An Interview with & the Art of Paul Lovering

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Independent artist and designer Paul Lovering creates vividly stunning works of art featuring some of the modern world’s most beloved faces.

 

What is it like living in Edinburgh? Did you grow up in Scotland? What are some of your most fond memories from those days?

Edinburgh is a beautiful city with lots of history. What I like most is being able to walk into town, which takes about 20 minutes and make a visit to one of the museums or art galleries, then have a quick drink and something to eat and a taxi home.

The down side of Edinburgh is the cold. I was brought up in Devon (and for a couple of years in Australia) and despite living here for over 30 years have never really got used to it.

We have not always lived in Edinburgh. I have fond memories of living near Pitlochry (small hamlet called Auld Clune). I used to run every day with my dog and we had two rescue cats (long gone now but much loved).

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Who were some of your earliest influences?

Earliest influences for me was the impact of music, listening to Dylan, Bowie, The Beatles and the Stones, their lyrics painted pictures.

I also had a ring of school friends who were superb artists, we all seemed to be drawing and painting album cover art inspired compositions, I guess what with no internet, creating was as near as we could get to maybe being discovered in those halcyon days. None of us, especially including myself, were able to even think about going to art college. Back then (early 1970s) money was tight and working class parents guided you towards a “proper” job.

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When did you first discover your love of art?

I had two really good art teachers at school. But, I was a bit of a rebel and really did not apply myself back then. I was more interested in sport, socialising and music. Instead of doing my homework I hung around with my friends and we played the albums we had all saved to buy. These were a big influence, as I loved the artwork on the album covers. So people like, Claus Voormann  (Revolver), Peter Blake (Sergeant Pepper), Philip Travers (Moody Blues) were great influences… I was really disappointed when CDs replaced albums and we lost all that great artwork.

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What are some of the most challenging things you face in working with watercolors?

The biggest challenge is controlling the paint having spent ages on my original sketch. But, I’m not too precious about it. If it doesn’t go the way I want, I go with it and if it doesn’t work it goes in my other gallery my bin. Another challenge is getting a commission. Normally I will paint away aiming to be as loose and flowing as I can. The minute I get a commission, especially a portrait, I get nervous which means the painting can get too tight. And, I never know when to finish it. I often want to do more but am afraid to spoil what I have already created.

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What do you enjoy most about the art of creation?

Producing new and original images of iconic people that stand out is what excites me. Friends are always making suggestions of more contemporary people who will be more commercial. But, I enjoy painting my heroes for other people that feel the same way as I do. It probably makes me sound like an old but I can’t get excited about painting the latest rap artist (usually spelt with a silent “c”).

Why do you like recreating the human figure and faces in particular?

The human face and the eyes are the most important to me, I’m not looking for my work to be controversial or serious. I just want people to be grabbed by it as a reminder of something in the past, like a song or a concert.  I want to keep it simple and positive.

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How do you decide which images you are going to recreate?

It can be something as day to day as hearing a song, reading a news article or watching a film as long as it is someone that I am interested in.

Do you think the world needs more creative outlets in these modern times?

Absolutely. I want to celebrate all the arts in a positive way. I try to avoid the negatives even though I know that less money is going to the arts due to government cuts.

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

Health, Love and Happiness, and having your Dreams.

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

Yes. I am planning to move from watercolor into large scale oil canvas portraits. If I can create something good that people like then I will hopefully make a few sales. I have several customers who have been asking me for years to produce big canvases.

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Is there anything you’d like to say before you go?

You are never too old. I took up painting when I was 50 years old, so my dream came true.

Enjoy your art be bold and expressive.

And thank you Tina for your great work and the opportunity to answer your questions.

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An Interview with Artist Howard David Johnson

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With a background in natural sciences contemporary American artist Howard David Johnson creates stunning works of art using a vast array of mediums. His work has appeared globally with such clients as Cambridge, Oxford, The University of Texas, Warner Brothers, The National Geographic Society, ABC/Disney, and The Australian Mint to name a few. For more information on his various works please see: http://www.howarddavidjohnson.com/

What were you like as a child? Did you discover your ability to see the beauty in all things at an early age or is that something you developed as you went?

