An Interview with Brandon Kralik


Post Contemporary artist Brandon Kralik worked for three years in the studio of the figurative Odd Nerdrum. A major in Fine Art, he has also studied Art History, photography, and film at CUNY. He has written an arts blog for Huffington Post as well as several other publications both online and in print. His paintings graces the collections of Steven Tyler, The Crown Princess of Sweden, Matthew Barzun, who leads the financial campaign for President Obama’s re-election, and Carlos Santana, to name a few.

Can you tell us a little about your childhood? Did you always have a love of art early on?

I have always been interested in visual images and have drawn my entire life. My Mom drew, her sister and brother in law were both artists and I remember visiting their studios when I was very small.


What is the very thing that you remember liking to draw most often?

I drew all sorts of things but people have always been most interesting for me. Some of my earliest drawings that I remember were of people, real simple, in landscapes. I liked to tell stories with my drawings.

What do you love most about being a painter?

 Being a painter allows me a certain amount of freedom to do with my day as I wish which has always been what I wanted. I love the freedom I have to create, to be at home or to travel as I want. Freedom.


Is there one subject you love to create above others or do you like to always be expanding in your work?

People are still my favorite subject but I hope that I can expand on that. I mean, it is one thing to paint a portrait but what I really want more than to achieve likenesses or to copy nature is to convey a sense of otherworldliness, to delve into the great mystery and explore the ancient myths and how they apply to us now. I am interested in eternal values and what we all have in common as human beings.

How did you come to work with Odd Nerdrum? What did you learn from that experience?

 I came to know Odd through a series of pleasant coincidences. I told the story last year at the Representational Art Conference in Ventura, California (TRAC) and there is a video of it on youtube but to make a long story short, I was working in a gallery in Hawaii when a man came in who knew Odd Nerdrum, was his neighbor in Norway and said that if I came to Norway he would introduce us, and so I did. Odd ended up inviting me to paint with him so I did that for 3 years.

I learned that it was possible to paint grand paintings in our time. I learned that the secrets of the old masters were not lost but that they just fell by the wayside in the wake of Modernism and Post Modernism. I learned that I was not alone in wanting to create masterpieces. I also learned  lots of small technical things about pigments, preparing canvas and paint but Odd is a wealth of information about philosophy and Art history and I find all of that super interesting.


What led you to Sweden? Do you ever miss the States?

 While I was in Norway at Nerdrum’s I fell in love with a woman from Sweden eventually moved there and opened my own studio, which I still have. I miss people, my family but I go back to the States pretty often. I love to travel. I spend most of last year just north of New York City but earlier this year I moved back to Sweden and have been living in Stockholm.

Are there any little known things about you that our readers might be surprised to learn?

I am sure there are! One thing that people are often surprised to learn is that I lived in Alaska for three years on a boat. I have spent a lot of time exploring the fringes of society. Alaska was pretty far out and the years I spent there led to some pretty good stories!


Do you have a dream project you’d most like to bring into being?

 Interesting that you should ask. I have recently begun a video series that focuses on interviews with prominent people within the representational or Post Contemporary community. It is called Elephant and can be found on youtube and my Patreon page. I review ateliers, talk with painters, gallery owners and other professionals to help educate the public and collectors about 21st Century painting. It is something I have wanted to do for a while, to be able to share my experiences with a larger audience. It is an extension of the blog that I write for the Huffington Post, but in video format. People can support the project by becoming patrons and by donating a few dollars a month they can see all the videos and receive other bonuses such as sketches, paintings and eventually I will publish a book of my travels and experiences. I hope to do that later next year. My big plan is to next year, for my 50th birthday, to travel around the world and meet with painters and share that with my social network. The book will be based on that.

What do you hope people take away from viewing your works of art?

 I want people to understand that it is possible for them to own beautiful works of art. I do work on commissions but when it comes to my own work, what I want to say, I hope that mywork gives people a sense of balance, of inspiration and hope. I want this to come through in the imagery, the symbolism, but also from the craftsmanship. There is something very special about being able to live with well crafted oil paintings.


What advice would you give those wishing to improve their skills as an artist?

 Draw. All the time. Every day. There are a number of ateliers now where one can go to learn the skills and I will be reviewing these ateliers and talking with the teachers there in the video series, Elephant.

What would you say is the best advice anyone ever gave you on life in general?

