Blog

Jeff, Laura, and Leo Weddle are Alien Buddha Press’ featured artists for September 2019

Leo, Laura and Jeff Weddle and a family of Alien Buddha authors. Leo’s poetry collection, Mr. You and Mr. Me, appeared in 2018, as did Laura’s novel, The Book of Vernie, and Jeff’s poetry collection, It’s Colder than Hell / Starving Elves Eat Reindeer Meat / Santa Claus is Dead. Leo and Laura are the parents. Jeff is the son. All hail originally from Kentucky, though Jeff now lives in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where he teaches at the University of Alabama. Leo and Laura are retired professors from the University of Kentucky Community College System.

 

ABP: I would like to hear from each of you about what went into the writing of those books and how you feel about them present day.

 

Laura Weddle:   The Book of Vernie began as a short story designed  to explore the question of good and evil as it exists on earth, both universally and individually. The central character, Vernie, at a very young age, had begun to display traits of inordinate compassion and love toward others, both human beings and animals. While the short story raised the question regarding the whys and what ifs of such an individual, I soon realized that the analysis needed to go deeper, to explore such questions as:  Does there exist some sort of a balancing mechanism in the universe which holds up an example of the goodness seen in Vernie, against an equally evil example of such an individual as her minister grandfather who, in his misplaced fanaticism and narrow-mindedness has caused inordinate pain and damage to his family and others toward whom he should have displayed the highest degree of love and respect?

 

To this end I expanded the narrative, following the events in the young adult life of Vernie, her further spiritual life, her college experiences, and developing further her experiences with the metaphorical  demons which represent the efforts of that side of the equation, which is to destroy Vernie and what she stands for: that God is love, that He is the Source and the Creator of all that is, and that any religious tradition which embraces love at its center is as legitimate as any other.

 

I had a deeply satisfying experience delving into the lives and events in The Book of Vernie, and hope that it will provide food for thought and some degree of spiritual insight for those who read it. But even more important to me is the hope that those who read it will also enjoy it as a good read and value it as a satisfying work of fiction.

 

Leo Weddle: “Mr. You and Mr. Me,” the title poem in my book, was written on a cold winter day on a hill in Korea, where I was deployed as a Marine Corps machine gunner in that war.  I had been there several months, and like so many of my fellow soldiers, our warmest and most satisfying thoughts and fantasies were about home, our loved ones, and the nature of the people and places we had left behind, in order to contribute our own efforts as trained soldiers, to protect and defend it.  This poem represents my own hopes and dreams of what America meant to me. Writing as I was from the harsh reality of the shelling from the enemy and the deaths of my fellow soldiers on all sides, I poured my love of my country and the idealism of one in such circumstances into the words and lines of my poetic creation.  For these reasons I was so pleased when the poem appeared later, while I was still deployed, in the Marine Corps magazine Leatherneck, December 1952. I hope that it was my love for my country, family and loved ones that came through and prompted Leatherneck to publish the poem. The remainder of the poems in the book were composed over the years and reflect the feelings, observations and beliefs that sum up some of  the  most  the most important creative musings of my life.

As to my present day feelings about this book as a whole, I hope readers will find in the collection poems and even random lines that may strike a reciprocal chord and provide a path to some of their own deeper insights into the human condition we all share.

 

Jeff Weddle: Well, you know. I just write. I write when I should be doing other things, I write and write and write. Sometimes it comes out okay. Sometimes not. After a while, when I’m lucky, I have enough decent poems to put together and show a publisher. I had seen a number of ABP books over the years by poets I respect, and wanted to be part of the gang. So, I put a manuscript together and figured out a punchy name for it. That’s all.

 

ABP: Other books you’ve written over the years?

 

Laura:   I published two books of short stories prior to my novel, The Book of Vernie (Alien Buddha Press, 2018 ) The first of these two books, People Like Us, Stories  (Wind Publications, 2008)  is a book of related stories set in Kentucky, in an area similar to the rural farm community where I grew up. The time of those stories was approximately 1933 to 1953. The central characters are a family of four, with the two young daughters, Lilly and Wilma, as the central characters in many of the stories. Most of the stories had previously been published in regional magazines throughout the country. While the stories are fiction, some are based on memories and impressions of a young girl looking back on emotions ranging from joy to sorrow, from happiness to pain.

The second of these books, Better Than My Own Life (Outskirts Press, 2015) is another short story collection. It offers insights into the later lives of Lilly and Wilma, little girls no more, but women grown to suffer the problems and joys, “the slings and arrows,” as the Bard reminded us, “that flesh is heir to.”

 

As my descriptions indicate, both of these books of fiction contain reflections and memories close to my heart. In addition to the Lilly and Wilma stories, Part Two of  Better Than My Own Life is made up of  unrelated short stories.

 

Unfortunately the publisher of People Like Us passed away and his press passed with him. The book is still advertised on Amazon, offered by various book stores throughout the country, which have been able to procure a few copies.

 

Leo:   In 2004 I published a memoir entitled As Time Goes By (Exlibris 2004 ) This book is a factual account of my life with descriptions of the history of people and places where I was born and raised, and of such events as my growing up, joining the Marines, serving in the Korean war, meeting my future wife in college, our lives as college teachers, the growth, development and subsequent success of our children, the arrival of our grandchildren, our current 25 years of retirement and everything else in between.

 

When we retired from the University of Kentucky in 1994, we had a separate travel fund to which we had added for several years. Within a few months we began to travel and for the next twelve years we went almost everywhere that we had dreamed of visiting during our teaching career.  One interesting outcome of all those travels was the many friends we met along the way. Two in particular were George and Teresa Trevino of Mexico City. We met them on a thirty-five day tour of Europe. By the end of the tour we had become close friends, and spent the next ten years visiting back and forth yearly alternating month-long visits between Kentucky and Mexico City.

