Paperback Writer. Freeze Frame Gets Ink.

017The proof of the pudding is in the reading. Yes, the paperback proof copy of Freeze Frame” arrived on Monday. Of course, there were a few issues but I think we are on top of them and all the corrections have been made.

In order to authenticate the existence of an actual new book in the universe, you will see a photo of editor Sparrow in the act of reading it. You may wonder about the figure peering over the chair. I would like to say that it is the bust of a Faber and Faber poetry editor that I had immortalised in concrete. Come to think of it – why not say that? It is not true but if anyone wants to know the truth please leave a comment. Does it remind you of anyone?

Freeze Frame has now been submitted to Smashwords, may I say, not without a lot of geek-squeak. Poor old Jill at Gallo-Romano has been rooted to the keyboard with formatting issues. As a platform, Smashwords is not for the faint-hearted. Watch this space – it won’t be long.

I have been working today on the road. All I have heard on cab radio is excited media persons talking about David Bowie releasing a new single to mark his 66th birthday. It is being billed as a significant retrospective by a frail old geezer. I must admit to having been very cheered by the whole circus. Here I am, only a little younger and still looking for a start. When you think about it, that’s a good place to be. If you’ve missed the bowie-wow in the window today,(Obvious reference to death of Patti Page) here is a link.

Freeze Frame Poetry Anthology – The Cover Story

DSCF1498

                              Relax – Will’s got ’em covered

I always thought that if I ever got the point of hearing myself saying “When I was young….” it would be time to step off the conveyor. One of my favourite jokes is about a kid who asks his dad “Do parents know more than their kids?” The father replied “Yes”. The kid thought for while and asked “Who invented the steam engine?” The father replied “James Watt.” The kid nodded and asked “Why didn’t his dad invent it then?”

Probably many of you know that joke or a variant. Like all good humour it is funny because it makes a serious point. Mankind is constantly refreshed by youth and fresh eyes. Sadly too often they are born into existing bigotries and the grand tribe of Chief Tendentious. Despite all discouragements, our constant rebirth brings new talent and energy. I always try not to be overtly political but our societies really ought to prioritise  the need to give young folk opportunities to show their abilities and earn a good wage.

I want a cover

I want a cover (Photo credit Fotothing)

The reason for this preamble was my chat with Will who did the cover for Freeze Frame. I felt like an old silverback wandering into the room and saying  “I want a book cover – here’s the title. See what you can do.”

FreezeFrame

The rest was done by Will who is a design student. I asked him a couple of questions

Did the concept of Freeze Frame immediately give you an idea?

Yes, and the fact that were several writers gave me the concept more or less at once. At first I played with the idea of picture frames but the film format begged to be done really.

What makes a good book cover?

Ha ha – it depends who you ask or what advice you take. Oscar tells me that poetry lovers don’t mind thinking a bit so I guess you can be a bit more cryptic. A good book cover to me is something that catches my eye because there are so many to choose from. In this case I wanted to get some bold interesting colours to contrast with the black and white. As a designer you are always trying out new pathways.

What technology do you use?

I use photoshop on a Mac but I’m just as happy on a PC.

Did you read the poems?

No, but I listened to them all because I was there when the music track was being added. Audio book construction is pretty cool because it comes together from all kinds of angles. When you hear the tracks you think you sort of know those people.

Were you happy with the finished result?

To be fair I was more nervous than anything. I looked at it and wondered if it was a bit risky because it’s probably a bit busy in pure terms. It’s been great to get good feedback and I can breathe again.

Favourite film? Favourite song today?

Back To The Future. Favourite song would be “Some Nights” by Fun. It is a strange video because it’s about the American civil war. If I get the time I’ll be finding out a bit more about it. I mean, where did that concept come from for  music visuals? It’s gonna bug me…..

It’s great to work with young folk. (Said the patronising old fart). These guys have stuff at their fingertips where I don’t have fingers. Will be out of college next year and is up for any offers or work in the meantime via Gallo-Romano.

Freeze Frame Anthology – It’s all about…ME! Interviewed by Jo VonBargen

Picture

Picture

Bard On A Wire
I’d like to introduce our fearless leader and Editor of the upcoming Freeze Frame AnthologyOscar Sparrow! This has been a wonderful project to work on and Oscar has made it so easy for all of us! Oscar’s own work is without peer, in fact, he’s my own favorite living bard! Here, an example from his delicious book of poetry, I THREW A STONE, available at Amazon.com, which has an audio file of him reading the poems accompanying it.

