Monthly Archives: May 2013

I’m going to be on The Secret Lives of Stuffed Animals radio show June 11 at 8 PM EST

For the first time in my life, someone will be interviewing me. On June 11 at , I’ll be a guest on The Secret Lives of Stuffed Animals, talking with Stumpy and Mister Bear. We’ll be talking about Bop Dead City,and I’m told there may be MadLibs, so check it out Tuesday, June 11 at 8 PM at http://www.bostonfreeradio.com/the-secret-lives-of-stuffed-animals.

As a side note, I’m so nervous about this. For one, I’m afraid of making a complete ass of myself (more than usual, I mean).

But on the other hand, it fulfills a goal of mine in a sense. When I was a kid in New Hampshire, I had big dreams of being a rock star in Boston, and so I consumed everything I could about the Boston music scene: CDs, message boards, etc. Copies of The Noise and The Phoenix  procured from the Newbury Comics in Manchester and from the frequent trips to Boston were poured over, the names in them growing to mythical proportions in my head: Jess Klein (who broke my fragile,stupid teenage heart when I found out she was a lesbian), Freezepop, Melissa Ferrick, Noelle, Waltham, Scissorfight, and so on. I watched/listened to many of these bands, in lieu of actually going into these clubs at fourteen or fifteen, by tuning into the late RadioBoston.com, which not only had a radio feed but also live footage of shows at clubs like The Middle East and Club Passim, and I liked to imagine myself on those stages, my band in those concert listings, and our CD in the reviews section. I guess BostonFreeRadio.com is a spiritual successor to that site. So…kind of fulfilling a childhood dream by appearing on The Secret Lives of Stuffed Animals? Pressure. 

Point being, either listen to me live out my dream or listen to me crash and burn in a blaze of awkwardness. You can’t lose, people.

 


Interview with Georgia Bellas

Georgia is a baller. In addition to writing the poem “you taste like smoke and scotch” and contributing the artwork for Issue 3, she also did a ton to get the word out about Bop Dead City. So yay for her, and yay for us. Keep the submissions coming, people, so you can be cool like Georgia. I’m told that her cover art “I Scream” is actually a self-portrait, but she sent this picture along as well:
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Describe your work in 25 words or less.

My work explores the liminal world: where what is obvious is mysterious, where things are both whimsical and creepy, and where fantasy meets reality. 

Tell me about your poem “you taste like smoke and scotch.”
It’s about how we can know people in all these specific, personal, concrete ways, possess intimate details, and yet not really know each other at all.
 
Who or what inspires you to write?
Unrequited love. Loss. Memories. My childhood self. Specific people sometimes. 
 
What authors have influenced you as a writer?
I don’t know if they have directly influenced me but some authors I love: Roald Dahl, Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, Ray Bradbury, Flannery O’Connor, Frank O’Connor, Eudora Welty, Madeleine L’Engle, William Trevor. My apologies to all the other amazing writers I left off the list whose names will come to me in the middle of the night crying, “Why didn’t you include me?”
 
Which passion came first—writing or photography?

Writing — in third grade I had a teacher who made us write stories every night for homework and I decided I wanted to be a writer when I grew up, ha! But then I took photography in college and loved it and moved on from there to mixed media and other art, and that passion sort of took over, at least in a public sense of what I shared and put out in the world. I used to exhibit pretty regularly whereas I kept my poetry very private. I’ve only recently started not just writing more but actually trying to get it out in the world via places like Bop Dead City 🙂 But I’ve always loved reading, language, words, dictionaries and a lot of my artwork involves text, so the passions are intertwined I’d say. I love the visual and the verbal, especially when they are together in a tactile object: As a child I loved to write and draw and make books out of my stories, and as an adult I’ve taken book-making and letterpress classes. I’m passionate about both words and images.

 
You live in the Boston area. What was it like being there for the whole Boston Marathon bombing thing?
It was terribly sad and scary. But one of the worst things about it was the media coverage and focus on ethnicity and religion, and the anti-Muslim and racist reactions that still occur. One of the good things to come out of it though is the renewed sense of community and the reminder of the goodness of people, and people’s willingness to help others. I feel for all the victims and injured and suffering — not just in the marathon attack but around the world. My wish is for people to be filled with compassion and forgiveness and hope instead of revenge and hatred and violence. I’d like to think that good still trumps evil.
 
Do you have a blog/website?

