As a spoken word performer, Clint Catalyst has presented
his work on stages everywhere from mainstream festivals
to subcultural gatherings; from bars to book expos; from
theatres to public libraries; from art galleries to literary
salons. Most recently, a video of his performance piece
"To Push Away or Clutch" screened at The Andy Warhol
Museum in Pittsburgh, PA for an exhibition that ran from
June 3 - August 31, 2008. He is the author of
"Cottonmouth Kisses", which held the #1 position in the
Amazon.com Bestseller List over a span of several years in
multiple categories, and has been deemed a cult classic.
His work has been published in a wide range of
anthologies, literary journals, magazines and newspapers
and served as a contributing editor at two magazines
(Swindle Quarterly, *Surface), a managing editor of
Permission magazine, and editor-at-large of three literary
journals (Praxis, Psychodaisies, and the Hendrix College
publication now known as The Aeonian). He also publishes
his own magazine As If: A Collection of Images, Poetry and
Interviews. With author Michelle Tea, he co-edited the
anthology "Pills, Thrills, Chills and Heartache" (Alyson
Books), which premiered in the #10 slot on the Los
Angeles Times Bestseller List and was a Lambda Literary
His own list of awards include The Isaac Andrew Campbell
Memorial Prize for Poetry, The Congress/Bundestag
Scholarship, First Place in the Levi-Strauss "Poetry Slam,"
First Place in the Mixed Media category, Second Place in
the Short Story category, and Second Place in Poetry for
the annual Murphy Foundation for Programs in Literature
and Language competitions.
In 2008, the literary journal CFF deemed Catalyst both
"Renaissance Man of the Year" and "Author With Most
Anticipated New Release." He lives in Los Angeles, where
he's worked as a screenwriter for both ABC and ABC
Family as well as an associate producer on the series
"America's Next Top Model."
Insofar as the other side of the camera goes, he's had
cameos in over a dozen TV series, spanning a range from
CBS's "Morning Show" to the Discovery Channel's "Beyond
Bizarre" to HBO's break-out hit "Da Ali G Show." Regarding
his foray into film, through which "In The Spotlight"
presented the first opportunity for him to play a character
role (Bell Wartock), Catalyst laughs, "I can't even tell you
how grateful I am to get a break from playing myself.
Seriously! It's friggin' exhausting... "
Further information is available via his personal site IMDB,
Wikipedia, and yes, even the most prestigious source of all
Clint Catalyst is one of LA's most striking and articulate personalities.
I was first introduced to his work by a friend who was moving away, and had left me a gift on
my doorstep. When I got home I saw huge eyes and black hair staring up at me from the
cover of a book called "Cotton Mouth Kisses". I quickly devoured each dark and twisted
piece, lost in the intense and often debauchery- filled poems and short stories; I could relate
to a lot of the "messiness" of his lifestyle.
Nine years later, I was interviewing bands and authors for another magazine and was excited
at a chance to interview him. He was edgy, dark, young and "NOW".
His response was enthusiastic and we corresponded for months before I could find the right
magazine for his interview. Over this time, I got to know Catalyst with long conversations 'til
wee hours of the morning. He was there when sometimes I just wanted to give up writing;
giving career advice and understanding and he had a knack for shoving me back into reality
after having my work rejected.
As in his books about the Goth club scene, Clint was not shy about discussing his raging
amphetamine addiction, sexuality issues and his beautiful recovery from a crazy and wild life,
taking you along on the ride. So for now I thought I would start with the following questions
and click into the mind of one of LA's most interesting people:
The Battered Suitcase: Hi Clint, thanks for letting The Battered suitcase interview you.
Clint Catalyst: It's an honor. Thanks for your interest, actually.
TBS: I've got to ask, where did you get your name from -- at least the "Catalyst" part?