Engine Management Light
Some semi-conductor keeping time
turns his back
as half an orchestra falls flat.
A filament of existence
beyond darkness triggers an enlightenment.

I stare into the void of mystery,
in the pews of ignorance
awaiting the priest,
images of invisible strands
spinning in unknowable blackness
fill my blind imagination.

Others speed by
down the Damascus Road.
On the hard shoulder,
facing the question –
My question,
I open the book and pray.


For a little taste of his enormous talent, listen to him read what has been said to be the “worst poem in the world”, written by Theo Marzials. I found it enchanting!A TRAGEDY by Theo Marzials. Read by @Oscar_Sparrow  Unforgettable!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qfXSQ9wj3AIWe are all so excited about FREEZE FRAME and offer heartfelt thanks to Oscar and his team at Gallo-Romano for all the hard work they’ve done to come up with what we think is a fantastic result!

I had the opportunity to interview Oscar before the release of the book, just as he interviewed us; this is a peek at the character of a very intriguing individual!
Picture

Oscar Sparrow Interview (by Jo Vonbargen)I appreciate so much that you have been able to put together this unique collection called Freeze Frame. You once said to me, “If we froze the frame – what would we see? A guy taking an order at Burger King and punching the codes on his till? A girl in the line texting her friend the menu choices? A land mine victim smelling a rose? A guy flicking sports channels. So many layers of interface and distraction! Paul Gaugin asked “Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going?”

Now that you’re wearing the Editor’s hat, has any of this become clearer to you?

What has become clearer to me is that individuals are very capable of focusing on those moving moments of life. In some cases, moments of experience live on forever perhaps and to some extent define those individuals. It is even clearer to me that this IS the work of poetry in terms of how it stands relative to our minds in this multi-channelverse. As for Gaugin’s question – well, the linear idea of an individual life being a flash of light between bookends of oblivion is obviously far too simple. As for what we are, maybe more than ever I see that we are seekers of understanding. Probably we are trying to understand rainbows by eating mud. Poets deal with what they don’t know but they cook the mud before they serve it up.

You are my favourite living poet, hands down. You peel a subject down to the quantum level, disassemble the atoms, then rearrange them into a veritable feast of multi-layered meaning and social commentary. I find them absolutely fascinating! When did you first realize poetry would take over your life and be your very breath?

What a wonderful compliment – thank you. I suppose that as quite a young kid I did not fit in because I wanted conversation and discussion to go much further and deeper. We use descriptions such as “as hard as stone”. The use of words in this context troubled me and kids and teachers shuffled away when I would ask how you “understood” the hardness of stone. My refuge was poetry – particularly Wordsworth. I bought a copy at a second-hand shop. I hated all that poetry they served up at school – all that dah di dah di dah stuff.  I wandered about a lot, looking at yellow iris and learning the smell of water and advancing snow. I wanted a poem to look out beyond to that place which could not be a place but which my tiny brain can only see in terms of a location. I must say that your own work “From This Far Time” touched me deeply by heading out on this path.

That’s very sweet of you, Oscar! Your own response to that work gave me so much encouragement and hope for the future…you have no idea!! I’m curious as to how you actually work in your “poet’s cave”.  As for subject matter, where does your poetry come from and who has influenced you?

The poet’s cave is a philosophical place quite often of no thought or input. I have to go there just to be.  The biggest fact of the human mind, the universe and everything that binds them together is something we completely ignore. Intuition is the dark matter of thought and the construction of our picture of existence within our consciousness is intuitive. This intuition is very much there in the child. The “system” both ignores and discourages it. Who says to a scruffy kid “I want you to wander about free, not trying to think anything. If you want to – or if you feel you just have to, come back and tell me what you felt”.  Now that is not just a school for poets – that is a school for the world. The sad thing is that once we did have that power and freedom. We have forgotten where we left ourselves. 

As for influences – certainly Wordsworth, the English Movement guys like Larkin. Robert Graves, W.H. Auden, Thomas Hardy, Maggie Huscroft, Elizabeth Browning, Walt Whitman, Les Murray  and so many writers and poets. The work of Gaugin, many films and singers like Jacques Brel. The word play and cleverness of Charles Trenet leaves me dumb with admiration. My biggest influence is that elusive intuition in a scene or moment. Always that question “What words can fit the intuitive signal I am receiving?”

