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Bengt O Björklund is ABP’s featured artist for March 2020

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ABP- Thank you for taking this interview, Bengt. Back in February of 2018 Alien Buddha Press had the privilege of releasing A Stab in The Dark, a compilation poetry and paintings. What can you tell us about that book, and how do you feel about the collection today?

 

BOB-  That poetry suite I worked on for several years. It is very all encompassing and put forward many ideas and experiences I find important. Like most of my poetry it is loaded with images that in turn are loaded with meaning. It is also the only poetry book of mine, there are eleven, that also presents some of my art. This is important as I have been an artist and a poet for 50 years now. I still stand by both the poem and the art.

 

ABP- So, what is the art scene like in Västerhaninge Sweden?

 

BB-  In Västerhaninge I have joined an artist community that owns a gallery and offers classes. But I spend most of my creative time in my big studio. I am a kind of recluse these days, for better and worse.

 

 

ABP- What are you working on right now?

 

BB- With my art I’ve just finished three canvases and am on my way with a rather big canvas. My poetry is moving very slow but since I have a lot of material there will be a new Welsh collection this summer and a new Swedish collection as well. Also I have translated “I missed Woodstock” the first part of my autobiography in verse to English. It will be published very soon in the US.

I am also preparing and working to make the third Beat Poetry Biennale Festival in Stockholm. Many US poets will come. It will take place in August.

 

 

ABP- Do you have any artistic plans for the rest of 2020?

 

BB-  I sure do! I am aiming for a new exhibition this year. I have recently become an art teacher and that gives me a boost and new energy. This wheel shall explode!

 

ABP- Who are some of your biggest influences as a visual artist, and as a poet?

 

BB- Well, so many artists through the history, from the cave artist in France to Picasso and forward, have inspired me. Asian art, especially Japanese, have given me much ground to stand on. Recently it is the late US artist Harvey Cropper that has played a major role in my development. He gave me what I needed, a place to be amongst the artist of this world. Btw, he was a very good friend of Charlie Parker and moved to Sweden in the 50-ties.

As a poet it is equally difficult to present a simple answer. In my early poetic days in jail in Istanbul I was very much influenced by Dylan Thomas, TS Elliot, Blake, Rabindranath Tagore, Mayakovski and all the Beat poets I came across. Later I found many of the Swedish poets like Harry Martinsson and Tomas Tranströmer and all South American poets like Neruda and Borges.

 

ABP- Thank you again for taking this interview Bengt. The floor is all yours. Do you have any art or writing you would like to share with our wordpress readers? How about any other shoutouts or announcements?

 

BB- Thanks for reading all the way to this point. I’m struggling with a failing mental state and an economy that drives me bananas, but whatever, I’m still here. Love you all!

 

Stephanie E Dickinson is Alien Buddha Press’ Featured Artist for February 2020

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ABP– Thank you for taking this interview, Stephanie. Six months ago Alien Buddha Press had the privilege of releasing “Big Headed Anna Imagines Herself”, A tantalizing, and folksy collection of canonical flash fiction. What can you tell us about your process in writing that book, and how you feel about it today?

 

SED- I’d written a hybrid fiction collection entitled The Emily Fables and liked the flash form and the ability to command that small space. In a world of chaos and random circumstance, there is little control the individual can stake out and claim. Interestingly to me I did not know of the existence of my great aunt Anna until shortly before my mother’s death. Apparently, my pregnant great-grandmother was kicked in the stomach by the cow she was milking and gave birth to a baby with a large head. Anna wore a big hat, never left her parents’ home, and died young. I envisioned a different big-headed Anna, a strong-bodied and stronger willed woman, wandering the southern United States in the early 20th century, a drifter.

 

 

ABP- As a New Yorker, what are some of the places in the city that spark your creativity?

 

SED- The Manhattan streets that empty on holidays become magical. All of the city streets are writeable as each offers a unique vision of reality—streets with a thousand thousand pasts. The Diamond District, Hell’s Kitchen, Times Square, the old Garment District, the West Side Highway. Amsterdam Avenue, Harlem, Inwood, Tribeca, Alphabet City. My neighborhood in the East Village appears slightly shabby in places and glass-and-chrome in others; the coffee culture thrives next to homeless encampments. From the Astor Street subway station, you pass the Cooper Triangle, a tiny, geometric-shaped park, once cobblestones and a few bedraggled trees shading benches filled by the destitute, now improved to include a big heaping helping of concrete. The homeless mark the sidewalks wherever there is a construction overhang. Since I live so close to the edge and affordable housing no longer exists, I look upon these people as a possible future. I wonder at their stories and sometimes I make them up. Like the youngish pack of guys huddling over trash receptacles scrounging for cans. Like Goth musicians who’ve wandered off Saint Mark’s Place in their jackboots and piercings a decade ago and forgot their way back. Their dogs, big and mannish, sport blue bandanas. They camp on the sidewalks and more girls and more dogs join them. They are a kind of tribe and that fascinates me. On Second Avenue the languages begin: churn and roar of Bangladeshi dialects, Korean, French, and Spanish. Once a strongly Ukrainian and Polish neighborhood, the Ukrainian Museum and an Orthodox church are all that remain.

 

 

ABP– Who are some of your favorite fiction writers/ biggest inspirations?