CC: Way back in ancient history, before there was this little thing called 'The Internet,' I had
an inordinate amount of pen pals. As goober as that may sound, here's the deal: I grew up
on a gravel road in a small Southern town. As in, at that point the make-shift street didn't
even have a name. Instead, it was a "Rural Route." Thanks to a section in Star Hits
magazine (the now-defunct American attempt at Britain's Smash Hits) entitled 'R.S.V.P.,' the
United States Postal Service became my umbilical cord to the outside world. I tried on
pseudonyms more frequently than Britney Spears does wigs. It just so happened that
"catalyst" -- defined both as that which incites a reaction as well as someone or something
that "stands out" -- is the moniker that stuck. Makes sense, actually, as I'm an instigator by
nature: an Aries who doesn't dip his toes in the proverbial water but dives in head-first, calling
out, urging other adventurous types to join me when I'm already slicing through the air into the
But back to Star Hits! Through the magazine's opportunity for readers to describe
themselves in "30 words or less," I lucked into being included among what essentially were
personals' ads for the alternative set. Granted, this was before "alternative" morphed into
merely another mainstream genre -- and the presence of 'zines no longer relied on Kinko's.
TBS: That's right... didn't you edit a literary magazine?
CC: A few of them, actually. The first one was a straight-up photocopied, scissor and
glue-sticked labor of love I started before I was even old enough to drive. I funded it by
mowing lawns and catching rides with my friend Carol, who was a grade above me and the
only other kid in school with similar interests. My best friend Stanis didn't get his kicks
hanging out in copy shops -- and the other students probably would have rather been
duct-taped to the NHS flagpole than be caught re-positioning lay-outs on a Friday night. For
Carol and me, though? We'd be there for five, six hours at a time: flirting shamelessly with the
sexually-ambiguous counter guy, laughing with Sharpies in hand, "liberating" stacks of
oversized paper in her black leather beast of a purse, all "in the name of art" -- a plan which
just about always back-fired in terms of page count. That was the real bitch of it all: getting
down on our knees the following day, spreading everything out into like, 15-20 separate piles
to collate, only to discover we'd forgotten to copy the back-side of something -- or that our
not-so-genius criminal activity yielded a hundred extra copies of one 11 x 17" 'four-up.'
Completely useless, unless we matched it with an additional hundred copies of everything
The first issue consisted entirely of our own angst-ridden musings (under various nom de
plumes -- most usually, Carol went by "Stella Cornona"; I went by some too embarrassing to
mention) and submissions from pen-pals. From there, we built up both our readership and
our contributors by swapping ads with other 'zines, going the whole Old School/D.I.Y. route.
That went on for a few issues. Then Carol got a boyfriend; I got a car, and the counter guy
from Kinko's? Turned into one of my nightclub comrades once his sexual orientation became
less, ahem "ambiguous", as mentioned earlier. He was a college student and had just turned
21. I was the 16 year old designated driver for the hour-and-a-half long trek over the bridge
and into Memphis, Tennessee. I petered off on the 'zine scene, so to speak, and began my
foray into a world of fake IDs, wildly creative alibis for the Baptist 'rents), and drugs with initials
instead of names: LSD, MDMA, PCP - even something called "2CB," which to this day I'm not
quite certain was -- or is.
Interview by Kim Acrylic
Fast-forward to college, where I continued gaining "life experience" I used as writing material. The school put out an annual literary magazine, which looked
nice but contained writing that was precisely that. I countered by starting a 'zine with more incendiary subject matter, though that round of the photocopy
hustle didn't make it past the premier issue. I "sold out" and inherited the title of editor for the school's lit mag, which turned out to be a pretty decent gig.
That's where I learned about professional printing, and vowed to never have paper-cuts or rug burn from a saddle-stitch again.
I didn't -- though I did learn how to wait tables to achieve that goal. I saved up a little over a grand, and in the summer before my senior year, assembled the
premier issue of As If: A Collection of Images, Poetry and Interviews. Maniac that I am, I continued my position as editor of the Hendrix literary magazine
while editing my own publication concurrently. Because I still mail-ordered 'zines and devoured them voraciously, I'd begun to discover a subversive set of
writers and performance poets that excited me so greatly, oftentimes I couldn't wait to get out of a lecture so I could get back to reading. (Because, you
know, as a lit major I wasn't already doing enough of that.) The more I loved an author's work, the more imperative it became that I highlight him or her, and
include their work in As If.
