Jasper Kerkau Interview with Dustin Pickering (Transcendent Zero Press)

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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

Important Announcement from Sudden Denouement Publishing

 

Nicole Lyons’ stunning books, I Am a World of Uncertainties Disguised as a Girl and Blossom and Bone are currently on sale at Amazon for $9.99 each.  Once Amazon’s stock of these books has been sold, these titles will NOT be available again. Don’t miss your chance to own these amazing books!

Sudden Denouement Publishing will also stop publishing Christine E. Ray’s first book of poetry and prose, Composition of a Woman, on March 1st. Composition of a Woman will be available through AmazonBarnes and Nobel OnlineBook DepositoryIndigo, and other major online book retailers through February 28th.

The noise of this brain

By Devika Mathur

And so I crumble in my own jaw line

Leaking from the iris,

A stoned mahogany stuck

Beneath the frivolous sky,

I lie like a pond, open and scarred,

Rummaging through your eyes,

To seek something that belongs to my lip.

I fail.

I fail the second day as well.

My mind talks pills and potions

A volatile adamant touch of burps.

A ripple lost and secured.

My mind is insane, forever.



Devika Mathur, a poetess from India is a published poetess and is a lover of everything dark and surreal. Her work has been previously published in Sudden Denouement, Visual Verse, Dying dahlia review, two drops of ink, Madswirl, The rye whiskey review among various others. Find more of her musings at https://myvaliantsoulsblog.wordpress.com

Happy New Year from Sudden Denouement Publishing

 

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Sudden Denouement Publishing is celebrating the new year by lowering the price of the print version of Anthology Volume I: Writings from the Sudden Denouement Literary Collective on Amazon from $17.99 to $11.99  and the Kindle version from $9.99 to $4.49 for the month of January.
 
We believe this fabulous collection of writing from 29 writers across 7 countries is an essential library addition for all lovers of edgy modern prose and poetry. 
 

Dr Faust converses with Schrödinger

By HENNA SJÖBLOM


Was it alive?

Does it matter? When you think about it, there’s no proof for either side. The very idea of not being is incomprehensible to the human mind. We bleed for meaning, for something to tear at, we cry in the shower while stroking ourselves, nipping the folds of salvation. We come to the thought of eternal life or eternal damnation, both irresistible to us, stirring a perverse satisfaction in our gut. We press cigarette ends to our wrists, kiss boys with white collars just to taste god between their legs, wake up with a smashed bottle of cyanide in our hands and fingerprints around our necks. We are here and we are not. The meaning of life is immaterial once we’re aware of it; to want is to be alive, to survive is to

never know.

I believe you found the core of the poodle there.

The seal of the chamber is ever unmoving. Why care for what lies beyond our sight? To perceive would eliminate the purpose. After all, what is desire but a reminder of our impending death, the grave notion of how everything just doesn’t matter? Ball and chain, pit and pendulum. Now wine drips from the veins of the sky, slashed open by insight. I saw the heavens unfolding. If this is our only chance, why, let’s dance with Mephisto tonight, let’s inhale gasoline and stick our fingers in each other, lick eternity from out chins and dip acid in our eyes. Ours is this world, ours is the piercing tongue of god.

Heinrich, my friend,

we will surely burn.


Henna Sjöblom,  the goth girl next-door. Aspiring author. Monstrophile. Horror enthusiast. She writes to cope with mental illness and everyday experiences. Find her at Murder Tramp Birthday

Steel the Whisper

by Aurora Phoenix

 

 

there is a steel band

slicing through my tongue

as I struggle to break the whisper

give voice to the rumbling rise

of my inconvenient truths

the world is burning

/it melts/

from the lava erupting

in my ston-ed heart

I felt the gripe

of your slimy eyes

infest

/molest/

my lushly fruited hips

your hand tells me

to hold my tongue

/clenched as it is/

above my future

clamping down my self-regard

you rest on the laurels of your discontent

as red, rusting

fades

there is a roar

/building/

in this chatteled vessel

the dam in my throat will burst

behold!

what ushers from these lips

—————————————————————

Aurora Phoenix is a wordsmithing oxymoron. Staid suburbanite cloaks a badass warrior wielding weapon grade phrases. Read more of her confabulations at Insights from “Inside.”

