“And she did. I’ve known Eleanor St. Clair since the early days. We live in a community called Legend City, a place littered with artists of all kinds, from musicians to painters to poets to philosophers and the like, an incestuous stream of thinkers and lovers who all covet to saunter beyond the fringe of the woods, to be the creative legends of their people.”
I’ve long been entranced by the idea of a collective. So many of my artistic idols/inspirers were part of such groups: The Beats, The French Symbolists, The British Romantic poets, The San Francisco Thrash Metal Scene!
There is something gorgeous about entwining your artistic sensibilities with others, about being in a spot to encourage, & support, & inspire one another. And to also be pushed to create such fire so you can keep up with the brilliance around you.
I adore everyone in this collective. The above quote, about Legend City, is taken from my novel-in-progress. It embodies the idea of bursting forth from obscurity. Together, we aim to be seen. Because art is meant to be devoured.
As a writer/thinker, I’m an existentialist. Those who’ve most inspired and shaped me are: Edgar Poe, Herman Hesse, Franz Kafka, Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, John Barth, Cormac McCarthy, Roger Waters, & Neil Peart.
I’ve been writing the great american novel since 1997.
My first completed draft was written in a fury of creativity during the summer of that year, and I named it The Pendulum Swings a Strange Loop. I was recently broken up with a girl I asked to marry me. I was heartsick, really. So I put it all onto the page. I’d write a chapter and interlude per night, usually between 11pm and 7am, while chain-smoking and drunk on whiskey. The work was unusual: non-linear, it shifted in time from present to past to present to past, it was vivid & surreal. And bleak.
But, it just didn’t work. So I murdered it. And I stopped writing to focus on music.
My next novel attempt was in 2005. I sold my beautiful Gretsch bass and thought I could write again. This ended up being a collection of short stories that told a larger story. But they were more vignettes that didn’t necessarily tell that larger story quite yet. So I shelved that for the time being, frustrated.
I moved to a new state and decided to focus on music, again.
In 2015, I began to retell the story of my original novel idea, Pendulum. But I wasn’t into the main concept any longer. So I took pieces from it along with this new idea I had, which was a story about a girl named Ursula Nine. She was a rock star, and she had either been murdered or she jumped out of a hotel window on her own. That would be chapter one. The rest of the story was going to be in the past, unfolding the mystery of what happened to Ursula, sort of like a celebrity-mystery-biography of a person you’ve never heard of.
As I wrote, I realized the story wasn’t going to fill a novel. So I did what any panicked writer would do: I dusted off my “second” novel attempt, and I merged it with the new idea. Ursula would be part one of the novel, and the vignettes from 2005 would make up part two of the novel. I had to make alterations, but that enabled me to connect the two stories together, and that made all the difference!
I also concluded a part three would be necessary, as a sort of epilogue.
And there you have it. My novel is outlined and currently nearing completion. It’s called Collapse the Light into Earth, which is taken from a song title by Porcupine Tree. I set a goal to have it finished by Nov. 1, 2019. After that time, I will pursue agents with the design of being a fringe-famous writer that might have enough followers for a blue checkmark!
I want to give a mention regarding my editor, Holly Pelesky. She’s in this collective and pretty much makes every correct choice a story needs. I am forever grateful for her help.
I’ve also been very enamored with flash fiction, because it’s moving and powerful in such a concise space. And, most of my novel’s “chapters” act like flash pieces to a strong degree. Because of that, I’ve been testing them in the lit-wild, and have published novel excerpts as independent flash fiction. Click the link below to read:
May 10, 1981 (excerpt from Part 2)
— Burning House Press
In November of 2018, I started to become aware of the indie-poet-lit community on Twitter. And as a genius way of procrastinating the writing of my novel — I’m terribly distracted in my life, which is why the novel is taking 20 years to finish — I started to submit poems for online publication.
Most are very old poems I reworked. Below are links to them.
— Neon Mariposa Magazine (special “Haunting” issue)
— Failure Bailer (Issue 1 — print)
modern pip, fragmented
— Dark Marrow
faraway stars eat time
— Black Bough Poetry Issue 2 (on Broadside 43 after “Epilogue – ‘remnant fragments’)
saint de los milagros
— Marias at Sampaguitas
The Desert that was my Home
— Black Bough Poetry Issue 1 (on Broadside 1 “heart-prints“)
panikos the sailor
— Anti-Heroin Chic
— Boston Accent Lit (contest winner)
I wondered about love for a moment
— Rhythm & Bones
— Dostoyevsky Wannabe: Cities: Boston (print)
In March 2020, my first chapbook will be released. It’s called SCREAM into my MOUTH as a WATERFALL, and it’s a collection of both published and unpublished poems plus three flash pieces. It will also include visual art from Mathew Yates and Stuart Buck. The work focuses on personas lingering in the darker universes of existence. It will be released through Rhythm and Bones Press, and I am over the moon excited to share it with you.
I started playing the guitar and bass when I was a senior in High School. My friend Simon wanted to play “Wherever I May Roam” for the talent show, and he needed a bassist. I was more than happy to give it a go. Metallica was my life in 1992. So we played the talent show, made students faint from our sheer electricity, and we practiced every day after until the end of the school year.
Over the years, I’ve been in a few different bands. I talk about one in my novel. We were called Happenstance. We were active during the time when you’d hear plenty of Matchbox 20, Counting Crows, and Train on the airwaves. And our singer loved them all. I did not. I use Eleanor to describe them to Ursula Nine:
“Eleanor interrupted with incredible pride: Yes! Sweet Jack here just quit playing in a band called Happenstance. They sounded like the love-child of Train and Matchbox 20 that should’ve been aborted before the first tri-moment. Like, God – they were awful. And the world is actually a much worse place because they existed.”
In truth, we were good for what we were. But it wasn’t the kind of music I wanted to play. And I still have a few unopened cds of our four song EP “Sketches & Chords” in my basement, for the very adventurous.
The year leading to my fortieth birthday, I decided I wanted to record an album of my own music, of these pieces of songs I’d cobbled together over the many years. Most were actually written in the mid-late 90s when I was at the University of Arizona, and in a duo called Revolver with a literal songwriting genius named Matt Lewon.
I’d written new riffs as well, and I went into the studio to record my mid-life crisis. And my god what a revelation that was! My own album, my own songs, my own concept. Even my own voice on one of the tracks — at the time, I was living in Connecticut and very active in the local indie music scene via a blog called Lonesome Noise. I had the good fortune of befriending lovely people, some of whom lent their talents to the album, particularly the vocals. Because I sound like how you’d imagine an awful singer to sound.
My design was to write a small concept album that would sound like Kyuss meets old Pink Floyd circa A Saucerful of Secrets. I’d label stoner/psych rock, and I love the quirky sonofabitch. I named the project Cult of Ulysses, and the album is Anesidora.
You can listen/purchase it here. On Halloween, it turns five.
For my essay on the Queens of the Stone Age song “I Appear Missing,” check out Philosophical Idiot.
Works from the Collective
I created this collective, in part, out of my intense selfishness to be close to the artists I adore. Below are links to works of theirs that need to be experienced.
Now That I’m Being Honest
— Holly Pelesky
— Tianna G. Hansen
— Marisa Silva-Dunbar
— Kari A. Flickinger
— Stuart Buck
Crossing the Line
— Carla Sofia Ferreira
— Nadia Gerassimenko
BURNING FRONT PORCH APPALACHIA
— Kiley Lee
Email to My Boyfriend When Rent Is Due
— Micaela Walley
Whenever someone wants to talk to me about anything, generally, I am there for it!
Wombwell Rainbow Interview Series: with Paul Brookes