 

My original reason for writing the memoir was to leave a record of our lives for our children and grandchildren, and that motive still applies. A surprising outcome remains as well. Now that almost twenty years have elapsed I find myself rereading parts of it, just to remind myself of things that have faded a little in the interim and which were such an important of our lives at the time.

 

Jeff:  My tenth book, Dead Man’s Hand, is due soon from Poetic Justice Books. It’s a poetry collection, as are A Puncher’s Chance (Rust Belt Press, 2019), Citizen Relent (Unlikely Books, 2019), Heart of the Broken World (Nixes Mate Books, 2017), Comes to This (Nixes Mate Books, 2017), Betray the Invisible (OEOCO, 2010), and of course It’s Colder than Hell / Starving Elves Eat Reindeer Meet / Santa Clause is Dead (Alien Buddha Press 2018). I have one short story collection, When Giraffes Flew (Southern Yellow Pine, 2015). On the non-fiction/non-poetry side, I’m author of Bohemian New Orleans: The Story of the Outsider and Loujon Press (University Press of Mississippi, 2007) and co-author of The Librarian’s Guide to Negotiation: Winning Strategies for the Digital Age (Information Today, 2012).

 

ABP-   Who are some of your biggest influences as writers?

 

Laura:    A major aspect of my job as a Humanities Professor at UK’s Prestonsburg Community College was to teach the great literature of the world. From the earliest examples of the written word to the present day–I studied and taught it all. I was influenced by so many of these literary treasures that I find it difficult to pinpoint even a few.  Of course I loved Beowulf, Chaucer, the Greek dramas, the Neoclassical rationalists, the Romantics–especially Wordsworth and Coleridge– but how could I not mention Shelley and Keats? I love all of them. Then there are the modern novelists–William Faulkner, a special favorite of mine and Hemingway, also a close favorite with such masterpieces as For Whom the Bell Tolls, and the whole body of his short stories.

 

These examples are only a few of those I loved and by whom I was doubtless influenced. My fondest hope is that some of my enthusiasm came through in my teaching, and that some of my students may share my enjoyment in their own lives–and that they might have passed this love of literature on to their children. I have had the pleasure to observe it in my own children, and consider it one of the most satisfying outcomes of my life as a teacher and as a parent.

 

Leo:   My major fields of study on my way to becoming a college professor was a combination of Psychology and Sociology. In addition to my teaching in these fields, I also held the offices of Dean of Men and Dean of Students at Campbellsville College (now Campbellsville University).  I also used the Psychology and Sociology in counseling students in my role as Dean. For these reasons I was influenced by the writings of Freud and Jung, Bruno Bettelheim, Rollo May and others. Since my creative writing consisted mainly of poetry as it related to human behavior, I was also guided by my emotional reactions to experiences and observations of events throughout my life. For example, while still in graduate school I did a semester’s observation-interaction at a local nursing home. I was so moved by the sadness and loss revealed in stories confided to me by many of the patients there, that I wrote numerous poems about them. When I was on the battlefield in Korea, where my experiences involved the most basic ones of life and death, I wrote poems about that. I also admired the poetry of such giants as Robert Frost, Edna St. Vincent Millay, T.S. Eliot, and the existentialist writer-philosopher, Jean Paul Sartre. All of these writers exerted influences on my thinking and on my writing.

 

Jeff : I have to mention my parents first, of course. How could I grow up around these two and not want to write? Some others that have left their mark on me are Bukowski, Hemingway, Barry Hannah, Kerouac, Ginsberg, Richard Brautigan, John Fante, Knut Hamsun, Vonnegut, Larry Brown, Harper Lee, Flannery O’Connor, Frank O’Hara, Neeli Cherkovski, Gerald Locklin, Alan May, Raymond Carver, Etgar Keret, Dostoevsky, Ray Bradbury. Raymond Chandler, George Eklund, Denis Johnson, Sylvia Plath, Carson McCullers, and lots and lots of others for lots and lots of reasons. There are many excellent poets who publish work on Facebook every day, and many of them have found a home at Alien Buddha Press. I don’t want to start naming those names, because I would surely leave someone out and that would be awful. But I get inspiration and pleasure from reading the work of the wonderful writers who post on ABP and in a few other Facebook groups.  Also, if you’ve not read Andrew Hilbert’s weird and wonderful novels, you must. Death Thing is jaw dropping, as is Bangface and the Gloryhole. He has others, too. Jay Miner is a depraved beast who knows how to lay down the word, as is—as everyone knows—Red Focks. And one more thing: You need to read essayist Leona Helmsley. Trust me.

 

ABP: What are your plans for the end of the year and of 2020, creatively?

 

Laura:   I am currently working on a project which I hope will result in another book of related short stories or a novel. It is the story of an Appalachian family, and their tragedies and triumphs.  This is a subject that is near and dear to my heart!

 

Leo:   I will continue to compose my poetry as the spirit and inspiration move me. I have no specific goal in mind, but my hope is that the spirit will move me with enough frequency that another volume will result.

 

Jeff: After Dead Man’s Hand comes out, I’ll be turning my attention to a couple of non-fiction projects that have been on the back burner for a while. Maybe I’ll get one of them finished before the end of the next millennium. Who knows?

 

ABP:  What is it like being a literal family of writers?  Do you or have you ever taken active roles in each other’s work; editing or bouncing ideas of each other?