 

SED- To list a few books that have been meaningful to me I’d start with Jean Rhys’ Voyage in the Dark, Sybille Bedford’s Jigsaw, Djuna Barnes’ Nightwood, Andrei Makine’s Memories of My Russian Summer, Rosalind Palermo Stevenson’s The Absent, Laurie Lee’s A Moment of War, Jill Hoffman’s Gates of Peal, and Charlotte Delbo’s Auschwitz and After. Delbo’s book  contains incredible lyricism in a flash nonfiction format. These are books I re-read for their voice, their emotion, their intensity, and their beauty. There are many stellar plot-driven books I’ve read but could never re-read. I own hundreds and hundreds of books and I keep a number of books near my writing chair, i.e., my sacred texts. I’m presently reading Petersburg by Andrei Beli and it’s my breakfast book because the text requires a fresh mind. Industry of Souls is my subway book, thinner to fit the dimensions of my bag. Nights, I eat popcorn and read less concentrated books, often nonfiction, sometimes thrillers.  Junk food for the eyes.

 

 

ABP– What can you tell us about your book Girl Behind the Door? (Rain Mountain Press 2017)

 

SED- Girl Behind the Door is a memoir about a woman being drawn back from New York City to the rural Iowa of her growing up when her mother’s mind begins to fail and dementia rears its head. While sitting a death watch in her mother’s assisted living facility Alzheimer’s Unit she lives again their shared past–the troubled relationship between a daughter and a single-parent mother. She catalogues her mother’s death process when the mind, body, and spirit must work together to die. She re-examines her teenage hitchhiking escapades that lead to the tragedy of her being shot. The book takes place in the late June lushness of Iowa, past and present.

 

 

ABP- How about Flashlight Girls Run? (New Meriden Arts 2017)

 

SED-The stories in Flashlight Girls Run were written as we entered new millennium America. The 20th century imploded and the first decade of the 21st century exploded. My characters, many of them young women, have already survived great traumas or are in the midst of the life-altering event that changes everything. There’s Jesusita who walks a tightrope between her husband blinded in Iraq and her father-in-law who has fallen in love with her; there’s Bonnie and Nick who are haunted by Afghanistan’s Korangal Valley and the illusive snow leopard who makes its home in the remote rocks above the fighting; and there’s Bethany, an Iowa girl home from her deployment and disabled who visits a tavern and sees her first love Moses sitting at the bar. Above the chaos is the fierce blue sky and hope for redemption.

 

 

ABP– What do you have planned for the rest of this year?

 

SED- I have been working for a number of years on a nonfiction work. On July 26, 2006, Jennifer Moore, age 18, was abducted after a night of underage drinking and taken by small-time pimp, Draymond Coleman, to a seedy Weehawken hotel room that he shared with his prostitute/girlfriend, 20-year-old Krystal Riordan. During the early morning hours, Jennifer was raped and strangled by Coleman, while Riordan looked on. The tabloids had a field day with the story—the underage girl/victim, a hooker, rape and murder. Fox News blamed the victim, pointing out Jennifer’s scanty attire as if a halter top had made the teen deserving of her rape. What should have been a teenage misadventure, an impulsive flirtation with the forbidden, led to ultimate consequences. And then there was the prostitute/girlfriend, Krystal Riordan, the sad-eyed girl who watched her boyfriend strangle Jennifer. Bloggers portrayed Draymond Coleman as a force of nature, bestial, hardly human and uninteresting, while they pilloried Krystal as if she were the murderer. I’d written Love Highway, a novel inspired by the crime, and Spuyten Duyvil published it. I sent the book to EMCF and since then I’ve carried on a lengthy correspondence with Krystal Riordan, who is serving a 30-year-sentence at the Edna Mahon Facility for Women in Clinton, New Jersey. I’m close to completing a hybrid non-fiction with fictional elements entitled Maximum Compound, focusing on Krystal’s prison world.

 

Brian Rihlmann is Alien Buddha Press’ Featured Artist for January 2020

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ABP– Thank you for taking this interview, Brian. This past October, ABP had the privilege of releasing your poetry book Ordinary Trauma. For those who don’t know anything about this collection, what can you tell us about the contents, and what went into the writing of it?

 

BR– Well, I hope it’s a good mix.  I try not to limit myself in what I write about.  I do seem to touch a lot on my inner life…the confessional kinda stuff, but I also write about the city, nature, society, relationships, love, pain….pretty much anything and everything.

What went into it is pretty much my whole life experience up til now.  I was actively alcoholic for a long time, with varying degrees of wretchedness over the years.  When I quit, over two years ago, I had to do something with the madness, all the emotions I’d been suppressing with booze for so long.  So….poetry.

 

 

ABP- What is the poetry scene like in Reno Nevada?

 

BR- I honestly don’t know, but it ain’t L.A. or the Bay Area, that’s for sure! I have a friend here who mentioned doing a live reading somewhere… I think there may be a small scene centered around the university, but I’m really outside all that.  Early on I submitted to the UNR magazine, Brushfire, but was rejected.  I may try them again….pretty sure my stuff’s better now.

 

 

ABP- I see that you have been featured all over the web. Vita Brevis Press, Academy of the Heart and Mind, Poetry Super Highway, and the San Antonio Review, just to name a handful of places. Is there anywhere else online you would like to mention where one can read your poetry?

 

BR- Yeah….I’ve had probably a hundred acceptances this year, into various magazines and journals.  The American Journal of Poetry was one of my first.  Also The Rye Whiskey Review, Cajun Mutt Press, Madness Muse, Synchronized Chaos, The Blue Nib, The Piker Press….there’s been so many!  More recently Heroin Love Songs, The Mark Literary Review, and Yellow Mama.  I’ve got one coming out in Chiron Review later in 2020.  Oh, and I finally made it at Into The Void.   That one’s coming out soon!  I’m really honored by the response my poetry has gotten.

