Jasper Kerkau Interview with Dustin Pickering (Transcendent Zero Press)

pic78

When Rich and I decided to move Sudden Denouement into the world of publishing, we were most fortunate to have the brilliant light that is Dustin Pickering to lean on. He is editor/co-founder of Transcendent Zero Press, along with Z.M. Wise, a distinct and powerful voice as well. Thankfully, Dustin gave of himself freely and has been instrumental in our evolution. We are grateful to have been given the opportunity to publish his forthcoming collection of poetry. I recently had an opportunity to sit down with Dustin and ask him some questions about his process and his poetry. Anyone who is not familiar with Transcendent Zero, or his journal Harbinger Asylum should take some time to acquaint themselves.

Jasper Kerkau: You are a writer who has utilized numerous forms over the years, how important do you feel it is for poets to challenge themselves in this manner?

Dustin Pickering: As far as form is concerned, one thing I learned is that form engages the writer more than free verse. You strain your phrases to fit syllabic demands or rhyme scheme, so you are forced to think outside of an empty box. Form is structure and structure often intonates meaning better than no form—in fact, a lack of form is inherently a form itself. Nothing exists in a vacuum. Writers should be free to experiment in a variety of approaches and work with what suits them best, yet I would recommend learning form for the same reason a musician would learn music theory. It is not terribly hard, and it enlarges your toolkit.

JK: Sudden Denouement is publishing your forthcoming collection of poetry, tell us a little about it and what you want readers to take away from it.

DP: Grey Soliloquy is the story of a performer who has been victimized by an obsessed fan. He accuses her of taking his words and using them in her songs. Her beauty and charm as a woman is called into question. One thing I try to engage with in this story is the way women are objectified and victimized by society at large. I explore, as a man, a woman’s psyche. This is a controversial approach to this question—it may be called “womanfacing” if there is a term. In this series of short poems, the performer speaks her side of the story after learning her fan committed suicide. She feels guilty, yet questions this guilt and is angry. I even delve into what I consider the hidden elements of attraction and romance between men and women, seeing it as a primitive animalistic pursuit. That animalistic quality is part of the original spark of attraction and the seeking of an Other. Jordan Peterson remarks that red is a powerful attraction color because it is the color of fruit, and engages our eyes more sensually. So I embrace lust as a kind of primordial dusk buried within our unconscious. Perhaps a genetic song seeking harmony. In these poems, the performer has a secret relationship with the fan in question—it is not a real, physical relationship, but a bond that brings them together in a kind of courtship of disaster. Her mixed emotions betray her sense of failing to fully understand her situation; she identifies with the obsession. I wanted this emotional complex to reflect reality, not a moral judgment. To be clear, I condemn acts of aggression and any act which limits or violates a person’s own will. The collection does not intend to persuade or cast stones as much as reflect a psychic struggle within someone whose situation creates moral ambiguity within them. Readers will decide if this attempt is successful.

JK: What is Transcendent Zero Press and how has it impacted you as a writer?

DP: Transcendent Zero Press began as a punk band. It was named after a word in the dictionary combined with the Smashing Pumpkins hit “Zero”. Later, I developed it into a concept after realizing the depth it could convey. It is a concept that reflects the non-being of God as an agent of creation. Non-being persuades, not initiates force. It exists, and as an existent it formulates possibility. Zero is the realm of nothingness and is neither a positive nor negative association. Transcendent is a realm of surpassing the ordinary, striving beyond the Self. Yet it does not reach into an Other, it goes above. Zero is an act of stabilizing polarities by observation, attaining a state astride quantum uncertainty. Transcendent Zero is a paradox, a conceptual interlude to the realm of Being. It became the name of my publishing company in 2010. As a publisher, I have networked with countless poets and writers, learning more and more from them in the process. I have learned what a labor of love it is to create a book. Writing is only the beginning.

JK: How would you characterize your poetry, and what writers had the biggest influence on your poetry?

