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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Article Author Wayne Allen LeVine Has A Lyrical Awakening

Article Author Wayne Allen LeVine Has A Lyrical Awakening

Interview With Wayne Allen LeVine

How long have you been writing?   

I suppose the literal answer would be; ever since I learned how.  And that knowing how began to unfold and open outward into song lyrics when I was in the 7th grade – which I quickly started to recognize as poems.  Of course, when I was in the 7th grade – in the Windy City, music was cool and widely acceptable, but poetry… not so much.  So I shared the lyrics that lent themselves to romantic rock songs, and kept the poems to myself.  I kept my poetic spirit a well-guarded secret for years to come – even from myself, by writing poems periodically, and forgetting about them rather quickly.  I wrote covertly for several decades; stories, poems, soulful speeches I would sit alone in my living room, and imagine myself giving to a riveted audience.  One way or another I think it’s fair to say I’ve been writing my entire life – maybe even before I learned how?  Although for the last sixteen years I’ve been doing it openly, prolifically, deliberately, and with lively, unbridled passion.

How does your work compare now than to your first few poems ever written?   

My earliest poems were written within the ferocious innocence of my tender adolescence;
while chasing lofty dreams of imagined maturity wherein, the freedom to do as I     please
would be there to greet me.  Now I’m in the middle of this astonishing odyssey –     doing   
mostly what I please, the majority of the time, while holding true to the responsibility that comes with it.  I still dream, of course, though I no longer chase them.  I’ve learned to stay centered long enough to allow fresh new aspects of old dreams to catch me.  The poems that come through now are reflections of that. The poems I penned in the early days of creative discovery were fueled, at least in part, by a chaotic longing to leap ahead into the well-imagined freedom of adulthood; freedom and adulthood, two largely arbitrary, often illusory, relative states of mind. I’m not suggesting they do not exist outside the realm of pure imagination.  But that those frames of reference could not be found, seized, and fully honored, without the power of creative imagination.  “As a child I painted like a master.  And I’ve spent the rest of my life learning how to paint like a child again.”  Pablo Picasso
What does poetry mean to you?

Poetry means never having to say you’re sorry.  Oh Wait!  Love means never to say you’re sorry. Maybe?  Maybe not?  Though poetry offers endless ways in which to apologize to the world, to yourself; to those you love – mostly for the things we have not done, but long to.  Poetry is one of the pivotal pathways to the heart of forgiveness – allowing us to face our impediments, embrace our flaws and blaring inadequacies, in order to find and honor our genuine strength and robust abilities.  Poetry means liberation — through the power of soulful expression.

How do your close friends react to your poetry?

Fortunately, the responses I get, both from strangers as well as my closest friends,
tends to be reassuringly positive and supportive.  Poetry has been, and continues to
be a wonderful way in which to establish and/or deepen those heartfelt connections;
keeping it honest; keeping it real, and permitting those artful connections to be
pillars of true support.

Will you be performing anywhere soon?  If so, where and when?

I don’t have any featured readings inked as we speak, although that could turn into several rather quickly.  Readings, features, and book signings, have been cyclical for me by design.  When I have a new book, I do what I can to promote it, including a slew of readings at various venues.  So I will make the pre-announcement, to the grand announcement, that a new one is forthcoming!  In the mean time, there are a couple open mike readings I drop in on periodically, as well as one I do frequent, which is Moonday.  Moonday is held at Village Books in the Pacific    Palisades, the 2nd Monday of each month, co-hosted by Alice Pero and Lois P. Jones, two wonderful women and terrific poets in their own right.  And I do feel at home there.

What is something your readers don’t know about you?   

I’ve been a drummer all my life – my entire life, as far back as I can remember.  I     really can’t recall a point along the way that it wasn’t obvious.  I can almost remember, or rather easily imagine tapping my tiny newly formed fingers against the fleshy walls of my mother’s womb – kicking my tender feet to my mother’s heartbeat … pounding out primal rhythms upon wet placenta, to honor the timing of the story     now unfolding.  That may be nothing more than a semi-metaphysical fantasy, which is good enough for me.  Although, I can say, without a doubt, that being a drummer lends itself to the rhythm, measure, timing and tempo of my writing and the reading of my poems.  Also, my gymnastics and my martial arts background, help to give a     shapely arch to the movement and flow of words.