 

When I first began, I posted my work on Allpoetry.com.  I still have a ton of poems there, and some at Poem Hunter.  I post links to all my publications on my Facebook page.  I’m on Instagram, too.

 

 

ABP- What do you have planned for 2020?

 

BR-  Well, more of the same, I guess.  I seem to be possessed by the words….the ideas just keep coming, and I keep writing them down.  Another book, for sure.  Probably later in the year.

 

 

 

ABP- Who are your biggest influences as a writer

 

BR– I’ll bet I’ve read less poetry than any other poet alive, hahaha!  Of course I’ve read some of Bukowski’s stuff, more of his prose than poetry, though, and Raymond Carver, also.   I do love Robinson Jeffers.  I’ve probably been more influenced by Nietzsche and Dostoyevsky and Camus, by studying psychology and philosophy and religion, and by….I don’t know…George Carlin, and punk, hardcore, and heavy metal than I have by reading poetry.  I’m really kind of an impostor…

 

 

ABP– Thank you again for taking the time for this feature, Brian. The floor is all yours. Share anything you’d like with our wordpress readers; be it some poetry, announcements, shoutouts, anything you’d like.

 

BR-  Of course!  I appreciate it.  There’s been so many people, so I won’t mention names, or I’ll forget somebody.  I’m just overwhelmed by the support and encouragement I’ve gotten from people on Allpoetry and Facebook, and all the editors in the small presses, all you guys who work so hard to put our work out there.

 

Here’s one I just finished, it’s not published anywhere yet.  A nice gritty one.  Enjoy!

 

 

 

Young, Dumb Fucks

I remember that night

we drove drunk out I-80 east

to deliver a bindle of white

to your girl at the cathouse

who needed a little boost

for those late night tricks—

she’d recently fallen asleep

with some dude’s cock in her

mouth…and he’d complained

about halfway to Mustang

just for the hell of it

you rolled down your window

and emptied the clip

of your nine into the desert

yelling “yee-haw, motherfuckers!”

we got there somehow

and the man buzzed us in

we found her sitting in the parlor

and you slipped her the stuff

she hung out with us for awhile

but then she got picked out

and went back to her room

with some fat guy

while we sat at the bar doing shots

snorting little bumps

when the bartenders back was turned

lighting our farts on fire

and laughing like the young, dumb fucks

we were

and would never be again

Alien Buddha: Film Critic 10 best and worst movies of 2019

Alien Buddha: Film Critic

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*Big Green has not seen every movie made this year. Notable 2019 releases that I did not see, therefore could not consider include Dr. Sleep, and Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker.

 

Alien Buddha’s Favorites

  1. Detective Pikachu– An unexpected stab at a Pokémon movie. Seemingly made specifically for the millennials who were into it when it first came out 25 years ago.

 

  1. The Last Black Man in San Francisco– Beautiful simplicity here. Both funny and sad. Masterful score and cinematography.

 

  1. Toy Story 4– The best family movie of the year.

 

  1. The Dirt- I saw this Mötley Crüe biopic on a lot of worst of 2019 lists. I am not even a fan of their music, but this movie was far too memorable to not be considered a good movie. The best comedy of the year.

 

  1. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood– This movie had the potential to land at least one spot higher. It ran a little long, and without giving away any spoilers, due to the ending which was the best part of the movie, many of Margo Robbie’s scenes portraying Sharon Tate could have been cut without hurting the plot whatsoever. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is still Quentin Tarantino’s best film since Jango Unchained, and a refreshing outing as his first movie without the disgraced Weinstein bros financing him.

 

 

  1. Avengers Endgame– I made it a point to only include 1 superhero movie in my top ten, and this one was my choice hands down. The Three-hour runtime does not even drag in this escapist masterpiece.

 

  1. Us- Cannibalistic humanoid underground dwellers for the win. Most any other year this movie would have been the best horror movie released. When I first saw it in March I thought it could have ended up being the best movie of the year.

 

  1. Joker– I said that Endgame would be the only superhero flick on my list, and I meant it. Joker closer resembles an old school Martin Scorsese flick than any superhero movie. Anybody who calls this #1 has a strong case.

 

  1. El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie– My bias might be showing here. As a standalone movie, El Camino probably would not have cracked the top 5; but as a major breaking bad fan this movie was just so satisfying for me. So many things could have gone wrong here, and Vince Gilligan pulled a rabbit of his hat and gave his fans a truly brilliant extra chapter to the saga.

 

  1. Midsommar– This movie was so fucked up in the best possible way. Possibly the best picture of the decade. Ari Aster is a mad genius. The best portrayal of psilocybin hallucinations I have ever seen in a movie. The most unique horror flick ever produced.

 

(Honorable mentions)

Spiderman Far from Home, Shazam, Escape Room, Crawl, The Prodigy,

Alita: Battle Angel, The Black String

 

 

 

 

Worst Movies I Sat Through

10 The Fanatic– I was unsure about which list to put this movie on, I just knew it absolutely had to be on one of them. “The Dirt” was a shitshow of a movie, but made my best-of list for being memorable. The Fanatic is the best bad movie of 2019. Fred Durst has no business directing movies, and John Travolta is a sad clown. All that being said, I absolutely would watch this bad movie again.

 

9-8-7 (Dumbo- The Lion King- Aladdin) I am going to do the next three movies all at once, because they are all shit for the same reason. If you don’t touch something for a certain amount of years, it becomes public domain; so Disney likes to rehydrate their old shit every now and then, rather than flush it. These three movies were made for no other reason. Disney was even prepared for them to tank at the box office. They don’t even mind the bad reviews, as they get mentioned, thus proving they exist and Disney can sue you for fucking with it.

