Five-Year Anniversary

Yesterday marked the five-year anniversary of when my first poem was published by Dissident Voice in 2014. I’ve remained a weekly contributor on the site’s Sunday Poetry Page ever since. I’ll be forever grateful to Angie Tibbs for the confidence she has continually shown in my work.

It has been an exciting five years so far on this journey. More than 1,700 of my poems have appeared in over 340 different venues around the world. Selections of my writing have been translated into Afrikaans, Albanian, Dutch, Farsi, French, Italian, Kurdish, and Serbian. I’m thankful to all the amazing editors, publishers, and other artists I’ve had the pleasure to connect with, collaborate with, and work alongside during the ride. I do my best to remain calm, steady, and centered in my lane.

A special thank you to everyone associated with these presses that published my six books: Songs of a Dissident (Transcendent Zero Press, 2015); Chaos Songs (Weasel Press, 2016); Happy Hour Hallelujah (CTU Publishing, 2016); Poison in Paradise (Alien Buddha Press, 2017); Abstract Visions of Light (Alien Buddha Press, 2018); and Of Sand and Sugar (Cyberwit, 2019). Independent publishing is truly a labor of love.

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Thank you also to all the owners, coordinators, and hosts who help organize events that I’ve had the pleasure of attending and participating at. Some of the great highlights of my life have been the opportunities to read my work here at home in Georgia, and in areas of Alabama, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Canada, and the UK. Two recent occasions during 2019 were presenting a speech at Georgia State University for the Atlanta Writers Club and being a part of the Setu Mag Bilingual Lit Fest held in Toronto.

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I’m thankful to the publishers where I have served in an editorial role for their journals and other projects through the years, including the 2019 Western Voices special edition for Setu Mag and the upcoming anthology on the theme of hope & hopelessness for Culture Cult Press.

I’m thankful to all the writers whose words I’ve been able to publish and to all the people I’ve interviewed on my podcast (Songs of Selah) and here at my website (17Numa). You have helped keep me motivated, inspired, and focused.

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Most of all, I’m thankful to the incredible soul friends I’ve met in the literary scene and other areas of life. Each of you has affected me in a positive fashion, and I appreciate the lessons you have taught me. What else can I say? The path is seldom easy, it’s not meant to be, but it’s always beneficial, and it’s almost always fun. I am thankful, and I believe that the best is still to come.

Songs of Selah: George Weinstein

George Weinstein - July 2018

George Weinstein is the author of the Southern historical novel Hardscrabble Road; the novel of forgotten U.S. history The Five Destinies of Carlos Moreno; the contemporary romance The Caretaker; and the Southern mystery Aftermath. In October, his suspense novel Watch What You Say will be published. George is the new President of the Atlanta Writers Club—15 years after first serving in that position—and has helped thousands of writers on their quest for publication through the Club and the twice-yearly Atlanta Writers Conference, which he has directed for 10 years.

A new episode of Songs of Selah featuring George can be listened to here:
http://www.blogtalkradio.com/17numaradio/2019/06/02/songs-of-selah-with-scott-thomas-outlar

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Find out more about George and his work here at his website:
http://www.georgeweinstein.com/

Atlanta Writers Club:
https://atlantawritersclub.org/

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Five Years Later

Thankful to Credo Espoir for publishing this essay about my father at their site…

Credo Espoir

by Scott Thomas Outlar

In late 2014, I wrote a piece titled “Some Poems Are More Serious Than Others.” It was still less than a year since my father had passed away at that point, and the poem was written about the final two days of his life. The period described was exactly five years ago today, the same date on which I am writing this essay for Credo Espoir. Here in the woods of Mountain Park, January 31, 2019, searching for the right words to explain how that great man would soon depart us on February 1st, exactly six months after the diagnosis of cancer had been given. Here, now, at this same park where he once taught me to play baseball as a child, where we spent hundreds of hours together through the years, moving progressively to each larger practice field as I grew from a…

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CTU Publishing Books

Thank you to Raja Williams, founder of CTU Publishing, for all that she does in helping her authors reach a winder audience, including expanding distribution of their books into new markets recently.