DP: My poetry is a challenge to whatever the status quo seeks to impose on others. Right now there is political correctness and its obscure morality. There is Trumpism and its absurdity. There is postmodernism. Post-truth is the refuge of those who deem themselves infallible, yet remain contemptuous. It’s a by-product of an age that lacks definition and purpose. This reaches across all aisles. Poetry is a social force, but that does not mean it is political in nature. It should not support an agenda, but rather serve as commentary. As commentary, it illuminates ideas and seeks the godhood of things. As such, it is balm for the troubled minds and can heal trauma. It strives for unity through analogies. A poem is a unified body that embraces the similarities between disparate elements. It makes the world whole again. It is prophecy. Richard Wilbur, who I spoke with over the phone before he passed away, wrote a poem called “Advice to a Prophet” which I take to heart. In it, he casts the visionary as one who affirms not denies, not increases skepticism but provides direction. Poetry is the grandeur of small things. It is one’s navigation to the divine. Through poetry, I seek to upset things and tip the balance while providing refuge. Poetry is the voice of Jesus himself, as revolutionary and seeker of the divine. Writers who influenced me vary. Some are not officially writers, just beings with a presence in the world that inspires me. There is Jesus Christ whose parables and sayings are not only poetry, but philosophy disguised. In fact, scholar Willis Barnstone composed a book of “poems” out of Jesus’ parables. The Kabalistic writers and mystics with their thoughts have provided me with wisdom and joy for years. St. John of the Cross inspires resilience. Plato’s allegories are suggestive in their merits. Musicians such as John Lydon, Jesse Michaels, and Rik L. Rik inspire me with their fearlessness. I’m a punk rocker at heart. Among poets, there are Plath, Lorca, Lorde, Blake, Shakespeare, Neruda, Frank O’Hara, Dante, Gluck, Rothenberg, Levertov, and Joyce. Among contemporaries, I recently read Safiya Sinclair’s book Cannibal which is a great work. I also like Kiriti Sengupta’s approach to literature. The Earthen Flute and Rituals are beautiful works. I appreciate paradoxical personalities and subtle thinkers. The Beats had jazz. The Pre-Raphaelites had opera. My poetry is primarily punk rock meets Plato. Blasphemy meets the edge of noon.

JK: As a writer and a publisher, what advice would you give writers in terms of getting their work published?

DP: Publishing is a gritty experience. You will be rejected, sometimes harshly. Be prepared. Submit to journals you believe are aesthetically similar to your own style or have your tastes. Don’t mimic except in your early phases. A poet I know, Robin Wyatt Dunn, an educated provocateur, has a writing approach that I cannot define as anything but anti-lyrical. It does not fit into anyone else’s box. That’s the writer you must be. The Nobel Prize for Literature, I read recently, is awarded to a writer who makes the marginal into the usual. To do this, you must be willing to face misunderstanding, fear, hate, and take appreciation in stride. Don’t develop an ego, yet don’t get discouraged. Be your own. Become a mystic in the proper sense. The Sufis have a word for a mystic who seeks divine favor by humiliating himself. In short, be your own and have attitude. You will have to work for that. Nothing is free, not even the Muse’s favor.

Transcendent Zero Press

Jasper Kerkau Interviews Talia Carner

talia

Jasper Kerkau recently sat down to chat with Talia Carner, author of  Hotel Moscow, Jerusalem Maiden, China Doll, and Puppet Child, and upcoming in 2019, The 4th Daughter.  Talia’s work is published by HarperCollins.

When I speak to writers, they often talk about a moment in which they decided to identify themselves, first and foremost, as a writer. Was there a moment like that for you, if so what precipitated it?

There was a time of “no man’s land” between my successful career as a marketing consultant to Fortune 500 companies and my nascent interest in fiction writing. While I had nothing to show—and certainly didn’t yet envision writing as a career—it consumed me both emotionally and intellectually. To compel myself to accept my new identity I printed business cards that read “Writer/ Marketing Consultant,” not only stating that I was a writer, but placing it first. That was the moment.

I have discovered that everyone has a book, writers are a dime a dozen: what has allowed you to succeed in a sea of dreamers?

Many people have interesting, complex life stories. That also means that they are potentially “one-book authors” who wish to write about themselves. Indeed, many do, mainly for posterity, if not out of need for self-introspection. That is not what my novels are about. My stories are completely imagined. As a character, I am yet to appear in any of my books, nor do I use any of my personal life’s dramatic events—with the exception of business-related experiences. (In PUPPET CHILD the protagonist works in magazine marketing, and HOTEL MOSCOW was based upon my teaching business in Russia.) What I do exploit, though, are the emotions, the sympathy toward social issues I care about, and I am able to crawl under the skin of each novel’s protagonist and live the events through her.

Then, of course, the key to success is rewriting, revising, restructuring and editing ad nauseam—except that it is a process I greatly enjoy. It’s no exaggeration to say that I go over each manuscript 50 to 80 times. Unfortunately, in these days of easy digital self-publishing many would-be writers skip this months- and years-long stage, and their books often reveal their impatience with the process.

There is a lot in your experience that young writers can glean and hope for. What advice would you give to those who are smitten by the passion for writing, but don’t know if it will lead the to anything except poverty?