 

6 MA– This movie tried it’s best, and to be fair, me being partial to horror movies might have just gotten ignored completely if it wasn’t for that.

 

5 The Curse of La Llorona- Dull and forgettable. Not scary.

 

4 Velvet Buzzsaw- Biggest disappointment of 2019. The trailer looked so good, but the movie was pretentious and derivative.

 

3 Annabelle Comes Home- I saw this as the first part of a double-feature with Midsommar, and for all the reasons I loved that movie I hated this one. Too dark to see anything, too whispery to hear anything and too reliant on jump scares. Bleh

 

2 Yesterday- If you woke up tomorrow and this movie never existed, you would be in a better place. Cowardly and up its own ass. BLEH

 

1 The Dead Don’t Die- Fuck this movie. This is what you get when you spend a boatload of money on actors, and then just say ‘the hell with it’ with every other aspect of production. Seriously, fuck this piece of shit movie. I had half a mind to pull every copy out of the Redbox, and frisbee them across a congested freeway.

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(Dishonorable Mention)

The Utah Cabin Murders  (would have easily been top three worst, if i considered it a real movie).

Leah Mueller is Alien Buddha Press’ Featured Artist for December 2019

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ABP- Thank you for taking this interview, Leah. 18 months ago, Alien Buddha Press had the privilege of releasing your Novel ‘Bastard of a Poet’, a coming of age tale about estranged family and Los Angeles, amongst other things. What can you tell us about Bastard of a Poet? What went into the writing of it, and how do you feel about the book a year and a half later?

 

LM- Originally, I planned to write “Bastard of a Poet” as a short story, but after a few pages, it became obvious that I needed to write a book. After all, this is a coming-of-age tale about meeting my father in 1970s Los Angeles. It’s written from the perspective of a 50-something woman who finally realized that her inauspicious visit affected every relationship she had later. Still, I like to think my tale of deception and disappointment has a humorous side. Nearly two years later, I value the book’s honesty, but I’d like to edit it and remove some of the adverbs.

 

 

ABP- Tell us about your new book, ‘Cocktails at Denny’s’

 

LM- “Cocktails at Denny’s” is a half-and-half word salad bar/buffet of poetry and prose. I’ve spent most of my life moving from one place to another, so the tone is nomadic. Have you ever wanted to get in a car and just drive and drive until everything is a blur in your rearview mirror? I’ve felt like that most of my life and behaved accordingly. The book is a chronicle of some of my adventures.

 

 

ABP- Do you have any other projects we should know about?

 

LM- I’m taking a bit of a break from publishing to focus on the three (!) books I had published this fall–“Cocktails at Denny’s” (Alien Buddha Press), “Misguided Behavior, Tales of Poor Life Choices” (Czykmate Press) and “Death and Heartbreak” (Weasel Press). I’m lining up as many featured reader gigs as I can, in my hometown (Tacoma, WA), as well as Everett, WA, Portland, Cleveland, and Seattle.

 

 

ABP- Who are your biggest influences as a writer?

 

LM- Diane Wakowski, Sylvia Plath, Don Marquis, Jack Kerouac, Richard Siken, David Sedaris, Charles Bukowski, Richard Brautigan, Kurt Vonnegut, and William Styron. Just to name a few. Those are the first writers that popped into my head, because they created heartfelt work that moved me and affected the way I arrange my own words on a page. There are many others.

 

 

ABP- What do you have planned for 2020?

 

LM- Writing, writing, and more writing. It’s a tough time for my husband Russ and me, since he was recently diagnosed with stage four cancer. He had to leave his job and we will be moving to Bisbee, Arizona next year. Writing is pretty much the only thing that keeps me sane right now.

 

 

ABP- You are an admin on the facebook group ‘Poetry Feast’. What can you tell us about that network? Do you plan on keeping it a social media endeavor, or could you see yourself branching out into online or print zines?

 

LM– I started Poetry Feast in 2014 as part of NaPoWriMo and it has been sputtering along ever since. I’m frankly surprised that the group remains popular, since I haven’t been paying as much attention to it during the past year. Many folks have really poured their hearts and souls onto that little page. At this point, I’m not really certain about the page’s future, so I’m just keeping it on Facebook. For now, anyway.

 

 

ABP- Thanks again for taking the time for this interview, Leah. Please share anything you’d like with our wordpress viewers; be it a shoutout, an announcement, some poetry, a short story, anything at all; the floor is all yours.

 

LM—Oh gosh. What to say? Buy my book, “Cocktails at Denny’s.” It’s 15 bucks including shipping if you PayPal me at seventhhousesun@aol.com. Contact me about my other books at that same email address. I promise to have a real, honest-to-gosh website early in the new year. Meanwhile, here are my social handles: www.facebook.com/leahmuellerwriter and www.twitter.com/leahsnapdragon.  And finally, here’s a teaser poem from “Cocktails” to get you all salivating:

 

 

Early Signs

I bought him

a silkscreened

tee-shirt

 

that read,

“It’s not apathy,

it’s zen.”

 

Two weeks later,

he lost the shirt,

said he didn’t care.

 

I rummaged

under the bed,

 

sifted through

wadded-up parcels

of dirty underwear,

 

dumped the laundry

hamper on the floor,

but my search

came up empty.

 

“I never liked

that shirt anyway,”

he told me.

 

His sallow face

looked smug

and unconcerned.

 

I pretended

not to care either.

 

It was only

the beginning

of trouble.