Poppy Z. Brite was starting to get attention around this time, and I was -- and still am -- a big fan of "Swamp Foetus", her collection of short stories in print
these days under the title "Wormwood". She's the first author I recall "tracking down" first by publisher, then publicist, in order to interview her for the third
issue of As If.
I also discovered Dennis Cooper, the author/performance artist Vaginal Davis, Ron Athey, Cintra Wilson, Danielle Willis... all of whom lived in California at
the time. Danielle was the next writer I 'tracked,' as I'd never read a poet who expressed life in medias res with the gorgeousness and grit of her book "Dogs
Don't get me wrong: studying the classics was of great import; 19th Century Russian fiction (Dostoyevsky's "Crime and Punishment", sure -- but also
Goncharov's "Oblamov" and less obvious references, as well), the Victorian Era (Thomas Hardy's "The Ruined Maid" remains among my all-time favorite
poems, and the acerbic wit of Oscar Wilde is unparalleled), ad nauseum. But after a few telephone calls with Danielle, late night conversations around 3 or 4
a.m. in which she described San Francisco's thriving spoken word scene, wherein an entire set of young writers completely off the grid were living, breathing,
setting microphones aflame around the city...
That's what did it. That's what sent my blood rushing, what had me distracted and daydreaming in classes I would have usually been immersed in, what
inspired me to take on a second job and start stashing all the greenbacks humanly possible.
My hair a nuclear shade of orange, ears smothered and covered by piercings, the best-paying job I could find in Conway, Arkansas was figure-modeling
(translation? buck-naked) for the state college on the other side of town.
Remember, I was raised Southern Baptist, and ashamed of the body I inhabit since before-I-even-remember-when. Dropping trou and standing in ludicrous
positions was no minor feat with a room full of on-lookers. As is the case with most folks, I've got my own issues regarding physicality -- hell, not just issues,
but a mental microfiche of friggin' subscriptions.
Whenever I couldn't handle it, however, I repeated in my head, a mantra: San Francisco, San Francisco, San Francisco...
Photo by Dirk Mai
And I made it. While As If was the impetus for my move to Bay, I produced my fourth and final issue
after pitching my tent there. I attended all the spoken word events physically possible, fell in love with
local poets on a near daily basis, disappearing into the pages of their small-press chapbooks.
Determined to publish a collection of my own work, inevitably As If ended up pushed to the
back-burner a centimeter here, another there...
First I released "Caresses Soft As Sandpaper" -- a Gothic (with a capital "G") compendium assembled
from my stacks of bipolar poetry. Through the same micro-press I'd given the name Papershred
Productions, next came "Full-Force", a considerably sharper-toned collection of works written in a
form I'd begun to experiment with extensively: the prose-poem.
However, shortly after I began my studies in the Masters of Writing program at the University of San
Francisco, As If was tossed from the back burner out of the kitchen altogether.
Nonetheless, now that I realize how long I've rambled on with this answer, I wouldn't be surprised if you
threw me out of The Battered Suitcase, as well!
TBS: [LAUGHS] And next? Next came your book Cottonmouth Kisses, right?
CC: Correct you are. And it wasn't -- and still isn't -- published by me whatsoever. What a frickin'
relief! Produced by a press from whom I already owned a slew of books [Manic D Press], marked
with an ominous soft-back cover and its very own ISBN number. Man, let me just tell you -- the day I
picked up my box of contributors' copies, I was fat-cheeked and full of ambition, bursting at the seams
with intensity. My ears rang with a high-pitched excitement, like a loaded fix. The sound of that
cardboard box when I cracked it open, a snap that filled the hyphen of air around me like a horsetail
For a writer? For me? Nothing, but nothing, compares to it...
TBS: Where did you come up with the name for the book? I think it's brilliant!