 

Laura:   We are a very close and loving family, and it naturally follows that we have a great deal of pride in the accomplishments of each other. As for me, it was Jeff who first encouraged me to begin writing fiction.  Whereas I had taught the great works in all genres for many years, I had never considered attempting to create anything on my own. It was only after my retirement in 1994 that I mentioned to Jeff that I wished I could write creatively as he did. By this time he had published numerous short stories and poems in various publications throughout the country.

His answer? “Mother, you can.” And from that moment on he encouraged me to begin writing a short story. It took me a while to get the hang of it, but Jeff kept reading what I had written and giving me encouragement.  At first I had trouble finding the voice of my narrator. Again Jeff suggested questions I might ask myself that might enable me to hear that voice, and one day, out of the blue, I heard the voice, clear as a bell:  Hearing that voice I was able to start writing my story. With my narrator telling it, I was able to finish the story quickly, and after the usual editing, revising, having my husband and Jeff read it and make any suggestions they might offer, I sent the story to Appalachian Heritage, a prominent regional literary magazine. Not only did they accept it, but at the end of the year I had won an award for “Excellence in Fiction.”   Of course I was hooked, and have continued to write ever since.

 

This story illustrates the degree of interest and support we as a family have for each other’s writing projects. It is difficult to participate as closely as Jeff and I did with my first writing project. With the passage of time the three of us, like most writers, have settled into our own writing routines and have communicated about projects when they have been published or are about to be.  At those times our elation is extreme, and we communicate our joy in their success in the most heartfelt ways.

 

LEO: Since I had been writing poetry from a young age, long before I had my own family, I never communicated with my family in ways suggested by the question. In fact, many of my poems were written about members of my family, expressing my love for them, especially on special occasions such as Valentine’s Day , other holidays, and, when appropriate, joy in the fact of their birth. Much of my other poetry involves the observation of societal and individual problems, neither of which lend themselves to close communication of the ideas of others. Nevertheless, I regard the possible input of ideas, opinions or suggestions from my family to be of great interest to me, but in the very nature of poetry, its content has to that of the composer and his alone. Of course, since my personality lends itself to a personalized, less formal expression of ideas and content, there was no occasion for the kind of family interaction suggested by the question.  Indeed, in typical Weddle family form, they all expressed their delight in my publication success.

In other words,  “All for one and one for all.”

 

Jeff: I tend not to show anyone my work until I feel like it’s ready to send out somewhere, but my parents have always been my biggest fans and most generous supporters. A highlight for me came on my last visit home to Kentucky, when the three of us sat in their living room and my mom read a bunch of my poems out loud. She got to the heart of things. It was a great evening.

 

ABP: Thank you all again for taking the time to conduct this interview. The floor is all yours. Please take the following space to share anything you would like with our audience.

Leo and Laura: The interview has been great fun for us, and we especially appreciate the Alien Buddha Press for their interest in our writing and for their willingness to publish it and introduce it to the light of day.  These questions have given us delicious food for thought and enabled us to put into words statements about events and ideas that have been just below the level of consciousness. Thank you, ABP and may the Source be with you always,

 

Jeff: Thanks, Red! I think I’m done.

 

 

Advertisements

Mike Zone is ABP’s Featured Artist of the Month for August 2019

zone

ABP- Thank you for taking this interview Mike. Back in January of 2018 Alien Buddha Press had the opportunity to help produce your poetry collection “Void Beneath the Skin”. What can you tell us about that book?

 

MZ-It was a culmination of everything I had been going through the last few years. Starting with getting back to writing, I had gone through a bit triumph and a substantial amount of tragedy. There were character portraits involved, going through my working class antics of bouncing here and there along with the death of my mother and reaching a breaking point. I didn’t feel comfortable in my own skin like there was a space between my flesh and electromagnetically animated bone.

The title also refers to an abandoned sci-fi novel I wanted to write about sex-bots and the hollow act of pseudo intimacy.

 

 

ABP- Fast forward almost a year and a half later, you followed up with another chapbook “A Farewell to Big Ideas”, which ABP also had the privilege of releasing. What went into that book, and what are the biggest differences between ‘Farewell’ and ‘Void’.

 

MZ-I’m sort of on a mental reset. Whereas “Void” was this massive release. “Farewell” is my saying farewell not only certain ideas that alienate say the general reader or even just people but it’s about breaking patterns, this is almost embarrassing but after four years of not opening up to anyone except in my writing and a few friends, I encountered a woman and what we experienced may have been wonderful in  many aspects it wound up being a sort of deceptive whirlwind that instigated a massive shift in thinking and even composing for the page.

The biggest differences between the two works…”Void” is kind of a hodge podge of poetry, I’m throwing all sorts of shit at the wall just to see what happens in these emotional outbursts.

While in “Farewell” it’s kind of a search for something that’s been there the whole time and the revelation of discovery as you climb out of the mire.

I could be just bullshitting you right now and there really isn’t a difference…but that ending, huh?

Did he or did he not shatter his prospect at love? Perhaps we won’t ever know…

 

 

ABP- You have also been a big part of the “American Antihero” series as a writer. How has your experience been with that project?

 

MZ- It was so strange at first…not knowing if my style would mesh while in the midst of playing with prose again, which has by the way given me a prose boner again.

It’s been refreshing to say the least to work on something that isn’t your’s in terms of the onset of creation and yet help to evolve that world which I have generously been allowed to . I haven’t gone full balls out on it yet…but we might get there, should volume three ever rears it’s surreal head.

 

 

 

ABP- Who are your biggest influences as a writer?

