Review: Poet: An Intimate discussion with Wade Radford

Disclaimer: I am in this documentary briefly, and also friends with the subject. In spite of that, what follows is an objective look at the film, and only my opinion.

One of the very first things I found out about Wade Radford was that he was a poet.This didn’t surprise me as his movie Twink (the film that brought us in touch) was nothing if not poetic at times. The first book of poems of his that I read was “Tough Blows of A Sleepless Universe” and I was, if not blown away, then at least suitably impressed. As further volumes of his work came out, the stronger and tighter his poems became. I suppose the culmination for me, was being asked to write a forward to his collection, “Ideations of Six Feet Under” . For me that volume is perhaps my favorite because it truly captured his honesty, anger and amazing amount of talent.

So, it was also no surprise when he told me that he was going to be making a documentary about his poetry. I was excited by this, as a movie by Wade is always a cause for celebration. The fact it was his first movie  in a couple of years, with long time collaborator and friend Jason Impey was all the better. I was equally humbled when asked to contribute to the film as a talking head (so to speak). I filmed my bits sent them off, and was able to watch the final product this past week.

In short it’s everything you might expect. And more. And less as well. In addition to my contribution we also hear from Jason, punk legend Honey Bane, and film producer Thomas Lee Bottom (who also funded this project). For the record, Honey Bane contributed one of the most beautiful songs I’ve heard in a very long time, using one of Wade’s poems for the lyrics.  The sparse musical arrangement suits this song very well, and Honey’s vocals are nothing short of amazing. This song needs to be a single and played everywhere, it’s that good.

Interspersed with the interviews are pieces where Wade ruminates on, well pretty much everything. These parts are less about the poetry, and moreo about what goes into them. It’s not every day you get to see the inner workings of a poet. During these clips we’re taken to places that have significance to him, and he explains why they have meaning. The camera work during these interludes is at times breathtaking, as much as what Wade discusses is heartbreaking.

We also see Wade reading several of his poems throughout, and as wonderful as they are, and as powerfully read (if a bit over theatrical at times), it interrupts the flow of the movie.

The interview segments are what you would expect from a documentary and all who participate have great things to say and some keen insights at times. We’re all friends of Wade’s and it may come off as a mutual admiration society, but this is about the poetry, not necessarily the person. This isn’t about digging up the dirt, but peeling back the layers to see what makes the heart of his work beat with such unrepentant ferocity.

At a full two hour running time, it does drag a bit in spots, and while I think it would have been perfect at 90 minutes, I’m not sure what I would end up cutting, because it all seems important enough to keep in. And as I alluded to earlier the poetry readings do tend to slow it down, but they are also worth the time they take.

Some may see Poet as a vanity project, a product of equal parts ego and hubris, and for some they would be right. For Wade however, he is open, honest, humble, and most of all doesn’t take himself seriously. His wit and charm is very evident, and the readings are a testament to his talent.

As I watched Poet, I couldn’t help but think I wish I had half his ability, and that’s about the highest compliment I can pay anyone. Poet shows why that  praise is warranted.

Poet: An Intimate Discussion With Wade Radford is available to rent or purchase on Vimeo. https://vimeo.com/ondemand/poetwaderadford

 

Managing Social Networks – The Ugly Truth

Whether you’re an indie writer, published by a small press, or have a publishing deal with mid tier and higher publishers, chances are a lot of the promotion will fall onto your shoulders. Unless you achieve the status of a Stephen King or Dan Brown (two people who actually don’t need a ton of advertising), your going to get your hands dirty. In the always connected world we now reside in, not only is an online presence suggested, it’s actually required.

As I’ve said in other posts, I’ve been online since the BBS days of the mid ’80s. I’ve hung out on usenet groups, chatted in AOL rooms, posted on Compuserve and Prodigy forums, and even had a GeoCities site.  Yesterday I got a notice that I had been on WordPress for Five years. I’ve been on Twitter since March of 2009, Facebook since about the same time and Google+ since June of 2011. I also had MySpace, and far too many accounts to far too many forums to ever be able to mention-let alone remember-them all.

All of that however doesn’t make me an expert. It does make me reevaluate the amount of time I’m online, but that’s a sad tale for another day.  What it has made me, is a scheduling expert.  Not for everyone else, just for me.  Everyone is different. We all have lives, family, friends, and obligations which take our time. Then of course there’s our writing, and there never seems to be enough time for that. So how do we juggle all that and maintain some kind of presence?