CC: It's a double entendre. There's the cottonmouth snake, which is one of the deadliest vipers. Its fangs are like hollow hypodermic needles. Also
referred to as water moccasins, they're indigenous to the Southern United States, specifically, the south-east region.Then there's the physical sensation
of cottonmouth when one is high. In my case, I'm not referring to 'high' as being 'baked'. Oh no, person of extremes that I am, my method -- that's with
an emphasis on "meth," by the way -- was more akin to the venomous life-bite of a water moccasin, its means of delivery.
TBS: I read the book long ago and it's very intense and full of sex and drug adventures. How much of that is true?
CC: It's funny -- I was waiting for you to ask that! When I turned the manuscript in to my publisher, I remember we had a brief conversation regarding
whether the book should be classified as fiction or non-fiction. I opted for fiction, despite the fact that some of the stories are anecdotes in which I didn't
even bother to change the characters names. Nonetheless, one of the stories in the book entitled "Allegory" is exactly that. The next-to-last piece,
"Metaphor and Remorse" -- which is without doubt one of the most visceral and experimental literary excursions I've embarked upon to date -- is
fictitious in terms of the first-person narrator's experiences through the "I" as presented. Composites are present, as is a greater opinion of mine.
There's truth in its emotional impact -- what difference does it make which elements are 'real'?
I'm really over the bogus memoir -- the J.T. Leroy media manipulations, the fkn' James Frey insults to those of us who've lived it, the Navahoax so far
As far as I'm concerned, once I record an incident on the page, there's an immediate sense of separation that accompanies it. It takes on a life of its
own, no longer needs my lungs to breathe. No longer has to be a part of me.
It's just a story. Nothing but stories: Grass that slides beneath my feet, step after step after step.
Historians, journalists, "fact-checkers" -- they can have their 'real.' It's the truth I'm searching for, seeking out, moving forward.
TBS: I read that you are sober now. How did that come to be?
CC: I've gotta tell ya, I feel anything but sober at the moment, darlin'. Though it's not the result from anything as clichï¿½ as falling face-first into an
"Pills, Thrills, Chills and Heartache: Adventures in the First Person", the anthology I co-edited with my mega-watt firecracker of a friend Michelle Tea, is
officially out-of-print (as of late).
No, it wasn't "remaindered". (A euphemism in the publishing industry for when titles shift from bargain bookshelves back to the printer itself, where
they're destined for reincarnation. It's a sad tale, that of the remaindered novel: hardback copies of Janet Fitch's "Paint it Black" and other brilliant
literary works suffer the fate of being chopped, shredded and tossed into the recycling bin, from which whatever forthcoming release that's anticipated
as a bestseller emerges).
Au contraire, as I was saying, the book sold-out... as in, plain ol' Em Effin' SOLD OUT.
Biting my tongue and fighting my fingers' urge to clack out some serious smack, I've opted instead to say, "Omitting the complete lack of
correspondence from our (former) publisher, the final new/unread copies I obtained were the result of scouring bookstores around the web: two from
Amazon, one from BN.com, three from Tower, another from a GLBT owned-and-operated bookstore in Canada, several from the United Kingdom, and
at least 20 of them through ALibris.com."
A sucker myself for collectibles, I've been working on an extremely limited edition with what remains: 33 new copies, each hand-painted and
painstakingly personalized by me. Considering the amount of money I invested in supplies, along with the fact that each one takes hours and hours of
handiwork? Well, let me put it this way: I'd rather not be cognizant of the lump sum "lost" through the endeavor.
Instead, having completed #12 of the series just yesterday, I'd rather share some of the results with anyone curious to see: "Pills, Thrills, Chills and
TBS: Any up and coming projects we may not know about?
CC: I'm not sure what you know about, so that one's a bit challenging to answer...
TBS: I heard you created your own TV series?
CC: Well, I've created more than one of them, actually. The problem for me isn't a shortage of ideas, it's getting them onto the air! I'm not the
son-of-someone-famous, nor am I sleeping with any network executives, so that intensifies the odds quite a bit. [LAUGHS] But seriously: getting a pilot
made and the end results nestled among the airwaves is no minor feat. Of course, that's precisely what I want to do. I mean, why would I have interests
and goals that make my life easy? [LAUGHS AGAIN]
TBS: But you've worked with networks, haven't you?