My Mom and Dad said I “painted little murals” in my baby crib with “available materials” from my diaper. My Dad said: ”Looks like we got us a little artist”. I moved on to creating murals around the house with my big brother’s Crayola crayons. My mother tired quickly of cleaning the walls and began providing me with typing paper and my own deluxe set of color crayons. I drew happily and stayed out of trouble for years. By age six I was creating little picture books on subjects like the heroes of American History and informed my parents that I had decided to dedicate my life to art. Once I started school, I drew diligently every day with pencils. I always finished my assignments early and some teachers were outraged that I would quietly draw while waiting on the rest of the class and punished me but others approved whole heartedly.  In art classes in elementary school I got a hold of pastels and paints for the first time. All those years as a boy while I was developing my anatomy and composition in pencil people told me that it was not a valid medium for artistic expression. I could only afford watercolors and pastels so I worked with what I could get my hands on, but still everyone said I needed to be doing oil paintings and dismissed my work as invalid. Mixed media started because of lack of finance, but became a delight. My mother was among them but couldn’t buy me any oils of my own because of my father’s intense disapproval.

Do you think in the hectic pace of today’s world people often forget to appreciate the beauty that is around them?

All too often, that seems true. In ancient times people had hours to wind down, usually gazing at a fire instead of fighting traffic. Modern folks nerves and sensibilities are under constant barrage of negativism from the media. It takes a conscious effort to put it all down and take time to “smell the roses.”

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Do you enjoy having the chance to remind people that there is beauty in all things?

To tell the truth, I never think about that on a conscious level, it just comes out in my work.

What did you love most as a child?

God, family, nature and adventure. My parents tell me as a pre-schooler I would worry them sick disappearing nearly every morning before they got up piling barstools and boxes to unlock doors and go to the woods returning with stories of having been walking and talking with God.

I notice on your website one of the pages is dedicated to your parents. How did they influence you become who you are today?

I could write a book on that one. I devoted my life to art at the age of six in spite of stubborn opposition from my father. This dynamic conflict shaped my life and forged my driving motivation. I found buying art supplies for my kids and lavishing them with praise and encouragement did not work. Conflict was essential I later realized. My father feared I would end up like my great uncle Howard who fought in nearly every island combat against the Japanese in the Pacific War. Howard came home a war hero and his heart’s desire was to be an illustrator and when he found a tough job market instead, took his own life. My father never told me the real reason for his violent opposition to an art career until later in life, and upon hearing this, I began using my full name, Howard David Johnson. My Mother was a talented artist herself, always encouraged me and never missed an opportunity to take me along to a site or a museum to acquaint me with my Old World Traditional spiritual and cultural heritage along the way. While being evacuated from Libya during the Six Day War, my father pulled strings to get me sent back to my birthplace in Germany. The forests and charming villages with their winding cobblestone streets and picturesque mountains crowned with castles mingled with the Roman ruins I played on the African coast and set my imagination on fire with the romance of my heritage. It was there and then that the seeds my mother planted took root and I had an epiphany about my mission as an artist that has shaped my life to this day. One train trip to Paris stands out as I recall dozens of artists copying the Mona Lisa. I asked, is this Ok? The guide said, “As long as it is not the same size, it is just study”. He then showed me many masters completely and then partially copying other’s paintings to learn deeper secrets. This practice is frowned on today by uneducated internet trolls. I see these pieces as like into the three notches of Arne Sachnusem in Journey to the Center of the Earth, an 1864 science fiction novel by Jules Verne. He wanted those who came after him to be able to follow his path. I WANT people to know I studied the hell out of J. W. Waterhouse.

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What led you to pursue the Natural Sciences? How did those studies help you in regards to your career as an artist?