Is there anything you’d like to share about your work?
Yes – of course, nearly everything.  And at the same time, I guard it like a dragon     that    
can be expected and relied upon to guard their treasure fiercely.  We know about Dragons
guarding the Golden Fleece and the Golden Apples of Hesperides; and so I see    myself
as the guardian of the keep – albeit, the keep in this analogy is not the metal of the     sun we
know as gold, but a hoard of treasured verses; valued stories, and precious thoughts infused  with enriching memories.  I do guard those, quite possibly a little too much?  The thing is, I know their origin – where they came from, and what it took to dig them out of those caverns of the soul and shape them into stories, poems, and copious manuscripts – much of which is yet to be published.  They are golden to me – a genuine treasure, thus those dragon-like characteristics I’m willing to own up to, seem natural and appropriate, from my perspective.  One more tid-bit about dragon lore and/or fire-breathing mythology.  It was once widely believed that if a dragon speaks, he will not harm you – but are most dangerous while maintaining utter silence.  This interview is a welcomed interruption of my otherwise possible silence, and I am grateful to you for that.  Your questions have elicited an honest response, which would not have seen the light of day, had you not asked.  

What can we expect from you in the near future?

This may well be my favorite question you’ve asked so far, because of my deep
undeniable largely unguarded excitement about my soon to be published third
book!  My third book, albeit, my first non-fiction, and I can barely contain my
absolute elation, with regard to the birthing of this next book.  Writing, for me,
is the easy part – I’m in love with the creative process, and I feel privileged to
be doing what I love to do.  Publishing and marketing, on the other hand, tends
to be a tad more challenging, in part because those other aspects of the artful life
requires us to find other people we must trust and depend on.  And God knows
that’s not the easiest thing for an artist to do, a good part of the time.  Nevertheless,
we must find others to help us do what cannot be done alone.  And when we do,
creative celebration is in order!  And that’s where I find myself now; having found,
not merely a publisher, but the right publisher for my next book.  

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Untitled Until Now By Phillip Maguire

Phillip Maguire from Pennsylvania, author of Reversed, a collection of poetry and Thunder Under Water, a collection of short stories and poems is an Emergency Medicine Physician. He is a well-balanced father of four with two boys and two girls and a self-proclaimed Zen Baptist. Inspired by gardening, cooking, and reading Phillip's work is never a shallow pool of thought. Reading Phillip's work always gives the reader much to reflect upon and is like an onion being peeled back to expose its many layers, all poignant and flavorful. While many of his poems reveal his zen-like philosophy there are many that show a tender and passion sensibility. His titles are thoughtfully arranged and appeal to a wide range of readers. Please enjoy the following poem. 

Untitled Until Now

Each to each
and each alone
striving, striving
to find home
we stride upon
this rolling rock
weighted with the
sad gravity of thinking
while flowers don’t
wish or want or worry
in this wind-weary world

With stones
in her pockets
she subsided
with stones
in her pockets
she drowned

Living with
death inside me
on and on
I dance
my life

Phillip Maguire © 2011

Photo courtesy of Phillip Maguire  © 2011

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Interview With Author & Poet Rick Lupert


Author Rick Lupert is Sinzibuckwud!

• Who would you say are your biggest poetic influences? Why?

Richard Brautigan was definitely my first biggest poetic influence.  His straightforward language, and sometimes absurd and funny style really spoke to my existing sensibilities and informed the development of my own style. I also love Jeffrey McDaniel for his sometimes dark humor and intense imagery and of course Brendan Constantine for his overall genius. I think all experiences inform one's artistic sensibility...whether it's travel, media, or conversation.  Other writers I've enjoyed, outside of poetry but who still I'd count as influences are Douglas Adams, Douglas Coupland, Harlan Ellison and the collected output of Monty Python.

• You host the Cobalt readings every Tuesday night, who have been some of your favorite featured poets?