You are one of the best spoken word artists I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet. You have a natural talent for dramatizing the written word and leaving us spellbound! Have you ever worked in theatre?

No theatre I’m afraid. I think a critic would say that I just love the sound of my own voice. Look – we all have depth and nuances within ourselves. The voice can betray/reveal them. Life and poetry are acting jobs. Shyness and uncertainty make us reluctant to risk the true expression of our spirits. If I’m any good, it is because I have grown old enough to let go and just do what anyone could do if they stepped up and grabbed the microphone. 

Remove the editor’s hat and put on the poet’s. What message would you leave the world on your tombstone?

Wow – hmmmm. It would be difficult to not appear righteous if I gave advice about how to live when I know nothing more than anyone else. If I were to try to combine the basic selfishness of mankind yet their ability to elude its grip, I would condense everything to:  “Love yourself –  for your kindness.”

What direction do you think your own poetry is going and where do you think poetry in general should go? Have you ever been part of the poetry establishment?

I have lived through several re-launches, renaissances, second comings and new waves of poetry.  None of them have changed the sales or perception of it. In a rather joking way I dub myself the “Poet Lorry-Park” in order to underline my allegiance to the cause of non-academic people. I feel that poetry was stolen, mystified and separated from the main stream of life by a clique of media connected cronies. They wanted the poetry world to be ten stars and all the rest of us fawning upon their latest style of line break. To me, this is tosh. You can stuff a sonnet in your rhyming bonnet or ride into Jerusalem on your assonance for all I care. What I want is for anyone who feels a surge of joy, who poses an infinite question or who sees a dog peeing on a cabbage AND who really sees it and reflects on it to realise that they themselves are the poet. I do not believe in any regime or form of poetry. It is the naked honest mind seeking to use this heavy toolbox of words to do a job no one will ever complete. The subject and my intellectual/emotional relationship with it dictate the form of what I write. How can I be bigger than the power of the unwritten poem? The poem is the statue unborn, yet living in the stone.  

I have skirted around the poetry establishment because I thought I might pick up some electricity from the overhead wires. I felt the current but essentially they only wanted a coin for their trochaic meter. In short, let there be poetry and let all be poets. Those with the best words will be guides, not stars.

Finally, Jo – my dear friend, thanks for inviting me to ramble on for far too long. I dreamed that one day I would be a poet.  To be so dubbed by a poet I admire so much is a true honour and happiness. 

Thank you so much, Oscar! It has been my distinct pleasure to know and work with you!!

 

Freeze Frame Cover Reveal

I ‘ve sometimes wondered how it feels when the great and good are humbled and fall back to Earth. How does it feel to be an ex president, champion or corporate CEO?  In my working life I encountered a few such individuals but never posed the question. So it is that I contemplate my future as an ex-editor. At least the wages won’t change. Part FreezeFrameof what I had to do has been done.  Now I wait with the common mob for the knock of fame. Shouldn’t be too long…..

It falls to me today to reveal the cover of the Freeze Frame Poetry Anthology. It has occurred to me that it will not be long until there are millions of young digizens who will have no concept of the film frame or those saloons where dust and cigarette smoke swirled in the ray of light. Perhaps it is inevitable that each generation is fixed in terms of its technologies and artefacts.

The book now has its own identity on Facebook. (You will know when it goes out shopping and see photographs of it with its partying drunken friends wearing silly hats). I am advised by  my own editor Digizen Kane that it is very helpful if you “Like” this page.

Ladeeez an’ Genlemen ~~~~~~~drum roll~~~~~~~~No more cover ups. It is out there.

The digital edition complete with audio book will be out on 21st December. The tactile book will appear in January 2013.

