Wednesday, 01 June 2011
And the Xangan in this month’s Xanga Writer’s Spotlight is…
Three of his favorite pieces: SH-NPM1-74pts-573pts
1) When did you first become a member of Xanga?
Way back around 2003-04. A friend was a Xanga member and got me interested. I was midnightbard, back then.
2) How did you begin writing? What inspired you? Who inspired you?
I took a one-semester creative writing class in High School, but never wrote much after that until I was trying to write through marriage difficulties in the late 90s. But it was horrible stuff. If I found any of my writing from back then I'd probably burn it. Having the feedback on Xanga helped me improve and find the voice I wanted to use. Mooncatblue helped immensely by giving kind, critical advice, and kind of turbo-boosted my growth in writing.
3) What’s the meaning behind your Xanga username?
Geez. It's an ancient Chinese secret.
4) Who’s your favorite author/poet/writer? Why?
My favorite author is probably William Faulkner, followed by Cormac McCarthy. That dark, murky, bizarre, gritty, southern gothic thing they have going on pulls me like the moon. The characters are so strange they are interesting, and one never really seems to know what's going on until well into the reading. I've also been enjoying Herman Hesse and Carson McCullers, of late, although they are oldies. Faulkner wrote As I Lay Dying, which is a favorite of mine. McCarthy wrote Suttree, which is lesser-known than his other works, and most excellent in bizzarity. Is that a word? I think it is.
As far as poets go, it's D.H.Lawrence, for his unique perspectives on life, delivered with such interesting images, and often short, clear, concise stanzas. He has a beautiful longer poem entitled "Fidelity" which is simply stunning. Also, Carl Sandburg. I have a first edition of Poems of the Midwest that is a treasured posession. There's a poem in Chicago Poems entitled, "Mill-Doors" which breaks my heart. The photo that accompanies it does the same.
Hey, and Sam Shepard - the playwright and actor - writes some crazy good short fiction. Great Dream of Heaven is one of his collections of stories.
5) What’s one thing, if anything; you would tell everyone about yourself that they may not know?
Hmm. I can kill a person with one stroke a ball-point pen. But that's not really very useful.
I've started some shelves of books that are "If you want to know me, read these books" shelves. They contain books that speak to my deepest parts, or taught me incredible things - everything from Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin, Eckhart Tolle and Dee Brown, as well as books on plants and dendrology. Lao Tzu. Strange Fruit. Kahlil Gibran. Native American stuff.
6) What’s your preferred genre or style? Why?
Free-verse poetry and short fiction. Sparse writing style - saying much in just a few words, so the words don't interfere with the images. I like giving just the minimum so the reader's mind can create their own interpretation.
7) What inspires your writing now?
Spirtuality and spiritual discovery. Nature. Human nature. Also, images that appear in my head. Often I'll sit down and a scene will just come to me, as if it were a memory, and I'll write it down. Also, there are times when whole lines or whole poems will come to me intact, as if someone is feeding it all to me, and I'll just grab my notebook and start writing, verbatim. Many times I leave them as-is. No editing. I keep a notebook and pen next to my bed and with me wherever I go. Sometimes music will carry me into a state from which writing flows.
8) What do you plan to do with your writing in the future? Ex: publication, starting your own literary magazine, writing as a hobby.
I've been in the process of putting together a book for self-publishing. I'll probably pick back up on that and complete it this summer. That's the plan, anyway. I'll sell it at the local coffee shop and it will be a hoot.
9) How does it feel to be in the spotlight?
It feels uncomfortable. I'd rather be in the corner watching everyone else do what they do. But art is usually about expressing one's self through whatever means you have, and that usually means sharing that expression. So, yeah.
10) Who would you like to see in the spotlight next?
anvilsandedelweiss, if she's not already been featured.
What I like about ofunlo’s writing:
One thing I’m particularly fond of is John’s incorporation of poetry, photography, and music. He can use all of them to make a point in a way that I’ve never seen anyone else do before. I find myself inspired by music every so often, but I can’t ever incorporate it into a piece so well. His photography acts as poetry itself that I can only envy. Xanga’s got a lot of photographers, but none like John. His ability to capture the every day in a poem is also astounding. He sees the things you and I take for granted in a way that is truly amazing. Through his photography he finds beauty in what others might call desolation. I also must admire his extensive list of authors. I’m not a very well-read individual so it always amazes me when I find someone who is – it adds an element to his work that wouldn’t be evident without out; he’s got a lot of resources to pull from, and that’s always a major plus.
One thing we have in common is the no editing concept. I must admire him for that. From what I’ve read, he’s damn good for not going back to edit later. Not everyone can pull it off and pull it off so well. Also, I’ll be buying his book whenever it comes out, and you should too.
My favorite piece to date: Wild Flowers
Now it’s your turn, Xangans. In the comments share what you like about ofunlo’s writing and presence here in the community. And if you don’t know his work then you definitely need to head over to his site right now and educate yourself.