Not really. I have a website, georgiabellas.com, but it’s embarrassingly undeveloped.

 
What are you reading at the moment?
Love: An Index by Rebecca Lindenberg and Chris Mattingly’s Scuffletown, which are both really beautiful books of poems Just started Kirstin Scott’s novel Motherlunge, which was recommended (and given) to me. Lots of literary magazines and blogs, print and online, including, in no particular order, Gigantic SequinsWhiskey PaperTreehouse (which I especially love because it sends me new places to read awesome stuff), The Cupboard’s tweets, The LumberyardPaper Darts… I have serious crushes onThe Cupboard and Typecast Publishing.
 
What are you working on right now?
Sending out more poems and artwork and dealing with rejection. Learning how to use Twitter. Planning a sequel to Mr. Bear Gets Drunk. Blowing the lid off the Internet world through The Secret Lives of Stuffed Animals.
 
Any advice for other writers?
I feel completely unqualified to give anyone advice but I’ll say just keep writing and don’t let the bastards get you down.
 

Anything else you’d like to say?

You should be a guest on The Secret Lives of Stuffed Animals. By you, I mean Bop Dead City but also anyone else reading this who wants to be interviewed by a stuffed bear and midget marsupial tiger with the pocket in the back.


Interview with Jim Eigo

This interview is with Jim Eigo, who contributed “Bar Nextdoor” to Issue 3. As the issue was shaping up, I realized that all the work I had accepted was written by women. I had this whole thing in my head about making this “THE WOMEN’S ISSUE” and making a big deal about it because I don’t know, I’m a putz. In fact, I sat on this story about twice as long as I usually do (so probably three days?) just because I had become wedded to this all-female thing. The story was too good to let go, however. It is, I think, a very feminist piece at least, which you’d know if you had read the issue, which you should do if you haven’t. Anyway, here’s Jim.

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Describe your work in 25 words or less.

I’m writing small, quirky tales that look at human behavior as an alien anthropologist might—sometimes capturing that behavior with outsider’s insight, sometimes misreading it. 

 

Tell me about your story “Bar Nextdoor.”

Talk about outsider!  I am a gay guy and often look at the love affairs and relationships of my straight friends and acquaintances with utter bafflement.  Yes, we are all human and therefore share certain desires and emotions.  But the codes are so different when the parties involved do not share the basic anatomy.  In “Bar Nextdoor” I am the alien anthropologist. The story is kind an allegory for a type of straight relationship I think I see replicated over and over.  I am sure I am missing lots of what is going on.  But I hope my outside eye is capturing something that is not so easily seen from the inside. 

 

Who or what inspires you to write?

A visual image, the sound and rhythm of a phrase, the tone of a character’s voice, a physical setting, a plot situation, the odd relationship of the narrator to any of those.  Sometimes one of these inspirational “bits” will come to me with one (or more) of the others attached.  Usually I have to explore the original inspirational bit to discover its potential in the other aspects of storytelling. I have been exploring the flash form for the past few years, stories of a few hundred words.  Before a work is through, I like it to contain a memorable example of all the story bits that I mention in the first sentence of this answer, and I like for the whole to be quirkier, less expected than the sum of its already quirky parts. 

 

What authors have influenced you as a writer?

I devoured Samuel Beckett, Jean Genet and the French absurdists throughout the second half of high school.  Jonathan Swift’s tales and essays have been important to me.  The care that early modernist novelists Henry James, Virginia Woolf and James Joyce took with the “how” of what they were saying has provided a model.  I’m old enough to have been bowled over by the short-form early work of the post-modern fabulists (Robert Coover, William Gass, Donald Barthelme) when it first appeared.  My background is in theater so the lushness and the rush of Shakespeare’s language are forever imprinted on my inner ear—something I love in the poet John Keats as well.  Some W.B. Yeats poems still make me swoon.  I love oddball American modernist poets W.C. Williams and Wallace Stevens, and after them, the New York School of Frank O’Hara and John Ashbery.  Coming across the writing of utterly queer (in every sense of the word) San Francisco poet of no known school, Jack Spicer, in my mid-20s was a revelation that continues to this day.  For many years I’ve lived a stone’s throw away from the St. Mark’s Poetry Project in the East Village, so I’ve followed the development of a lot of latter-dayNew York School poets I like.  The way some Language Poets have used language refreshes my own use of language in a very different form, prose fiction.     