 

MZ-That’s an answer that constantly fluctuates over the years but I have to go with; Jack Kerouac, Charles Bukowski, Erich Fromm, Noam Chomsky and Howard S. Thompson.

 

 

 

 

ABP– Do you have anything planned for the rest of 2019, and in 2020?

 

MZ– I’d like to kick out a few more short stories, I have about a half a dozen poems being published by Piker Press. I have a collaborative project I’d like to get off the ground with fellow poet Kevin Martin and see what we could do by the end of year in time for a December release date.

As for 2020? I’d like one last chapbook out for a while as I stray from poetry, I’m currently working on a couple screenplays I wouldn’t mind released as illustrated novels (hint, hint) amd my favorite a failed short story gradually becoming a novel about a mentally disabled man seeking God, who happens to be an alcoholic wearing paper slippers.

 

 

 

ABP- As a fiction writer, what is your favorite genre?

 

MZ-The stark secret is, I’m all over the board with this…entertainment wise and writing wise.  I do enjoy vintage sci-fi like the original Star Trek and Twilight Zone but I also love  crime fiction not that formulaic Law and Order stuff but more The Shield and Breaking Bad.

I guess you could say when it comes to reading, I like what the beats and Thompson did with creative non-fiction, the blurring of reality while examining society’s ailments but I’ll always have a soft spot for Shakespeare and Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness” along with Hemingway’s “Old Man and the Sea”

Writing wise, I tend not to think of genre…I feel trapped if I think of genre and then the story goes all to hell but then again, I probably need to get stoned and relaxed more often…

 

 

 

ABP- Thank you again for taking this interview Mike. The floor is all yours. Please share anything that you would like with our wordpress audience.

 

MZ-Buy my bad poetry books and read my subpar stories!

Honestly, it’s hard to close out an interview, you want to leave the audience with some sort of words of wisdom or leave them entertained in some slap -sticky manner of which that’s not really you being you but rather a representation of what you want people to perceive.

Fuck, don’t go out to impress anyone, write or read just to read, if it doesn’t come to you right away or you hate something… discard it,  you have your entire life to render your style, your identity the way you desire and it’s not too late until you’re dead.

Be creative only when you want to and don’t produce just to produce to “get out there”.

Same thing in personal relations, screw the successonomics models, we’re not pre-packaged commodities, nobody  has to sell anything to anyone that mentality has been gradually killing the mechanics of  society for over a century end rant.

Take care and thanks for the soapbox.

Vatsala Radhakeesoon is ABP’s featured artist for the month of July 2019

ABP- Thank you for accepting this feature, Vatsala. Just under a year ago in August 2018, Alien Buddha Press Jr had the privilege of releasing your children’s book ‘Smile Little Butterfly’. Tell us about that book.

VR- Thank you Alien Buddha Press for featuring me as artist of the month of July!
Smile Little Butterfly is a poetry book for children. It consists of 25 poems with black and white illustrations by Ammi Romero, Red Focks and Dustin Pickering. Inspired by the tropical background of my native island Mauritius where the sky is often blue, I wrote the nature poems featured in that book. However, in Smile Little Butterfly nature is seen from the eyes of a child who explores nature through animals and plants.
This book also contains poems about toys and games that children love to play. Inspired by my little niece Abha, I wrote the poems Smile Little Butterfly, Hide and Seek, Our Puzzle, Plasticine Penguin and Little Barbie, Little Barbie.

 

ABP- This past February we also had the chance to put out another poetry book of yours ‘Unconditional Thread’. What can you tell us about that book?

VR- Unconditional Thread is my shortest poetry book that I have written up till now. It consists of 28 philosophical poems. Human beings, their surroundings, other creatures and the whole universe are interconnected. Therefore, there is an invisible thread. As we look at life itself from a philosophical angle rather than from the mundane eyes we realize that various conditions break one by one and life becomes much simplified gradually. Life has an unconditional element that predominates.
This book is mainly divided into two parts: Love’s Psyche and Breathing Freedom/Birth Rights. True Love is often associated as being unconditional yet a deep connection of souls and hearts. Freedom and birth rights rid human beings of all stressful conditions but they remain part of the globe. This book emphasizes on the basic philosophy that everything changes with time and everything is temporary. Thus humankind must be tolerant, flexible, think out of the box and avoid being entrapped in the engulfing chains of limitations. This book is for everyone who believes in the philosophy of progressiveness.

 

ABP- You work as a translator. You’ve translated poetry in two ABP books by Stephan Bohdan. How could one go about retaining your services in that field? How many languages are you fluent in?

VR- Being born in Mauritius, I have learnt English and French from Day -1 of my pre-primary school. Then I can speak and write my native language that is Mauritian Kreol. I also learnt my ancestral language Hindi from Grade 1. I’m fluent in 4 languages – English, French, Kreol and Hindi. In Mauritius, translation is part of our studies from Grade 10 -12 at school.
Last year I also completed a short online translation course from Open University, UK.
For the time being, I mostly translate poetry and prose books from English to French and
French to English. Further details about my translation services can be found on my new blog: vatsalaradwritingworld.home.blog

 

ABP- Can you tell us about these nifty mini chapbooks you put out with poems-for-all?

VR- I learnt about Poems -for-All from my poet friend Mike Griffith’s post on Facebook. Then I contacted the director of Poems- for -All, Robert Hansen and gave it a try with a little chapbook. I decided to select some poems from two of my published books that is,
Smile Little Butterfly and Guitar of Love and my upcoming book of haiku. I think this is a good means to share some of my works with book-lovers.