David Estringel is Alien Buddha Press’ Featured Artist for November 2019

ABP- Thank you for agreeing to take this feature, David. Seven Months ago, Alien Buddha Press had the privilege of publishing your book Indelible Fingerprints. What can you tell us about that book? What went into writing it, and how do you feel about it today?

 

DE- Yes, I am incredibly grateful that Indelible Fingerprints found a home with Alien Buddha Press. I couldn’t have chosen a better publisher for my freshman venture. The entire content of the book is reflective of moments, situations that have left their mark on me—good and bad—so you can imagine how personal the collection is to me. The 40 poems and 3 short stories in the book were all composed in a relatively short time, but there is a lifetime of inspiration that fueled the work.

I work and hell of a whole lot so finding time to write has been a challenge, but enrolling in an MFA in Creative Writing program and, strangely, a brief period of under-employment offered me many opportunities to put pen to paper and come up with the collection.

How do I feel about Indelible Fingerprints today? I still love it. I don’t think that will change anytime soon. I do think that my poetry has evolved some and I like the direction it is headed, but my original poems are parts of me so I can’t help but feel emotionally connected to them, regardless. Maybe one day I will look back at them, sentimentally. But, for now, they are still tethered to me—heart, mind, and soul. Plus, many of them are still actively in reprint so they aren’t done yet.

 

ABP- We were also happy to include you in our music themed anthology Psalms of the Alien Buddha this year. Tell us about your contribution in that particular anthology

 

DE- Thank YOU for including me. The two pieces in the anthology, “Nothing Lasts” and “Grounding”, represent older and newer examples of my work. “Nothing Lasts”, which was one of the first poems I wrote in my MFA program, is one of my more somber pieces that speaks to the loneliness—randomness—of ‘being’ that I think all of us feel at one point or another. In a way, this is contrasted by a cosmic rhythm, order that somehow adds a sense of divine cruelty to the mix. (I was either really pessimistic that day or running low on caffeine) “Grounding” is one of my newer pieces from a series of haiku I had been working on this past summer. It is really a love poem to a friend of mine who keeps me in check when my mind gets away from me. She brings me down to earth when I fly too high or dance my way towards the entrance of the bell jar. Even when her words are blunt or harsh, they fall sweetly upon my ears. She helps me see. Friends like that are the most valuable things we can have. I love her…almost as much as my pups.

 

ABP- Tell us about “The Tripping Muse”

 

DE- The Tripping Muse is the lit magazine I plan on starting, hopefully this Fall for release January 2020. Starting a lit mag has been a dream of mine for some time now and I am finally moving towards making it a reality. So far, starting it has been a matter of the stars aligning a certain way and my just having the time for working on it. Conditions seem to be agreeable at the moment, so I plan on striking while the iron is hot.

The plan is to feature poetry and short fiction at first and then include essays, interviews, and book reviews later on. Ultimately, I want to showcase great writing (i.e. stuff people want, love to read) without prescribing to an explicit aesthetic. I think so much amazing work goes unnoticed because it isn’t “the right fit.” Writing should define the magazine, not the other way around.

Aside from hopefully starting a small press one day, as well, I have some other ideas rattling around in my brain, but I will keep those under wraps for now.

 

ABP- As a writer of both poetry and fiction, do you have a medium that you enjoy producing more than the other?

 

DE- That is a really good question. My original passion—back in the day—was writing short stories and I always figured I would do that, solely, but then poetry entered my life. I tend to think in verse, so it came more naturally, still does. I look at writing short stories, now, as a craft that I have to work at. Unfortunately, my process for writing short stories involves a lot of time (for me to obsess), which is a commodity in short supply right now. Hopefully, I will be able to return to this sort of writing this year with the same gusto I did in 2018. I have a few in my head right now that have already been written and rewritten many times. I think 2020 will be very fruitful.

 

ABP- From your website, I can see that you have appeared at many live readings in Texas this year. Would you like to tell us about some of those events? Do you plan on going to more readings in 2020?

 

DE- Normally, I am terrified of performing in public. After Indelible Fingerprints was published, though, I decided I needed to work through that phobia if I was going help promote the book. I probably shouldn’t have gone all “balls to the wall” and made my first event a poetry slam (Rio Grande Valley International Poetry Festival) but there you have it. I totally tanked it and quickly learned that I am not a “spoken word” type of guy. The events that followed were less intimidating and hosted in a variety of local haunts, like groovy coffeehouses, libraries, a local radio show, and an online chat room for TL;DR Press for the release of their Shades of Pride Anthology.

I think–for now–I am going to put public reading aside and focus more on participating on panels and such. I find I am more comfortable talking about my writing than actually reading it, which is weird since so much of it lately seems to be of the performance ilk. I am also toying with the idea of starting a podcast as a kick-off to The Tripping Muse. Ain’t life funny?

 

ABP-  Who are some of your biggest influences?

 

DE- Another good question, as I have to speak to this in my thesis’ critical introduction. I would have to say that in terms of literature, I am most influenced by Homer and Raymond Carver. Homer (or the poets known as Homer) really knew how to tell a story. I first fell in love with “him” after I read The Homeric Hymns in college. Then, of course, I was blown away by The Iliad and The Odyssey. If one looks close enough, they can find the Classical influence in my work.

Raymond Carver is God! Enough said.

 

ABP- Do you have a follow-up to Indelible Fingerprints in the works; will you be releasing another solo project in 2020?