Eric Syrdal’s Pantheon is Now Available for Kindle!

Sudden Denouement Publishing is thrilled to announce that Eric Syrdal’s Pantheon is now available for Kindle.  The paperback version will be available over the next few days.


Eric Syrdal’s Pantheon is the novel told in free-verse that you never knew you needed to read. Epic in scope but always deeply rooted in its humanity, it defies genres and expectations.

Pantheon is a thrilling philosophical journey exploring the depth and meaning for one passing through a metaphorical world of inner demons and dragons, goddesses of the soul, of warrior and poet. A journey that crosses boundaries of time, space, and perception. I am captured by the intimate revelations of this intuitive and sympathetic protagonist battling the dark ages of his subconscious moving instinctively forward into innerscape, relying upon and exalting the virtue goddesses that guide and deliver him from barbarity and trial by ordeal both physical and spiritually as he transports from one state of being to another, from one point of time to another”
Holly Rene Hunter

 

Excerpt from I Am A World Of Uncertainties Disguised As A Girl: Designer Drugs-Nicole Lyons/The Lithium Chronicles

I knew the dealer
and we chuckled a few times,
he being street and me
being neater than the rest.
I knew them once too;
back when their mamas
fucked all the daddies
and I was too much
like my mother.
I knew them, the slink
and the oils of them
spread out for the gang
banging the doors
down after the nanny
cashed her cheque
and flew home to Mexico.
He took that ten-cent
off the dollar blow
and he cut it
with bleach that burned
the high class right
out of society,
and he funnelled it too;
into dollar store bags,
variety store bags, stamped
with pink lips and diamonds,
and he cranked that shit
up 499% and we laughed
and laughed and said a toast
to those designer bitches
as we slammed
drinks on their dimes
while they bled
from the eyes
in the center of the VIP
we were too street to enter.
We lived large
in the basement
and they paid
to push in the hallways,
and now I write poetry,
and they still hit
the best of the west,
sucking and chucking
the bucks for free.

I Am A World Of Uncertainties Disguised As A Girl is available at Amazon.com, Amazon Canada, Amazon Europe, Book Depository, and other major book retailers.

Paperback, 140 pages/Published November 9th 2017 by Sudden Denouement Publishing


Nicole Lyons is a force of nature disguised as a writer, a social activist, a voice for the downtrodden, and a powerful poet with a delicate touch. She is a best selling published author, poet, and also a consulting editor for Sudden Denouement. You can read more of her writing at The Lithium Chronicles

Review of A Sparrow Stirs its Wings, Rachel Finch by Kristiana Reed

Originally posted on Indie Blu(e). 

From the moment Sudden Denouement Publishing announced the publication of Rachel Finch’s debut poetry collection, I could not wait to read it. Finch made a brave and bold entrance onto Blood into Ink, with ignition pieces like Girls are not for Beating (pg.35). I was hooked by her ability to sing fire with a bloody mouth.

A Sparrow Stirs its Wings houses this spirit of fight and flight. Flight not from fear but from the space she has shaped to soar. The structure of the collection reminds me of Alfa’s Silent Squall except Finch begins with the girl crossing her heart and hoping to die, walking on eggshells (pg.19), and ends as a woman who recognizes strength and hope in her reflection:

‘I did not notice the growth, until I had grown,
I had not seen myself changing, becoming,
until the woman I forged reflected my gaze
and held my stare with no shame.’ – Hold the Stare

In fact, I would even say Finch’s sparrow does more than stir its wings – it unfurls them in the morning sun and defies the laws of gravity.

