Friday, December 27, 2013

INTERVIEW: GLENN COOPER


Name? Glenn Cooper

Age? (Feel free to ignore this question completely) 44

Location? Tamworth, Australia

How long have you been writing? You could say I dabbled in my teenage years, but I didn’t seriously start to write until around 1990. Horrid songs. Then I tried poetry, then short stories (after reading Carver), then novels, then back to poetry (after reading Bukowski). It has been poetry and prose-poetry ever since.

Do you have a specific writing style? No. None of my books bare any similarity to each other. I like to try a different style or technique every time. I suppose I got that from Bob Dylan. Or as Burroughs used to say: STOP. CHANGE. START

Do you write as a career? That’s hilarious!

Do you write full-time? Only in my head.

What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment as a writer? If I don’t completely embarrass myself I consider it an accomplishment.

What is your ultimate goal as a writer? I have fantasies of people in the distant future finding my books in junk shops or in long forgotten cardboard boxes in attics and reading my poems and wondering about me. So I guess that means the “ultimate goal” is to leave behind a silver trail, like a snail; something that says, “I was here. I existed.”

What is your greatest challenge as a writer? To use Camus’ phrase, my natural inclination is to roll to a stop. To close the book or the computer screen and to lie down and doze. So my greatest challenge is to fight that tendency and to keep going with whatever it is I am trying to write.

What projects of yours have been recently published? Kamini Press published “Some Natural Things” in 2008; Liquid Paper Press published “Methinks I See My Father” in 2009. More recently I have published “His Crucible of Pain: 20 Prose Poems About Rimbaud”, and “The Proportions of a Man”, which is a collection of absurdist prose poems.

What are you currently working on and what inspired this work? Right now I am more concerned with publishing other people. In January I will publish on my own imprint – Blind Dog Press –  a new book of haiku and tanka by Ronald Baatz, who is without doubt one of the best poets in America. Then in around May of 2014 I will release an anthology of work honouring the life and poetry of Arthur Rimbaud – a poet who has obsessed me for the better part of 25 years.



Where can we find your work? All over the web. But specifically at kaminipress.com, also at lummoxpress.com

       How often do you write? I write every day, but that includes what I put in my journal and so forth. As for poems, I write maybe one poem each week, though sometimes I go stretches of months without writing a single poem. Then I might write two or three very quickly.

       How do you react to rejections? I don’t. I just throw them in the rubbish and keep going.

       How do you react when one of your submissions is accepted for publication? I have had a lot of dismal poems published over the years, so a part of me is skeptical when something of my own is accepted. I don’t trust what I write, and I don’t trust the people who read it. I think we are all very poor judges.

       What is your best piece of advice on how to stay sane as a writer? Not to believe either praise or criticism, but to just keep moving along with it.

       What is your favorite book? My favourite novel is Camus’ “The Outsider”. My favourite book of poetry is Rimbaud’s “Illuminations”.

       Who is your favorite author? Rimbaud. Though sometimes I think it’s more his life that fascinates me than his actual work. I have gone through phases of obsessive interest in a number of different writers – Bukowski, Camus, Burroughs. James Laughlin is a poet I admire deeply. Same with Ronald Baatz. More recently I have become obsessed with Russell Edson.

        If you could have dinner with one fictional character, who would it be and why? Russell Edson, even though he’s not fictional; he should be.

        What is the greatest occupational hazard for a writer? To write for the adulation. As Dylan says: No man gains immortality through public acclaim.

        What is your favorite word? I like the word “juxtaposition”. Just the way it sounds. I also like saying “escutcheon”, which means “shield”. I have used escutcheon in a couple of poems. “Prodigious” is another word that feels good on the tongue.

        What makes you laugh? Something funny.

      What makes you cry? Depends if its tears of joy or sadness. If it’s sadness we’re talking about, it’s the obvious things like the death of a loved one or a beloved pet. If it’s tears of joy, maybe the sound of an exquisite Tom Verlaine guitar solo, or maybe the way Dylan sings a certain line in a song. Or a happy memory.

What is your preferred drink while you write? Water.

Beach or Mountains? Depends if it’s winter or summer. If it’s summer, the mountains are filled with flies, which I can’t abide, so I’ll say beach. I don’t swim, but I do like to walk on the beach and to admire the ocean, which never fails to awe me.

Cats or Dogs? Dogs.

The Beatles or The Rolling Stones? I don’t listen to either. To this day I have never heard a complete Beatles or Rolling Stones album.

Jimi Hendrix or Frank Sinatra? Same as above. I don’t like Hendrix’s playing at all, what I’ve heard of it, anyway. I like a few Sinatra songs.

Shakespeare or Bukowski? Definitely Bukowski, though I don’t read him as a man in my forties. I read him in my 20s and early 30s. Shakespeare, I find totally unreadable.


     Please provide as much or as little of the following information as you’d like.

 Personal website/blog: It’s definitely a work in progress, but http://blinddogpress.blogspot.com.au/

Facebook profile or page: www.facebook.com/glenn.cooper.5494


      Books for sale and/or press?

      Anything you’d like to share about your country, its people, or native animals?  

Australia has a huge collection of bizarre animals as well as the largest assortment of deadly creatures in the world. The place literally crawls with deadly snakes, spiders and other critters. You have to watch where you step, that’s for sure.
  
On my press: I've always made books. Even when I was 10 years old I'd make little booklets and staple them together. They weren't always necessarily my own words. Sometimes they'd be books of sporting statistics or sentences I liked from other people's books. But it always seemed important to me to make books. My first foray into publishing other people came when Justin Barrett and I formed Hemispherical Press in, I think, 2004. We published a half dozen handmade chapbooks before it kind of fizzled out. At the same time I started publishing some of my own work which I'd then distribute to a small circle of friends, Albert Huffstickler style. I called my press Blind Dog Press because I had a blind dog at the time, so it made sense. He has since left this realm but I have another dog that is also starting to go blind. Again, these were handmade chapbooks. Then I discovered services like lulu.com and createspace.com and realised you could do professional quality books for next to nothing. So I made a few of those. My biggest project to date has been a Selected Poems for Ronald Baatz. Baatz is one of the great, unheralded poets of the last forty years and I wanted to rectify that situation to the small degree that I was able. Distribution, of course, is a terrible problem, but the book sells steadily through the internet and in the few bookshops it sits in.

On Australia's deadly creatures: We have a spider called a funnel-web. The meanest spider on the planet. It's mainly relegated to the east coast but indications are that it is spreading inland. We have another spider called a redback that will kill you very easily. These red-backs are ubiquitous. They're small but pack a punch. There are snakes everywhere -- brown snakes, black snakes, taipans, death-adders -- you name it. The taipans are particularly wicked -- a group of them stole a car once and actually went out looking for trouble. What else? We've got deadly manta-rays, and flotillas of great white sharks that patrol the coast. An eighteen year-old surfer was bitten in half and eaten just last week. We've got swarms of mosquitos and bush-flies the size of grapes. They won't kill you, but they'll make you want to kill yourself just to get away from them. People think,  "Australia, oh yeah, kangaroos" -- but don't be fooled: get too close and they will punch or kick you in the face. It's a very aggressive place, Australia, both the people and the wildlife. Maybe it's the heat that causes it? I don't know. Come here at your own risk.

Poetry around here: there are some readings around here, but a lot of it is sewing-circle type poetry. I don't participate. It's not my style. I did go to a reading by a visiting Japanese tanka poet, Mariko Kitakubo, which I enjoyed very much. There is a poet, here, Michael Thorley whose work I enjoy. But mostly I keep to myself and do not regret it.




  

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