When I went to the University of Texas at Austin School of Fine Arts they gave me a squirt gun and told me to squirt the canvas with paint. I wanted to study the old masters but they wanted me to imitate monkeys. Threatened with failing the class for drawing in the back row, I brought a fish skeleton and slapped it into the huge canvas with its build up of thick oil paints. They declared me the next Jackson Pollack with my organic textures and I thought, …”Oh, Brother…” and went to my Science class where the professor did not mind my doodling. He was going off about a dinosaur dig and I started sketching his dinosaur site. He walked around and said; ” The head is too big and the horn is too short”. When he came back around I had modified it and he said, “OK! Now the Cycadeoides { fern like plants} are too close to the water. The next trip around the classroom he said: “Do you want a job? Our so called illustrator cries like a baby and throws a temper tantrum every time I point out his mistakes.” He took me under his wing and taught me things no art class ever could and the travel was wonderful. Later my art class mates who told me I was not a real artist because I eschewed abstract art had towels on their arms waiting tables and I was writing Artist on my IRS form. I have a gallery of Dinosaur art up now…

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What are some of the most daunting obstacles you faced when you were first learning your trade?

My hand was torn apart in a hydraulic lift and reconstructed in1964 and I taped my pencil to the brace but it was mostly the beatings from my father. He would drag me away from my drawings and when he saw me using a kitchen timer to time gesture drawings of a human figure he was sure I’d flipped my lid and took me to the Air Force base psychiatrist. I practiced 4-12 hours a day to be a comic book artist and they had to be fast as well as good. I was hired by DC comics in a nationwide talent search and he tore up the check, beat me with a yellow pine 2×4 and said, “You’re not goin’ to NEW YORK ~ you’re goin’ to VEET nam. Ah, good times…

What advice would you offer the artists of tomorrow?

Learn to dodge? Seriously? Practice, Practice, Practice, and learn to keep savings against lean times and or get a significant other with a steady job.

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Who are some of your favorite artists?

Some of the artists and writers that have influenced me the most; William Bouguereau, John William Waterhouse, Ivan Ivanovich Shishkin, Edmund Blair Leighton, Howard Pyle, Arthur Rackham, Arthur Hughes, Dante Gabriel Rosetti, Viktor Vasnetsov, Jean Auguste Ingres, Anthony Van Dyke, Lawrence Alma-Tadema, Wallace Wood, Jack Kirby, Frank Frazetta, Ray Harryhausen, H.G. Wells, Gustave Moreau, William Morris, Henry David Thoreau, Will Durant, The Pre- Raphaelites, The Symbolists, et al.

How does it feel to see your work so well received worldwide?

Deeply rewarding and fulfilling. My statistics show my website is visited by every country on Earth, every day. My Dad often used to say, “The world is not going to beat a path to your door”. Well, he did not foresee the internet. That being said, I do not consider myself famous by today’s standards, but then, most people outside the industry can’t name three living artists.

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How has your artist style evolved most over the years?

I started with all traditional mediums like pencil and oils and added digital media, I began as a comic book illustrator, strove toward photo-realism and when attaining it found it upset people so much I evolved into a more traditional looking style blending old masters and modern illustration.

Is there one subject you enjoy covering more than most?

Women.

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

I have been the pastor of a small non-denominational Christian church without any form of pay for 30 years. I was a Boy Scout leader in the inner city in Austin, Texas for 12 years. I am called “Der ferret herder” in Deutschland and have eight ferrets. In Europe there is also a drinking game involving naming my references and sources that show in my illustrations.

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You also work in photography. What do you think is required to take a truly stunning photograph?

Good subject material. Good equipment. Nikon is the best.

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

I’ve heard it said you can be a success at everything and fail as a father and be a failure at everything and that you can succeed as a father and fail at everything else and be a complete success. That being said, the world crowns success, GOD honors faithfulness.

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Is there a certain satisfaction in knowing that when you leave this world with any luck you will leave behind so many pieces that were the work of your own hands?

My mission as an artist is to help preserve our Western heritage. I have done so. When I saw the works of great artists were being removed from schools and libraries because of mild nudity I realized we needed an Aesop of images to gather, edit and reinvent a body of work teaching about our cultural heritage for future generations.

What are you feelings on life and death and such?

