Congratulations to our Artist of the Month Dustin Pickering. Below is an interview we conducted as well as a bio and some links to his work.
ABP- Thanks for taking this interview Dustin. First, what are you working on right now? Do you have any recently finished works you’d like to share?
DP- You are welcome. Thank you for the opportunity. Recently I completed a poetic play based on the story of Salome. I merge the story with some of Freud’s thoughts presented in Totem and Taboo. I try to write as often as possible but sometimes the well is dry. I published Knows No End with India’s Hawakal Publishers. This book was released a year or so after A Matter of Degrees and intends to experiment with the aesthetic ideas I present in that small collection. I’m also preparing a manuscript called Restoration which is epistemology and metaphysics. As far as poetry, I have multiple manuscripts looking for a home. It is difficult to be an editor and writer yourself. You have to learn to juggle. I recently submitted a short story to Analog. It’s a sci-fi story about the possibility of merging AI with a human brain. The experiment gets out of control and the story emerges.
ABP- What is your favorite poem that you’ve written? Would you like to share it?
DP- So far, my favorite is “Greenest Dream” which Ravi Shankar of Drunken Boat politely critiqued. He liked the poem and suggested s few changes. I took his advice and the poem is much better. You’d be surprised at how a few word changes can make a poem. Here it is.
Once in the greenest dream – I seemed to have a friend,
but he left me in debt – to worlds I could forget.
His tone was like a string – vibrating on iron wings.
His verb I would not sing – as music in a dream.
When he left the globe – the promise I composed
was forgotten by him – whom I could not forgive.
The night crawled in my ear – leaving dread and cold fear,
and deeper will I clutch – memory as my crutch.
My mind cannot receive – the blessings of a dream.
His face is burned in me – like deadly poverty.
Condemn his ways to see – my own delightful beams.
Reluctance is not green. – It only seems to dream.
ABP- Who is your favorite writer? Your favorite visual artist? Performer?
DP- Among writers, Dostoevsky is king. Nietzsche. Hegel, who is the go-to philosopher of the 19th century. Shakespeare is amazing in scope and I love the Elizabethean form of English. I’ve read the complete poems of many poets such as Ginsberg, Auden, Lorca, and others. Lorca is divine, nothing surpasses him. I enjoy the psychoanalytical writings of Anthony Storr who recently passed away. I found a book of his in my grandmother’s collection and I’ve always been interested in how abnormal psychology and creativity meet. Also Melvin Walker la Follette who also died recently. He quit poetry and became a minister. I read an old article that said he was one of the 60’s most promising poets, but good luck finding his work. I bought the last copy of one of his books online and can’t find others anywhere. Nothing beats James Joyce, especially his underrated poetry. Oddly for my spiritual inclinations, I like St. John of the Cross, Mirabai, and St. Francis of Assisi. Of visual artist: Dali is the coolest, most symbolic. I had the pleasure of seeing one of my favorite paintings of his in person in Atlanta, “Christ of St. John of the Cross”. I like Bosch for his odd and twisted spiritual insight. I tend toward abstract modern art like Pollack, de Chirico, Munch, and van Gogh.
ABP- You’ve collaborated with ABP several times. It was your manuscript “The Alderman: Spurious Conversations with Jim Morrison that sparked the entire Spurious Conversations series. Where would you like to see that collection head? What are some other dead people you’d like to see featured?
DP- I didn’t expect The Alderman to have such momentum but was pleased when we dove into several other celebrities for it. I’d love to see more tribute volumes, perhaps of writers. Henry Miller or Poe. Eventually I think a book of conversations with Donald Trump, in the manner of Cohen’s Flowers for Hitler. Avant garde, protest and tribute in one place. Discussions with Trump where he provides rational explanations of his behavior and we see him as a man who means well but perhaps was ill equipped or not knowledgeable enough to fill his role. I think it would be interesting since most everyone hates the guy—it would challenge authors to think of something good in Trump. I’m not a Trumpo fan myself, but as a writing experiment that would be interesting and would make you see the world differently. How about Trumpo: spurious conversations with integrity?
ABP- Do you have an artistic ‘process’ or do you just start creating on a whim? If you do, what does that look like?
DP- I follow a common artistic process. An idea arrives, it incubates and I nurture it then set to work on it when it is ready to be born.
ABP- You don’t shy away from hard topics in your writing. Is there an issue you’ve had difficulty weighing in on? What is your take on the public debate about the importance of freedom of speech and expression vs. the ramifications of problematic speech and censorship of toxicity?
DP- I often am troubled by politics in general. I follow a guideline. “If I speak and am wrong, at least my silence was breached and caused people to think.” It’s ok to be wrong. Being wrong and admitting it is human and egoless. Recently I posted to Facebook about how Trump supporters were maggot shit. A friend of mine called immediately and told me it was immature and mean, and didn’t act in concord with a previous statement about putting politics aside as Americans and seeing the good in one another. I deleted the post, apologized for my outburst. There really is a lot of misinformation out there, especially on the liberal end. This is why we have institutions and laws.
ABP- Thank you for taking the time. The floor is yours, what else do you want to say or show to Alien Buddha Press’ WordPress followers?
In the words of Phil Anselmo, “Fuck the world for all it’s worth.”
Bio: Dustin Pickering is a poet, visual artist, and occasional songwriter based in Houston, Texas. He is also a prolific publisher with his press Transcendent Zero Press. He edits Harbinger Asylum, an award nominated poetry and arts journal. He is the author of The Daunting Ephemeral (self published), The Future of Poetry is NOW: bones picking at death’s howl (self published), Salt and Sorrow (Chitrangi Publishers), Knows No End (Hawakal Publishers), and a work on aesthetics called A Matter of Degrees which applies situation ethics to the question of justice as the good and beautiful. He wrote for Huffington Post as a contributor. He has articles on culture, criticism, and politics on the web. He wrote an article for The People’s Tribune based in Chicago and has a terrible historical piece on the American Revolution published on Palestine Free Voice. He placed as finalist in Adelaide Literary Journal’s short story contest.
Why the colonists wanted independence
With national dialogue in quarantine
Essay on Kiriti Sengupta and current state of literature