Wow...hard to pick...or even to remember for that matter...I've been hosting the reading since 1994 and there have been hundreds of people who've graced the stage in the featured reader spot.  I'm afraid if I started listing people here I'd end up leaving someone out.  Check out the broadsides we've published for all of our featured poets here:   Just about everyone who I picked to read is someone who I felt deserved the opportunity to put together a full featured I've given away the picking of the featured poet spot to many individuals and organizations to help expose as many people to as many other people's poetry as possible eliminating my own sensibility in who is picked to read.

• In your opinion, what makes a great performer in regard to poets in the LA community? What do the audiences best resonate with?

Someone who is in tune with the audience...who isn't flipping through their work trying to decide what to read in the middle of their set...someone who knows how to read their work in a way that emphasizes their words and images, almost like an actor would to best connect emotionally with the listeners...humor is always a winner...someone who is prepared, knowing how much time their set will take and doesn't go much longer (or longer at all) than the allotted time-slot they've been given.  The strongest performer has what my college speech teacher called "the X factor"....this is someone who is so engaging when they are reading, people forget about the time limit and are drawn in to their words.

• How would you describe the poetry community in Los Angeles as a whole?

Disparate, eclectic, strong, non-existent.  There are so many pockets of communities in L.A...sometimes they interconnect and often they don't. They all have their own strengths and weaknesses and styles, and there are a handful of people who might make their way between makes it difficult to give a single description to the 'community' as one can easily argue that there isn't a community...rather a lot of separate communities located near each other that sometimes cross over.

• You have been a strong part of the poetry scene for nearly 20 years, how has the poetry community changed/remained the same since 1990? (2 questions)

The main way it has stayed the same is that it still exists.  Readings come and go; new poets come and go; magazines and publications come and go...but there are always venues, poets and places to publish poetry.  Beyond Baroque in Venice has been an important mainstay and, I think, centerpiece of poetry in L.A. since long before I was a part of it. Poetry in Orange County and Long Beach are going strong.  Of course the Cobalt has been a mainstay in the Valley since before any of us existed.  Mainly, the players and venues sometimes change but, for better or for worse, the community stays the same.  Or I'm completely wrong and it's very different.  I'll have to consult my oracle.

• When you aren’t writing, working or volunteering what other activities or hobbies do you enjoy? How is this reflected in your work?

I love to travel...having a day off is nice...but it's not until I'm completely removed from my normal element do I really feel my eyes are wide open and able to take it all in.  This is why most of my books are poetic travelogues of sort.  I write a good amount of poetry throughout the year, but never more than when I'm in a new place with no responsibilities other than feeding myself.  I'm also very involved in the Jewish community in L.A....particularly through music...most of my most cherished memories and experiences revolve around Jewish music in some way or another.  (Not that seeing Jane's Addiction playing in a bar in downtown L.A. a couple years ago didn't have me floating above L.A.'s skyline for a few days...)  I also love food.  I've been making homemade pizza the last few months on Sundays. (dough from scratch and all).  I'm not sure it is reflected in my work, but on the other hand if the word "yeast" accidentally appears in a poem, you'll know why.

• You have over a dozen books published, do you have any advice for writers who are just starting out and want to succeed publishing books of their own?

Step 1: write good poetry.  Anyone with even a little bit of skill can design a nice looking book and take advantage of the many on-demand/self publishing houses to get their book out there...but if the content is not good, it is not worthwhile.  Attend poetry readings and read your poetry in the open readings. You'll get to know your own work better and be able to gauge from how it comes out of your mouth, as well as the audiences immediate reaction and after-the-fact feedback what works and what doesn't. Try poetry workshops...not every workshop teacher is the right one for every poet, but there will be one out there that will help you generate good work as well as help you make your existing work the best it can be. Try submitting work to online publications and print journals. Getting some poems published before putting a collection together is helpful to understand what, of your work, works outside of your own sensibility.

Don't be afraid to self-publish a collection. Many people seek the validation of someone accepting a body of work but in the end, unless you're fortunate enough to be one of the very small group of poets being published by major publishing houses, with just a little bit of marketing savvy, your book will be at least as successful with you at the helm as it would be coming out on a small press. (The marketing savvy is key here.)

Look at other books you like for examples on how a book should look, what should be included besides your poetry, and how to put together the actual poetry...the order of the poems...what to include and not include etc.

  • What would you like to share with readers about upcoming events in the poetry community?

