Songs of Selah Debut Episode!

Songs of Selah, my new radio podcast from Diversity of the Minds, debuts tonight (September 3, 2018) at 9 pm eastern/8 central.

Tune in to hear an interview and poetry reading from Heath Brougher from his latest book, The Ethnosphere’s Duality.

Call and join the conversation at 319-527-6171. Questions and comments are welcomed and encouraged.

Listen live at this link. Look forward to hearing from you!

Heath Brougher - The Ethnosphere's Duality

Showcase Spotlight #11: Red Focks

Red Focks W.I.S.H. 4

Scott Thomas Outlar: First off, Red, thanks for taking some of your time for an interview here at 17Numa. Your work does not exactly sugarcoat life, to say the least. What do you think the point of poetry and art is? Have you always been interested in exposing the underbelly of society?

Red Focks: In a world where the “sugar coated” alternative is what gets swallowed the most, I believe one purpose that art has is to be bitter, sour, or spicy. Another purpose that art and poetry have had for me is straight therapeutic value. Hitchhiking from coast to coast, meeting the biggest wingnuts walking the streets of America, getting arrested, thrown in the nut-house, getting stabbed, getting so high I forgot what up was; this has gotten me up to my neck in the underbelly of society. I enjoy exposing this walk of life, just as much as the higher-ups of society who engage in all the same activities, with their pinky fingers up.

STO: Your writing and paintings seem to be laced with signs, symbols, numbers, and allusions to seedy political realities. Are you drawn toward occult and conspiratorial knowledge? If so, where have those sorts of rabbit holes taken your consciousness?

RF: I am a self-proclaimed “conspiracy theorist”. I figure that most of these “theories” about the American government (9/11, The never-ending wars for profit, JFK, MLK, Cointelpro, Operation Mockingbird) are not theories at all in 2017. Facts have presented themselves- people feel more comfortable, not thinking too much about it. It’s brilliant, because the result is a bunch of tribes, divided by fears, location, and color, blaming each other over the pain and suffering caused by a handful of evil families.

The conspiracy theories which I have fun in the rabbit hole with, appeal to the absurdist in me. The Mandela Effect and the theories involving CERN and quantum physics, has had me convinced that life as we know it is a system of 1s and 0s in a computer. It’s also just funny to tell a group of strangers that Katy Perry is Jon Benet Ramsey, or HRC is a shapeshifting reptile. (and No, the earth is not flat)

The symbolism in the art (hidden or blatant) is also absurdism. Sometimes with an abstract piece, I will throw a bunch of 666’s or upside-down cross’ in, for shits-n-gigs. Then I’ll sell it to a nice, wholesome, Christian who doesn’t even see the blasphemy lost within the lines and splotches. Then I think about how crazy it would be, if this person was otherwise a perfect candidate to go to heaven; but because they idolized my sinful art, Jesus sends them to Hell.

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STO: What’s your opinion on the current climate of society at this point? Where in the hell is all this modern madness leading humanity?

RF: War. New wars, with more exotic enemies with elaborate motives. A lot of citizens really are sick of it, and the effect it has on society; but blame either Trump or Obama for it, thus dividing us further.

I hope that one day (even if it’s thousands of years from now) all of civilization can coexist the way it should. We could achieve so much, and go so far if the divide wasn’t there.

STO: You, along with Jay Miner, recently started up your own publishing house, Alien Buddha Press. What made you decide to get involved with publishing books? What inspired the dope name for the press?

RF: The name came from Jay Miner, and a series of haikus and one liners that he would write, and post in online poetry groups. We are a part of a network of extremely talented artists and writers, who we felt were a relatively untapped honey hole of talent. Jay and I both had the idea for such an endeavor, and it’s gotten off to a great start.

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STO: What is your overall vision for ABP?

RF: To produce quality content, which improves on the zeitgeist, and disregards the status quo.

I had a blast working on your book, “Poison in Paradise”. From an illustrator’s standpoint it was the perfect project to display some choice photog I’d been saving. It’s a wonderful collection of poems about adversity and the human spirit.

Then there’s “Surfing the Appellation Vortex” by Mark Hartenbach, “The Headpoke” by Paul Brookes, “Screamo Lullabies” by Robert J.W., “MY NAME IS GIORNA ALZAVOLA” (self-titled), “LOKO”motion of Life by Adam Levon Brown and “Irritable Brain Syndrome” by Willie Smith. These books are available on Amazon.com. Any of which is a real gem for anybody who likes to read poetry; and I am proud of every title.

STO: Can you talk a bit about some of your own books that have been published at this point? What type of material and themes do they delve into, and where can they be purchased by those who are interested in picking up copies?