The LORD still speaks to me often and I am visited by angels. I will be reunited with an army of ferrets in heaven who are currently waiting for me to join them. As Joshua said, I say today: “And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

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

I hope to be on a list of illustrators like Arthur Rackham or Howard Pyle and also in a way like the Brothers Grimm and Aesop for gathering and reworking images as they re-worked stories for preservation for future generations.

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

The Book of Revelation and The Book of Enoch… I am working on them now.

Is there anything you’d like to say before you go?

My illustrations take their inspiration from the realistic paintings of the old masters just as the film West Side Story came from Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet, who in turn copied it from Pyramus and Thisbe, from Ovid’s Metamorphoses. Our shared cultural heritage, great works of art, literature, music and drama, cinema, folk tales and fairy tales are all drawn upon again and again by the creators of new works.

These works in the public domain are both a catalyst and a wellspring for creativity and innovation. Where would Walt Disney be without the Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Anderson, or Victor Hugo? Where would Aaron Copeland have been without American folk music? Or Thomas Nast’s Santa Claus without traditional images of Father Christmas? Pablo Picasso without aboriginal African art? Public domain appropriators, one and all. It was only in the Romantic era that total originality ceased to be considered vulgar and offensive. Today there are even some folk who consider traditional ideas about art to be immoral. I don’t think the medium is the message or that art MUST be offensive or vulgar. I disagree with the modernists. I love beauty. When America was formed, copyright law was created to promote the public creativity and had 14 year terms to reward the creators, but now with 100 plus year terms very little is currently allowed to enter into the public domain and its preservation is of the utmost urgency to our future cultural well-being.

In keeping with art tradition and etiquette following the exhibit , I mention some of the artists and writers that have influenced me the most; William Bouguereau, John William Waterhouse, Ivan Ivanovich Shishkin, Edmund Blair Leighton, Howard Pyle, Arthur Rackham, Arthur Hughes, Dante Gabriel Rosetti, Viktor Vasnetsov, Jean Auguste Ingres, Anthony Van Dyke, Lawrence Alma-Tadema, Wallace Wood, Jack Kirby, Frank Frazetta, Ray Harryhausen, H.G. Wells, Gustave Moreau, William Morris, Henry David Thoreau, Will Durant, The Pre- Raphaelites, The Symbolists, et al.

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The American Interview with Amsterdam Actor Leon van Waas

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Leon van Waas discovered a love of reading at an early age which led him ultimately to become an actor. He has worked alongside Dakota Fanning, Guy Pearce, and Paul Anderson on the film Brimstone, which smashed all records last September 2017, at the Netherlands Film Festival by winning 6 Golden Calf Awards,(the Dutch version of the Oscars) an occurrence which had never happened before. He has also played the role of a Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (DD/CIA) in the feature film Art of Deception. Leon is also an avid James Dean enthusiast. For more information on his various works see: LeonVanWaas.com

What was it like growing up in a small town in the North of Holland? What did it feel like to discover the worlds held in books? Aside from your love of reading what are some of your most fond memories of your early days?

My most fond memories besides reading, are playing outside in the meadows and cornfields. To go fishing and climb in the trees, to listen to the beautiful silence of my village, especially in the summer and to be in my own world. To discover new places beyond my comfort zone while growing up and to enjoy and to love the animals and nature. Also I remember that when I read books, or watched movies, sometimes I cried because it felt and seemed so real, as if I were into these worlds myself…

What led you to try your hand at working as an actor?

When I walked by this tarot card magician around 2000, named Duco Hünd in The Hague, he foresaw that I could become an actor and that I needed to take acting lessons, which I did after having serious doubts for a long time. I was not that sure of becoming an actor because I hadn’t the slightest clue how to become one.

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I understand you are also a James Dean enthusiast? How did you first discover him?

In the early days, I had a poster of James Dean in my bedroom, it was an advertisement from a jeans brand and it was only later, when I watched his outstanding work, that I reflected myself as a same kinda authentic rebel, doing my own thing and going my own way.

Did seeing his work on screen and television influence you to take your craft more seriously? Why do you think his work in the field is so timeless?