 

DE- I sure do. Currently, I, along with Luca Bowles from the UK, are putting together an illustrated collection of haiku called little punctures. I reached out to him this summer with the idea for the project and he was all over it. We indirectly collaborated on a piece for Foxhole Magazine, where he created an illustration for my prose poem “When I Think of Him I Think of Black Coffee and Toast with Red Plum Jam”. He captured my father, who the poem is about, with freakish accuracy, so I knew he was the guy for the project. As of now, we have about half the poems illustrated. Hopefully, we will have it ready for publication by December 2019 for Alien Buddha Press.

While that has been in the works, Really Serious Literature published my chapbook “punctures” as part of their @rlysrslit Disappearing Chapbook Series (Issue #104). It is currently on Instagram and will disappear into thin air the first week of November. I have some other chapbooks in review right now at The Bitchin’ Kitsch and Fjords Review. Keeping my fingers crossed.

 

ABP- Thanks again for taking this interview, David. The floor is all yours. If you have any announcements to make, shoutouts, or if you would like to share any writing with our wordpress readers, please do.

 

DE- Ideally, The Tripping Muse will be up and running January 2020, so that will be a huge deal for me next year. I aim to have my third book done and published by the end of 2020. I am working on producing more content, largely fueled by my regular feature pieces at Cajun Mutt Press and other publications. I have also started contributing to Writing Workshops Dallas Blog, writing pieces on publishing and other aspects of professional writing this year and plan on continuing to do so on a monthly basis (as time permits). I will continue my regular gigs at The Elixir Magazine (Poetry Co-Editor & Artist in Residence), Fishbowl Press (Poetry Editor), Red Fez (Fiction Editor), and Cajun Mutt Press (Artist in Residence) indefinitely. I love this work: it keeps me sane. Most importantly, I should get my MFA in Creative Writing May 2020. It has been a long time coming. Totally psyched about that. Other that all that, I will just keep churning out my “little darlings”.

 

estringel

The Austonian Spurious Conversations with Daniel Johnston

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“Do yourself a favor, become your own savior.”

  • the man himself

 

 

 

 

A Foreword by

PoetKen Jones

 

I first met Daniel Johnston in the early 1980s. My friends and I used to shop for used vinyl at a record store on the Drag named Sound Exchange. We started noticing this weird guy in a McDonald’s uniform following people around the store, asking if he could give them his tape. He finally annoyed my college girlfriend so much she came over to me one afternoon and said “Please get rid of this guy. He won’t leave me alone.”

Politely I walked over to him and said, “Dude, I’ll take one of your tapes but you have to quit harassing my girlfriend.” He excitedly handed one over to me. It was an original signed “Hi, How Are You!” with the alien frog drawing.

A couple years later, I started reading poetry at a club near UT campus called the Beach Cabaret. I fell into friendships with many of the regulars there, including two bartenders who became the guitarists in my first band Peace Corpse. Daniel used to gig there frequently, standing all alone on stage with just his guitar. It took a lot of guts, as back then, not many of the “hipster” punks liked him or his music. He took a lot of abuse but he persevered and played many times, eventually appearing on the famous MTV episode in 1985 tapes at the Beach Cabaret. And he also appeared on the album of the mid-80s punk festival Woodshock, with a good track called “The Marching Guitars”.

People began to take him and and music more seriously. There was a local promoter Jerry “Dog” Schadle who used to curate these multimedia gigs called “Flying Horse Symposiums”.  He would have some of the major bands of the scene back then such as Scratch Acid and Poison 13 play, as well as let me and others open for the bands reading poetry, often with exotic instrumental backing like bongos, violin, and harmonica. I still have some flyers and cassette tapes from those events, with Daniel and I listed on the bill together.

Dog also published a ‘zine titled Flying Horse where he would publish me, Daniel, Biscuit of the Big Boys, with other poets, visual art, and have interviews and articles with bands. Daniel would sometimes sit with me and Jerry at a table outside while we drank beer. I remember Daniel being a gentle soul with a quiet demeanor, and I never understood why people would be so mean to him.

Many years later in the early 2000s, after all the hoopla with Kurt Cobain wearing Daniel’s T-shirt (I sometimes wonder if Kurt came to Woodshock 86. I have a memory of sitting in the van of a Seattle band called the U-Men, smoking a joint after our set, with a quiet kid in the corner with a shock of blond hair-who knows?), my guitarist Mitch and I were living in Houston and we decided to see Daniel backed by a local band at a club named FitzGerald’s. After his set, Daniel was lurking around the back bar. I said, “We should go say hi.” Mitch said, “I doubt he remembers us”. We walked over and introduced ourselves as regulars at the Beach back in the 80s. He kind of cocked his head, looked at me for a second and said “You’re the poet. I remember you.”. “ That’s right” I laughed. “Daniel. I’m still a poet.” I guess we were all lifers in one way or another.

Hearing about Daniel’s death brought back a flood of memories. The fact he died at the same age as my Father (58), who was going through his last days in that era, only made the news more poignant to me. It also made me more determined than ever to release a book of my own 1980s song lyrics with flyers, press clippings and other memorabilia. Dustin Pickering of Transcendent Zero Press has agreed to publish it and we’re going to include some of those live tapes from back in the day as well. So Daniel lives on in his music, visual art, and his ability to inspire others to continue the legacy of our wild youth in the Austin alternative scene of the 1980s. R.I.P. Daniel Johnston. May your troubled soul find the solace we all deserve.

 

 

 

Red Focks

 

When I was young

I worked at a mcDonalds

I got a little older

& a doctor diagnosed me

with a schizoaffective disorder

& I got a little older &

I started drawing funny pictures on the wall

& I got a little older &

I believe in god

& I believe in the devil &

the devil knows my name.