RF: My first attempt was a short little poetry book called “Punk’s Not Nice”. It is a collection of 40 poems that I wrote in the winter of 2015-16. (Production wise, it reads like my first attempt). My second title is “Election Day” which was released at the end of the last election. It is 2 years’ worth of poetry, with little blurbs and jokes in-between to make it about the election. Aside from the page where I boldly claim that Hillary was going to win, I am happy with how it turned out. My most recent title is, and the first released through ABP is “Apophenia”. This is a poetry AND art book. It includes over 60 color prints. These are all available on Amazon as well.

STO: As 2017 continues rolling along, what are your expectations for the latter half of the year? Are there any new projects coming up that you’re particularly excited about?

RF: Two projects that I would like to note are “American Antihero”, a graphic novel we wish to continue expanding upon; and the first anthology book, which feature the work of ABP and its collaborators.

SO: Thanks again for your time, Red. If there’s anything else that you’d like to mention that my questions didn’t hit on, please feel free to share it here. The floor belongs to you.

RF: Alien Buddha is accepting submissions for publication at abuddhapress@yahoo.com. Thank you, Scott and 17Numa, for featuring me here. Peace. Pot. Microdot.

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Showcase Spotlight #10: Sheikha A.

Scott Thomas Outlar: First off, Sheikha, I’d like to thank you for agreeing to do this interview with me here at 17Numa. I suppose a good place to start would be in the beginning. At what point were the artistic embers of creativity initially sparked in your life? Have you always been drawn to poetry and literature?

Sheikha A.: I wasn’t always drawn to poetry and literature. We studied literature extensively in High School but my real interest in it sparked in University. My understanding for many classic and contemporary literary works was simple and matter of fact, it was in university that I began to see through prismic lens how characters and settings were deliberately moulded by a keen sense of behavioural sciences by every writer that, I began to, literally, believe had some psychic message to pass on through to future generations. Surprisingly, many were far more modern than us at this age and era! And honest! We worry about social media in these times of ours because we want to stand politically and verbally correct and sophisticated, arousing as little as possible any negations or cross examining/debate. I tend to envy the classical times. Perhaps, they were the toughest, but what went in print, first and foremost, went through much gruelling and then when the words were printed, they are considered sublime by readers of now. I worry about the subliminal aspects of literature now. I worry if my work will ever be perceived as sublime. These aspects take over my interests in and about literature. The future of this current age of writing as a classic and contemporary for our generations.

Outlar: Is there much appreciation for poetry where you live in Pakistan? How do you think the local environment and culture affected your development as a writer?

Sheikha A: Literature in Pakistan is rich. Urdu literature is a mix of majestic, humble, opulent and modest. I am ashamed to say I never studied Urdu literature because I grew up in United Arab Emirates where, even though the country’s first language was Arabic, due to a multi ethnic and national populace, we spoke English as our first language. I learnt to speak the language in Pakistan, when I arrived here and started working at a school. I can read and write in it now, but not prolifically or professionally. Urdu was taught, to me, as a second language in High School. We learnt the alphabets and how to read and write, as well, but a lack of communication in that language with the people around me didn’t give me the inclination to explore books and novels in Urdu. There is a special section published by Dawn Newspaper in Pakistan that caters to arts and literature, that publish reviews, articles, interviews of classics and contemporaries that have gained acclaim worldwide, marking a niche for Pakistan globally.

I wasn’t influenced by the literary works here. It was circumstantial leverage that induced my writing for want to express my many experiences (initially frustrations) for being unable to cope with the environment. It would be hard for people to relate to my saying ‘culture shock’ for being of the same culture, but I led a completely different lifestyle in UAE with friends of many nationalities that I began to find certain mindsets here biased and even oppressive to some degrees. Despite a decade spent here, I still find myself lost in crowds. I have managed to make a few friends, though, that have no writing background but are skilled and specialized in either artistic and/or non-artistic fields.

Outlar: You’ve successfully published your work internationally in both print and online markets. What are your thoughts on how the internet has helped to connect so many poets globally through the innumerable venues that are now available? Also, what have you found to be the pros and cons of social media?

Sheikha A.: Internet was my only respite and oxygen when I arrived to Pakistan. It was the only way I could stay connected to my original life and not lose myself in the kind of influences surrounding me. I was, automatically, opened to a plethora of literary venues through the online friends/contacts I made. My first proper publishing experience was with eFiction India. It was from there I started looking out of the window, and then walking out the door to travel in different modes of transports that led me to publishing destinations. My goals haven’t been met, as yet, though, but I’m glad to have started, even if quite late (than most ahead of me), but I hope to stay steady at least, if not sprint at fast pace. Soon, Hammer and Anvil followed after Poetry Sans Frontiers. These were the venues I started out with. Facebook introduced me to poetry groups that directed me to links of a variety of magazines and journals whereto I started submitting, only to be met with a tirade of rejections. It was a good thing I didn’t stop and continued striving, otherwise I wouldn’t have succeeded to exist on a global portal as I do today (even if on a small scale). The fact that many magazines and journals now link/share their posts and published works to social media allows every writer to have their work travel countries all from a click away! For people like me who are pathetic at (self) marketing, social media is somewhat helpful in getting me some hits on my shared links. Becoming an admin on Poets, Artists Unplugged, a poetry group on Facebook gave me the opportunity to edit three of their anthologies that has added on not just to my experience, but expertise as well.