One of those books, The Salamander Chronicles, by my friend Don Beukes, can now be found here. I recommend the collection, and am honored to have written a forward. 

Don Beukes - The Salamander Chronicles

 

Copies of my CTU book, Happy Hour Hallelujah, can be found here.

Showcase Spotlight #13: Kushal Poddar

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Scott Thomas Outlar: Thank you for taking the time to appear here at 17Numa, Kushal. Firstly, please talk a bit about your most recent collection, Eternity Restoration Project: New and Selected Poems.

Kushal Poddar: It is a pleasure to appear at 17Numa.

The collection selects glimpses of my mind browsing through my life. Had poetry ever been a career it is the curriculum vitae at the midlife of it. I perceived the book when I had enough with my own existence and was tired with so called friends and foes, not to mention with my nonexistent love life. My wife Pradnya came and I wanted to make it special by a book, not of love poems but of the poems I used to write and that I shall be writing. The poems deal with the dark shadows I traversed and the ray I found in love, lost it and regain it. They are not love poems or some poems of protest. The poems are the observations on the observer observing himself.

STO: What is your general writing process from day to day, and does that differ once you begin putting a book together? When do you know a manuscript has reached its final form?

KP: I began writing as a mode of escape. I began reading for the same. Listening. Watching. Not that I lived or live in an ugly place. It is me. I am an escape artist. Weaving illusion around me is a mean to achieve the same.

My method of writing begins before I wake up. The dreams often kick start writings. Then I have to discuss those with my wife. I must tell her while watching a movie together, generally on my phone as we have no TV set, that now I must write a poem on this particular situation being depicted on the screen. Often she would nudge me and tell me to write.

In the beginning I wrote seventy words a day. I talked about this with Franz Wright over the Messenger. One must write every day was Merwin or Pound kind of logic. I still endorse although I don’t write every day nowadays. I have my panic attacks. I have my moments of daily love and darkness with my wife and my parents. Surprisingly my parents began to value my writing when suddenly at the age of forty I became arrested by panic attack and other sad demons.

I write and discuss with my wife. She often points out if I have repeated myself. She would say if this poem belongs to my future book or not- the one I keep mentioning here as it is a mean not to escape but to face.

Often when stuck in my life I love to clean objects, rooms, toilets. Often I pace around the house, around the neighborhood. When words possess me things and faces blur out. Was this the property I love about writing or reading? If it is so then I must face the things and write anew.

Compiling a book is different. Sometimes it has a theme- a way to flip the pages I have written and to pick similar themed works. I must add two more psychological things- I cannot edit my own poems after a certain period of time, and I cannot dare to go deep into that poem fearing it will yield something powerful to change the me I was at the time of writing it.

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Literature is about contradiction. I contradict myself often. I am a chameleon that at its core is the same but goes through different shades. A writer doesn’t even believe in himself often. How can he keep believing in the same faith, ideology or other forms of principles? One thing is guaranteed, I cannot endorse oppression or right wing practicing the same.

The next book I have on my mind is entirely different. You should wait for it- the book breaks my comfort zone. When I shall be tired of the central theme of a book I stop writing about it. Probably that is its completion. Probably a writer writes only one book throughout his life and publications are the chapters of the same. Remember Kill Bill?

STO: You recently attended a literary festival in Hyderabad. How was the experience, and what were some of the highlights of the event?

KP: The experience is same as in any of the events. Faces we face are variables holding the same stream of continuity- poetry. My wife almost pushed me to join the event. I travel badly. I talk more than I should or remain silent at an event. However one of the highlights of the event was discussing with Nabina Das, acclaimed author, how I conceived some of my poems. I remembered that I forgot many. Also the event gave me some idea about some ancient poetry practiced by certain sects.

I am not a festival or event kind of person at the present form of myself. I do don a character of hyperactive and confident man in front of the people at an event but inside I do want to run away.

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STO: How would you describe your style of poetry? What types of changes has your work gone through during your evolution as a writer through different phases since you first began publishing?