 My father told me that the second hardest thing in life is to live up to your potential. The hardest thing would be to get to the end of it and realize that you did not try.


What do you think is key to a life well lived?

 Happiness. To have my time, for that is the most valuable, irreplaceable resource, and to be able to spend it creating, and to once I have that, to enjoy it, do my best, and to benefit others with what I can do.  If I can add up spiritual victory after spiritual victory, day after day, then my life will have been well lived.

Anything you’d like to say in closing?

 I love to connect with new people and learn about life from their perspective, learn about how they live and am always happy to share what I know with people who are interested so, I am easy to find. I am on a lot of social media sites and of course people will find more information on my website. Feel free to connect with me! I also want to thank you for reaching out and offering to do this interview. I appreciate it.


A poem for those who need it by Becket


The narrow
chooses to love
I feel like hating.
The narrow way is the choice to trust
natural temptations
to fight to survive.
How narrow
this way of hope seems.
It is a supernatural
path to catch as my worries and fears
like untamable monsters
that whisper from the dark about death.
more life
lives after
this life is an unnatural
yet still I wear it like
old shoes.

This poem originally appeared in Pi Poems: for the one who needs them.

Becket is the assistant to New York Times bestselling author Anne Rice, with whom he co-created The Blood Vivicanti serial. He is also the author of four other books, as well as an instrumental music album. This is his first book of poems. Becket’s music and books can be found here:

An Interview with Enric Torres-Prat

Otros 1 (1)

Enric Torres Prat is known for his lushly illustrated works of art. His work at Warren Publications has featured Vampirella, Tarzan, King Kong, Star Wars, and Star Trek just to name a few. His work has graced covers of various publications worldwide and spanned fantasy, science fiction, gothic horror, romance, and westerns.

Did you grow up in Barcelona? What do you love most about Spain? What was your childhood like?

Yes I was born and I actually live in Barcelona. I love my country, Spain, I like the color, the smell and the taste of it

Did you develop your love of art at an early age?

Yes, I guess ever since I can remember.


When did you first know you wanted to be painter?

I do not know the age, but I guess that happened as I got older.

What do you love most about creating on canvas?

Drawing the human figure, and most specially the female figure.


Why did the works of Rembrandt leave such a lasting impression on you?

The art of Rembrandt did not really leave any specific impression on me, or not a different one from the one left by the art of Velazquez or many others. In fact, this quote about the art of Rembrandt that is attributed to me comes out of a confusion, but it is not now the right time to talk about the confusion.

Is there a dream project you’d most like to bring into existence?

Yes indeed, I have projects ongoing, but I’d rather be discrete for the time being.


Do you have any one character you enjoy painting more than others or do you love them all equally?

Not in particular, my preferences are not related to the character itself but rather the environment, the composition, the color, the light, etc.

What led you to create your piece on James Dean? Are you a fan of his work?

On each of the trips to the United States I use to make, I always tried to bring with me some pieces of art to show it to the art directors of the companies I was visiting. For that particular occasion, I showed the piece to Leonar Leone, Art Director and VP of Bantam Books, and that was indeed a good choice. I’m not exactly a fan of James Dean, although I must admit he was a talented actor with an intriguing personality. Really interesting.


What is about the human body that makes it such a great subject to cover in art ?

Absolutely everything. I find everything about it really interesting.

What do you hope people take away from viewing your works?

I love that people like what I do. I hope and I wish that people that invest their time in my art can feel rewarded by it.


How have you changed most over the course of your lifetime?

There is no doubt that my art has changed over the years (I hope for good), as well as my lifestyle and the way I think. These things are strongly related, so they evolve together over time.

What do you think is key to a life well lived?

I wish I knew, in any case, trying to be a better person is at least a good vehicle to get there.


How do you hope to be remembered when your time comes?

As a good person, I mean, like my grandson calls me, “Avi ets un bon home,” which means, “Grandpa, you are a good man.”

Is there anything you’d like to say in closing?

Yes, I want to apologize, for my lack of smartness while trying to answer these questions.



An Interview with Lew Bracker

Lew Bracker & James Dean

Of the more than 200 books written on the subject of James Dean, few actually had the honor of being close to the man behind the myth. In his latest work Jimmy & Me: A Personal Memoir of James Dean  Lew Bracker offers up his memories of one of the most dedicated actors of all time.