 

ABP- Who are some of your biggest influences as a writer?

VR- William Blake and T.S Eliot are my favorite British poets. I have always admired Blake’s simplicity of language and his spiritual/religious side to express depth in poetry. T.S. Eliot’s complex language carries me in a world of mysticism and profound philosophy. I also feel some poetic connections with the classic French poet Victor Hugo and contemporary
American poets, Scott Thomas Outlar , Heath Brougher , Dustin Pickering and Ann Christine Tabaka as they share my philosophy of integrity, truth, and compassion as poets.

 

ABP- What do you have planned for the rest of 2019, and 2020?

VR– My upcoming book “Tropical Temporariness” will probably be published in August 2019 by Transcendent Zero Press. It will be a book of 42 haiku and some photographs by Mauritian photographers and cover art by a popular Mauritian artist.
I have fallen in love with haiku… I guess and I will probably write some more haiku books for the rest of 2019. I have a short stories book still in need of some editing. So I will come back to that in 2020.

 

ABP- Once again, thank you for accepting this feature, Vatsala. The floor is all yours. Please take the following space to share anything at all that you would like with our audience.

VR- From the core of my heart, I would like to thank Alien Buddha Press for publishing three of my books. The quality of your books and especially your artworks are wonderful.
Thank you Red Focks! You are all a great team. One artist of Alien Buddha Press who always catches my attention is Ammi Romero. Her artworks/paintings so beautifully express the soul and heart of womanhood and feminism. She has a unique way of blending all those colors.
I would also like to tell all my fellow poet/author/artist friends to stand up for Arts, believe in you and always selflessly support each other. Even if you are the most successful artist always remain humble and humane. Arts survive with those basic qualities.vtslardhkesn

Robert Ragan is ABP’s Featured Artist for the month of June 2019

ABP- Thank you for taking this interview Robert. A year ago in June of 2018 ABP had the privilege of releasing your collection of short stories, Mannequin Legs. Please tell us about your experience writing it, and how you feel about the book a year later.
RR- I wrote poetry for ten years, then started writing fiction when I was twenty-nine. The stories in Mannequin Legs were all written over a seven or eight year period. The title story itself was one of the first short stories I wrote when I was experimenting with fiction. Looking back on it a year later, I’m still proud of it. But with me when it comes to writing I always try to out-do the last story. So I hope that I can put out a much better collection with my follow-up.
ABP-  Your fiction has also been featured in several of ABP’s zines and anthologies. Is there one of those that is particularly memorable for you?
RR- I love appearing in anthologies and zines a long side great writers. As far as my work I have to say my favorite story was “The Jar of Death” published in zine #2.
ABP- What is the literary scene like in Lillington, North Carolina?
RR- I used to attend a Writer’s Workshop at the library in Lillington NC with a group of older writters. Some of them have been published but their styles were more suitable compared to mine. Other than that,  I’ve come across a few aspiring writers and poets here and there. Unfortunatley, they don’t take it as seriously.
ABP- Who are some of your biggest influences as a writer?
RR- There’s so many, I dont know where to start. William Burroughs, and Kurt Vonnegut to name a couple. Lately I’ve been reading more stories and poetry written by my peers than more famous authors.
ABP- Aside from writing, you are also a visual artist. Tell us about your journey In that regard.
RR- My whole life I’ve always had a fascination and love for all types of art. Writing, music, and visual arts. Obviously, writing is my true passion but I was very excited when I got up the nerve to experiment with painting. I dont look at myself as a visual artist, it blew my mind when people actually asked about buying them. I write and paint all for the love of art. I would give them away, but I cant duplicate them. So I keep them for my private collection.
ABP- What do you have planned for the rest of 2019 and beyond?
RR- Being back at my old job I cant write as much as I had been. But in my spare time, I’m always working on new stories for anthologies and online magazines, as well as my follow-up collection.
ABP- Once again, thank you for taking this interview. It was a privilege to feature you. Please take as much space to share anything you would like to share with our WordPress audience
RR- One of my newer short stories “Right On The Hole Part”
20190413_123051
Right On The Hole Part

 

I call it like I see it. Sometimes though, I wonder if maybe I’m hallucinating.

This morning on the way to work. A diehard Duke Blue Devils fan says, “For every game Zion misses we will murder two young immigrants from Nike’s sweatshop.”

A couple of guys on a radio morning show ask, “Is America taking sports and entertainment too far.”

Wow, that’s cutting edge; very groundbreaking.

I turned it to something else and caught the end of the commercial, “O O O O’Reilly’s…Auto Parts….OW!”

Pulling into my parking spot…in hell, I see a couple of coworkers smoking cigarettes by the front entrance.

As I walk by, I hear one of them say, “Man you went down on that chick while she was on her period? That’s some nasty gross shit!”

 

The other guy says, “Man, she tricked me. She said she was just lightly spotting.”

For so long I was trapped in my own head. To save myself from my reality I started listening to everything anyone said around me. I couldn’t describe the smell, but I swear I stuck my nose into everything.

I don’t know why these people hired me. I’m hardly even qualified to stack boxes on the end of this assembly line. Before taping each one, I’m supposed to insert an instruction sheet.

The customers bitch and complain because I forget to add the instruction sheet in at least one box on every pallet.

How am I to worry about a sheet of paper, with so many thoughts racing through my head?

My body is in this warehouse for 10 hours a day. But my mind is far gone. I pay attention just enough to get by.

Most of the time I’m taping up boxes and thinking up rhymes in my head about all my co-workers.

I’m lucky no one can actually read minds.
My face is the book cover..open it up and my brain is filled with memories and fantasies turned into stories. Conspiracies tattooed on the soft tissue.

