Tony Brown, a poet who was unknown to me until following the 2008 Poet Laureate Of The Blogosphere and to my surprise not only he won but he got above three hundred votes. Then it was his voice reciting with tune of music, that had left know doubt whatsoever that such votes are well deserved. This interview will be insufficient without hearing Tony Brown voice recital. LIP has an honor to take with a journey of our 2008 Poet Laureate of the Blogosphere
95 North (Coming Home)
strain your eyes
and you will learn what is perfect
dampen them with fatigue
and it will be easy to make
diamonds from the night's coal
the facets will glint through tears
and halos will form around
the world becomes more precious
as you become
more tired of it
the moments that will stand out in the dark
will stand out precisely because
you have come so far
and still have far to go
Did you expect that you will be getting such votes and nomination? And wining such title in the world of blogging, has it created more impact on your writing and had it opened new doors of opportunity?
First off, thank you for your kind words and attention!
It’s still a little unreal to me that I won this award. I confess that I put out the word to my various subscribers and friends to vote for me, but I didn’t expect such an overwhelming response. I treated the “campaign” for the title as a bit of joke, honestly, using various campaign slogans and statements as an extended satirical commentary on the current US election campaign. Now that I’ve won, of course, it seems that the joke was on me to some extent…
Seriously, I’ve already seen an uptick in the people visiting my blog (radioactiveart.livejournal.com) and commenting from as far away as Malta! So it’s been a really nice validation of the visibility such a contest and title can provide. And I’m honored to be in the company of such excellent poets who were nominated and the past winners.
Your were described as " Tony is a Worcester area poet who has been a vital part of the poetry scene both at home and nationally for over a dozen years. He’s a self-professed original punk, and his poem" has poetry always been running in your veins or you have discovered poetry at certain time of your life?
Oh, I am someone who’s always known he was a poet, from an early age. I still have notebooks faithfully documenting my poetry back to age 14, in 1974. It was and is the defining characteristic of my life. I don’t know who I’d be if I hadn’t discovered and been encouraged to pursue poetry at an early age. Fortunately, I don’t have to find out.
Far from poetry, who is Tony Brown, and how he pursues his life ?
Currently, I’m a self-employed human resources and training consultant – I stepped out on my own from a 25 year corporate career a few years ago to create a lifestyle that allowed me more time to pursue my art. I also make a fair amount of my living from poetry performances and freelance writing.
I’m a lifelong resident of the Worcester, MA area, a longtime member of the US performance poetry and slam scene, and a passionate but mediocre guitarist who knows enough to stick to poetry on stage.
Oh, and the punk thing? I was and am a devotee of punk rock – not just the music, but the entire esthetic of the early days of that artistic sensibility. That “do it yourself” initiative continues to inform my work, even though you rarely see me at a punk show nowadays.
Faro is more of a jazz/funk/rock player, as well as a sensitive classical guitarist, so even though our music doesn’t sound much like punk, I like to think it’s still informed by that direct, in-your-face ethic.
Sometime talent can be such a blessing. How poetry and music showered your life.
I think of poetry as my religious practice – my way of taking with and to God and the world about my questions regarding existence. It’s the central place of my being. Music isn’t far behind in terms of importance. I see them both as forms of communication, ways to communicate things that are frequently well-nigh impossible to speak to any other way.
I don’t know what else to say about that.
If you had not had your poetry where do you see your self ?
Wow. No idea. I might have pursued being a musician more intensely, but honestly, it’s beyond my comprehension how to separate my identity from my poetry.
Which poem you feel through the years is your favorite or you would never forget.
Easy one. “DIY” (which stands for the punk motto “do it yourself” as a manifesto for taking the control of your life and art into your own hands) is pretty much a poem about my deepest desires for myself and the world. I have those three letters tattooed on my chest above my heart as a constant reminder of that.
Here’s the poem:
She burns sage at the root of her favorite tree
and calls herself priest while in town they call her slut and worse
because she dares to love who and what and when she wants.
On the nights of the full moon the men and the women of this town
come out and circle her stucco walls.
There is something in there they need.
And out there, in front of the white church, on the green lawn, right under the nose
of the fat pastor, she dances without bending a blade of grass.
God finds her agreeable.
Over there, in front of the frat house, two men kiss --
and the dangerous drunken boys inside see it
and decide to do nothing -- this time.
That's a start. Two have begun
to be comfortable making public
their own sacrament of the infinite.
And my grandmother sniffs,
" ' Elderly' is such a spindly word.
The legs of that word do not begin to support me."
She traded her electric typewriter for a laptop
two years ago and writes the definitive poetry of our age
between the innings of Cubs' games.
She will not stop smoking. Ever.
Swears that if she gets to heaven to find the clouds are posted,
she'll find another place to light up.
Friends, the arms of God are nearly endless --
but there you hang out at the end of one of them,
like a finger on a vast hand.
All that's asked of you is that you touch the earth
and transmit what you feel
back to the Heart.
So -- make a living.
Make a life. Make love. Make art.
Adorn this world with the work of your soul. But --
Do it yourself. No one
can do it
What inspires you to write and is all your poetry tide in music?
I write a fair amount of poetry that is not designed to be performed with music, although Faro can pretty much set music to anything. If anything is true about that, it’s that I think of poetry as an art of creating musical language in and of itself, so a lot of the time the solo voice is enough.
I guess the answer to that question, then, is that yes, everything is tied to music, even if it’s just the rhythm of ordinary speech or more “exalted” language, if I can use that word.
As for what inspires me – everything. Love, hate, the cat in the window, social injustice, internal dialogue, interpersonal connection, a good guitar’s perfect voice – anything!
How far would you like to go with your poetry?
Also an easy one. I’d like for at least one poem of mine to be remembered decades after I’m gone, even if no one recalls who wrote it.
How did you begin to write a column in poetry website? (Tell us more about it)
I write a column for the Gopoetry website (http://www.gotpoetry.com) called “Zero Point Zero” and have been writing it off and on for several years now. It used to be a weekly column but I’ve cut back significantly over the last two years because of time constraints.
John Powers, who runs the site, is an old friend of mine from the area, and we’ve both been involved in the poetry world for many years now. He originally asked me if I’d do a column with a pretty wide open mandate – talk about issues in poetry, especially in the world of performance poetry and the slam world.
The column is named after the lowest possible score you can get in a poetry slam. I used it as a metaphor for the starting point of every poem.
The topics range from explorations of my own philosophy and process for writing and performance and the politics of poetry and its place in the world, to discussions of forms of poetry and their particular characteristics, along with occasional rants about bad poetry – pretty much runs the gamut. A kind of snapshot of my thinking about the various aspects of the art form on any given day. Hard to categorize. I’m in the process of turning the existing columns into a book manuscript, which is hard – it ranges all over the map and figuring out a natural flow hasn’t been easy.
Really, it’s just an extension of all my work – a way of communicating to my fellow poets and lovers of poetry about what we do and who we are. It’s a labor of love, even when it seems to be a chore.
In fact, I guess that’s a pretty good summary of why I am a poet. A labor of love.
The journey of Tony Brown does not end in this interview, read his poetry but moreover hear him reciting with music on http://www.myspace.com/poetrybytonybrown . His poetry and thoughts are here to be sought after and you can find it on http://radioactiveart.livejournal.com/