What were you like as a child? What are some of your most fond memories of that time? How have you changed most since then?

I have never really thought about how I was as a child. I grew up among a very large extended family in a small town, so I felt very secure with so many aunts and uncles and cousins around me. I do think it had a lasting effect on me in many ways. For one thing, family meant so much to me.

Did Jimmy ever talk much about his childhood? Did he ever speak of Mildred?

Jimmy never mentioned his childhood to me. Don’t forget, I only knew him the last 16 months of his life, and we were just getting started learning about each other. We both felt very secure in our friendship and in our mutual trust, but we were learning what we were really all about. Jimmy never mentioned his mother, or even Fairmount, for that matter. We just hadn’t got there yet.

Do you think it is fair to say that they both did remarkable things with the short time given them?

I can’t speak for his mother, but of course Jimmy had already accomplished remarkable things, beside his three movies, he had done quite a bit of TV and was on Broadway in plays.

What was it like to meet Jimmy via Leonard Rosenman?

Meeting Jimmy was not special. That was not why I was there. He was just a guy. I had never heard of him or knew what he did.

Aside from the love of cars what was it that first drew you to him?

The drawing together of Jimmy and me was our second meeting, also by chance. I was babysitting Lenny and Adele’s daughters one night when Jimmy dropped by. This was about a week or so after our initial meeting. We ended up talking the whole evening. Mostly about his and my girl troubles.

What was it about him that made him so easy to talk to on that second encounter? Did he have a way about him that made people feel safe around him do you think, made them trust him more than they would others?

No. Jimmy was actually shy, and he was very guarded when meeting or being exposed to strangers. And he compartmentalized his life quite a bit.

Jimmy seemed to always have a lot of questions. Did you ever get tired of those? Do you think his uniquely individual way of looking at the world with a sort of wonder was one thing that made him seem different from most?

Jimmy had a great curiosity and was always picking peoples brains by asking questions.

Did Jimmy have a hard time trusting people well enough to let them close? Do you feel honored to have been one of them?

Jimmy had trouble trusting anyone. Probably because his father put him on the train to Indiana with his mother’s coffin. But Jimmy trusted me and my family and was beginning to be more open.

You mention Jimmy having a Victorian moral streak. Do you think that is something that most of the world might be surprised to know? Did you admire how he stuck to his beliefs whatever they might be?

His Victorian streak was really a Quaker streak. He came from Quakers and was brought up by Quakers. Fairmount was founded by Quakers.

Is it true he used to talk of wanting to marry and having both of your children grow up as friends themselves? Did he seem to have a deep respect for children and the institution of family?

Yes, it is true that Jimmy and I had those conversations about someday, we would be married, our wives would be best friends and our children would play together. A little idyllic but it showed that Jimmy was planning for the future and wanted a family. He certainly adopted my family and our house as a family member.

Do you think if he had lived long enough he would made that comedy he had in mind? Was Jimmy good at making people laugh and lightening the mood?

When speaking of making movies, Jimmy wanted to make his own Western and his own Comedy, by that I mean directing. He was already going to make someone else’s Western, The Left Handed Gun for MGM.

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Did Jimmy seem to enjoy improvisation? What was it like getting to watch him do that?

Jimmy loved acting. Improvs were a great exercise and a challenge. He was always trying to perfect his craft.

What was it like to hear Jimmy talk about something he loved? Did he get excited when talking about the races?

Yes, Jimmy got excited talking about racing and cars. But we talked about other things as well. Jimmy loved to discuss things.

What was it like to have Jimmy mother you along on your first race? Do you appreciate having had the chance to have him there?

Jimmy being by my side at my lst Race weekend just seemed natural. I wasn’t surprised or made any special note of it. I suppose I even expected it.

What would you say is the most valuable thing you have learned from your own friendship with him?

While Jimmy was alive, Jimmy probably learned more from me than I did from him. Jimmy even said that he thought he was getting more out of our friendship than he could give. I never measured. I just took each day as it came and never viewed Jimmy as anyone other than my friend. Now, 60 years later, I have much more insight and have a much better understanding of everything and everyone involved during that time.

Are the any particular moments from your time with him that you hold most dear?

Most dear? Not one specific thing. Just the entire relationship and the memories.

Do you yourself still have premonitions as much as you ever did or have they tapered off? Have you found it useful to listen to them?