Freeze Frame Anthology. Featured Poet, Candy Bright.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt can be dangerous hanging out with poets. They often handle dangerous materials without a risk assessment. One of my rules is to read aloud any poem I encounter. When Candy submitted her poems for Freeze Frame I opened the file in the Gallo-Romano Media office. I selected a poem and read it out. Suddenly there was a sob from the lady who had been happily tapping at her keyboard. The poem to blame, “Sam” will appear in the collection. It is a simple poem dipped in human life juice. Some writers have this quality and I do not think you can force it if it is not there. With Candy’s poetry somehow you know that it is informed by an emotional life lived. There are many nuances in the human soul. Regret is not always sadness. Joy is not always happiness. Sadness itself may have on occasion an enveloping pleasure of gravitas and insight.To understand and savour this, we have poetry. Candy operates in this area but without self indulgence. Her work can be suddenly direct, factual and almost harsh. Above all you feel a fellow human reaching out to share how it is and how it feels. For poets, this process rarely gets beyond the work in progress file. In her collection “Candy Colours” she opens with a poem  A Life So Far. It begins

It’s only a draft you understand
I’ll get it right some time soon.

Well, that’s life – and far more importantly, that’s poetry.

Candy was my fifth interviewee and I think her responses show very clearly what she is about and the unique thread of poetry that she brings to Freeze Frame

Reading your introduction and chatting to Paul Tobin after your audio studio session, the word “naked” has come up. You talk of poetry somehow revealing the truth of you. I see this is a valuable insight into the way you approach your work. I think you have every justification for feeling confident in your nakedness but how does it feel to you?  Have you held back from getting your work out there?

Yes I have, I have used the analogy of writing in closets and singing in cupboards for years-for whatever it is worth when I write I seem to strip back to the bones my bones-and I guess that as few of us are unique-there may be a synergy out there somewhere. I now being of a great age that I have little left to lose by my honesty. Sometimes I so wish I knew another way to be-but I don’t.

When I received your poems I read them aloud in the Gallo-Romano office. Your poem “Sam” is very beautiful and poignant and brought out some tears. Your work often touches on the loss of innocence and to some extent, regret. Is this a theme in your thoughts?

Yes-I suppose it is apparent. I always thought I would die with Edith Piaf’s words on my lips-but not so. Whilst I embrace life and all the beauties it has to offer-the antithesis also exists and I find separation ridiculously hard.

You write about people. You also write about people in places. It seems to me that travel has been an element in your development as a poet. Is this so?

I have travelled out of pleasure and out of necessity and lord it has taught me much. I have also travelled out of autonomy and out of powerlessness and it is these opposites that seem to rule my life. I do so try to take on the lessons that they all seem to offer …….

Do you see yourself as a poet or as a woman, wife, mother who writes poetry? It is clear to me that much emotion comes off the page of your work. Is writing an emotional experience for you as you dig down into memory and experience?

That is a very hard question to answer without stripping back even more layers upon layers. I write as a being, I happen now to be a woman but I have been a girl and I have synergised/empathised with boys/men as well as females and  then I have my spirit which I believe may just rise above gender and worldly position. However I write as my experiences have found me or it is I who have found them? And I am a woman, a sister, a mother, a lover, a friend and having been a nurse for most of my life a wannabe healer. There are times I truly feel I transcend these boundaries-but it usually gets me into trouble………

Listening to your audio track, I catch all sorts of influences in your accent and voice. Is that the result of an interesting life?

That is a very kind way of asking that question. It’s funny –I have lived in many different places-worn many different hats-and I am told that when I have had a few (too many) glasses of wine my American accent is very strong!! I guess I have many hats- I hope it’s a strength-I have always felt comfortable amongst kings or tramps or anything inbetween as long as there is good intent-who am I ?? perhaps my poetry is trying to find out

I love the straightforwardness of your poetry. There is no puffy language. Have you developed a lean style over time? Do you ponder and revise at length or does a poem just leap out trimmed and formed?

Mostly when I write-it just comes out –formed-sometimes I feel that I cant put that on the page as its too much ownership for the reader and I feel all responsible, I feel I have to apologise for dripping loss all over the place-and yet that is who I am. I so don’t want to bring anyone down but if someone reads my words and then does not feel so crazy or all alone then that’s great-and for me too. I guess that’s why I write I am shouting-hello-to anyone out there.

I have worked with people much more versed and academic than me and it lends me to working more to form-my only fear is losing passion………..

Had you read any of your poems aloud to an audience? Do you read them aloud to yourself and having undergone ordeal by audio do you feel it brings a fuller experience of poetry?