Outlar: Being the poetry editor for eFiction India, can you talk a bit about what you are generally looking for in submissions?

Sheikha A.: eFiction India is a venue that harbours the vision to read and publish all kinds of works without bias to themes or style or form or even content! We invite submissions of literally every and any kind, from poetry to prose to short films to scripts to reviews, etc.! We aren’t looking for anything specific that should discourage submitters from shying away from our venue for vacillating in doubt about the theme or quality of their work, because our acceptances and rejections carry personalized feedback with suggestions.

Outlar: What writers and artists have inspired you through the years? What are some of your favorite books? Are there any particular magazines or journals that you return to regularly and would recommend to readers?

Sheikha A.: I read many online magazines. It’s hard to pin point names of venues and artists because I read and get inspired by so many! I have always enjoyed reading comics. I love the graphics and witty lingo. Archie comics is something I grew up on, apart from Snoopy, Cathy, Garfield and a host of other comic strips that I can’t recall from the top of my head right now. I still prefer comics to full length prose. Though I love reading short stories, and Oscar Wilde has always been a source of inspiration for descriptive, lore-like, insinuatingly parable-like, intellectually pensive material. I have read some classical books over the years; I was never a voracious reader because I was always moved and intrigued by visual sensations that comics, short tales, fantastical movies provided. I enjoy thrillers as well. If I were to advise readers on magazines to read, I would tell them to try and read every link they came across and if they liked the material on it, despite the fact they were rejected from that venue, to always let preference of material overrule the pang of rejection. And to continually look for newer venues to read in order to discover new writers and their styles, irrespective of how huge or small its popularity is.

Outlar: 2017 isn’t too long in the tooth just yet. What are your expectations and goals for this year? Are there any exciting new projects you’re involved with at the moment?

Sheikha A.: I’ve started out fairly by getting published in a few magazines already. I have a few upcoming publications as well. But, to talk about goals, I haven’t set any for myself. I went through a self-ambiguity phase in the latter half of 2016 that led me to contemplating spirituality and diverging my course from love and spiritual themes to dark arts and spiritual themes. I think I’m still discovering what I really want to be known for through my writing. This is also a reason why I’ve never been able to put a full-length book together because I write like a two-headed squirrel – getting pulled into different directions. I am not disciplined when it comes to writing. I don’t set myself a target of the day let alone target of a book! I have a collaborative digital chapbook that came out with Praxis Magazine Online. It’s a chapbook I look forward to receiving response to because mine and Suvojit’s, the other collaborator, writing compliments one another commendably. I am certain it will be noticed and enjoyed by many readers. Nyctophiliac Confessions can be downloaded via this link.

Outlar: Here’s one that’s wide open. What is poetry’s purpose in this modern day and age? On a more personal level, what does poetry mean to you?

Sheikha A.: An outlet to express has been important in every era past and present. Poetry is one of the finest forms of expression, as the Dean of our university always emphasized, and rightfully so! It is a medium that can work without rules, and restriction of language too. Poetry can be containment, I guess, when there is too big a truth to speak and the voice isn’t aiding, one can resort to unconventional-ism in the form of written and spoken art in order to release and relieve. Many poets are discovered from slums, working under harsh and inhumane conditions, that are illiterate, prisoners, minor offenders, and many such places where a person’s creativity convenes with conditions and a shocking truth is born. Poetry is personal business that is traded to the emotional socio-economy of people. I have been able to tell a great number of secrets through this form without ever having had anyone revert with a judgment. Poetry allows freedom to not be judged. It is the beauty of telling that makes any truth easy to accept.

Outlar: Thank you again for your time, Sheikha. For all those who are interested in reading more of your work, where can they go to do so?

Sheikha A: I try to maintain a blog, which is more of a publication log book, at sheikha82.wordpress.com. Anyone interested in reading my published content can find them on this link.


Bland

days sputter and hiss extinguish mounting
humps of ambitious, fanciful thoughts aching,
sacking and rolling about in flatulent oblivions
furling inside the face of the forlorn moon. I gaze
at the waning  rim of its wobbling structure
sloping to spill contents viscous. Silvery hands
sprinkle dream-dust upon insomniac tossing
across stationary acres of rampant whims
through the large and long night, I spurt
beneath crumbling crags, dimming comforts
waxing reflections as I glow by you.