Yes, I have always had premonitions at certain times.

Why do you feel that even with so many years since his passing you and Jimmy still remain the closest of friends? Do you think it is fair to say you will carry him with you always as such?

Jimmy and I bonded as friends. Call it chemistry. Why do any two people just simply bond? As for considering our friendship transcends all these years it is simply the way I feel about it. To me, our friendship goes on and I think about him all the time. When I was racing, I felt he was there in the car with me.

Do you take some comfort in knowing that before he died Jimmy was happier than he had been since Mildred’s death?

I believe Jimmy was about as happy as he had ever been after his mother died. I know he was beginning to open up to people, I called it, he was beginning to blossom.

What was the most challenging thing you faced in writing Jimmy & Me: A Personal Memoir of James Dean? Was it painful at times to relive the moments captured therein?

Yes, I did not want to write the book. I had put that entire part of my life in to a private place in my memory bank and locked it up. I did not want to revisit it. But I did, finally, and while it was some tough going, it also acted as a catharsis, and I am glad I wrote the book. At times, I had to leave the computer and come back to it later, as I became emotional. But I knew that would happen and was a main reason for avoiding revisiting that part of my life.

What do you hope the readers learn from this particular body of work?

Readers may learn a little from this interview, but as readers all over the world have told me, they learned more from my book, about Jimmy, than in all the other books put together. And my book was all true. I wrote every word, and only about what I experienced firsthand.

Jimmy & Me (by Lew Bracker)

An Interview with Nick Holmes


Born in Dodge City, Kansas Nick Holmes is a poet/photographer/actor who has appeared on television series such as Gilmore Girls and the Hulu exclusive Quick Draw. He has also graced the silver screen in such films as Super, The Giant Mechanical Man, and Guardians of the Galaxy.

Did you grow up in Dodge City or did you move from there before having the chance? What are some of your most fond memories from your childhood?

I lived in Dodge City until I was seventeen and it was a great place to grow up. The best memories I have of it include the landscape, the carefree feeling that only a child in a small community can know, and the burgeoning Mexican culture.

Do you think your being from there came in handy while playing Frank James on Quick Draw? What is it like to work on an improvised Western comedy? Is improv something you would like to pursue further?

Quick Draw is set in Great Bend, Kansas – which is a real place that’s only about eighty miles from my home town. It was cool to be on set and see things like directional signs with “Dodge City” on them. Being in a western is about the most fun you can have as an actor; you get to dress up, say cool things, ride horses, carry a gun – it’s a playground. Add the element of improv to that, especially alongside John Lehr (also a Kansan) and Nancy Hower, and you have an environment that is such a delightful fantasy that it never felt like work. Since the end of Quick Draw – I’ve done another project for John and Nancy that just got picked up by HBO. So hopefully they don’t screw that up for me…because I love them.

Do you happen to remember what you very first favorite movie was?

My first film was a campy vampire flick called The Thirst – the film’s distributor later changed the title to Blood Wars and made a poster for it with three mercenaries carrying sniper rifles…even though it was a comedy set on a college campus and there’s not a single gun (or mercenary) in the film. It was a lot of fun to do and quite an education. I still have my vampire teeth somewhere.

When did you know you wanted to be an actor?

A level of disdain washes over me when I hear actors say “I always wanted to be an actor for as long as I can remember.” But the more I think about it as I get older, it’s absolutely true for me. Anything else I wanted to do along the way was just another path that I thought might give me the same attention fix.

What is the most challenging aspect of being an actor? What do you love most about it?

The hardest part for me, specifically being a film/tv actor, is enduring the downtime. There are often long periods between jobs with little to encourage or satisfy the desire to participate in the acting experience. But that does make the days at work all the sweeter and that is my favorite part – to be on set.

Do you think the general public tends to underestimate how much dedication goes into learning the trade?

In America, yes. Even American actors underestimate how much dedication is required to learn the trade. Los Angeles is full of charismatic good looking people who have no idea what they’re doing. You can meet them at expensive coffee shops any hour of the day.

Who do you consider to be some of the greatest actors to ever live?

My favorite film actors are a mixed bunch of the charismatic and the poetic; Peter O’Toole, Gene Hackman, Sidney Poitier, Vanessa Redgrave, Newman, Connery, Freeman, Streep, Katharine Hepburn…I could go on and on.