I LOVE hearing people reading their own work as I so know it adds a dimension that otherwise is lost. I do enjoy reading my own work-but there we go-naked again-and it takes much courage……

Candy has the honour of having the last word in Freeze Frame. She has a style which I believe many readers will recognise as being their own hearts and sentiments. In her first collection “Candy Colours” she employs the tag line “Poetry Especially For Women”.  It is undeniable that her work does have a distinct femininity in that it is expressed from the heart of a woman. To give you a taste of her work I have selected a poem from her book.

YOU

Art becoming life and back again
Delving for the entwinable essence
Once this precious treasure found
Holding tight for fear it loses breath

You should not take me to the edge
Unless you beckon me to fly
You would not show me such brilliance
Then return me to lonely shadow life

Once a life is saved needs must it will be shared
Shall I rest here then for those trusting days
And nights where promises are made
Breathe then, this heart is in your grasp

The next and final interviewee is me!  Jo VonBargen has provided the questions  Indeed it is most fitting that she should do so since it was Jo who first caught my attention when I re-emerged into the world of poetry to publish “I Threw A Stone”. I realised that the poetry I wanted so badly was out there. It was the poetry of utterly talented writers like her.

Freeze Frame Anthology. Featured Poet, Claude Nougat.

Amongst the madness of it all, Mankind Incorporated does have a management structure. Claude Nougat head onlyLargely it is invisible and a glance at the news could lead you to think that there was no one at the helm. Behind the scenes there are the economists, planners and executives who keep the show going. A read through of Claude’s CV would leave you in no doubt as to her capabilities. In her professional life she was an economist working on project evaluation for the U.N. She speaks several languages, is a novelist, a painter, journalist, blogger extraordinaire and of course a poet. You can check out her full palmares, book list and gallery here.

I first encountered Claude when I chanced upon her blog. She ranges across the worlds of  politics, economics,the arts, publishing and current affairs. These days she is my Numero Uno source of guidance on the subject of world affairs. She is so truly international by virtue of her upbringing and career that she has a unique non tribal neutrality that is like radar in a fog.

For her contibution to Freeze Frame, she set out into the streets of Rome to write a series of poems based around locations and monuments frozen in their own era, yet speaking forward into our time with their eternal lessons. The poems and her physical voice combine to create a completely unique work which I cannot wait to reveal. She delivers her poetry with an inimitably coolDSC04557 accent and a sense of calm humanity and intelligence of which I would be utterly envious; were I not a poet of course and above such things!

Rather than a poem, I am adding one of Claude’s own paintings that she created  for the cover of her novel A Hook In The Sky.

You see, working with other writers is a journey of discovery. When I look at this picture I ask myself if it is a poem. Certainly it has psychological depth that poetry often seeks. The more I see of all the guys in Freeze Frame, the more I admire and the less I know.

As part of the series I interviewed Claude about her work.

Primarily I have always known you for your prose. I wanted you in this anthology because of your quality as a writer. You have produced some unique and quite haunting poetry. Clearly the poetry was always there, but was it a challenge to set it free?

A challenge? I guess you could say that, although I’ve never stopped writing poetry all my life, on the sly as it were… It requires letting go of all the logical framework I’m used to operate in – especially as an economist and non-fiction writer. But let’s face it, I already do let go of logic when I write fiction. Characters in my novels are born from the unconscious and they keep doing things that even surprise me! For poetry, it just means taking a further step into the irrational. Letting words echo each other, both in terms of the way they sound and what they mean and what they imply. Also, there’s another aspect, the audio that you support so much for your anthology – and here I follow you one hundred percent! For me, poetry is actually very close to singing. Songs are poor cousins of poems, though the better songs are pure poetry in their own right. The voice matters. And rythm too, it’s much more important than rhyme, which in any case is simply the more traditional form of poetry, largely by-passed by modern poets.

 

Your poems are set in Rome, yet you bring the eyes of a lifetime and a world to interpret your subjects. Are there universal lessons of philosophy and history that will always be of the moment?

Definitely. For me, it’s a continuum: the moment “freezes” timeless, universal lessons. Ha! How do you like that definition of Freeze Frame? Actually, I’d like to add that the very title of your anthology inspired the particular form of poetry I chose for it. I picked some “meaningful” corners of Rome and just let go my imagination, associating the present with the past…

 

You are a true citizen of the world. Your objective non tribal viewpoint is a joy to those of us who follow your blogs and essays. Where is home for you in terms of tribe and location?