Yes, his work influenced me very much and he was one of the great inspirators that took me seriously into the world of acting, to grow and to learn from my mistakes and insecurities. I think his work is just brilliant and his personality is timeless, because it is about the youth against the established order and that is going on for such a long time now, I think it’s a universal thing. Also his tragic death, with only 3 films, makes him a Legend.

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What was it like to work on the film Brimstone, what did you learn from that experience?

It was a dream come true! Actually, I did know the director Martin Koolhoven just then and when I coincidentally crossed his path in 2012, we talked about film and later on when I read the news in the media about Brimstone, I contacted him again with the question if I could do an audition. So I did and I got the role. I was invited to stay for a couple of days, twice, in between the shooting in a great Berlin hotel and everything was like a trip, to work on this professional set, to discover my character and to explore my international way of working with Martin, Dakota, Guy and Paul and party together, it was super Awesome!

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How does the industry in the Netherlands differ most from the movie industry here in the States?

I think in Holland, I will never be acknowledged in my craft as an actor, that’s why I believe more in International possibilities

In your recent Los Angeles red carpet screening, in Art of Deception, you got to play a Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (DD/CIA) what was that like?

It was like another dream came true, because I always wanted to play a real American character in a real action thriller, Hollywood feature film. Oh and Richard Ryan, the filmmaker, told the audience, at the Q&A right after the red carpet screening at Sony Pictures Studios, that when he first watched my videos back in 2011, that I reminded him of James Dean, now, that’s the biggest compliment! Therefore my long time motto is: Dream Reality.

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Can you tell us a little more about that project?

Yeah sure, I invited the filmmaker, Richard Ryan in 2011 on Facebook and chatted a couple of times about film making and then later on, he asked me to come on over for 3 months in California to play this spectacular part in his film project, so I took a deep dive into the uncertainty and packed my bags to go overseas, destination unknown, for the first time in my life.

What are you hoping to work on next?

I just hope to work on other challenges, to play parts that are hidden within my soul and not yet discovered, to perform better and better, each and every time, to become the character, like a chameleon.

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As an actor how do you personally deal with rejection and self doubt? Do you think those are things everyone in the industry must learn to cope with?

I think that is a very important aspect involved with the process of acting. If you can’t cope with rejection, or if you are reaching the end of your breath too fast, I think it will be a short way to run… you gotta have faith in yourself and in your skills. The ultimate instrument is our body and our brain and I think you have to make a 10,000 Miles journey, to master the craft properly.

What is the most challenging thing you face in your line of work?

The most challenging thing I face in my line of my work is to find work I can express myself at the very best I can, it’s not that I got offered a lot of work, you know. So I have to search for auditions and create a way to show my work around.

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What was the best advice anyone ever gave you?

Never give up, don’t be afraid, act in a stage play, or make your own film. Invest!

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

Yes, that will be my own written autobiographical novel, ultimately my own written script and feature film, directed by myself!

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

First of all, thank you so much for your time! I hope that you enjoyed this interview as much as I did, and let’s take care of each other more and not forget about the fauna and flora (the Animal Kingdom and the vegetation) because it’s incredible scary to see how we treat each other, the animals and our Mother Nature. We are part of nature and I think everything and everyone is connected and there is only one Planet Earth: our only Home.

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“Why Won’t We Be Together for Christmas This Year” by Alexandra Greiner

 

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WHY WON’T WE BE TOGETHER FOR CHRISTMAS THIS YEAR…

 

“Because it’s awkward”

As if I’m not intimate with the ripping of that word
As if I don’t know what lies beneath
The rough edges and how they cut
How the cracks creep
When there’s weight of dead space
And the brutality of what was

This pain in my throat
Devouring my dignity
Feeding uncertainty

Every holiday
Every birthday
Every gathering stuck sitting

It won’t go away
And I’m drowning in the quiet
Dying in the silence
Between the bones of all the words I should say.

An Interview with Heath Brougher

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Poet Heath Brougher has recently released his fourth book, About Consciousness ( Alien Budda Press ). Written from a Pantheistic point of view, the book deals with varied stages of the conscious.