What led you to write poetry? Do you think world could use more poets in days such as these?

It’s something I rediscovered about myself in a long period between the end of a marriage and the beginning of a love affair. The world probably doesn’t need any more poets – it needs to notice the good ones again. I read a lot of beautiful poetry on platforms like tumblr and even more bad poetry – there’s little commercial market for it anymore. It’s a terrific art form when it’s done well. The great rise above the good at the point that the idea being expressed is so eloquently distilled that you want them to dance on the notion a little longer than they do – leaving you with the feeling that you’ve been personally understood, or, even better, that you understand yourself a little better.

You are also a photographer. Are the photos you caption on your website all your photos?

I am a portrait photographer which is quite a different subject matter than my blog.

My tumblr blog, “Nick Holmes Is The Most Attractive Man I Have Ever Slept With”, is an agglomeration of stuff I find on The Internet. I originally started it as something completely different, lots of short films that inspired me and scientific things I thought were cool…then it morphed into what it is now – a lot of cat photos (that I didn’t take).


There do seem to be a lot of cats on said site, why do you think felines have such mass appeal when it comes to the internet?

Because cats don’t care.

As someone who has worked in both television and film do you prefer one more than the other? How do the two differ most?

The main difference between television and film, from the point of view of an actor who has never worked more than a couple weeks at a time on a series, is the efficiency of the production. Television is a moving machine and there’s not time to second guess things. Film is a slower more deliberate process. I couldn’t pick a favorite – they’re both gratifying in different ways.

What was it like to work on Guardians of the Galaxy? Did any of you know going in that it would be as popular as it is?

It’s better to be lucky than to be anything else. I was very lucky that my good friend James Gunn, who wrote and directed the film, found a place for me in the movie. Knowing James and his wonderfully empathetic writing style as well as his lifelong love of comic books, I was certain that Guardians would be a great film that people would respond to…and they certainly did.

Are there any little known things about you that your fans might be surprised to learn?

I taught a squirrel, that I’m pretty sure was Abe Lincoln reincarnated, how to ride a bicycle. It was very rewarding.

What would you say is the best advice anyone ever gave you? (who was it)

Every time I hear this question I can only think of song lyrics.

At the risk of sounding (even more) trite – a girl named Jordan, who had a crush on me when we were kids, suggested I get contact lenses. That ridiculous little change effected my life drastically because it gave me confidence. I make a lot of mistakes – but I do so confidently. Thanks Jordan.

Do you have a dream project you’d most like to bring into being?

There’s no screenplay sitting in my head that I haven’t birthed…but I daydream often about being a Bond villain, my first gallery show, and making out with Grace Jones.

What do you think is key to a life well lived?

The ability to be relaxed and really al dente spaghetti.

What are you working on at the moment?

I just finished a film called The Little Migration that I hope will make it out into the world next year. My book of poetry Time Spent Falling is nearly finished and will probably live it’s life on Amazon and as an ebook. There’s been a lot of encouragement toward having a gallery show of my portrait work – but I haven’t given that a voice yet.

Anything you’d like to say in closing?

Follow me on instagram. I’m obsessed with it.   @narcissusholmes


“These Stones Still Breathing” by Simon Perchik


These Stones Still Breathing

These stones still breathing
chill your mouth too, sealed
in whatever is started –you kneel

at each construction site :this grave
centered so the light inside
helps you find the frostline

and in time the building
no longer moves though you inhale
side to side the way mourners

root each wall arm in arm
and no more air –what’s left
you breathe out as small broken bits

that even in winter come by
to talk, bring you lips
a number, a street, a place.


Simon Perchik is an attorney whose poems have appeared in Partisan Review, The Nation, Poetry, Osiris, The New Yorker, and elsewhere. His most recent collection, Almost Rain, is published by River Otter Press (2013). For more information, including free e-books, his essay titled Magic, Illusion and Other Realities please visit his website at:

An Interview with Felino A. Soriano


Felino A. Soriano is a poet whose work is inspired by the sounds of jazz. His work has appeared in over 550 print and online journals and 68 poetry collections. His most recent collections are Forms, Migrating, Of Isolated Limning, Mathematics, Espials, Watching What Invents Perception, and Of These Voices. His forthcoming collection Quintet Dialogues: translating introspection will also feature the art of David Allen Reed. He is also editor of the Poetry Journal Of/with.

