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Sunday, August 09, 2009

Calliope Nerve Interview Series: David Blaine

Author David Blaine is the second writer in Calliope Nerve's ongoing Interview Series.

David, tells us about your new book Antisocial.

This is my third chap, but the first one I haven't self published. I found that my recent work could be centered loosely on the theme of Antisocial, so the title was easy enough. But the title doesn't mean that I'm necessarily antisocial. The poems speak about things that are antisocial in nature, like war, corporate greed, dirty politics, corupt religion and so on. Things we aren't supposed to talk about in polite conversations. That fact is itself an example of the antisocial nature of the collection.

Besides, being a successful writer, you are also a successful businessman. What type of business ventures are you involved in?

My wife and I own a True Value hardware store and lumber yard, but the success there is hers. Judy had over twenty years experience working at another hardware before we bought our store about eleven years ago. Four years ago, sensing a good time to get out of the car business, I joined her. Our four children also work with us there, and we will be opening a laundromat across the street from the hardware in just a couple of weeks.

Why do you write? Do you have any particular goals in regards to your writing?

I've always loved to read and write, since about the third grade anyway. I had an English teacher in junior high who told me I wrote well and I should keep it up. I seldom received encouragement to persue anything I actually enjoyed, so that was all the impetus I needed. My goal is to connect to a reader on a personal level. Once someone e-mailed me to say that until she read one of my poems, "Not Love," she never knew anyone felt the same way she did. That meant a lot to me.

What does being an 'underground' poet mean? Do you consider yourself underground?

Maybe if I were more paranoid I'd go "underground." I've never felt that way as a writer. I don't think "the man" wants to silence me. We've come a long way since DA Levy. I've always felt like an outsider, but that has nothing to do with Outsider Writers. It has to do with moving countless times as a kid and starting fifth grade in school number six. It comes from not being able to speak my mind because my views run counter to the majority of my fellow Americans. In Connie Stadler's review she says, "you get wonderful wit laden bites that must be read a second or third time or the rich profundity/in-your-face irony will surely be missed." That's a very astute observation, and it's quite intentional. Sometimes you just need to tell someone to go screw themselves or you feel like you're going to come unhinged. But you can't say such things, so you write a poem telling them to metaphoricaly go screw themselves. Mix in a bit of humor and they'll even tell you they like it.

Where does you voice come from? Influences?

I've read widely but not too deeply. Except Sandburg. I've gone deep on him, his bios, his poems of course, his prose, his letters. Ferlinghetti, a kind teacher introduced me to his poems a long time ago and I realized that contemporary verse didn't need to sound like Frost or Dickinson.

How do you approach a write? Believe in writer's block?

Well, my brother will tell you I can write a great poem in four minutes, but he doesn't understand that everything that went into that poem came from a well of experiences that runs years deep. I'm fifty four for Chrisake. So when I don't seem to have anything coming, I never worry. I just figure I'm in the absorbing stage. When I'm saturated a poem will come out. And as you get more poems written you tend to raise your own bar. I probably shit can a lot of stuff I'd of kept years ago. I also look backwards and see what I've done and figure the future will take care of itself. So writer's block? Nah.

Best poem? Why?

I can't narrow it down to just one. I could maybe make a list and say that Monkey Don't is my best political rant, or that Infidelity is my best antisocial statement, or that Self Anointed is my best out-and-out attack on someone, but to say which is best, well, which painting is best, which song?

'Ideal' reader, why?

Someone who is open minded but doesn't usually read poetry. They have no expectations of what a "poem" should be.

Tell us about the Guild of Outside Writers. What is your role there?

The group, now going by the name Outsider Writers Collective, seeks to promote the under exposed writer of any genre. I'm an associate editor, which means I post content at, and work on group projects. Last year we sponsored a poetry contest, no entry fee, and published Justin Hyde's book. That just isn't done. A contest is always done at the expense of the entrants. That's the kind of thing we are about though.

Have you won any awards? How much do such accolades matter to you? (I have to be honest, I always wanted to win a Pushcart myself...ha ha.)

I see a lot of people with pushcarts in the cities and I think the grocery store wants them back. That should tell you all you need to know.

How many poems have you written?

Probably less than a thousand, but more than five hundred.

How many books/chaps have you written?

A Fine Feathered Faith was first and is out of print. I sold about sixty copies of that. Then came The View From Here, which David McLean reviewed this year. I still have a few of those. But either are available as an E-book. Anyone really interested should contact me at davidblaine (at) gmail (dot) com.

How did you become so prolific?

I just decide to spend "me time" on the things I feel are important. At one point that meant exercising every day, but now the writing has taken over I guess it's selfishness.

Is it true you leap over building in a single bound? Faster than a speeding bullet? Spin a web anysize? :)

That David Blaine is the younger, better looking illusionist. I'm the allusionist.

What advice do you have for other writers whether new or seasoned?

Never take advice, not even this.

Do you have a mission in life?

To cause people to have an "aha" moment after reading my work, whether prose or poetry. I'm a hopeless liberal I guess because I'd like to think that someday the world will change, that people will care about strangers less fortunate than themselves, will stop hating each other for superficial reasons like geopolitical boundries, oh, don't get me started.

What does the future hold for David Blaine?

My wife and I want to continue to travel as the funds allow. I've got three grandchildren now. I'd like to live long enough to become a bad example to them. Just kidding! I consider myself semi-retired, even when I work over 40 hours a week, because I try to do something I enjoy every day.

See some of David's work by going to the Calliope Nerve Archive Page.

-posted by Nobius 11:56 AM #
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