Sometime in the near past, Bryan Edenfield sat down with author Ryan A. Johnson and had a conversation. That conversation is forever lost to time, but they later had an email correspondence that went something like this….
A: I am Ryan A. Johnson and I am here to deliver some words. Other than that, I am still learning. You probably should be too.
A: Isn’t that the question? The how is almost impossible to answer. Let’s choose the number 3. Just think, for every thought and action that you make, there are 3 ways it could get you in trouble. How many thoughts have you had thus far into the interview? Multiply by 3 (or, 1, 2, 7, any positive number, it doesn’t matter). I don’t know what the “hows” that you’ve already put upon yourself are, but there are many. Always for a moment, they are potential “hows”. This leads to “why”. To get serious, human beings are frail, aggressive creatures. Because we often interact with each other, our “hows” often collide and then often fulfill their potential. Have you ever done a kind thing for someone that inconveniences someone else? Have you ever walked into a room that you did not “belong” in? Have you ever been in a room where you made note that someone else did not belong? Have you ever scowled? There is always trouble. Sometimes, it is small and sometimes, it is large. Some people see it more than others. There is always trouble. And this is just the human aspect. We can get cosmic later. But, you will get in trouble if you go. So, stay, enjoy the words.
A: There is something about horses. We had a party once, in the summer, and it was horse themed. We drank a lot. Chairs were broken. Erotic literature was read aloud. Private moments spent in dimly lit rooms. There was a fire. Pre-party, I got together as much horse paraphernalia as I could. In doing so, I realized that I had acquired so many horse things already throughout my 27 years. The party was a joke, a mockery of horses. But I came to believe then, and still do, that I may legitimately have a love for horses. I want to share this love with all of you.
A: I live in Washington. I have spent my whole life here except for the 3 years I was an expat in La Mirada, CA. But during those 3 years, I still felt like I was a Washingtonian. I suppose it is still an open relationship though. There is still room for some other locale to come in and sweep me off my feet. But I have a hard time breaking with tradition and I enjoy the water.
A: Just write. I feel that writers (and I’ll include myself under that umbrella) often become too focused on expressing themselves. They approach each piece as though it needs to “say something”. But the truth is, if you have a soul, when you write, you will express yourself. It will happen. Forcing it just makes something awful spill out across the page. Russell Edson has some great words on this concept but I’ll just let those with interest look him up.With my own writing, I love how words work with each other. I just want to make a lot of interesting sentences. Sometimes, I want to then rip those sentences to pieces. And then, maybe those sentences or broken sentences will work with each other and turn into a poem that someone likes. I’m ok if I’m the only someone that likes it. But I would much rather share my sentences with you in the hope that you will like them as well.
A: I’m still trying to figure that out. Almost everything in this book was written while I was unemployed or in school. I have just recently pulled myself out of a long period of not writing. So far, my method is to make writing the thing I am excited about doing after I get home from work. Before that, it was drinking whiskey and watching Buffy. Don’t think it has to be one or the other though. Writing is just a little bit more important.
A: The end goal is to write books until Babel/Salvage gets tired of me. I plan to keep writing until I die because I have come to believe that this is why I am here. To not write would be rude. And that is the point, perhaps I can avoid the moderate trouble of rudeness (though no promise about the pre- or post- troubles of rudeness).
A: Well, reading “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place” by Ernest Hemingway when I was about 19 made me realize that I wanted to write. Reading “Mnemonic” by Li-Young Lee when I was about 20 made me realize that I wanted to write poetry. Henri Michaux is who I read now when I want something familiar. Though, Hemingway’s short stories are always going to have a hold on me. Listening to The Get Up Kids and At The Drive-In when I was about 16 made me want to write songs. Now, listening to Pissed Jeans or The Birthday Party makes me want to write songs. Maybe it’ll turn out to be something like if Nick Cave lived in Kansas in the late 90′s.
As far as visual art goes, I’ve never been a terribly visual person. The first piece I thought of here was Angelus Novus by Paul Klee. Though, I think I am more interested in how that visual works with Walter Benjamin’s interpretation of it (it’s an interesting read).
I like whiskey. And whisky. And beer. And wine. In putting this book together, I noticed how large a role alcohol plays in the collection. That’s all, I have noticed it.
On TV and Film? I watch a lot of both. Many of the Law & Order offshoots are imbedded in my mind. Rushmore. The Royal Tenenbaums. Mr. Majestyk. Gangs Of New York. The High School Musical trilogy is very important to me. As is the original Star Wars trilogy. I won’t continue to list, list, list. Let’s just say that everything from Caligula to iCarly has had some sort of effect on my writing, whether it be big or small. As far as recent films go, Spring Breakers was absolutely wonderful.
A: Do not be afraid, though you will get in trouble.
A: I only ever plagiarize.
STARRING (in alphabetical order)
…born on planet terra to hue-man parents, he has been writing “poetry” since some one handed him a pencil pen feather microphone brush tongue gun bow and arrow, hitting his targets deaf dumb and blind all have experienced korvus’s gift of the present moment…
JASON CONGER & JOE THOMPSON
Jason Conger is artillery. He lives in a thatched hut which is near Austria. Jason saunters. He is the shoplifter. In his free time, when he’s not addicted to anglicizing geese, he is jumbled. He feels abstemiously about the hard tricycles. He supports the unicycles at FEMA. His favorite type of poetry is of the whale shark style; his least favorite type is of the tapir style. He dreams about squinting at the nimble glasses. When life is neither truthful nor beautiful, Jason – or J-bone – goes hunting in the Horsehead Nebula, an artery quartered beside the system.
Joe Thompson is a mystery.
Bryan Edenfield is the co-founder of Babel/Salvage and the author of Glossolopolis Number One and 33 Opening Paragraphs. He has a dog and is from the desert. His degree is in philosophy and history that comes from Northern Arizona University, so don’t worry.
Sarah Galvin is the author of The Stranger’s Midnight Haiku series, which are neither haiku nor at midnight. She has a blog called The Pedestretarian, where she reviews food found on the street. The thing she loves most about reviewing discarded food is receiving text messages that say things like “I hear the bus stop on 3rd and Union is covered with ham.” Sarah is a poetry MFA student at University of Washington, and her poems can be found in Hoarse, Proximity, Pageboy, Dark Sky, and Ooligan press’s Pacific Poetry Project, set to be released in March 2013.
RYAN A. JOHNSON
Ryan A. Johnson graduated from Western Washington University in 2009. He now works for a large aerospace company but this has nothing to do with college. Expect his new book, “You Will Get In Trouble” to be released by Babel/Salvage in the coming months. He apologizes in advance, not for the book, but for everything else.
“Morris Stegosaurus (aka Keith Morris Kurzman) is a difficult artist to categorize, and yet he is undeniably entertaining and provocative. His performance is highly charismatic in the full slam poetry tradition. But the through-lines of his poems often relate symbolic and surreal situations as dialogues with personified objects, without regard for whether those objects are concrete or abstract. Where slam poets are often literal, didactic, or operating in an absence of irony, Stegosaurus may be whimsical, sarcastic, or idiosyncratic. So yes, there is meaning in his stage name, as a banner for the oblique language he brings to the stage. Often it’s better to not attempt to interpret Stegosaurus’ performances but simply let them happen to you; they may be more about the phenomena of language and performance than about the subjects in their titles.” –Kurt Heintz