I schedule what social Networks I’ll be on for any given day. Twitter is a little bit different, as 98% of my posts are from my phone or tablet, and I can do that from anywhere.  Blogging takes the biggest chink of time at once. With G+ and FB, I can do that in little bites, but to blog means sitting down in my comfy chair, grabbing my laptop, a cup of coffee and grasping at straws for an idea. Due to this, I tend to blog the least. I try to keep them to about 500 words when possible.  Not too long to either write, or read, but enough to not feel it was simply filler.  On Sunday nights when I’m putting together a schedule, I’ll come up with three or four ideas for posts, and space them out throughout the week (and try to keep one for the weekend, as people like to have something new to read then). Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. If I get an idea throughout the week and I have time, I may write one on the fly. I’m working on being consistent after many months of a fallow field.

I alternate my days on FB and G+. Example, I’ll concentrate on FB Mon, Wed, and Fri while working on G+ Tues and Thurs. I don’t ignore them on their off days, but I don’t spend as much time on the pages and communities as I do when it’s their day. I try to be as engaged on the pages I subscribe to as possible.  On weekends, I mix it up, whatever I feel like hanging out on is where you’ll find me.  And twitter is throughout the day whenever I have the urge to say something, or a new post is up.

It’s very easy to get consumed in all of it, but remember it’s your time, you run them, they don’t run you.

Reposting The Process

With the publication of Death In Common on the horizon, I thought this would be a good time to repost an entry I wrote back in NOvember dealing with the process I went through of getting accepted.

When Rich first announced his anthology over on SL, I was intrigued, and intimidated. Intrigued, because I loved the concept of poems based on a serial killer, but intimidated because I don’t know jack about writing poems. I did have an idea of what I wanted to write. When Rich kind of prodded me in an email to submit something, I thought hard about whether I should or not.

My idea was simply a reinterpretation of an unpublished story I’d written many years ago. It concerned a guy who finds a homeless man shading himself by the side of a building. He offers help and gets no response. Somewhat discouraged he drops some money and a business card in the man’s hat and walks away, never realizing he was talking to a corpse. It was about lost opportunities, wasting life, and offering help when it’s too little, too late. The finished poem, now, in no way resembles that, however. As I wrote my first draft, a prose poem, it didn’t exactly fit in with the the theme. I’m going to be careful and not give anything away in what the content is, though I can describe the process I went through.

The first thing I did was read some prose poems that Rich sent me some link to, in order to get an idea of how to frame my story. What I did, ended up being a 750 word flash fiction piece. What that did was give me the story I wanted to tell (though even that changed as well). Rich advised me to make some cuts, add some actual poetic content and revise.

The next revision was closer to a prose poem, but still not quite there. Rich asked me to make each sentence its own paragraph. I did this sent it to him and he said, “Now pick 20 sentences that are the most important.”

I groaned. This was really the hardest step for me. It was like him telling me, “Pick which organs are the most important in order for you to live.” What I tried first was printing out the whole piece, cuting each sentence into a strip, (there were 45 or so) placing them in a bag and picking 20 at random.  That worked about as well as you could expect. It may have been successful for William Burroughs, but Burroughs, I’m not. I went through each line as if it were someone else’s piece I was editing and not my own. It was the only way I could make this work. I spent a few days on this, but finally decided on the ones I wanted to keep. Gone was my first line, “A year after his birth, Gary’s Mother stuck her head in an oven and turned on the gas.”  I liked the line, and still do, but it was about paring down; taking a block of clay and sculpting it into something recognizable as poetry. I sent the results to Rich and sat on pins and needles as I awaited his notes.

And I got them. He restructed the result into stanza form, suggested some deletions, asked for some additions and more structure. This was the equivalent to me of jumping out of a plane with no parachute. It didn’t help that work was asking for mandatory OT, my nephew was with me for a few days, and I was stuck on what to do.

Oh, and did I mention, I also needed to shape it into something that fit into the structure of the collection? At this point, the connection to the commonality of the poems was tenuous at best. It amounted to an almost complete rewrite.

Line by line, I went through it all. Keeping more than I thought, deleting lines that were more plot than descriptive, adding more, changing words, removing small words. By the time I was finished, I had no clue whether what I’d written was even readable, let alone publishable.

And here is where the tide began to turn. The light at the end of the tunnel, if I can beat a dead horse phrase. There were many changes to make, but not major ones. I still had to add an element that really tied the piece to the rest of the collection, and I did that based on one word I’d taken out in an earlier revision. The changes in the next couple of passes were clean up, refining the piece to its final state.

It’s a piece I’m incredibly proud of. Not because it’s my first sale, but it was something I never thought I’d been capable of writing. I drew on resources and an inner determination I never thought I possessed.

Is it any good? It’s not for me to decide. As we know a lot of crap gets published, but given the pedigree of writers, the excellence of the editor, and the track record of the publisher, I’d like to think it’s an okay piece.

Once the collection has come out and people have had a chance to read it, I’ll put up the first draft, so you can judge how well I’ve done.

