Interview with Calvero

by Johnny No Bueno

When I was asked to interview Calvero, after the release of someday i’m going to marry Katy Perry by University of Hell Press, I hadn’t read his book yet. I had been given a copy but it got lost under a stack of homework and a pile of exorcised energy drink cans. So I dug out the barely soiled book and began to read it. At first, I was baffled that it had been published. It seemed to have been written from a child’s point of view, with very little bearing on larger poetics. But then I saw it. I saw Calvero’s style, his voice, and his intentions. I saw that I was in the presence of something new and quite brilliant.

I wanted my interview to highlight Calvero’s playful expression, maybe with iPhone text bubble chat or Skype. Unfortunately, neither of us were mechanically or technologically equipped to figure out how to do any of that, so I just emailed him the questions and let him at it.

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Interview with Stephen M. Park

by Johnny No Bueno

When I saw the cover of High & Dry by Stephen M. Park, I had a feeling the book was going to become a body of work of some note (or, rather, legend). When I spoke to Greg Gerding about the new mysterious author on his book label, University of Hell Press, he became very animated and excited. If such an up-and-coming publisher as Gerding gets that excited about a book that he is putting out, then it is definitely something I need to take notice of! So, as the curator of reading series Them’s Fightin’ Words, I asked Gerding if he could hook me up with Mr. Park to be one of my feature readers. The affirmative response was quick. Apparently, this was the first time 65-year-old Park had ever read. So, before the reading, Park and I had an opportunity to discuss our distaste for e-books, cell phones, videos games, and computers.

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Interview with Johnny No Bueno

Grab a copy of this week’s (January 3rd, 2013) Willamette Week to see our very own Johnny No Bueno on the cover alongside Portland’s new mayor Charlie Hales, Portlandia‘s Fred Armisen, and three other very important Portlanders in an issue dedicated to highlighting six key voices found in Portland. We couldn’t be more proud of Johnny.

Johnny’s interview was conducted by Erin Fenner. To read the complete story about all six people and find links to their stories and interviews, click here.

Interview with Lindsey Kugler

Our very own Lindsey Kugler was interviewed recently by Amy Souza, a student in the IPRC’s Comics Certificate Program. The IPRC is the Independent Publishing Resource Center located in Portland, Oregon and has been in operation since 1998. According to the IPRC’s website, their mission is to “facilitate creative expression, identity and community by providing individual access to tools and resources for creating independently published media and artwork.”

Lindsey completed her book HERE. as a student of the IPRC’s Certificate Program in Independent Publishing. Her interview provides insights into her journey and her process.

To read the complete interview, click HERE.

Interview with Eirean Bradley

by Johnny No Bueno

I was asked by Greg Gerding to interview Eirean Bradley for the new University of Hell Press website. I jumped at the chance, because not only do I consider Eirean Bradley to be one of my close friends, he is also one of the few people in this town whom I trust and whose viewpoints I highly respect. The first time I performed at the Portland Poetry Slam, not without my own major misgivings of slam poetry in general, Bradley complimented my work and made me feel very welcome. He was actually the only person who talked to me that night. So I kept going back to the slam and getting more and more involved in what was going on. The relationships I most cherish these days have all been fostered at the Portland Poetry Slam, and it is hard for me to separate the slam from Eirean. He is also the person closest to my age and subculture, which really helps a 30something feel comfortable in such a youth-driven culture.

Being overwhelmed as a 31-year-old man, with what being in school for the first time in 19 years can be, I dragged myself from bed and came down to Backspace, the coffeeshop in Portland, Oregon where we have the Poetry Slam, to meet Eirean for the interview maybe 30 minutes after waking up on a long overdue Saturday. When I got down here, Eirean took me outside and told me how the night prior he woke up in the middle of the night which such intense chest pains, he eventually went to the hospital with fear it was a heart attack. Come to find out he has three ulcers. And here was this champ, who is a dear friend of mine, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready for our interview.

Eirean’s stubborn bullheadedness might come off unsettling to some, but the growing number of poets in the vibrant Portland poetry community is a testament to this man’s drive and determination to create a space for everyone. He may not be appreciated by everyone, but if they come to the Portland Poetry Slam, they are taking direct benefit of what Eirean has done for this town, and for the Portland Poetry Slam, after taking it over, around two years ago. One would be amazed at our weekly, hundred-plus crowd, one of the biggest in the world, if they were told it is only two years old. Somebody is putting a lot of hours in, behind the scenes, to create such a welcoming and vibrant weekly event. Here he is:

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Interview with Greg Gerding

by Johnny No Bueno

The first time I ever saw Greg Gerding was on the Small Press shelf at Powell’s Bookstore. Being a frugal shopper, I was quite amazed by the immensity of his book, Loser Makes Good, 284 pages to be exact, for $10.00, whereas most books of poetry these days might cross the hundred page threshold and start normally around $15.00. As I flipped through it, testing to see if I wanted to buy his book or a used copy of Rimbaud’s Une Saison En Enfer (A Season in Hell), I was extremely impressed by the transparency of the writer. If he had a soul, which some of his prose poems put that in question, this poet had definitely exposed some of the most charred pieces of it, for each reader individually. Being the avid fan of vulnerability that I am, I decided to have ramen for dinner, and purchase both books, which was a wise choice.

When my friend Eirean Bradley, Portland Poetry Slam’s Slam Master, told me that he was opening a poetry showcase, which was also the book release party for Gerding’s latest endeavor, The Idiot Parade, it not only cemented the awesomeness of Eirean, but made me all the more interested in what Gerding was doing. Apparently, University of Hell Press, Gerding’s publishing company, made primarily to publish his own works, was going to publish a long overdue book by Bradley, the I in team.

Earlier that same month, Gerding co-featured at the Portland Poetry Slam with Denver poet protégé Ken Arkind. Gerding’s performance, however not run-of-the-mill slam material, was definitely moving. Slam poetry has a tendency to bare all and Gerding did just that. He pulled no punches, leaving himself as open as his writing already does, to the reader.

At his book release party, I had a short opportunity to chat with him, thanking him for his courageous writing, and he shared that he enjoyed the interviewer’s poetry as well. In the exchange of compliments, I mentioned that I had all but one book of his whole collection, and he generously offered me a copy of the missing title. A month later, I decided that I wanted to interview Gerding, and he graciously accepted. We met at Backspace, a Portland Chinatown coffee shop that hosts the Portland Poetry Slam. Here is that interview:

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