Interview with Corey Rowley
Greetings, Toads and passing visitors to our little pond full of dragonflies, lily pads, teeming microscopic life and poetry. This is hedgewitch (Joy Ann Jones.) As you know, the amazing and talented Isadora Gruye recently interviewed me here, and so now its my turn to take up the journalistic pad and pen and interview a fellow Toad. My choice was the free-spinning disc jockey that runs the blog Mexican Radio, poet and writer Corey Rowley, also known by the sobriquet Herotomost. He good-naturedly put up with my amateurish probings into what makes him tick, and provided me with more than a few nostril-beverage-sprays as I read through his answers. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do, but before we go there, I want to show the kind of serious gift that Corey has as well, so here’s a link and an excerpt from a poem he shared for Open Link Monday this week, that is one of the best I’ve read in many moons:
from Ashes, by Corey Rowley:
The tell tale thud of certain and excruciating circular death
The air was sucked from the universe one missing breath after another
The smell of ozone and radiation intoxicated, clearing her mind
Mixed sharply with the taste of candied fear, poured from beautiful desperation
Ashes to ashes my father
Drink in the possibilities of fate
Loosen your grip on dear children
And do not temper justice out of emotional convention
She sat on the stoop, eyes closed and dreaming in harsh pastel colors
She devoured the emotional electricity of the city on the brink
A million children asking why, shut up and let me in quickly
Focus dear ones on the beauty of the still wired moment, conscious death…
If you missed reading this in its entirety l heartily recommend doing so whenever you need your next poetry fix.
Alright, now for everything else you ever wanted to know about Corey,(or at least some) but were afraid to ask:
Joy: Well, I warned you at first contact that my number one question was going to be about your screen name, Herotomost. I’m curious where it came from and why you chose it—song line, wild inspiration, pulling puppies out of burning buildings, or what?
Corey: I was given that name by the government.... lol... yeah right. Actually it sounds a little cocky and I have it on my license plate of my Camaro, but actually it's a bit more low key than that. I spent a few years in the Air Force and had a friend from Jamaica who would call me Caesar (my initials are CSR.) There is a Public Enemy song that has the lyrics “Elvis was a hero to most” and he would see me every day and sing to me “Caesar was a hero to most”. Although a very racially motivated song, he never meant it in that way. It kind of stuck with a few of my friends and now I use it as a moniker online when they let me.
J: Thanks for satisfying my burning curiosity and general nosiness on that one—but I have more! There’s not a lot of bio on your page—is there anything you’d like us to know about yourself, your life, your day job, your past or your hopes and dreams for the future? Or wild fantasies, maybe?
C: Weeeelllllll...I have been in the Environmental and Health and Safety business for about 27 years and currently work as an estimator for an asbestos, lead and mold abatement company located in Phoenix. I am married with four lovely (most times) children. When I'm not writing, I am traveling, riding my road bike, drinking at a few of out favorite watering holes...finding new places to eat. Pretty normal stuff I think. I wish I could give you a swashbuckling story about how I was a hero bit by the gambling bug and forced into a life of prostitution...but.... no such luck.
J: Oh well, not everyone can have their dream job, eh? I see you began your blog about the same time I did mine. How has it worked out for you-- helped your writing, changed your perspective, pleasant escape or nagging duty?
C: I started online writing on Writers Cafe like so many have. That site has the best set up but the most problems. I started my blog and hardly did anything with it at first because it takes work to get traffic. Wasn't sure how to do that. When all of my friends and the best writers started leaving the WC to take care of their blogs, I kind of followed suit with a little help from Kerry.... I know we all do, but I love me some Kerry O’Connor. She has done a lot for me and it is a really big honor to be her friend. She is definitely one of the ones that if I ever get a group of people together from around the world for an online writing cocktail hour, I will pay for her to fly in. So, I still am not linked to enough other sites, Toads and Poets United is all...so I have some work to do. You all seem to have the blog thing down better than I do.