Can you tell us a little about yourself? What was your childhood like? Did you have a love of words early on or is that something you picked up later on?

I’ve lived my entire life on the central coast of California. I’ve one younger brother. I’ve been shy and introverted since childhood, but was much more social as a youngster than I am now. Growing up, although I enjoyed reading, and partook in the typical drawing/coloring associated with childhood, I didn’t have an interest in art or writing until my 20’s. I’ve enjoyed music, however since I was very young, and an early influence musically for me, was my dad. He sang in a band that performed covers of artists/groups such as Kool and the Gang, Al Green, The Commodores, Smokey Robinson, and others. Although Jazz is my favorite genre of music, I still often listen to soul and R&B, and my dad’s early influence is what keeps me interested in these genres as well.

When did you first know you were a poet? What is it like to realize that you have to write?

I wrote poetry sporadically in high school (early 1990’s) for then-girlfriends. It wasn’t good. On 1/1/2000, I was at home and very strong desire pushed me to sit down and write a poem. Again, it wasn’t good, however, the feeling to write became so overwhelming, it added the dimension of studying poetry to configure a realization that expressing language differently was what I wanted to do. I began reading many books of poetry, and the first two I read were gifts: Octavio Paz’s A Draft of Shadows and Other Poems, and The Selected Poems of Li Po. 15 years later, writing is still a very insatiable activity, one that occurs very naturally, and one that I’m devoted to continuing to etch into my identity.

Do you consider yourself lucky to be able to express yourself in words as you do?

Lucky? No. What I do find is responsibility in the need to express myself through poetic language. I’m often asked why I write so often, and the easiest answer is always because of the elation poetry brings me. Of course, there are nuanced and aggregated functions as to why I write so often, including the deep desire to create a dissimilar poetic language. I write to create an understanding of my environment; and, I write to uncover/unconceal angles that are unseen and create a language to describe such discoveries. The following quote from Rainer Maria Rilke hangs above my writing table, and it exhibits the responsibility so very well:

If your everyday life seems poor, don’t blame it; blame yourself; admit to yourself that you are not enough of a poet to call forth its riches; because for the creator there is no poverty, and no indifferent place.”

Who are some of your favorite poets, past and present?

A truncated list includes Duane Locke, Pablo Neruda, Heller Levinson, Alan Britt, Octavio Paz, Li Po, Matina Stamatakis, Sheila E. Murphy, Emily Dickinson, Ed Pavlić, William Alexandar, Eric Baus, Michael Palmer, Langston Hughes, Silvia Scheibli, and many others.

When did you first take an interest in jazz? How do you think music and words have influenced one another throughout the ages?

Sometime in 2000 I saw an advertisement for Ken Burns’ documentary Jazz, which I found quite interesting. A short time later I asked a coworker about his interest in jazz, as he had an extensive catalogue of music in many genres. He recommended I purchase Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue and John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme. A few days later I bought the CD’s and became elated with what I was hearing. Subsequent to that, I watched each episode of Burns’ documentary and then realized jazz was going to be an imperative part of my experiences.

Since 2006, an active part of my writing routine consists of listening to jazz while writing. The perceptual alterations brought forth from the music assists me in configuring my brand of poetic language, in addition to the musical components within the language.

Poetry is a musical endeavor. The poetry I most enjoy includes a paralleling paradigm of interesting images collocated with music brought forth from attributes such as alliteration.

Do you have a dream project you’d most like accomplish?

As jazz is such an imperative part of my daily life, —not only through the interactive aspect of drawing sound for my writing, but contextual to listening as often as I can, I would really enjoy collaborating with a favorite jazz musician to create a dialogue of interpretation. In 2010 I wrote several hundred poems interpreting various jazz recordings I called Approbations. If I were able to collaborate with a musician, I’d very much enjoy working with Jason Moran or Robert Glasper. Both of these pianists are with Blue Note Records and are brilliant at redefining and obscuring the slim labels and delineations given to jazz music and the musicians.

I’d also very much enjoy doing an ekphrastic project, interpreting various pieces by artist, Gerhard Richter.  His art genuinely transfers me into writing, particularly his abstract work.

Can you tell us a little more about Quintet Dialogues: translating introspection? What can your reader expect from that? Why did you decide to include the artwork of David Allen Reed?