Please allow me to dispel the notion that even success in publishing brings more than poverty. There are only a handful of American authors who make a comfortable living from their books; someone estimated that there are less than 100 such authors. Those are the ones publishing every year and selling millions of copies along with international rights. The rest of us, while successful in getting audiences’ praise and adulation still do not make enough to live on…. The simple math is that if a novel takes me four to six years of work, whatever I earn is divided by the many hours invested and means an income of merely a few cents per hour.

Many successful writers I know supplement their income by teaching creative writing, editing, or pitching magazine assignments. Therefore, a novice writer’s hope for riches is no different from an inner-city kid hoping to be the next Michael Jordan. I say: Just enjoy the basketball game (or the process of writing,) and find a lucrative career elsewhere.

I have found that fear of failure can be debilitating for many writers. What has been your experience embarking on a major project such as your last novel? Did you have that moment where you were paralyzed with fear?

I am never afraid, and therefore I don’t know what it feels like to be “paralyzed with fear.” I enjoy the intellectual challenge of each phase, and also know that there are worse problems in life. The worst that can happen when I launch a new project is that my finished novel might not find a home. Nevertheless, the writing is fulfilling in its own right, I learn a lot about subjects I never knew about—and anyway, if the novel is rejected now, it may get reincarnated years later. Every short story and essay that I put my mind to publish has indeed found a home, because there are hundreds of outlets and options; it’s a matter of persistence.

What is your latest project? How long did it take for your vision to come to fruition? What do you want the reader to take away from your book?

My next novel, scheduled to be released in Fall 2019 by HarperCollins is The 4th Daughter. It’s a story of tango and prostitution in Buenos Aires at the end of the 1800s. The topic percolated in my head for more than a decade. Surprisingly for me, once I found the groove of the story and started writing it, it took me only two years—not five as had my previous novels. However, this shorter time is no predictor for future works, because I’m already a year into researching my next novel (my #6) but am not writing it yet. I give myself five years to complete this book.

What I’d like readers to take from The 4th Daughter is the heart-wrenching inside picture of trafficking—and come out with the determination to bring a stop to human slavery.

Do you feel that there is something special about writers?

We are a bunch of people willing—and loving—to toil in silence and solitude for a very long time. We get transported into the lives and worlds of our characters to the point of routinely getting lost for many hours at a stretch. Does that make us special or quirky?

What is your experience communicating with other writers, and how important is that fellowship?

My writing group is an integral part of my writing process. I cherish their feedback and constructive critiquing as I develop a story. Over the years we’ve become close as we became familiar with each other’s inner worlds. Not all of my writing buddies are at the same point in our careers, and they may have different focus, but the common denominator is that they are good reviewers and we all care to invest time in each other’s work and help make the final product shine.

Once a manuscript is ready for publication, I get endorsements from other authors—often ones far more successful than I am, such as Nelson DeMille who had followed my career from the start (we used to sit on the same board of an art center.) HOTEL MOSCOW was one that covered his area of expertise, and his praise is printed on the front cover. Those blurbs that appear on the back cover and are quoted in press releases help launch a book out of the gate. I give forward by endorsing other authors’ pre-published books.

I am honored to have the chance to ask you questions. I hope that everyone would take the opportunity to read your books.

Learn more Talia at www.TaliaCarner.com

Talia Carner 2

 

Talia 3

 

Nicole Lyons’ I Am A World Of Uncertainties Disguised As a Girl #1 New Release in Canadian Poetry

Nicole Lyons’ I Am A World Of Uncertainties Disguised As a Girl #1 New Release in Canadian Poetry.

12520

Pick up your copy today. Available through Amazon. Nicole Lyons has established herself as a force of nature. She has expanded on her seminal work Hush and found a new space to express herself. We are honored to be part of the process.

Sudden Denouement Publishing Presents Nicole Lyons’ New Book: I Am A World Of Uncertainties Disguised As A Girl

Sudden Denouement Publishing Presents: Nicole Lyons’ New Book –I Am A World Of Uncertainties Disguised As A Girl is available now via Amazon. 

12520

[I am honored to be part of bringing to the world a new collection of the exquisite poetry of Nicole Lyons.  I have discovered so many wonderful souls on this journey, Nicole Lyons has become a wonderful friend, adviser, and mentor to me. It is an amazing privilege to announce this book.  Jasper Kerkau]

 

‘I Am A World Of Uncertainties Disguised As A Girl’ written by author and poet Nicole Lyons, is a breathtaking collection of poems that blurs the lines between love and madness. A sorceress of words, Nicole Lyons takes the reader to the edge of the abyss of creativity, sanity, and love, and asks the question, ‘can one survive both a broken heart and a broken mind?’