When I was younger my mother tried to prove I was mentally disabled in order to get a monthly check.

Psychiatrist admitted I was dumb as a rock and off in the head; but not to the point that I couldn’t be a functional member of society.

My mother swore I’d commit suicide or take a gun to school. After being turned down a few times, she vowed to take it to one more hearing.
My father had just died…A wannabe writer and painter, he was hardly ever in my life.

She said, “Well, he’s gonna be at that hearing.”

When the day finally came we sat in front of the administrative judge. He wanted to deny me again, you could see it in his eyes behind those thick lenses.

Just like mama said, I looked off to my right and asked the air, “What did you say, daddy?”

The judge ignores it and asks about my grades and if I ever I thought about hurting myself.

Ignoring his questions, I looked to my right again and said, “I don’t know..I’m not sure.”

My mother just stared at the judge wearing her best fake smile.

He asked her, “Who is he talking to, ma’am?”

Setting up straight she clears her throat and smooths out the wrinkles on her skirt.
She said, “He’s just started doing this recently. His father died and he swears he can see him and talk to him.”

This grey-haired old judge laughs. He then shouts at me, “Hey, kid, you can knock it off, I know this is all a big act!”
Breaking eye contact I say, “Yes daddy, I put on clean underwear right before we left.”

My mother goes into panic mode, “Come on! Can’t you see he needs help?”
Squinting her eyes trying her best to produce tears she said, “He needs some type of medication and I can’t afford it.”
Turning my head to look at her I say, “Mom calm down!” Daddy said he’ll take care of everything.”

Things didn’t go as we planned, I was not approved that day. The judge said there would be an emergency hearing sometime in the next few months.

He said, “That was a nice try, you people must think we’re stupid.”
As we walked out I now looked to my left and said, “You’re still taking me for ice cream, right Dad?”

On the drive home my mom didn’t stop for ice cream as she’d promised. “That was to celebrate if you got approved,” she said.

Later she informed me that I had to keep doing the imaginary dead father act everywhere I went. “Just until this next emergency hearing,” she said.

Everyone at school already called me a retard. But oh man, it really got worse once my invisible dead dad started showing up at school every day.

It wasn’t all bad, I got a date for the prom.
An awkward chubby pimple faced girl, her dress barely fit. We were like the biggest losers in the school.

Teri actually believed and thought it was cute that I was so close to my dead father.

On the floor in the gymnasium with other couples dancing all around us. I looked to my right and said, “Dad, she’s my date but I guess you can have this dance.”

Teri was graceful dancing right by herself.
Her dirty blonde hair bounced with each step. When the song was over she walked back to me and smiled.

She said, “I swear on everything it’s like I could feel myself in his arms.”

Teri didn’t have anything to worry about, she was already on disability and taking all remedial classes.

 

She and I broke up after she asked what I thought about having sex while she had a yeast infection. It pissed her off when I said, “I don’t care as long as we don’t make a breadstick.”

I carried on this act for so long, I really started believing it.

I came to the conclusion that my mom was trying to make this more than an act. I stopped doing it and she and I went to war.
She took my cd’s, my comic books, and even my best porno mag. Next, she took my Playstation. After that I was like forget this.

I went AWOL, tried to run away but she found me and beat me with a switch in the Food Tiger parking lot.

When the emergency hearing came around I was denied again.

My mother flew into a rage, “You crooked heartless bastards won’t help my son.
But yet, I know someone’s kid who gets disability just for being in a wheelchair.” she said, “It’s just not right.”

After that, she gave up and told me my dumbass better get a job flipping burgers or something.

Basically, that’s how I ended up here at this stupid warehouse job.

Hell, I don’t even know what’s going on half the time. At least once a week they threaten to fire me if I don’t get my act together.

My mama said I better stop forgetting to put them damn papers in the box.

Plus, she said I need to get my license and proper insurance on my junk car before I get pulled over or go through a roadblock.

When the alarm clock goes off, I bitch and moan and contemplate calling in dead to work.

She says, “It ain’t my fault you stay up all night watching dirty movies then don’t want to get up in the morning.”

Every morning it’s, “I tried to get you some help but you couldn’t follow along.”

Just the other day we went to see my grandma at the nursing home. Granny calls 50 times a day saying, “Call down here and tell ‘em to turn on the heat,” even in the dead of summer.

As soon as we walk in the door we can hear her down the hall yelling as loud as she can, “Help…Help!”

My mom’s always saying, “I’ve got enough to worry about with your grandma, I don’t need to deal with your shit too.”

 

Everybody is always picking on me, but momma and everybody at work can kiss my ass!

 

Right on the hole part…

ABP’s interview with Arthur Graham, Editor of Horror Sleaze Trash (from Alien Buddha Zine 7)

Interview with Arthur Graham of Horror Sleaze Trash

Interview questions conducted by Red Focks

 

ABP- Thank you for taking this interview, Arthur. I know that a lot of Alien Buddha’s readers and contributors admire Horror Sleaze Trash. Tell us a little bit about how you got started, who else is on the HST team, and your journey as a publisher leading up to 2019.

 

AG- Holy hell man, how much time have you got? I’ll try to provide an abridged version below:

About eight or nine years ago, back when I was first getting serious about publishing, I chanced an encounter with the Wildman from Down Under himself, the legendary Ben John Smith. The two of us ran in overlapping small press circles, and eventually the outfit I was with at the time (Rooster Republic Press) wound up releasing one of his earliest collections of poetry. Over the following years, we’d submit work to each other and help cross-promote whatever it was we were each separately working on at the time. This ultimately led to me taking the reins after Ben stepped away to focus on his family and health a few years back, and here we are today, still going strong at HST. Truly it is our honor and privilege to be picking up where he left off.