 

Do you have a blog/website?

I do not.  But examples of my writing are scattered across the web.  Some of that writing deals with AIDS and AIDS drugs, and some of my speeches in that realm are available on YouTube.  Several pieces of my flash fiction are out there as well. You can read recent flash work of mine at cleavermagazine.com

 

What are you reading at the moment?

I am almost finished Junot Diaz’s first book of stories, Drown.  For the past several weeks I have been reading a few pieces a night from the poet Clark Coolidge’s long prose work, Book Beginning What and Ending Away.  I am re-reading poet Dana Ward’s Crisis of Infinite Worlds; the voice is non-stop ravishing, and every few seconds a piece of piercing human insight bobs to the surface and dazzles so much that it hurts.  (And if you have an opportunity to catch him reading in the flesh, don’t miss it.) 

 

What are you working on right now?

I have to give a presentation next week at Baruch College on the particular psychological blows sustained by gay men who survived the early plague years of AIDS; I am working on that.  I am polishing several of the flash works that I mentioned for a chapbook-sized collection, The Clay Tablets.  I am working on the second chapter of the third draft of a novel,Surprising Life.  In a scattered way, over the past few years, I have taken several classes in typesetting and bookart.  Some of the artwork I’ve done as a result was published last year in a limited edition book from Intima Press.  I would love to get to a point where I am making little books of my work, in equal parts writing and art object.

 

Any advice for other writers?

So much of the advice that writers get these days reduces writing to a formula, little deeper than copy for infomercials.  I have a hunch that writers who are reading Bop Dead City see what a soul-deadening “career choice” such writing is for a writer. Most writers for hire earn little better than the nothing you get when you write what you want, and the work is so much less satisfactory.  I hope every writer finds the special thing that only he or she can get into words, and works to get it right, and sends it out into the world so the rest of us can experience this unique little world as well.  (If you can write that unique thing plus write copy that helps pay the cellphone bill, more power to you.) 

 

Anything else you’d like to say?

There’s a big, interesting, needy world out there.  I’ve found that letting that world leak into my writing has often nourished and even replenished it, and I’ve found that the habits of analysis, development and expression that my writing has helped me cultivate have been my most useful skills when I venture out into the world and try to change it.


This Issue’s Contest: Summer

Our last contest was such a success that I wanted to make contests a regular thing for Bop Dead City. The last contest was for flash fiction and poetry to recognize our ranking as one of the fastest responding publications, according to Duotrope (if you’re not a member, just trust me when I say we’re quick), but I didn’t want to repeat myself. So, I needed a theme.

The first story I ever got published was set during the summer. Specifically, it’s set on a summer night in downtown Manchester, New Hampshire, where I’m from. The season lends itself to sensuality, for one: the smell of sweat, the taste of saltwater, the way chlorinated water burns in your eyes. When many of us were kids, it was also a long stretch of unstructured free time, which seemed to lend itself to experiences both good and bad. For example, my first kiss was in the summertime, and my first (only, promise) arrest was in the summer too.

So there it was. I figured summer was something we’d all experienced in similar but different ways, and everyone had a story to tell about it. Not to mention, the issue’s going to come out in at the beginning of the worst part of summer, so the timing was nice as well.

Obviously, we’re still looking for the best fiction and poetry out there even if it isn’t about summer. Last round, we published lots of stuff that wouldn’t have qualified for the contest, and I’m sure this issue will be the same.

BUT if you’re interested there’ll be two prizes, one for fiction and one for poetry. The submission guidelines are the same as for any other submission, it just has to be about summer in some way: summer as the setting, summer as a subject, even Summer as a character’s name (or if you want to get way out there, the personification of summer as an actual character is an option).  Twenty bucks to the winner of the fiction category, and twenty bucks to the winner of the poetry category, just like last time. The deadline for the contest is the same as the general deadline: July 1. Just mention in the body of the email that you’d like to have your story/poem(s) considered for the contest.

As the saying goes, a life without love is like a year without summer, and who the hell wants that?


Issue Four is open for submissions!

We’re now accepting submissions for our fourth issue until July 1. We’ve also got another contest for this reading period. I’ll be posting about it tomorrow, but if you can’t wait, just go to the Contests page and read about it now. I hope everyone brings their A-game this time, since Issue Three is going to be pretty hard to beat.

Good luck to all, and I look forward to reading everyone’s submissions!