KP: My poems are simple observations with a magic realistic twist that I don’t see or think as magic realism because even one’s personal experience is always exotic and magical for the others. Some say- my poems are mystical. Not really. My most mystical poems may be inspired by some thriller or some newspaper article about capitalism. I always use slant or hidden rhymes and rhythms and even form so broken that one would not recognize it easily. But, wait for it, this form and experience will go through a major change in my upcoming book.

STO: Are there any key points along your path, not only as a writer/artist, but as a human being, that you can point back to when you felt what might be referred to as “Aha” moments, or epiphanies?

KP: Several times, but often as a human being and as someone who realized his past matters and matters not. Epiphanies have a funny way of being forgotten once I go through it. Being married is one epiphany.

Kushal Poddar 4STO: What do you hope readers come away with after digesting your work?

KP: A moment of long pause and associating my poem with some life experience and interpretation of his own.

STO: What projects are you currently developing, and what has you most excited about the rest of 2019 and beyond?

KP: I have been developing two solo books, being written with two exactly opposite aims/ends and a book with another poet from another land that shall question our philosophy and ask if the eternal fight between philosophy and poetry has a solution or not.

STO: Thank you again, Kushal. If there is anything I haven’t asked that you’d like to address, I’ll leave the floor to you for any final thoughts.

KP: I shall say, Seek the poet through his poems and accept that he changes in order to bring the change. Also like I promised, I shall share a recent poem meant for one of three books I am working on. The poem was written when a fellow poet I revere, Chris Madoc, asked me to write about a photograph of bloody raspberries he snapped. He is British.

 

Raspberry Conversations

Here biscuits mean something else.
Brexit means something else.
Your white, the darkness I confessed
over a cup of Earl Grey, all porcelain,
prim and unused by the generation next,
mean time is different, and we’ll dine
on raspberry gateaux shaped out of shape,

“Dear landlady, mmm, this!”

the eyes of berries popped out
from the bruised flesh where my fork-marks
remain stilled, yellow-taped.
Her skin is marbled with the blue of age.

“Dear landlady, all this, hmm, means
something else.”

The streets tongue the groin of horizon outside.
Spring kills the buds and revives them to kill again.
The berry eyes stare the very heart of the matter
of two medium eggs, sugar and buttermilk, all red
as if bleeding precedes the wound, and lesions
proceed to pave a good conversation where
we say something and mean something else.

 

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Atlanta Writers Club Presentation

I had a wonderful time this afternoon delivering my speech, “Of Songs and Dreams: How Words Take Shape,” at Georgia State University during the Atlanta Writers Club meeting. Thank you to everyone who came out to the event, and to those who purchased copies of my books. If you were one of the attendees who didn’t have cash on hand but were interested in ordering a copy, here’s the link for that…

https://17numa.com/chapbooks/

 

Atlanta Writers Club (March 16, 2019)

I’ll be reading again this coming Saturday, March 23, 2019, at an event being hosted by Good Acting Studio in Marietta, Georgia. Hope to see you there!

 

Showcase Spotlight #12: Steven Storrie

Scott Thomas Outlar: First off, Steven, I’d like to thank you for joining me here at 17Numa to talk about your work. The anniversary of Yours Sincerely, Axl Rose is right around the bend. What are your thoughts on the book looking back from this vantage point one year later?

Steven Storrie: The book was written during a very tough time. There was a lot of death and other heavy things happening during the writing of it that I won’t bore people with now, but I knew when I set out to write it that I wanted to tackle some of the more serious things I was experiencing. I wanted it to mark a clear departure from the bar room, Bukowski type stuff I’d been writing before that. I felt I’d taken that thing as far as I could. Looking back on the book now, a year later, I feel I achieved what I set out to. I think it holds up. And I’m pleased to have achieved something positive during an otherwise overwhelmingly negative time.

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STO: What initially prompted you to consider Weasel Press as a possible home for your book, and how did the experience of working with them play out?