Of course I host a weekly reading at the Cobalt on Tuesday nights at 9:00 pm.  The most up to date information about this series (including who the featured readers are) can be found here:

The most up to date info on where I am reading (besides the Cobalt) can be found on my website here:

The most comprehensive listing of readings throughout Southern California, updated every month can be found here:  If you run a reading and you are not listed here, email with info about your reading.

• What are some recommendations offering resources for poets? is a great source of information about poetry in Southern California...especially their calendar section.  Subscribe to the Poetry Super Highway Newsletter ( ) for a weekly listing of new links to poetry websites.  A subsciption to Poets and Writers Magazine (or read it for free in the Library) is one of the best global resources for poets with contest listings, articles and more. also is a great resource (including their newsletter) for those looking for contests to enter or publications to submit to.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Fotolia: Great new site for image content.


"As an artist and writer with a discriminating eye for detail, I was hesitant to even visit a site aimed toward stock images. I was building a website and was a bit overwhelmed with other work when I came across Fotolia. When viewing their images I was very impressed by the wide variety of content and quality of art available. Sure I am an artist I could spend my budget locked away in a studio summon the muse and create all the wonderful images I had in my head which would cost more time and more money than I have to share or I can take the easy route. The easy route was the good choice and I am so glad to found this site. It's affordable and with enough images and artwork to consider a smogasbord. I didn't find a lot of generic flash or cheesy stock images, in fact Fotolia was artistic designs even graphic artists themselves would be impressed by. Not to mention how easy to use the was. highly recommended." ~Apryl Skies

"Fotolia is one of those sites I generally try to avoid. I've always felt that most sites providing the sort of service Fotolia provides generally do their best to stick it to you somewhere down the line, just when you need them most. I've also felt that most of the photography found on sites of that nature are generic at best. Well, when it came to Fotolia, I was wrong. Very wrong. The site layout is clean and detailed without losing it's user friendliness.

The graphics, artwork, photography, background vectors and such are excellent and as a whole fairly unique. Working on a tight budget, and an even tighter timeline over the past weeks, I've found myself relying almost solely on Fotolia for their services and downloads, which by the way, are quick and easy. There are no hidden anythings when it comes to Fotolia, including the most important to people such as myself: costs. You're not tied to a contract nor are you tied to a membership that requires an attorney to get out of. Fotolia is truly a site that makes me understand the meaning behind the overused coined phrase, 'what you see is what you get'. What you see with Fotolia and their advertising is exactly and you get. And it is definitely
worth the getting."

~Alicia Winski

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Author Jesse Minkert Comes Around

"I came around in time to the idea that writing is one of those deep mysteries, so deep that a lifetime may not be all that I need to understand it." ~ Jesse Minkert

Author Jesse Minkert of Seattle, Washington is the mad wordsmith of emotion and articulation, drawing curiosity with the intensity of the Man In Black.

Minkert reveals a wide spectrum of cinematic, profound and often obscure storytelling in his book Shortness of Breath & Other Symptoms, a collection of micro-fiction, poetry and prosaic vignettes. Describing us all as "flies in the ointment", his take on love is like a big spoonful of cough syrup; harsh, rebellious and palpable. His outlook on life is a mixture of acceptance, resistance and understanding shaken like a dry martini just enough to coat the poetic palate. 

Minkert's craft is harvested from a humorous and faceted perspective offering readers a variety of tragically off-beat and metaphorical characters. As a writer of wisdom, resolve and relevancy, he explores the textures of experience, shaking his finger at the poetry of common conundrum. 

Many of the pieces in Shortness of Breath & Other Symptoms twist our existential spine, On to the Ocean is slightly reminiscent of Kafka's Metamorphosis, while A Big Responsibility is one to carry in the shirt pocket...asking the poignant, multi-layered question,

"If the world depends on me to observe it, what happens when I forget?"

Through celebratory laughter, Jesse Minkert acknowledges the roaring dysfunction of our ironic human condition, but he never wraps reality in a bow, rather he slaps a stamp on it, with no address and hopes for the best possible destination.

Shortness of Breath & Other Symptoms is a must-have for the true literature connoisseur. A beautifully crafted, thread-stitched edition, which book lovers of all genres will find artful.
Jesse Minkert shares the following few poems:

Checkerboard Fedora
The Sisters



Author Interview:

Do you have a website or blog?
I am planning to set up a website which will, I hope, include sound files of readings.