These days, our core team consists of myself and Associate Editor India LaPlace, who also heads up our social media department. Beyond us two, the extended HST family branches out through everyone who’s ever had their work published in our books and on our website. I like to think of HST as more of a creative collective than a traditional publishing house, just helping get the word out more than anything, really. We offer free downloads of almost everything we’ve ever published, and wherever we can get away with it, we encourage our contributors to print and sell/distribute their own copies as well. By the same token, we never claim exclusive rights on anything we publish, so contributors can always reprint with ease. It’s really all about spreading the disease!

 

ABP- Something that sets HST apart from its peers are your models. Your website features a variety of women modeling Horror Sleaze Trash t-shirts. Where did the idea for combining literature and risqué photography come from?

 

AG- That format had been in place since long before my tenure, but the way I look at it is this: It’s hard enough to get people to pick up a book these days, let alone a book of POETRY, so ya gotta get ’em through the door somehow. Sex sells, y’all – that’s a fact – and we’re certainly not above it.

Ben had worked with countless models from about 2010-2016, producing some very fine photoshoots for HST, many of which remain on our website to this day. Ever since India and I took over, we’ve adopted more of a practical, symbiotic approach to most of our shoots, wherein models net us exposure from their followers and vice versa. Whether we’re just having fun or trying to snap the perfect shot for our next cover, we strive to include a diverse cohort of models, photographers, and styles from all around the world. India in particular has been a great help in approaching/working with models, so I don’t have to come across as some dirty old man asking girls to take to their clothes off.

Most recently we shot with the lovely and talented Miss Jada (@horror.jada) and Juri Billy Doll from Japan (@j_bdoll). Interested models and photographers should get in touch!

 

ABP- Your tagline is “Like pissing wine into an ocean of alcoholics”. Can you break that down for us?

 

AG-  This is another artifact from well before my time, but I’ve always interpreted it as some sort of weird, extended metaphor in which our audience is this crowd of surging drunks, HST is the ship that sails upon them, and our content is the wine they so desperately thirst for. Only we’re shooting it into their mouths through our dicks, like piss, which I guess seems wholly appropriate.

Honestly, as weird as it sounds, I feel this sort of imagery is indicative of our overall aesthetic, where pretty much everything is fucking wild and virtually nothing is ever off limits. It doesn’t have to make sense or avoid offense, because as we all know there’s enough of that sort of thing going around these days. Horror Sleaze Trash truly is the art/lit zine that “has always been and will always be for the misfits”, and we intend to keep it that way by pissing all the wine that we please.

 

ABP- I love the book title A Warm cup of Assholes. Tell us about that publication.

 

AG- A Warm cup of Assholes is the excellent poetry album put together by Michael James Christian and Ben John Smith several years ago, which together with their follow-up, Turd Eye, can be found on the “Books” page of our website. Both of these can be previewed/purchased via Bandcamp, and I’d highly recommend them to anyone who feels that performance poetry can and should be so much more than just stilted lines and delivery. Here’s hoping they record another album together someday soon!

 

ABP- Is HST currently accepting manuscript submissions, submissions for print anthologies, or for your blog? If so, please tell us your guidelines and where one can send their work to.

 

AG- HST has generally been open to just about anything over the course of its existence, provided it fits with or improves our aesthetic. This includes poetry, prose, porn, reviews, interviews, etc. We’re always looking for models, artwork, and photography to round out the visual aspect, and we enjoy promoting independent music and musicians as well.

As for manuscripts, I have read a few submissions thus far, but unfortunately I have yet to find the bandwidth for publishing anything book-length that was not a compilation of shorter pieces we’d already published on our website. We’ll continue to consider manuscripts in the future, but we’ll have to remain picky lest we overwhelm ourselves with too many extraneous side projects.

As for blog/print submissions, we treat these as essentially the same thing, pulling from the vast pool of blog posts for use in future poetry quarterlies and the prose anthologies we’ll periodically publish.

Guidelines can be found on the “Submissions” page of our website. Send us your shit, motherfuckers!

https://horrorsleazetrash.com/

 

ABP- Do you have anything planned for later this year or in 2020 that you would like to announce here?

 

AG- This year we are hoping to release a follow-up to Horror Sleaze Trash: Prose in Poor Taste, while at the same time keeping up with our ongoing poetry quarterly as well. Beyond all that, we’re just going to continue doing what we’ve always done, publishing the underdogs and those in need of the exposure. It is our distinct pleasure to publish so much great talent, and we’re hoping to expand our little crew of misfits well through 2020 and on into the future as well.

 

ABP- It truly was a privilege to feature you here Arthur. Thanks again for making the time. The floor is yours. Please take the following pages to share anything at all you would like.

 

AG- Thank YOU, Red! As mentioned previously, HST exists to support the authors and artists shunned by more mainstream media, so the signal boost is much appreciated. Smaller outfits like ours can really benefit a lot from sharing readers and resources, and a rising tide lifts all boats, as they say. To that end, I’d encourage your readers to not only check out Horror Sleaze Trash, but also the many others listed on our “Friends” page as well. Thanks again for having us!

hst

Chani Zwibel is ABP’s featured artist for May 2019

ABP Thank you for taking this interview Chani. In July of 2018 Alien Buddha Press had the privilege of releasing your poetry chapbook Cave Dreams to Star Portals. Please tell us about that book; what went into it, and how you feel about it almost a year later.

