Interview

bart plantenga — in conversation with John Wisniewski and Mark McCawley

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bart plantenga

in conversation with

John Wisniewski

and Mark McCawley

 
bart-university of writing
 

John Wisniewski: When did you begin writing, bart? When did you publish your first writings?

bart plantenga: On any conscious level? It was probably in high school. A kind of prosaic awakening. First in 9th grade, for an assignment where we had to “travel” through South America and keep a diary I did one – times 10. Mine was over 100 pages long, about 3x longer than anyone else’s – I didn’t know I liked writing about places I had [never] been to. I wouldn’t know for another 2 years that that could be a talent – and what I’ve come to realize many years later an extremely underpaid talent at that.

For instance: Did you ever get into a discussion with friends or coworkers about being underpaid, earning a shit wage and such. Well, I have only done this once or twice: tried to estimate how much per hour I earned for an article or book I was paid for. You don’t want to know. THEY don’t want to know. It is like 10 American cents per hour. You point that out and nobody wants to hear it or believe.
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Eddie Woods — in conversation with John Wisniewski

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Eddie Woods

 

in conversation with John Wisniewski

 

Eddie Woods at the Beat Hotel (Paris, July 2009). Photo © by Lars Movin

Eddie Woods at the Beat Hotel (Paris, July 2009). Photo © by Lars Movin

JW: You had a variety of jobs over the years while getting on with your writing. Could you tell us about some of them, maybe a few that you enjoyed doing?

 

EW: I wholeheartedly agree with André Gide’s dictum, “All work that is not joyous is wretched.” And while the word ‘enjoy’ may not apply to my time in the Air Force, I still got a lot out of those four years, about which I’ll be writing in one of my future memoirs. It’s a given that I grooved on journalism. Some of that is covered in my most recent book, Tennessee Williams in Bangkok. And I am now encouraging Stanford University to obtain copies of all the pieces I wrote for the Bangkok Post so they can go into my archive there. We can forget the Tehran Journal (I was their sports and night editor in the mid-1970s), as that paper got buried after the 1979 Islamic revolution. I dug being a short-order cook and had the best teacher, namely my father! Programming first-generation IBM computers for two years was all right, until they started to bore me and I quit. Selling encyclopedias was a gas. Did that throughout the latter part of the Sixties, made good money, got to travel around Germany and France, then out to the Far East (where another life began for me). Managing a steakhouse in Hong Kong was cool. Ditto a few other gigs. It would never have crossed my mind to toil in a factory or on a farm. I’m a dunce when it comes to any kind of manual labor. All I’m good at with my hands are eating, writing, and sex.
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Bernard Meisler — in conversation with Mark McCawley

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Bernard Meisler

 

in conversation with

 

Mark McCawley

 

It was in the mid-1990s — nearly two decades before being introduced to Sensitive Skin publisher and editor-in-chief, Bernard Meisler — that I first encountered Sensitive Skin’s unique and eclectic brand of underground art and writing. Discursive, post-realist, transgressive writing. A who’s who of Blank Generation writers. Definitive “Downtown” writers. Writers and artists witnessing the commodification of late twentieth century literature, and the gentrification/Disneyfication of New York. It’s a distinct pleasure to interview Bernard Meisler concerning the history of Sensitive Skin, and how he sees Sensitive Skin as it embraces the future. Urban Graffiti is pleased to present, “Bernard Meisler — in conversation with Mark McCawley”, another in an ongoing series of evocative, probing conversations with contemporary experimental and transgressive writers, artists, and publishers. ~ Editor

 

MM: After a sixteen-year hiatus what was the impetus to re-launch Sensitive Skin as an online magazine on June 18, 2010, as well as the subsequent hard copy issues?