This debut collection is more than just honest, beautifully brutal storytelling. Finch has created a collection the reader will feel compelled to return to, time and time again. Moon Breathing makes me fall in love, Heal is the advice I need imprinted on my palm and Still Smouldering never fails to provoke a visceral reaction:

‘I was reborn a dragon feasting on the fire in my belly, lit with milk teeth in my mouth’

Finch’s voice has found a home, in these pages and in my chest. She touches her readers. She tells the truth and explores hers. She leaves you with the following words:

‘You are the smell of rain before it hits the soil.’

And you can’t help but believe them.


To buy:
US
UK


Kristiana Reed day dreams, people watches in coffee shops, teaches English and writes. She is a curator on Blood into Ink, a collective member of The Whisper and the Roar and blogs at My Screaming Twenties. She is 24 and is enjoying the journey which is finding her voice.

Excerpt from Machiavelli’s Backyard- Poetry: Buy, Sell, or Hold/David Lohrey

I sent my new poem to an old friend who replied:
“I know nothing of poetry.”
Another said about the same. “I don’t read the stuff.
Sorry.” It got me to thinking.

Had I sent in a stock tip, they would have rewarded me.
I might have received a bottle of Chablis, maybe even a good one,
had I sent in trading data on Nasdaq or the New York Stock Exchange.
Who would have said, “I’m not into making money.”?

But one comes to learn an awful truth about one’s friends.
Not just their indifference; that’s painful enough.
No. It’s that for them poetry is something akin to masturbation.
They don’t want to hear about it. It’s an embarrassment.

My friends are always buying or selling. If I had produced a tomato,
I’d have been advised to set up a stand on the sidewalk.
The price of tomatoes is high, asparagus even higher,
but poetry is nearly worthless; like trying to sell one’s teeth.

Poetry is not a commodity. My friends are merchants.
It’s a shameful action, like going to Confession.
Can you sell your sins? How much do one’s dreams weigh?
Nobody wants to watch a friend display himself.

It’s not that poetry is disgusting. But it may be shameful.
It’s seen as a waste of time: not an adult activity, not a good investment,
something more akin to gathering pine cones or pressing leaves in an album,
i.e., kid stuff, or a hobby for little old ladies.

I feel like a cat taking a bloody mouse to her master.
As I drop my poem at my friend’s feet, she gives it a glance
and sneers: “What’s that for? It’s not very pleasant.
Your job is to please me. Go play in the garden.”

That’s the response of my once best friend. She sees herself as an artist
or at least claims to be artistic. She wouldn’t treat a painting the way she scorns poetry.
But then again you can own an oil. You can hang it.
Even better you can resell it.

Stocks and paintings are good investments, like real estate.
Cars and furniture lose value, more like a poem.
They’re best when new, but with art, the worth is in its place,
they say. It’s not just beauty; it’s location, location, location.

Poetry is a dying art, especially when the artistic disown it.
They’d rather have crème brûlée or pear mousse with walnuts.
It’s not only prettier but something sweet. Poetry is no treat, and poets
are a nuisance. They have the absurd idea that what they do has value.

Machiavelli’s Backyard is Available at Amazon.com,  Amazon Canada, Amazon Europe, Book Depository and other major book retailers.

Paperback, 106 pages/Published September 1st 2017 by Sudden Denouement Publishing


David Lohrey was born on the Hudson River but grew up on the Mississippi in Memphis. He currently teaches in Tokyo. He has reviewed books for The Los Angeles Times and The Orange County Register, has been a member of the Dramatists Guild in New York, and he is currently writing a memoir of his years living on the Persian Gulf. His latest book, The Other Is Oneself: Postcolonial Identity in a Century of War: 20th Century African and American Writers Respond to Survival and Genocide, is available on Amazon.com. He is also the author of Machiavelli’s Backyard from Sudden Denouement Publishing