CC: I have. I've had two development deals for a couple of shows I co-created. One was for "The Fly-Over States," and it was rife with all the local
color of life in Jonesboro I absorbed through my childhood there. Granted, I'm not a reformed high school floozie who's forced to move back and face
her past with two children in tow -- but let's be grateful for that!
"The Fly-Over States" was a project in the works with Touchstone/ABC, and while I now know what it feels like to have my name on the front page of
Variety, I can't say I've experienced the luxury of seeing life 'breathed in' to any of my characters just yet.
The project after that was in conjunction with ABC Family, and -- before you have a chance to interrupt with the interrobang that often accompanies the
news when I share it with my peers -- the executives with whom I interacted are very 'directional' in their thinking; i.e., their goal is for the network to
evolve with contemporary society's different takes on what exactly 'family' is.
Entitled "Longevity," the tale of a small town in Georgia which harnesses an invaluable power -- namely, the mythical Fountain of Youth Ponce De Leon
sought out in Florida -- is credited on the title page as a work that was co-created by Darren Stein (of "Jawbreaker" fame) and me. In actuality, however,
it's an egregious oversight to not mention our producer, Eli Holzman (creator of "Project Runway"). Eli has a background in Reality TV, though the
experience I had working with him in the various incarnations of "Longevity" is testament to the fact that he's a writer/producer (or vice-versa, depending
on whom is speaking) in the truest sense of the term.
Great guy, and nothing short of a genius. He was named head honcho of operations at the production company Studio Lambert last fall, and I wish him
nothing but the best.
TBS: I also watched some YouTube clips about a collaborative book project entitled "Degeneracy".
CC: Of course. "Degeneracy: A Love Letter". Click on "more info" on the video clip of Actress Mageina Tovah modeling for the project on my YouTube
channel. Both the premise for the book and all its 'particulars' are spelled out in painstaking detail. www.youtube.com/user/clintcatalyst
TBS: Any hidden talents we don't know about?
CC: I can pick my nose with my tongue -- and no, I'm not joking.
TBS: Ohh-kay... Shifting gears, has being "queer" in this business been a blessing or has it been rough?
CC: Bitch, please. A blessing? In terms of the frustration that fuels some of my writing, perhaps, but it certainly hasn't been advantageous. There's no
shortage of anecdotes I could unfurl on the subject, but you're WEARIN' ME OUT over here!
Photo by Sasha Sheldon
TBS: Let's talk about the poem you submitted to The Battered Suitcase.
CC: Yes. Let's. Oftentimes I catch myself issuing these royal proclamations,
haughty claims that "I don't write poetry anymore," ad nauseum. How
Darling-I'm-Just-So-Above-It, such the Yeah, I-Rememember-When,
Sure, for some, there's an implicit cleanliness and power in living by absolutes.
The lacerations of words like "don't," divisions which to me imply "ever," a word
that blurs so closely with "never"; really, it's not the person I want to be.
I "don't write poetry anymore," huh?
What a glistening dungheap.
Cliche as it may sound, the piece that I'm submitting is testament to the fact that
I'm a writer who experiments with the intricate vocabulary of my heart seeking
Poem, Prose-Poem, Essay, Short Story, Novel, Rant, Tele/Screenplay:
ultimately, they function all the same. I grasp at thoughts as they whorl inside,
each consonant a torrent.
More often than not, I'm unsuccessful in terms of how 'odds' go; I've a tendency
to over-extend myself, my grasp exceeds my reach. Others? Language is a
torrent, syllables that punch their way through the tips of my fingers, come into
In this case? A poem. By way of a long and -- well, poetic response, full
admission. The abridged version? We've all heard the adage -- this is a piece
that "wrote me."
TBS: Entitled "Millennial Love Story," the first thing I noticed about it is... well, a
structure that isn't present in what I've read of your poetry.