BM: You know, I’d never stopped thinking about the magazine. I wanted to switch it from print to online way back when, in the mid ‘90s. And I regret not doing that, as we’d be super established by now (instead of, I guess, somewhat established). But I stopped doing the print version for a number of reasons, mostly because it was a victim of its own success, if that makes any sense. See, the first few issues, we just had to put a few hundred bucks together, we’d do a benefit show, or one of my better-off friends would just write us a check for $200 or whatever, and off we’d go. By the time the final issue came out, we were getting national distribution with a circulation of 2000 or so, not bad for a little magazine. And it got more and more expensive to put out, and took up more and more time, and, now that we had national distribution, well, we got back almost nothing for sales! So it all became a bit much, I’d just gotten married and had a kid, and I had other things on my mind, so I let it go, which was actually a big relief at the time. Cause as I’m sure you know, it’s tough putting together a magazine like this – not only is there a TON of work to do for layout, typography, art and graphic design, but you’re on a deadline of some sort and you’re trying to manage, what, 30-50 artists and writers? Some of whom are good friends, most of whom are great people, but there’s always a percentage who are self-centered insane egoists. All in all, it’s herding cats. But even after I let it go, I still I thought about it from time to time, as I was doing web development for a living and I thought I could do something really cool with multimedia. We actually had a GREAT final issue, that’s never seen the light of day, as it was in color and we could never come up with the dough to print it. Maybe I’ll still put it out someday – it had pieces by Lynne Tillman, John Shirley, Maggie Estep, Luc Sante – we’ll see. Read more

Ron Kolm — in conversation with John Wisniewski

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Ron Kolm

 

in conversation with John Wisniewski

 

Ron Kolm at A Gathering of the Tribes on September 28, 2012, as part of the global arts celebration 100 Thousand Poets for Change.

Ron Kolm at A Gathering of the Tribes on September 28, 2012, as part of the global arts celebration 100 Thousand Poets for Change.

Copyright 2012 Arthur Kaye ©

John Wisniewski:

Tell us about your first experience working at a book store where you worked with Patti Smith and Tom Verlaine?

 

Ron Kolm:

In late 1969, after avoiding Vietnam by working as a community organizer in Appalachia, I moved to New York City, which I couldn’t afford, and remember, this was the era of hundred dollar a month rents. But I was going broke; nobody would hire me because I had been an activist – I was considered trouble – so I started selling off my library to the Strand bookstore. The Strand is now one of the biggest bookstores in the world; but the world was way smaller back then. The Strand seemed to make a point of hiring artists and musicians, and every time I took a couple of shopping bags full of my precious books by to sell, Fred, the owner would offer me a job. I finally caved and signed on. Patti Smith only worked there a short while; Linda, her sister, stayed much longer.

I really only have two vaguely interesting Patti Smith stories to tell. In the first one, she came up to me one day while I was shelving books and gave me a vinyl LP of James Joyce reading from Finnegan’s Wake. “Here,” she said, “I heard you liked this guy. Someone gave me this at my last reading and said I looked like him. I don’t get it, and I don’t want to. You can have it.” Then she walked away. I still have that Caedmon record in my collection.
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John C. Goodman — in conversation with John Wisniewski

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John C. Goodman

 

in conversation with John Wisniewski

 

concretepoetryWhen Urban Graffiti first decided to conduct interviews with notable independent underground writers, artists, and publishers — John C. Goodman, editor of the ezine ditch, was among those who initially came to mind. Launched in August, 2007, Goodman singlehandedly created a site showcasing Canadian avant-garde poetry, along with representatives of international avant-garde poetry, and made it more accessible, gathering under the tagline, “poetry that matters”, some of the most exceptional avant-garde poetry being created. I invite you to enjoy “John C. Goodman — in conversation with John Wisniewski” — another in an ongoing series of evocative and probing conversations with contemporary experimental, transgressive, and avant-garde writers, artists, and publishers. ~The Editor

John Wisniewski: Where did you publish your first poems?

John C. Goodman: I first published in a local literary magazine called Hammered Out run by a friend of mine, Frances Ward. I was also fortunate enough to land some work in a few hand-made micro-press magazines. From there I began submitting to online magazines and since then, except for a few print publications, have pretty much published everything online.

I also did some self-publishing. I would read at open mics whenever I could and I made up a series of little chapbooks so I would have a book to read from and to sell. I charged a couple of dollars and sold one or two at every reading. I remember one memorable evening when I sold five. My first commercial poetry book was published by Raymond Farr’s Blue and Yellow Dog Press in Florida, and then I had another published by Alec Newman’s Knives Forks and Spoons Press in the UK.
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