SS: They had published one of my previous poetry collections, ‘Taking Back The Underground’, and asked if I’d be interested in publishing another. The experience of that first one was such a positive one I was more than happy to do it again. And, I have to say, though I picked a very difficult image for the cover, they did a tremendous job of making it work!

STO: This book is dedicated to your Grandma. What role have family and friends played in your writing and artistic pursuits?

SS: Well, my mother first took me to a library when I was very young, and I’ll always be eternally grateful for that. It opened up worlds to me I never could have imagined existing, and I’m still discovering them even now. I can’t imagine who I’d be today if she had never done that. In a lot of ways, I owe it all to her. And to my father, still the hardest working man I’ve ever known. I got his work ethic and drive, but only when it comes to writing. It’s the only thing I care about. The book is dedicated to my Grandma because she died while I was writing it. Just about all of my favorite childhood memories involve her. The book and the final poem in it, ‘Yesterday 1993’, are for her. 

STO: When a book has a title such as yours, an obvious question that comes to mind is how does music impact your writing? What musicians and authors have had the greatest influence on your path?

SS: The twin influences of my life! Like Nietzsche said, “Without music, life would be a mistake.” I can’t put it any better than that. More than anything, I’m a walking mixture of all the bands I’ve ever loved. The musicians and authors that have influenced me the most, and I’ll only name a few or we’ll break the internet, are; The Gaslight Anthem, Ernest Hemingway, Bruce Springsteen, Hunter S. Thompson, Tom Waits, Neil Young, Jack Kerouac, Bob Dylan, Albert Camus, Yukio Mishima, Richey Edwards, Oasis, Irvine Welsh, Phillip Roth, George Orwell, Henry Miller, Charles Bukowski, Nietzsche, Against Me and Simply Red. I made that last one up – I hate Simply Red.

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STO: What meaning do you get from writing poetry on a personal level? Is it a cathartic process, a statement you feel inclined to make to the world, possibly a bit of both with something else thrown in the mix?

SS: Writing is the only thing that gives this life meaning. I couldn’t see a point to getting out of bed without it. It’s that important to me. It’s the reason to draw breath on a morning, to keep going. What else is there? I don’t feel a need to make a statement to the world. I feel a need to be the best I can be at doing this, I feel a need to try and be great at it. That might sound arrogant, pompous or delusional, but what’s the point in doing something you love if you’re not trying to be the best at it? Nobody wants to be just average, do they? And, if they do, they should stop doing it and get out of the way. Cathartic? I’ve got weightlifting and an angry mouth for that.

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STO: On a more macro scale, what role does poetry play in modern society? What should people take from the experience of reading it?

SS: I’m not sure what role it plays in society. I suppose it can deeply affect the individual and, if it effects enough of them, it might reach society as a whole. But I’m under no illusions that poetry is going to change the world. The best you can hope for is that it changes one person’s thinking or outlook on the world. That it might reach one person, the way it did me, and let them know that, actually, you aren’t alone in the way that you think. There are other people out there that think like you, and they’re way more interesting and lead way more exciting lives than the dull morons who mock you for reading poetry. Head into the light, my friends. Good stuff that way lays…

STO: What projects are you currently working on? What has you most excited here during the beginning stages of 2019?

SS: I have a new collection of short stories due out with Alien Buddha press which I’m looking forward to. It’s called ‘The Wreck Collection’ and deals with the hardness of people’s lives and looks at how they keep going despite the fact that their dreams may have never came true or that their lives may have strayed off track. I think it’s my best collection yet. After that I’m focusing on finishing an experimental novel I’m about halfway through writing. That’s the thing I’m most excited about writing wise right now. It feels much more reflective of where I want to be as a writer.

STO: Thank you again for taking the time to answer these questions, Steven. If there’s anything else you’d like to add in closing, the floor is yours.

SS: Thank you for your questions, Scott. I would just tell people to always believe. Tough times don’t last, tough people do. And if someone is telling you that you can’t do something, that should motivate the fuck out of you to prove them wrong. Because anybody can do anything they want. Like George Eliot once said; “It’s never too late to be who you might have been.”

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