Which poets have influenced you the most? Why?
I’ve been influenced by several artists, not all of whom were poets. My father was a painter, sculptor, and ceramist in central Texas at a time when to be such was like walking around with an extra head. He demonstrated the value of creativity as a mission, as a way to face the world. Much the same could be said of my friend Charlie Burks, a legend and a bit of a phantom in Seattle poetry. His influences were everybody everywhere, but most obviously, stand-up comedians. Listening to Charlie read was like a break with reality that turned out, when you looked at it closely, to be reality after all, just not from an angle you’d ever used before. Next in line is William Shakespeare. I spent some time as a playwright, and I was obsessed with WS for several years. Rhythms in English speech and poesy are rooted in Shakespeare, so I try to be, too. I started writing rhymes under the spell of Belle Randall who got me excited about the possibilities of rhyme in irregular line lengths and unexpected patterns. She also introduced me to Frederick Seidel. Samuel Beckett is in this group with several different hats on, playwright, writer of microfiction, and so on. Two early influences were Edward Fitzgerald and Henry Miller. Fitzgerald’s translations of The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam gave me perspectives that were hard to come by in the Texas of the 1960s. Aside from the celebrations of dissipation, they provided some hard-headed talk about what one may expect of the universe. My 18-year-old self enjoyed the naughty parts of Tropic of Cancer, of course, but those vulgar passages kept being interrupted by lyrical flights and surreal pyrotechnics that were at least as stimulating, although to different glands. Richard Dawkins, Jared Diamond, and Carl Sagan were as important to me, ultimately, as Omar Khayyam, and for many of the same reasons. But the tone of my work is set by the influence of a grassroots tradition. If one listens carefully, one may hear Robert Johnson, Son House, Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon, Howlin’ Wolf, and those that built upon their genius in every one of my poems.

Do you feel that you make more of a connection or a disconnection with others
in your work or is that dependent on the poem itself?
My work is my connection. I don’t really have enough personality to get by without it. Some of my pieces connect with a live audience instantly. These are not necessarily my best, just my most approachable, pieces. They tend to rely on cleverness, glib turns of phrase, and so on. My better pieces will connect with somebody, maybe one or two in a roomful. Poets I respect will come to me and say something. Some pieces don’t connect because they’re not that good. They need work, or to retire. Some don’t connect because I didn’t write them to connect. I wrote them to say something people don’t want to listen to, so naturally people don’t listen to these.

What are some of your favorite quotes? Yours or otherwise?
Aphorisms bore me. Pithy little sayings to oversimplify any situation. I mean, life is too short, eh?

What advice do you have for young poets?
Reading is the only thing you can do that will help at all. Read things you don’t think you’ll like. When performing, speak up. Not everybody has perfect hearing. Slow down. You’ll never get paid by the number of words you can fit into a minute. Better to impress with your language than with your ability to spew.

What would you advise a young poet NOT to do?
Don’t go over the time limit, don’t ignore the guidelines, and, trust me, your sex life is not that interesting. Before you show anyone a poem, before you read a poem to someone, go over every single phrase. For each one, if you can think of a single instance you’ve heard it used by somebody else, cut it and write something that you haven’t heard anybody say ever.

Jesse Minkert
Arts and Visually Impaired Audiences


Jesse Minkert lives in Seattle, Washington. He writes creative non-fiction, short stories, microfiction, novels, and poetry. He founded the non-profit corporation Arts and Visually Impaired Audiences. In 2008, Wood Works Press published a collection of Minkert's microstories and poems titled Shortness of Breath & Other Symptoms. Each summer for the past fifteen years, at Jack Straw Productions in Seattle, Minkert participates in the Blind Youth Audio Project where he teaches radio theater to visually impaired teenagers.

The micro-story "Betty and Dupree" has been accepted by the online literary journal, Tattoo Highway for publication in September 2011.

The poems "Mother Apprehension" and "Seasonal" were posted by the online journal Chantarellle's Notebook, February 2011.

The poem "Tofu Supreme" was posted by the online journal Snakeskin for their food-themed issue, February 2011.