To be honest, I have multiple homes, Earth is my home. I belong to the nomadic tribe par excellence – my father and grandfather were both world-travellers, we spoke several languages at home – and “home” has varied in function of what I did with my life. After a fantastic series of sojourns in Egypt, Russia, France and South America, I attended an American university in the biggest metropolitan town in the world: Columbia U. in New York. That shaped me, no question about it. But after graduation and a first job, I didn’t stay in America. By the time I’d turned 32, I was back in Europe and feeling at home all over the continent. I finally settled in Rome, the birthplace of our civilization. That’s something I feel strongly about. Yet for 25 years I travelled for work in over 80 countries around the world, from Vietnam to Peru, soaking in the differences and revelling in the warm feeling of being able to come back every time to my home in Rome!

 

You share with Joseph Conrad the fact that English is not your first language. No one would know but does it alter/enrich your approach to the way you express yourself?

Enrich my approach? I don’t know, you, and all my readers, should be able to judge that! It’s interesting you mention Conrad, I always think (and feel) rather closer to Nabokov who loved to play with words and wrote of course as you know in three languages (Russian, German, English). I studied German but alas it is the one language I don’t know and I regret that. I studied Russian too but I also forgot it entirely (out of practice, out of mind). Ditto for Swedish (my first language, even before French). The result? For a long time, a horrible hodge-podge, too many languages. A struggle to express myself without having words from another language popping into my mind and interfering with the process…Eventually, with much effort, I managed to overcome the problems and I suppose you might say I’ve become rather articulate. I hope so. One thing is certain: I love words, I love to find out about their origin. Semantics is fascinating, I’m endlessly curious about the links between words as you move from one language to another.

A big element of the Freeze Frame project is the actual physical “Voice” of the poets. Another contributor has described the recording process as a form of nakedness. How was it for you?

Feeling naked? Yes and how! It’s strange because it’s exactly the way I felt every time I participated in a show as a painter. My paintings were giving me away – here was  my secret inner self for all to see! Saying my own poems made me terribly anxious in the exact same way. Did I sound like I was “full of myself”? Was I giving with my voice too much importance to the words I had written? Was I (cringe!) bombastic? Horror!

Who are your favourite writers – in any of your languages?

My favorite writers are generally Russian, from Tolstoy and Dostoievski to Gogol and Bulgakov, Solgenytsin…But I imagine you want to know about poets. Then I have to say Federico Garcìa Lorca, Verlaine, Baudelaire, Rimbaud, T.S.Eliot, Leopardi…yes, the classics! But I’m intrigued by the moderns, don’t take me wrong. For example, Alice Oswald with her Dart river poem…And of course, all the poets in your anthology. Their dedication, their sensibility, their inspiration, their ear, their voice…I’m impressed and I take this opportunity to thank you for bringing them all together, including yourself in this anthology! Freeze Frame is a fascinating project, particularly the audio aspect which brings poetry right back to its troubadour origins…

When I started this project I had half a plan to create a 50/50 mix of British and American writers. As things have turned out Claude is the wild card entry who delineates the pendulum swing of the collection. It is a joy to have her on board. When I asked her about which of her paintings I could include in this blog she offered me a selection. Amongst them was a picture that once again took my mind into the labyrinth of poetry and indeed to the concepts of surrealist art. Check out Cavalli Enigmae.Cavalli Enigmae  (Melancholia - Me) olio su carta 100x60 cm

 

 

Freeze Frame Anthology. Featured Poet, Jefferson Hansen

400px-C_altered_scale_flats

C  Altered Scale with flats (Wiki)

Hey – look out the window. There’s a lot going on out there.  I guess we all know that but sometimes you come up against something that jolts you out of your complacency. A while ago I caught a couple of tweets from Jefferson Hansen which led me to the Altered Scale on-line arts magazine.  For an old wanderer of mellow meadows and the bargain aisle of Walmart , these pages were quite revelatory and liberating. There’s poetry, video, music and many mixes of them all and more or less anything else you can think of. I have featured there myself as pure prosaic me. There is no snobbery or agenda, no wish list or dream team. I love to look in and I love the fact that it is there.   IMG_2967Jeff Hansen

Altered Scale and its accompanying blog are the pure labours of love of Jefferson Hansen. His work creates a marvellous platform for other artists who can be anything from photographers to cross-stitch poets.  Whatever your tastes, desires or curiosities, I guarantee you will find something stimulating. The fact that he provides this platform says a lot about the guy.  My impression is that he evades my attempts to label him as altruistic but I know how much work this kind of show takes.