Quintet Dialogues: translating introspection is a collection of poetry I wrote in 2013. The original premise was to catechize the traditional jazz quintet paradigm, and use an introverted and interior motivation to communicate from the perspectives of musicians playing bass, drums, piano, saxophone, and trumpet. A foundational part of my language is the belief of connectivity between objects and people, and that at a very basic level, understanding how an object functions is key to analyzing the structural aspects of what makes the interaction unique. I often use of in my poems as a way to illustrate the connectivity about which I speak. Therefore, within the collection I use Of piano, for example, to burgeon the introspection posited by the musician to bring understanding to the reader through the language of each section. There are five sections consisting of 20 poems each.

The publisher and editor of the book, Michael Annis, brought a different perspective to the book and had a brilliant idea about laying out the book completely different from my original manuscript. This includes bringing in David Allen Reed, whom is a brilliant multimedia artist; the premise here was to take the dialogical ideals of the book and continue those into the presentation (Michael), art (David) and my writings. Therefore, the book will contain several more poems than what was originally included, as well as beautiful art from David.

What led you to create Of/with?

In February, 2009 I founded Counterexample Poetics.  After having my own poetry published regularly for about three years, I wanted to try and produce my own online journal. Originally, I intended to only publish poetry, hence the journal’s name, but like many intentions, they only last until a better influence arrives, and I began to publish interviews, book reviews, and art. In 2013 I was approached by Jamez Chang, whom I published in the journal, about publishing flash fiction; he asked if he could take on the role of publishing/editing the flash fiction content, and I immediately agreed. Although I’ve taken a step back from publishing poetry, art, reviews, and interviews on the site, Jamez is still taking and publishing submissions for flash fiction.

In early 2014, I got the yen to again publish others’ artistic endeavors. I then created Of/with: journal of immanent renditions. Whereas I published work at Counterexample Poetics on a rolling basis, I’m publishing Of/with in full, electronic issues, biannually. I’ve received very positive feedback on the issues thus far, which is great.

Do you find it challenging to find the time to write your own works while being poetry editor there and working as a director of supported and independent living programs for adults with developmental disabilities?

My life purposely benefits from habitual behavior, predicated on routine, predictability, and desire to interact with people, responsibilities and passions that will bring me great joy. I attempt to balance family, work, and finding time daily to write, read submissions, and study (and of course, listen to jazz). I have a three year old daughter at home with whom I spend much time; our interactions brings such happiness. Since her birth, my writing has slowed down a bit; for many years I was writing between 700 and 1,000 poems each year, but after her birth, I write between 400 and 600. Something I’ve had to learn to do well is compartmentalize the various aspects of my life, and find a schedule that works well for me. Contextual to my writing—during the work week, I find time in the evening, while during the weekends I awaken quite early and find time then to write.

Do you personally feel that those with developmental disabilities are often underestimated in terms of their individual talents and abilities?

Absolutely. Language used to describe people with disabilities is very, very antiquated, and labels that are used create a very deliberate, but also, subconscious segregation between folks with and without disabilities. I subscribe to what is called People First Language which simply asks to look at a person with a disability as a person first, and not a person with a disability first. Societal definitions of disability are often myopic in the sense of creating a desensitized understanding of people and ability.

I’m honored to be associated with an agency that provides services and supports to children and adults with developmental disabilities. My role consists directing supported living and independent living programs for adults; I also teach several trainings to our employees. I attempt to look for ways to erase damaging labels and assist with providing the folks we support in obtaining as much positive control over their lives as possible. Autonomy over one’s life directly ties into identity and how one views their existence; I truly believe when people understand and build their value from a very personal perspective and architecture, the exterior, negative constructs of how others view them begin to lose significance.

What do you think is key to a life well lived?

I’ve come into the realization that blessings, contextual to how one finds fulfillment in what is experienced, will lead to understanding in how to practice compassion for others. Caring for others leads to an interior devotion to wanting to replicate the function of how it makes a person feel.

Are there any little known things about yourself that your readers might be surprised to learn?

Some people know this already, but I studied martial arts from the ages of five to 22, and I received my black belt in Tae Kwon Do at age 15. I realized subsequently, that martial arts started my interest in philosophy and critical thinking.

Do you have anything else you’d like to say in closing?

Tina, thank you very much for this wonderful opportunity. I really appreciate it.