Sunday, June 22, 2014


Name?  Russell Streur

Age? 60

Location? Johns Creek, Georgia

How long have you been writing?  47 years.

Do you have a specific writing style?  Postmodern American I guess is the best title for the style.  I try to be short and quick about it, 14 lines is my preferred length for a poem, I like having to fit something into a certain construction. 

Do you write as a career?  No.  I analyze healthcare data.

Do you write full-time?  No.  I hardly write at all anymore.  My last period of concentrated ran from 2004 through 2010.  After that, I figured I had said what I needed to say.  Now, I run The Camel Saloon, which, as far as I can tell, can accurately be called the world’s original online poetry bar.  I edit a lot, and I stay in the conversation of poetry on a daily basis. Come visit:

What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment as a writer?  Creating The Camel Saloon.  Why is that writing?  Because I knew that it was time to start giving something back to the community of poetry and other free speech.

What is your ultimate goal as a writer?  From the time I was young, I wanted to be a minor American of the last half of the 20th Century.  It didn’t happen.   No matter.  Running the Saloon is where I ended up from poetry, and that’s a good place to be.  Personally, I am into other forms of self-expression these days—photography for one, I’ve had works hanging in Atlanta galleries off and one, mostly on, for the last couple of years, and have sold a few things off the walls.  That’s a high, I tell you.  And I’m teaching myself watercolors, except I’m not a very good teacher.  A picture, you know, is worth a thousand words.  Maybe it’s just poetry by other means.  

What is your greatest challenge as a writer?  Finding something new to say.  Something that isn’t just typing, something I haven’t said before.  That doesn’t happen too often these days.  

What projects of yours have been recently published?    Ten Pages Press published Table of Discontents in 2012.  The link to the pdf is here:

Discontents is part of a longer series of very blunt data sets meant to mirror the traffic stream of information and how it dehumanizes the individual by marginalizing language.  Here’s Number 17

Day of reckoning
Cusp of an apocalypse
Boiling over
Invalid entry
Long shadow
Phantom limb
Consumer stupor
Into the sea

“I am astonished at the moment,”
the commissioner said.
“It does not represent current progress.”

Wave of self-immolation
Data furnace.

The quotes in all the pieces are all real; the events surrounding the quotes are taken from corresponding TV sound bites or newspaper pages, usually other stories but within the same reachable frame of reference:  a time or a place.

       How do you react to rejections?  I laugh.  I react in a feigned shock:  Don’t they know who I am.  Rejection is part of the game.  You can’t hit every pitch.

       How do you react when one of your submissions is accepted for publication?  It’s still a big thrill for me. 

       What is your best piece of advice on how to stay sane as a writer?  Don’t fall in love with your own thoughts, your own personality, your own words.  Stay true to the image, and let the truth of the thing be the goal.  Staying sane as a poet is simple. Remember you are not writing for yourself.  You are writing for the benefit of, and from the mercy of, the Muse.

       What is your favorite book?  I really really like Whiskey River by Loren Estleman.  He’s a mystery writer.  River is about bootlegging days in Detroit.  Great writing and great characgters—Jack Dance as the lead gangster, and Connie Minor as a newspaper columnist.  It’s a marvelous read.

       Who is your favorite author?  Poet is Li Po.  American fiction writer is John Steinbeck.  Both hands down.  I’d like to have dinner with Doc over at the Western Biologic one night.  Sounds like it would be a grand evening.  

        What is your favorite word?  Blossom. 

        What makes you laugh?  The high and mighty falling.

      What makes you cry?  How often they don’t.

What is your preferred drink while you write?  These days, green tea.  It used to be vodka.  Real serious vodka drinking.  I’m done with those days.  The last year or so, I’ve started to enjoy craft beers.  A good Czech style Pilsner works for me.  Pilsner was created at the Citizens Brewery of Pilsen back around 1840.  Some say Town Brewery.  Peoples Brewery works for me.  That’s the ancestor of Pilsner Urquell on the shelves today.  Urquell means the ancient source, or the old ways.  So it’s town beer, the old way.  I have three bottles of Third Shift and an equal number of Endless Rivers in the refrigerator now.  Christ.  It’s nine o’clock on a Sunday morning.  All of a sudden I’m thirsty.

Beach or Mountains?  Mountains

Cats or Dogs?  Cats.

The Beatles or The Rolling Stones?  Stones.  Especially Exile on Main Street.  Especially Rip This Joint. Happy.  Tumbling Dice.  Love those tracks, the whole line-up.

Jimi Hendrix or Frank Sinatra?  Jimi in the small dose, Sinatra for the long haul.

Shakespeare or Bukowski?  Shakespeare, live, on Navy Pier in Chicago, at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater.  Nothing better.


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