The Process

When Rich first announced his anthology over on SL, I was intrigued, and intimidated. Intrigued, because I loved the concept of poems based on a serial killer, but intimidated because I don’t know jack about writing poems. I did have an idea of what I wanted to write. When Rich kind of prodded me in an email to submit something, I thought hard about whether I should or not. 

My idea was simply a reinterpretation of an unpublished story I’d written many years ago. It concerned a guy who finds a homeless man shading himself by the side of a building. He offers help and gets no response. Somewhat discouraged he drops some money and a business card in the man’s hat and walks away, never realizing he was talking to a corpse. It was about lost opportunities, wasting life, and offering help when it’s too little, too late. The finished poem, now, in no way resembles that, however. As I wrote my first draft, a prose poem, it didn’t exactly fit in with the the theme. I’m going to be careful and not give anything away in what the content is, though I can describe the process I went through.

The first thing I did was read some prose poems that Rich sent me some link to, in order to get an idea of how to frame my story. What I did, ended up being a 750 word flash fiction piece. What that did was give me the story I wanted to tell (though even that changed as well). Rich advised me to make some cuts, add some actual poetic content and revise. 

The next revision was closer to a prose poem, but still not quite there. Rich asked me to make each sentence its own paragraph. I did this sent it to him and he said, “Now pick 20 sentences that are the most important.”

I groaned. This was really the hardest step for me. It was like him telling me, “Pick which organs are the most important in order for you to live.” What I tried first was printing out the whole piece, cuting each sentence into a strip, (there were 45 or so) placing them in a bag and picking 20 at random.  That worked about as well as you could expect. It may have been successful for William Burroughs, but Burroughs, I’m not. I went through each line as if it were someone else’s piece I was editing and not my own. It was the only way I could make this work. I spent a few days on this, but finally decided on the ones I wanted to keep. Gone was my first line, “A year after his birth, Gary’s Mother stuck her head in an oven and turned on the gas.”  I liked the line, and still do, but it was about paring down; taking a block of clay and sculpting it into something recognizable as poetry. I sent the results to Rich and sat on pins and needles as I awaited his notes. 

And I got them. He restructed the result into stanza form, suggested some deletions, asked for some additions and more structure. This was the equivalent to me of jumping out of a plane with no parachute. It didn’t help that work was asking for mandatory OT, my nephew was with me for a few days, and I was stuck on what to do. 

Oh, and did I mention, I also needed to shape it into something that fit into the structure of the collection? At this point, the connection to the commonality of the poems was tenuous at best. It amounted to an almost complete rewrite. 

Line by line, I went through it all. Keeping more than I thought, deleting lines that were more plot than descriptive, adding more, changing words, removing small words. By the time I was finished, I had no clue whether what I’d written was even readable, let alone publishable. 

And here is where the tide began to turn. The light at the end of the tunnel, if I can beat a dead horse phrase. There were many changes to make, but not major ones. I still had to add an element that really tied the piece to the rest of the collection, and I did that based on one word I’d taken out in an earlier revision. The changes in the next couple of passes were clean up, refining the piece to its final state.

It’s a piece I’m incredibly proud of. Not because it’s my first sale, but it was something I never thought I’d been capable of writing. I drew on resources and an inner determination I never thought I possessed.

Is it any good? It’s not for me to decide. As we know a lot of crap gets published, but given the pedigree of writers, the excellence of the editor, and the track record of the publisher, I’d like to think it’s an okay piece.

Once the collection has come out and people have had a chance to read it, I’ll put up the first draft, so you can judge how well I’ve done.

First sale

I can now announce, that I’ve made my first sale, a poem, to be included in Rich Ristow’s collection, Death in Common. 

What started one warm AZ night on Oct. 14th, and included 11 revisions, numerous emails, and a small ulcer has culminated in a sale. I spent a lot of time writing this one, and kept on trucking even when I wanted to give up.  Were it not for Rich’s comments, care and patience, it would have been impossible to finish.  I want to thank him for giving me the chance, even though I never thought I had one.  Poetry isn’t my thing. I appreciate it, even more now, but this was a bitch to write. Over the next couple of days I’m going to detail the process I went through to get Misplace Chldhood publishable.

Make no mistake. Rich is a friend, but I had no guarantees it would be accepted. fortunately, I’ve worked with friends in the past and had my work radically changed or rejected, so it would have been okay. 

But I got accepted. So now Nikita, I AM a published writer, with HWA rates to boot! It pays to work hard and have a bit of talent.

A hell of an editor doesn’t hurt either.

Calling All Poets

My friend Rich, has a post over on SL, seeking submissions for a poetry anthology he’s working on. Anyone interested, take a look here, http://shocklinesforum.yuku.com/topic/7163. Yes, he’s a friend, and I’ve submitted something, but I’d post about it anyway, because Rich, is a good guy, and I love the idea for this anthology.

Plus, if you read the whole thread, you’ll see me and Jerrod having some fun. Now about those mimes…