I Am A World Of Uncertainties Disguised As A Girl

David Lohrey’s Machiavelli’s Backyard

David Lohrey's Machiavell's Backyard

Sudden Denouement Publishing is excited to announce David Lohrey’s collection of poetry Machiavelli’s Backyard. Lohrey’s poetry is rife with dark humor, biting social satire, and paralyzing honesty. His work illustrates that now more than ever, in a world overrun with vapid pop culture, shortened attention spans, and loss of a collective sanity, there is a need for voices that speak truth, spreading light in the darkness–poetry is alive! All is not lost.

Lohrey is a brilliant artist, a visionary with a keen command over the English language, an ability to make fire out of rock and wood. His collection is available on Amazon and The Book Depository.  October 1st, his book will be available on Amazon Kindle. A pre-order is available for the Kindle version.

If anyone is interested in writing a long-form review, please contact me for a copy of the book. In the process of publishing, I have learned that reviews are an important part of the process. I would ask anyone who purchases the book to go to Amazon and Goodreads and leave a short review.

Jasper Kerkau

Co-Founder Sudden Denouement

 

Rana Kelly’s Superstition Book Giveaway Contest

20170730_111553.jpg

Sudden Denouement just published our first book, Superstition, a collection of poetry by the other-worldly Rana Kelly. The book is available through Amazon. It was a labor of love for both Rana and myself. The process of pouring yourself, your life experience into a book is daunting–and rewarding at the same time. Conversely, publishing a book is a great deal of work and undertaken with a passion for great poetry, great literature.
SD is greatly honored in the task. I would ask that anyone interested reward Rana by picking up a copy of her book. We will soon have copies with signed cards inside them. I would also suggest reading Until Her Darkness Goes, her amazing novel, also available on Amazon.
I will give a copy away to the best 100 words I receive about why poetry is necessary in a world of texts, social media, reality television, and the never-ending noise that we wad through in our daily lives.
We will be giving more copies away in the near future. Please support Rana, support the process, the sacrifice, the barring of one’s soul to the world. There is a place for poetry in the world, and Rana Kelly’s Superstition is a reminder of this fact.
Anyone who wants to write 100 words about the importance of poetry in our society, please send you submission to Jasperkerkauwriting@gmail.com.

First Look: Machiavelli’s Backyard by David Lohrey

IMG_20170808_125154_618 (2).jpg

I just received my proof copy of David Lohrey’s new book Machiavelli’s Backyard from Sudden Denouement Publishing. It is beautiful book. We will have copies available in the next week. It is a very exciting week for SD. I would like to think those who have purchased Rana Kelly’s book Superstition. We will have the Kindle edition available any day now. We will also be giving away copies of both books. Though we have a lot to learn, we are on our way to becoming a serious publisher of divergent literature. This process has been the culmination of a year’s work. It could not have happened without the love and support of so many wonderful writers/editors.

Jasper Kerkau

“Gravity” from Rana Kelly’s Book Superstition from Sudden Denouement Publishing

20170730_111553 (2)

“Gravity” from Rana Kelly’s Book Superstition from Sudden Denouement Publishing

“GRAVITY”

My Heart is an Island,
Safe away from society and succor
my Soul is the Sand. Tiny crushed pieces
of earth and skeletons.
Time and death and birth,
endless cycles of
creation and destruction
cushion for your bare feet.
Truly loved and known
Only by the Sea
Surrounding me
See, I am not adrift.
My roots run deep
Under Mariana
And pressured waters
That could crush
Skulls like soft bugs,
The weight that I bear
Hides my core.
It takes millions of all kinds of
Tiny and huge things
Before you can see just my sand
There is no patience
In highways, nor aeroplanes,
I’m here with time.
You may live on me, bury your toes,
Burn your skin,
Cool your fever in my shallows,
Laugh your weekends away
But you go home.
And here I am,
Alone. While my own heart
Pulls in
Pushes out
Intimate only with the far off moon.
And Universal Forces
That are foreign to me.
Do you think it beauty?
Do you think it balm?
I am trapped.
The waves rush in and ebb out
Bring me nothing but vastness
Silence
and
slow erosion.
Yes,
God Knows
My Heart is an Island
My own currents
pull me apart
Drag me under
Drown me.
Enjoy your holiday.

Superstition is available from Amazon and is the first book from Sudden Denouement Publishing. Rana Kelly is the author of the novel Until Her Darkness Goes.