What was it like growing up in York, PA? What is it like there?

Growing up was horrible as I went to a school known as Snob Hill and the stuck up, snobby scumbags who also attended the school put me through a daily grind of ridicule and humiliation because I would not conform and follow their trends. However, now that I’m 37 years old and away from those snobby conformist assholes, I’m really enjoying it. I’ve just started to make some good friends in the literary scene here and we are trying to build it up as much as possible.

How do you think your early beginnings have influenced you to become a poet?

I’ve been writing pretty much ever since I leaned how so it must have been something necessary for me. I know writing was very cathartic during the six years of torture I had to endure at that piece of shit middle/high school I attended.

What do you think you would be doing if you hadn’t became a writer?

I have no idea. I bounced around from job to job after attending Temple University. I’ve known I wanted to be a writer/philosopher as far back as fourth grade. It’s the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do with my life.

What do you find most challenging when it comes to putting thoughts and feelings to paper?

Reading my terrible handwriting when typing up the uncountable number of  20 years worth of notebooks as well as the 61 entire books I’ve written over the past 20 years.

Why do you think man has always felt the need to express themselves through words ?

As I said before, it’s very cathartic. Also, it was important for human beings to pass down information to the oncoming generations.

Why do you think it is so important for one to be aware of their own self , their surroundings, and others?

I think it is of utmost importance for one to be aware of one’s Self as it will determine how they perceive their surroundings as well as others.

What are you most aware of in regards to your own self?

I spent twelve years living like a total hermit so I could mirror only my own thoughts so I got to know my Self very well during that time. I think what I’m most aware of is how insane society is and how much it can shackle a person to what I call :the Mainstream Thought.”

What brought about the book About Consciousness?

My first three books all dealt with Consciousness to at least some degree, so a book like this was pretty much inevitable for me to eventually write. Much thanks to Alien Buddha Press for publishing it and to Red Focks for supplying all the amazing artwork within its pages. It can be purchased at Amazon as well as at the Alien Budda Press website.

What do you hope the reader takes away from this particular work?

I just hope it stirs up new thoughts in their heads and gets them to start looking at the world in a bit of a different way than they previously had. Basically I hope it sparks some new thoughts in the minds of any given reader…

What are your feelings on the current state of the literary field in general? What are some of the encouraging elements you have encountered? What do you find most daunting about it?

I could go on a long tangent about this but I won’t. I think the current state of the literary world is ripe with corruption and cronyism. The playing field is not even because a lot of these journals judge a submission by a person’s bio and not the actual work itself. That’s why I’ve read blind for everything I’ve ever read as an editor. Reading blind is the way to go. That’s what we do at Into the Void Magazine, where I am currently the co-poetry editor, and we won the 2017 Saboteur Award for Best Magazine after only four issues. That’s an amazing feat for a journal, and we did it by picking the best poems instead of our friends’ poems like most of the “big time” journals. I think the sky is the limit for Into the Void and we’ll be joining these “big time” journals soon to show them how it’s really done.

What would you say is the best advice anyone has ever given you about the important things in life?

I’d definitely have to say my dad. I may have never even begun cultivating my intellect if it was not for him constantly teaching me about life and history. I think he’s the person who originally got my brain revved up

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

I think the key is living it however you want to and not worrying about what others think of it. I believe everyone should live their lives on their own terms.

What projects are you looking forward to bringing into being next?

There’s a specific “style” of writing which I’ve been developing as far back as age 17. I recently put the first book of Spiralism together and am shopping it around to various publishers.

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

I’d like to thank you for asking me to do this interview and to Alien Buddha Press for publishing my newest book.

“Deadheading” by David Bankson

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Deadheading

removes the faded face
from the flowers:
a mask for a cycle.

You say unworn skulls are defective,
but I tell you, they smile even in death.
The maw gapes

for meal or murder, sigh or scream.
Necessity is the mother
of stop signs and duskfall.

At the cliff peak, all change is decline.
The snow is muted in hue,
faded in shade. We cross streams
to pluck flowers for graves.