CC: Assuming you mean the body of work published as "Cottonmouth Kisses",
upon closer inspection, you might be surprised at some of the modern themes I
chose to bind together by ligature of strict traditional forms. Of course, my
intention was not to be overt: to announce "Here's a sestina!" to the reader,
"And now, a terza rima!" It's essential for a writer to know his audience, and not
only does academic nomenclature of aforementioned ilk tend to induce
instantaneous eye-rolling gestures and sighs of dismay upon mention when I
give a public reading (a term itself that's already cloaked in drag as a "spoken
word performance" -- whether it's the recital of prose or a dramatic rendition of
poetry, through extensive trial and error I've discovered that certain key phrases
function as 'money shots' for the Gen Y/Millennial set, whereas others might as
well induce an allergic reaction; there's such strong opposition. After all, "OMGZ,
who wants 2 b red 2?" (Incidentally, if you're cringing at that bastardization of
language, know that you're not alone.)
The only exception that comes to mind from "Cottonmouth Kisses" is "A Rubiyat for Rocky" -- though so few people are familiar with what a 'rubiyat' is, plus
the subject matter... Well, I wish the friend for whom it was written were alive to read it upon the book's publication.
Before I tread into lachrymose territory, I'll sum up the topic of strict poetic forms and various means I've chosen to utilize and showcase them via
presentation by saying: Besides, what's more fun than to have a secret out in the wide open?
TBS: Sort of like one of the jobs you have, from what I've gathered?
CC: You mean...
TBS: Well, not so much from what you've said, but rather what you haven't -- I've gotten the impression that you might do a bit of corporate consulting
regarding "marketing to Millennials."
CC: Well, aren't you a sly one? Due to various confidentiality agreements I've signed, I've never stated as such. However, some of the smaller businesses
that employ my services are nowhere near as surreptitious regarding either of our roles. If they were, I wouldn't be brought in for presentations open to large
groups of people. Nonetheless, in the case of various websites and demographic-specific promotions? It's completely understandable why no one would trot
me around as an 'expert' in any sense of the term. Not to say the tag hasn't been applied at times, but rather that I feel uncomfortable with it.
What it boils down to is this: I'm of the belief that there's as much to learn from someone 10-15 years my senior as "the kids" who are 10... if not 20 or more
years my junior, now that I think about it -- God, how time skitters by!
The thing that sets me apart from many of my peers is that I never set out with the intention to "study" youth culture, nor do I interact with so-called
Millennials on various social networking sites with the proverbial pen and paper in hand. I also never intended on dating --- let alone living with -- anyone
who falls within that "1985 or later" demographic. On the contrary, all of it's been an organic process... from back in the days when I did the door of
nightclubs and had constant vis-a-vis interaction, to these days, when many of the phenomenal 18-24 year olds with whom I work I've never met a single time
Which brings us back to my submission...
TBS: "Millennial Love Story." Yes!
CC: Well, insofar as this specific structure goes, it's a form that you shouldn't recognize from any poem, anywhere. At least that's what I hope -- what I'm
I've yet to encounter it in any of the studies I've done of traditional poetic forms. That's why -- the internet being what it is -- the first thing I did before sharing
this work with anyone -- including the individual to/about whom it's specifically written -- is register the form itself. Stake claim on a neo-traditional structure, a
process that pays more attention to syllables than rhyme: the haiku.
There's great specificity in the positioning of stanzas, of syllabic feet, the title itself I chose.
TBS: So you're saying you've constructed a new poetic form.
CC: Well...yes, actually. I suppose this would be the public unveiling of what I've entitled the "Millennial Haiku."
TBS: How does it differ from a classic haiku?
CC: Using the meter of the traditional poetic formï¿½the haiku -- as its basis, the "Millennial Haiku" expounds upon the basic rhythmic structure of three lines
divided into "5-7-5" (i.e., the first line consisting of five syllables; the second line consisting of seven syllables, and the third/final line consisting of five
The "Millennial Haiku" differs in that; Unlike the Japanese form, by which these 17 syllable statements of three unrhymed lines -- composed of five, seven,
and five syllables respectively -- are unnamed; the Millennial Haiku is not only titled, but is also named with a distinct regard to the number of syllables
present in its title. Specifically, the title contains seven syllables.
