’s the movie where Ralph played guitar against the devil, yeah? How much would you say that’s influenced your writing–playing guitar against the devil, I mean?

Well, I am all for doing the work at the crossroads. My patron is not the devil but Hermes, god of thieves, of bankers, of transmission of all kinds. Hermes is the mediating hero, the confuser of categories, the breaker of boundaries that by breaking them then redraws them. The crossroads is were it’s at!

Well, you’re in luck! The Murphy Building, where Vouched Presents is located, is actually at the corner of a major crossroads of Prospect, Virginia, and Shelby Streets, not to mention it’s in Indiana, the designated “Crossroads of America.”

With that in mind, do you have anything you’d like to say to tonights attendees, or to people considering being attendees tonight?

I’ve arrived in Fountain Square and am thinking about rolling a game of duck pins! Lots of construction going on and the square shaping up! I’d say come on down. Get lost doing it. Then, get found!

Awful Interview: Jill Christman

4 Oct

Jill Christman is the first person to be invited back to read at tonight’s Vouched Presents, and I’m glad to have her back to celebrate the re-release of her memoir Darkroom: A Family Exposure tonight at Big Car Gallery. She has a charisma at the mic that I’ve seen in few others, and her words are equally as smart and charming. Get to Big Car Gallery tonight to celebrate with us!

You read at a Vouched Presents reading a few months ago, and people seemed to become completely enamored with you and your writing. It was amazing to see. What do you think makes you so enamoring?

Aren’t you sweet! You know, this is a question my husband (the poet Mark Neely) sometimes wonders about when something I’ve said or done elicits a positive human reaction. He shakes his head, smiles a tad too bemusedly for my taste, and says, “People like you. I don’t understand it, but they do.” There you go. Straight from the lips of the man who’s supposed to love me best in this world.

Or, maybe better posed, for what reasons ideally do you hope someone would become enamored with you?

Well, as I think my first Vouched reading made abundantly and inappropriately clear: my surprising skills with a nicely weighted dart and my stunning prose, naturally.

But seriously, Chris, don’t you think we should turn this one around and ask why it is we are all so enamored of you?

Ha. I don’t think we should, actually. Even if it might be a bit of an ego-boost, I’m a bit terrified of the answers, to be honest.

Instead of that, let’s talk instead about Alabama. Tell me something about Alabama that you’ve never written in any memoir or essay.

Okay, Bama it is, but I’ll tell you that I have always admired your genuine and untainted love of words and books. So there you go.

Actually, now that you ask, I realize I haven’t written much about Alabama, despite the fact that it was there that my own world of words spread like kudzu beyond my wildest imaginings. Let’s see. Do you know that game “Three Lies”? I’ll tell you three things and you guess which one is the lie.

When I lived in Alabama. . .

1) I had a Charlie’s Angel themed disco party and just when I thought things were wrapping up, they ramped up. Literally. An unnamed writer dressed as Evil Knievel asked me if I had any rubbing alcohol, and before I knew it, there was a flaming ramp in my front yard and he was jumping the prone body of another unnamed writer.

2) I attended a reading by a famous writer that went on so long and was so wretched that I dropped to my hands and knees and crawled, unnoticed, from the room.

3) A young male neighbor with a pack of pit bulls, closely shorn hair, and alarmingly blue eyes, kicked in the hood of the car of a gentleman caller of mine. The police responded to my call, but did nothing. In the morning, my smiling neighbor approached me at the chainlink fence dividing our driveways and asked, meekly, “You ain’t mad at me, are you?”

Why is it that all of these seem so entirely feasible to me? I’m going to say the 2nd is the lie because while it seems most plausible, doesn’t contain as many specific details. Although, you being a writer yourself, would know how heavily specific details weigh in the consideration of the veracity of tales. But, without wanting to get into a “Never challenge a Sicilian when death is on the line,” style circle of reasoning, I’ll go with my first choice: number 2 is the lie.

You win the prize! #2 is the lie, and your deductive reasoning, of course, is flawless. Silly me. I shouldn’t have let lazy writing give me away. I should have added that this same writer threw a rock-star fit and insisted she have her hotel room changed–because the styrofoam container in which she’d had her bbq ribs delivered would not fit neatly into the provided trash receptacle in her room–which is nutty, but true. All these years later, though, I *wish* I’d crawled from the room. It would have been the appropriate human response to a 2 1/2 hour reading, don’t you think?

A 2 1/2 hour reading by 1 reader? How important did she think she was?

Exactly. Gruesome.

I would chuck someone from the pulpit if they tried to read that long at Presents.

Speaking of, as the first person to have read once before at Vouched Presents, what are you looking most forward to in returning to read?

I certainly think that the big hook from the curtains would be the appropriate response to a reading of that duration. Here’s my tip for all readers: leave them wanting more (not wanting to crawl from the room).

What am I looking forward to? Everything! The opportunity to read to the smart, savvy Vouched Presents crowd, and to share the lectern with such an extraordinary line up of writers, including a former professor and my very own husband (two *different* fellow readers). There’s a zippy energy and a love of words in that Big Car Gallery and I can’t wait to jump in. Thanks for inviting me, Christopher.