 

 

 

 

John Drudge

Dan

 

In the thunderous bloom

Of attachment

And the whisk

Of mounting sensation

Where the only

Way out is through

The voices

The noises

And the things

That go crash

Captain America

And spider brains

The rush of discordance

Against the allure of dysfunction

Notes in the night sky

Bending into emptiness

And it’s all just love

Jeremiah’s dark blues

Downloading a dream

Behind the ganglia

Brain pains

On the planet of the dogs

A diaspora of the past

Institutions and dark places

As he breathes toward the light

Pages on fire

 

 

 

 

Marcel Herms

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“I’m a Sorry Entertainer”

 

 

 

 

Mark Hartenbach

in search of daniel johnston   

 

disturbing the difference with panther claws which

mark my words, mike my words. words developed

from black marks, ready-get set-go. shaving salt

block for dull-witted zombies. a call in the middle

of liver & onions saying keith richard’s internal

organs are in transplant poll & aren’t you lucky

because it’s your turn. my marching hairline will

stop retreating & charge forward to ‘street fighting

man’ while shriveled black fruit can pass for a b-3.

brass pipes are running under the choir & up the other

side or cheap chord organ. as i’m going under i hear
something about nocturnal discharge at half price

before the sun goes down. will it still be there when

i come to? dreams generating gravity from jury-

rigged clandestine repairs. ghostly presence is the star

of this show. smoking bone heat wilting in the heat

of tedious recreation. inventing sleep by drilling

boredom & traveling partner’s caress. aggravated

breasts are mulched into concaved multiple disorders.

poison kiss trying to lynch limbs on the sly. enflamed

blind eyes are jostling for a proposition. memorize

the title of this show. it will be one performance only.

flesh pajamas with seahorse sequel designs are

sweetening the pipes.

 

in memory of daniel johnston

 

encyclopedic knowledge of irrational thinking is

unbuttoning yet another dream slowly, seductively,

in what might pass for harmonious seclusion. collective

whopping was allegedly rooting out the problems

& was pulverized. jaded virgin claims to have the

key to unlocking authentic visions. however, body
of evidence suggests otherwise, & screams that

sprawling mounds aren’t for sale. rousing the

dialect with rattling floorboards, attics filled with

bad memories, & shavings from the final death poem

of dancing child. a string quartet for plodding plotlines

competes with columns of this year’s assets. boom of

confidence is frightening off all wildlife except for

buzzing metal birds which could be a spitting image

of tinnitus trying to silence fables like barge of fools

with nosferatu-looking shadows walking the deck
after the moon awakens. tarnishing repentance while

polishing the two-toned satellite which no one

believes in besides myself, yet judge my actions

with every flaming clause. whispering pines are

usually right on the money. but these are desperate
times. plowing ad infinitum for everlasting, not

eclipsed by evil eye. sheer quantity doesn’t feel like

a good bet. painful evidence, though once the so-called

scourge of light, is now viewed with a headless torso

which won’t argue my point.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dustin Pickering

In the Basement [daniel johnston d. 2019]

 

unplucked boy of sagacious

spirit source

yr eyes wound with coils

wired to music it lit yr veins

with satisfaction

 

remember the haunted path

where faces bled music

in their ironic stare

 

you are now crossing the threshold

of heaven

seeing golden rocks

across the sea

 

yr mind a monarch

yr heart so much mischief

 

through the square apertures of time

lifts the translucent king

–  graceful as slow motion

–  strong as hypnosis

 

we pause before in the hereafter

strings plucked to raise our tombs

adam’s apple fallen from the neck

g-d lifted through the square apertures of time

 

a harmony lifted

dark descending chords

exprest the sympathies

of a faithless man

 

yr tomb empty as a shriek of a ghost

what love did make you boast

as sick softens the silence shifting

gone gone gone

are yr eyes

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“The Day My Soul Wept His Eyes”

 

 

 

 

 

Mark Borczon

Daniel Johnston

 

Danial Johnston

Was born the ghost

Of a lonely teenager

He died that way

 

It was from him

I learned how to

Ache like that

 

And I taught my daughters

To each ache like that

We share this together

And we know it

 

Like we share crooked teeth

We are real human beings

In a world full of

Body parts

 

We are the few

Real human beings

Who love and feel pain

 

Who sing in public and

Weep behind our outstretched hands

Who dance in supermarkets and

Kiss each other to sleep

 

Thank you

Daniel Johnston

Thank you

 

 

 

 

James Dennis Casey IV

 

The Artist Walks Alone Into the Ether

 

right this way to the museum of love

curated by the devil himself

artistic tragedy on display

recorded by a madman genius

hallucinogenic alien mixtape

 

singing to himself

lullabies of white noise dreams

behind a Red 100 held

between nicotine-stained fingers

 

when god is happy

and the sun is out

don’t forget to say your prayers

put the words on paper

and play the broken notes

 

in the end

if you go back

there’s nothing there

not anymore

 

choose to live

not to die

but Daniel always

chose the darker side and

some things last a long time

 

love comes and love goes

special thanks

to childlike minds

I’ll see you on the other side

 

 

CL Bledsoe

 

Worried Shoes

 

So many cars in the way as

I tried to get home before

the storm hit. I saw one of

the guys downstairs out on

his deck, watching the splatter

begin. He wanted to watch

other people get wet

and remember how it feels.

I could smell water on

the air as I rushed past,

the electric tang on the back

of the tongue. Inside, it’s time

to collapse. The thing about

people is they’re magnets.