For example, the title of the first poem I constructed within the aforementioned form is "Millennial Love Story." (Mil-len-ni-al Love Sto-ry = a total of seven
Furthermore, the Millennial Haiku is considerably lengthier than the classical haiku. It is formatted with a seven syllable title, followed by seven stanzas --
each composed of five lines.
The meter of these stanzas follows a pattern of:
5-7-5-7-5 (first stanza)
7-5-7-5-7 (second stanza)
5-7-5-7-5 (third stanza)
7-5-7-5-7 (fourth stanza)
5-7-5-7-5 (fifth stanza)
7-5-7-5-7 (sixth stanza)
5-7-5-7-5 (seventh stanza)
Also, whereas the classical haiku must state or imply either a season or a New Year's Month and restrict itself to natural imagery, the intent of the Millennial
Haiku is contrariwise.
While the assemblage of this 21st century form is rigid in its parameters, poets are encouraged to explore subject matter that might be described as
"unnatural" -- if not supernatural, even.
Ultimately, the creation of this new artistic form came about from an attempt to make sense of contemporary life, in which -- quite frankly -- the general
consensus seems to find little to none. The Millennial Haiku is an instrument of expression by which poets are provided the structure of formal verse, with my
personal hope being that there be no individual statement made within this neo-classical boundary that is ever deemed "too "informal."
Just as there was a time in which free verse was considered radical, I aspire to imbue the same iconoclastic energy by way of the Millennial Haiku.
As our world expands, inevitably tradition erodes, collapses. For those of us whom were raised with single parents -- or same-sex parents, even; for those of
us whom find frustration in the lack of applicable lifestyle or gender identification options available among the "pull-down menus" of social networking sites;
for those of us whom the experimentation with "open" relationships, "mind-altering" drugs, and/or not just the freedom of religion, but complete lack thereof
has become "old meme" -- if not a complete yawn: here. Here is where all the truth, the artifice, the interrobangs, the questions marks are invited to be
honed, to be contained, to find a home.
TBS: Any advice you'd give a young writer?
CC: Spend less time on MySpace (and Buzznet and Facebook, etc) comments, purge Perez and any other gossip sites from your life and discover the
personal pleasure offered through printed matter.
Read. Not just "a bit here and there"; become an avid reader: short stories, novels, magazines, screenplays, poetry anthologies, on-line journals like this
very one... and for blog's sake, venture beyond your school's reading list! We already know The Catcher in the Rye is a great novel. What about what's
new, what's history-in-the-making, what's happening now?
Read until you find someone who articulates something you've also felt, but didn't know how to put into words. Read until you find a writer who does
something with consonants and syllables that you never considered possible: whether it has to do with cadence or line breaks; with a poetic turn of phrase or
prose so lean it's as if it were crafted by Ginsu knife.
I don't understand aspiring writers who boast about "not reading other people's stuff," just as I don't get why an aspiring painter would have no interest in
attending art openings or museums. Not only do I ascribe to the clichï¿½ that it's essential "to know where we're from," but am also of the belief that a
person can't be an iconoclast -- a rule-breaker, risk-taker, history-maker, etc. -- if he/she isn't even aware what the rules are.
TBS: What scares you?
CC: The thought of waking up one day as a senior citizen without a significant body of work through which I've communicated artistically. Said another way:
racking up an impressive set of years, yet realizing I haven't created anything noteworthy enough that it'll "live on" in my 'stead.
Precisely why I need to bring this interview to a close now, I'm afraid. I have three separate projects to work on -- two novels, along with "Degeneracy", the
collection of short stories -- and I need one of them completed and out in the world... as in: soon.
I really appreciate being featured in The Battered Suitcase, however, and
want to make sure I thank you again, Mz. Acrylic!
TBS: Before you scuttle off... any final words you'd like to share with TBS
CC: F-Bomb the cliched notion to "Arrive Fashionably Late." I say arrive
One can never be overdressed in snappy witticisms or entertaining stories.
And if you ever feel at a loss, that you "just don't have enough"?
Get out and LIVE.
After all, that's what "life" is intended for...
Photo by Dirk Mai
Photo by Dirk Mai