 

CZ-  I had all these abstract poems, and others that were more narrative, but also just kind of weird. I was trying to group together poems in a way that made sense. I had been listening to a lot of David Bowie and Jimi Hendrix. I had this idea about cave people getting visited by UFOS, and so all these poems seemed to coalescence around that idea.

 

ABP- You have also participated in some of our anthologies, such as O’Riordan, The Mathematician, and This One Time the Alien Buddha Got so High. Your style of writing certainly added a particularly unique element to those books. Are there any other anthologies outside of ABP that you would like to recommend to our readers?

 

CZ- I have to shamelessly self-promote any anthologies from Madness Muse Press put out in the last couple years. Working as associate editor under the guidance of Adam Levon Brown has produced some awesome stuff. Also, I was just featured in one from Transcendent Zero Press with a bunch of other cool writers and artists, many of whom also work with ABP. That one is “Epiphanies and Late Realizations of Love” edited by Claudine Nash.

 

ABP- Do you have anything planned for the rest of 2019, or in 2020?

 

CZ- Oh, nothing much, you know: take over the world. (JK LOL)

Seriously though, I’m working on an abcedarius style poetry  book and I have a few chapbooks out in contests (fingers crossed y’all).

 

ABP- Who are some of your biggest influences as a writer?

 

CZ- Most of the Modernists and quite a few Victorians.  I read my Bukowski and Hunter S. Thompson until the covers wore off. I love the goofy, nonsense rhymes of Shel Silverstein. More recently I’m into Warsan Shire, Claudia Rankine, and Joy Harjo.

 

ABP-  You once wrote “Justice weeps in the dark and none hear her cry/ Brazen men of evil want her voice to die”. Can you take us through what went into that rhyme?

CZ- After the 2016 election, I was feeling very helpless and upset. I started writing these scathing political poems that just chewed up the scenery. Then, I started experimenting with the idea of classical themes and styles (like rhyming couplets). So I had all these lady liberty and blind justice images floating around. I think I wrote that specific line in a poem after Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed as a supreme court justice. Sometimes I feel the only way my voice is heard is through poetry.

 

ABP- It was truly a privilege to feature you here. The floor is yours. Feel free to share anything you’d like.

 

CZ- Thank you! It’s a privilege to be here!  I really appreciate the opportunity.

The only other thing I want to share is I’m co-hosting a poetry event in my local community called Poetry and Palette, at The Good Acting Studio. The next one is on May 18. The idea is to get a variety of artists to come together for a good cause. If anyone is in the Atlanta, GA area or wants to travel here is the info:

https://m.bpt.me/event/4100768

Image may contain: Chani Zwibel Butler, closeup

 

Alien Buddha: Film Critic

Alien Buddha: Film Critic

Glass- Starring: Samuel L Jackson, Bruce Willis, James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy, and Sarah Paulson. Directed by M. Night Shyamalan

Pg13

I did not think this movie was as bad as most film critics claim; but I do agree that it is the weakest of its trilogy, as the plotline does not match up with that of Unbreakable’s; nor does the energy and direction resemble what was produced in Split. Willis and Jackson phone in their performances a bit. James McAvoy salvages the production the best he can, returning with a excellent performance as Kevin Wendell Crumb and all of the other people living inside of him.

 

Perhaps the real problem with Glass is that it was forced. At the end of Split when it was reveled that the movie took place in the same universe as Unbreakable, there was a sense of satisfaction in that for me. If Shyamalan had found a way to continue expanding this superhero universe subtly, an eventual crossover/showdown film may have worked out. The way things played however, it felt relative to if the MCU tried to release Infinity War after just two movies. Shyamalan was trying to sell a massive story that just wasn’t there.

 

5.1

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse– Starring: Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld, and Lily Tomlin. Directed by Bob Persichetti

PG

A well written, family-friendly, coming of age story with mind-blowing animation. Into the Spider-Verse is engaging, funny, action-packed, and heartwarming. A refreshing take on a story that has been rebooted hundreds of times over. As the story unfolds it continues to find new ways to be anything but predictable.

 

It is a cartoon and all, and one of its stars is a talking pig, but the movie finds a way to use this to its advantage. With underlying quantum physics and super colliders in the story there is a lot of intelligence hidden under surface level of goofy fun.

 

9.0

 

 

Vice– Starring: Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Steve Carell, Sam Rockwell, Alison Pill, Lily Rabe, and Jesse Plemons. Directed by Adam McKay

R

Did Dick Cheney just benefit from the 9/11 attacks, or did he flat out orchestrate it? When Vice implied the former over the latter I began to have doubts about the movie, but as it progressed the film started to feel more credible. Vice pulls few punches, but it does pull a few. Another complaint I have is that it is almost too similar to W, the movie about George W Bush.

 

Unlike the former vice president himself, this movie does have more good things to say than bad. It is funny, brash, and most-unlike its subject,  Vice has a good heart.

 

7.2

 

 

Creed 2– Starring Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson, Dolph Lundgren, and Florian Munteanu. Directed by Steven Caple Jr.

PG13

It is what it is; a movie about grown men punching each other. Stallone and Lundgren were never known for having impeccable range as thespians, but when it comes to portraying punch-drunk old men, nobody does it better. Jordan is electric as sympathetic as always, and Munteanu plays a hateable villain.

 

6.6

 

Newer Releases

Avengers Endgame- 9.5

Us- 9.4 (horror movie of the decade)

Shazam! – 8.3

Captain Marvel – 7 (not as bad as incels on the internet desperately need you to believe)

Pet Semetery – 6