I have always said that the greatest talent of all other writers is that they are nothing like me. Jefferson Hansen has ideas that make my synapses feel like rusty railway points (I hope that this term exists in the USA) Come to think of it, I don’t think I would have had this image without him.  To me his work is risky, spontaneous and brilliant and I am delighted that he was able to contribute to Freeze Frame.  As the big poetry anthology bird descends towards final approach I interviewed Jefferson about his work.

Jeff, from where I see it you are one hell of a unique guy. Certainly you have opened my eyes to many possibilities in poetry, music and art. You appear to work selflessly to promote other artists in your Altered Scale blogs and magazine. To me you are a bit of a Gertrude Cyber-Stein’s monster but without the ego. What motivates you?

I don’t know. I like art, I like artists who are nice, and I get some recognition for it, of course. And the person who posts the most on the blog is…me. So I’m not so selfless, after all.

Obviously you are fearless about what you do. Much of your work is experimental. Do you fear failure or is everything and anything moving towards ways of expression and understanding?

Failure. Hm. If something fails, I just don’t publish it. I suppose everything moves toward expression and understanding, but some of that movement is boring–I’m interested in fascinating movement.

Recently I watched you improvising a further part of your poem “and I am alone thank god” which features in Freeze Frame. Your improvisation kept a few of us astounded at your ability to take the theme on into an intellectual abstraction just off the cuff. Do you enjoy the danger of improvisation to camera?

I love improvising. Often, the images and so on that come from the pressure of improvisation are later worked into “finished” poems. Improvisation is, I think, necessary for all artists. However, much of my art is grounded in a jazz aesthetic; indeed, “altered scale” is a jazz term.

Your own work is often abstract yet can pop up with pieces like ‘Meditating Cougar’ which is linear, philosophical and naturalistic. Do you have any kind of starting point in your own writing or does the subject ambush you?

Neither. The form ambushes me, and I go with it. Sometimes I write in almost a ballad fashion. Sometimes I write Romantic. Sometimes I write visual and wild. Sometimes I write in performance forms, most recently in “Your Majesty the Motherfucker.”

If folk do not know about “Altered Scale” allow me to say here that it is a truly exciting and original arts magazine featuring almost anything from Pulitzer Prize winners to old conservative English poets via abstract dance and improvisation. Do you feel there is a mission here to discover the fundamental particles of art by collision as if in some kind of Hansen particle Accelerator?

I never thought of it that way. I don’t believe there are fundamental particles of art. I just like the colliding.

You are a poet by virtue of the fact that you write and perform poetry. What is your background as a writer? Have you tried many forms?

See above. I don’t “brand” myself as a poet. Some avant-gardists must hate some of what I do. I don’t care. I just do. However, the fact that I sometimes write avant-garde necessarily puts me in the avant-garde camp socially and institutionally. That’s just the way the world works (right now).

You do not really promote your own work but seem to slip it in among other artists who are banging their own drum. What is the vision for your own art or do you see it as part of a broader continuum?

Oh, I don’t promote my own work much on Facebook; it seems gauche. However, I would announce a new publication there. Basically, I publish my own work on my blog simply to keep it active, so that something interesting is happening most days of the week. I also find sending work out to journals and so forth kind of boring. Why do I need the go ahead from an editor to feel confident that my work is “publishable”? I already know it is. So I publish it myself, avoid the middle person, and help to keep the blog active, thereby bringing attention to the other artists on it.

You know, when I was a younger man working in London I used to hang out at galleries and poetry readings. I was a member the Institute of Contemporary Arts and went to all the shows. I’ll always remember seeing Bunuel’s L’Age D’Or  – his surrealist film masterpiece. I was not part of the set there and felt very alone. I was, after all a cop – a Nazi oppressor of criminal freedom. (I learned to hide it and started wearing trainers with a suit, vest and scarf). Jeff Hansen takes the bullshit out of that high art clique. He mixes it up and spreads it on. He’s a talented poet too. I’m delighted to have him on board. I recommend checking out Altered. Scale. Here he is explaining his mission.