 

Take me out of my head

I can’t start my sentences
in the creative
way a Monday begins

I don’t know how to
interestingly intertwine a foggy
December to a spring’s unexpected
vapour

I am weary

the thesaurus with its gardens
isn’t bringing me any newer fruit

the words in my head need a vacuum shock

my loss of miniscule-observatory
reflexes boggle my magnified-
indifference control

my life has abandoned occurrences
that should incite bombastic poetry

all I go through anymore, as called
life, is a murder, plunder, terrorism

and sometimes, maybe sometimes
to stir things up a bit

a man holding a gun to my head
upon a ground being hit by
earthquake.

 

Aging Backwards 

There was definitely more hair
on our heads back then,

though back then isn’t too long ago
from how far away we’ve come,

obsessions were simpler,
crushes obtainable, love was
a thing written about in songs,

idealised and understood
it were between mums and dads
with children,

and the definition was one
of forever, where the word was
used with naïve devotion,

and understood like an eternity
that would never live through
early arrived mid-life crises,

reflecting was a chapter
in literature books, the theory
rote never to be applied,

and the only blues we knew
were in expressions of singers
and movie stars,

it’s been a long way away now,
eternity has been lived to the point
of rigid threadbare,

now is the past we try to sustain
for reliving the future decided then

hoping time to have remained
unchanged the day we break free
to go back to where we started.

Skin Crawl by Scott Thomas Outlar

“Skin Crawl” is an excerpt from my book, Happy Hour Hallelujah. Which celebrates its two-year anniversary of being released through CTU Publishing this month…

Creative Talents Unleashed

I feel it to be a noble deed

to refrain from killing spiders that enter the house,

and to instead capture and release them back into the wild.

My reasoning behind such action

is not to pat myself on the back

and feign a false sense of honor,

it is simply because it would hurt my conscience

to take an innocent life without just cause.

Yet, such a Jainist attitude

can sometimes get one in trouble

when the spider crawling upon one’s shirt

is carefully maneuvered onto the bed to be caught

but then quickly gets lost in the design of the sheets,

never to be found again…

because then there is a damned creepy-crawly on the loose

and it gives one the damned heebie-jeebies.

© Scott Thomas Outlar

Happy Hour Hallelujah front cover draft

Excerpt from the book “Happy Hour Hallelujah”

$13.95 Plus Shipping ~ Available at CTU Publishing Group and Amazon.com


Seated (Visions of Verse) About the Author

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Wonders of the 181

My poem “Wonders of the 181” was published recently at Academy of the Heart and Mind…

Academy of the Heart And Mind

By Scott Thomas Outlar

Come to me in dreams tonight

so we can speak even while we sleep

as crickets serenade our spirits

Hour upon hour of hearing your voice

is still not enough to satiate

the need that you’ve created

to keep goosebumps tingling

along my spine and skin

dive in

dig deep

of the buzz

of the bliss

of the burn

of the fire

of the rise

of the sun

One hundred and eighty-one rays of light

shine from the seat of your soul

with a resonance that magnetizes my lips

to place a kiss on your forehead

on your hair

on my neck

on your navel

on my heart

Arrows aimed with the intention

of casting webs to capture

all the sweetest signs of synchronicity

that pulse when our thoughts

and emotions are entangled

Moments enriched

with silver and gold

linings and crowns

with lavender and rose

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Just Like That

Big thank you to The 13 Alphabet Magazine for publishing my poem “Just Like That” recently…

The 13 Alphabet - MAGAZINE

When you trip (see also: fall flat on face)
it can take some time
to stand up, dust off, and once again see clearly.

Life is dirty like that.

I have flashed enough fake smiles
during the past month
to truly earn the one I’m wearing now.

Life is a joke like that.

I’m not looking for a fifth ace
to hide up my sleeve;
I’d rather carry just one and call it a cool hand.

Life is a gamble like that.

There is a song in every silent surrender
when the album stops spinning,
and there is a scream always shining from distant stars.

Life is a roar like that.

© Scott Thomas Outlar

About the poet: Scott Thomas Outlar hosts the site 17Numa.com where links to his Poison in Paradise 4published poetry, fiction, essays, interviews, reviews, live events, and books can be found. His work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize…

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717

This moment in time isn’t perfect. I’ve done my best through the years to make peace with the fact that such an ideal state can never actually be fully achieved. I am thankful to have learned that lesson repeatedly by this point in life, and that’s why I’m usually able to keep smiling (even halfway) regardless of circumstances. Because it means we must always keep seeking toward the next stage of growth in order to become a better person. Take the leap. Embrace the journey. Kiss your karma. All the best, my friends.

 

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