No matter how you try to lean,

they’ll pull you in. All of it

is work. The clouds are tired

of bearing all the weight

they’ve been given by the world.

The guy downstairs knows

something I don’t. When they

let it go, we’ll all be healed.

Just a bit. That’s enough for today.

 

 

 

 

Heidi Blakeslee

Two-Headed Monster (for Daniel Johnston)

 

one head was jesus cavaliering through the streets of New York

banking up energy for the next rollercoaster down

 

every single moment of ugly

balanced with an equal measure of splendor

 

you were the real deal,

 

holed up

in a basement studio in your parents’ house in texas

 

you gave yourself over to the music

nonsensical genius poetry titles flowed from you, the other head

like consistent fire, in harmony

 

there was always more to create, more to burn

if you could’ve just gotten that one good thing down

 

then true love might’ve found you

in the end

 

 

 

Kurt Newton

 

TRUE LOVE WILL FIND YOU IN THE END

 

Days went by. Or were they years? Or just moments stretched to infinity?

Once again, Janus let his eyes roam, travelling from floor to wall to ceiling: seamless, circular, the room was one continuous crystalline white circumference in all directions. There were no windows, no doors. There was only the responder, which sat at the center of the room¾a small translucent device as alien and yet comforting as their surroundings¾through which they could “see”.

Mira sat on the floor across from Janus with a handful of crystals she had plucked from the wall scattered before her. “It’s no use is it?” she said, focusing on Janus’s upturned chin.

Janus looked down and closed his eyes. He fought back a moment of vertigo. It always made him dizzy if he examined the walls for too long. “I just don’t understand,” he said finally.

“Maybe it’s not for us to understand.”

“Then why else would we be here?” It was a question they always seemed to come back to, a circular argument like the room itself.

They had both awakened to find themselves in the room. They didn’t know why or for how long; they were just there, alone, abandoned it seemed, in this place that had no name. They had brought with them only their namesakes and fragments of their forgotten personalities. The only other thing they shared, besides their common fate, was a remembrance of some past event or experience neither could relate in specific terms; only that it was real, as real as they were at any given moment.

“Maybe there isn’t a way back.”

“But there has to be.”

Janus had tried many theories, the latest being that they had each somehow been separated from reality and one of the crystals contained the road back, if only they could find it. But, glancing around the room, at the thousands¾if not millions¾of crystals embedded in the walls, that hope now seemed nothing more than a distant glimmer.

Janus snapped out of his temporary fugue. “Try that one there,” he said, pointing to the collection of crystals at Mira’s feet.

“Which one?”

“That one there… the one with the flaw.”

Mira studied each one. “What flaw?”

She looked up and saw that Janus was smiling. Each crystal was as beautiful and perfect as the next.

“They’re all flawed,” Janus said. “Their perfection is their flaw. Any one, I don’t care.”

Mira still looked closely at each one of the crystals before choosing. “Then I choose this one,” she said.

“Why that one?”

“Because it is the most perfect, and therefore the most flawed,” she said, a note of triumph in her voice.

She held the thumbnail-sized jewel and rolled it between her two fingers; reflections sparkled off of its multi-faceted surface. She then got to her knees and lifted the domed lid of the responder and placed the crystal on the stem post inside. “Ready?” she said.

“Ready.”

Mira lowered the lid and they both placed their hands on the smooth surface of the responder. Arcs of light began to radiate from the center spindle and dance on the inner surface of the dome lid. The arcs gathered, coalescing beneath each of their palms.

The images began.

It was suddenly winter. Mira had become Stephanie; Janus: John. Beneath a heavy, white cloud cover they walked along a harbor surrounded by a park-like setting. There were bare trees with wire cages around their trunks, hardwood benches, a concrete walkway, a city skyline¾a mountain of glass and steel cut to precision¾across the harbor. Stephanie had her arm wrapped around John’s waist; John had his around her shoulder. They walked as one against the cold, their breath a white exhalation as they talked.

“Will it ever be the same?” Stephanie asked, her voice imbued with a distant consideration.

“Will what be the same?” John said in return.

“Oh, I don’t know¾you, me¾this beautiful, ugly day. Will it be here tomorrow? Will we be here tomorrow?”

John thought for a moment, the crisp, still air closing back in around them. In the far distance a ferry boat sounded.

As if that was answer enough, John tightened his grip on Stephanie’s shoulder and she leaned her head against his chest, and together they cut a path through the cold winter day ahead…

Mira sat, her eyes still closed, as the images faded. She felt the last of the warmth fade from inside Stephanie’s heart. It was usually like that: brief scenes¾snapshots of a life¾two people in love or in danger of losing love, but together, always together.

A sudden chill ran through her. What if all we’re looking at are memories of past lives? she thought. She remembered one particular image produced by another crystal they had played earlier: the image of a young couple just moments before their world ended, irradiated in a flash of blinding white neon.

“I’m tired,” Janus said.

Mira wrapped her arms around her knees and stared at the empty dome. Janus saw that she was shivering (although the temperature in the room was constant) and inched over beside her to give her some comfort.

“Maybe I’ll have better luck,” he said and reached for the crystals.

“No, I’m tired, too. Let’s leave it for a while, okay?”

“Okay.” Mira looked at him then.

“Janus?”

“What?”

She saw crystals reflected in his eyes, and in that moment she saw herself reflected in every one of them.

“Nothing,” she said. She offered a brief smile.

Janus smiled back. “I know. Me, too.”

He then wrapped his arm around Mira’s shoulder and she leaned her head against his chest, and together they made a place in a world where there once was nothing.

 

THE END