J: I have to agree about Kerry. She is an amazing force of creativity and support here. Blogging is all about interactions, and it takes those to get it really moving I think, especially for propelling the pen. At your place, I’ve noticed you write both prose and poetry with equal fluency. Which is your first love, and which “the other woman?”
C: If I weren’t so lazy about writing, I would make sweet love to prose every day. I love characterization and dialogue that kills, throw in a little setting.... yeah baby. Poetry is an immediate satisfaction thing for me. Short, sweet and I can get a novel down in four stanzas. If you notice, my poetry is a compressed version of my prose really. If there is a form challenge you don't usually see me participating.... don’t like to work that hard. Two of my favorite online prose writers (they are awesome at poetry too) are Shawnacy and Isadora Gruye. Izy reads some of my poetry and curses me for not writing my thoughts down in prose form because they are a bit heavy handed for poetry sometimes. Those two girls kill prose. I seriously don't understand why a few of the people around these parts aren't hawking books on Oprah...cuz they rock hard.
I guess the bottom line is, I have had some instructors and my wife who beg me to write prose.... but prose is like a full time job at the Piggily Wiggily and poetry is like hanging out on the corner at the drug store with my friends smoking cigarettes and playing kissy face. It's just fun.
J: For me, prose is more of a full time job cleaning out septic tanks by hand for minimum wage, but I totally agree about poetry. One of the things I like about your writing of both sorts is that there’s a very genuine and intense feel to it, with many of your topics upbeat, and others quite dark. To you, does it seem tilted either way, or that you are balancing both, or do you just write from your gut what you happen to be feeling at a given time?
C: I can't help but be true to my emotions when I am writing. My wife says we have gender role reversal going on where I am the emotional little bitch. You will know how I am feeling and my writing is no exception. My mom says I write best when I am depressed or my life is in the shambles...of course she doesn’t say this to me, she says it to my wife. I naturally trend to the dark, but I love the romance of life. There are things in this life that can cause you to feel so good.... and unfortunately a lot of those things revolve around love and it pains me to see so many jaded people. Jaded because of past experience...but hey, each to their own I guess, but as far as I know this is my one and only go around on this plane...and I am going to squeeze every drop of love and romance I can out of it, regardless of what happened to me yesterday.
J: Have to say, I like the way your mind works on that whole 'get it while you can' thing. Also I think your mom nailed it for a lot of us. Sometimes depression or a black mood is what digs up the deepest stuff. Do you feel that you have any sort of philosophy about your work, about where you want to go with it?
C: I'll keep this one shorter, sorry. I just like to write really cool stuff...stuff other people want to read. I don't want the people of Toads or anywhere else to feel like just because I read them they have to read me. If you don't care for it...for heavens sake...don't waste the two minutes of your life to read it...I am OK with it, this is the no guilt zone (shit, there goes my reviews...wooohoooo!!! He gave us permission to ignore him!....lol)
J: I doubt you’ll be ignored much by anyone who’s read more than two of your sentences. Do you have a favorite poem or piece of writing, one you feel particularly invested in? If only one thing you’ve written could be chosen, which one would you like to see published?
C: My longest prose work to date is called “E” and Me and it is on my blog. I wrote it seventeen years ago and to me still stands as my favorite. It needs some massaging and I have said that for seventeen years. I have submitted it once or twice but have not been that aggressive with it. If anyone cares to read it, be my guest. I haven't posted it yet on Mondays because it is so long and I don't want Susie or Marian kicking my ass because they wake up on Monday, start reviewing and then come across that longish piece of crap. You girls behave.... or that’s all I will post is long prose.... you think you hate me now...just wait till I post my rewrite of Roots!
J: I read a few paragraphs just now, and I can see why you feel it stands as something seminal to your work. The few sentences I read were packed with taut language and emotional hooks. What about a fave poem?
C: If I had to pick a favorite poem from what I have posted on my blog, I would pick North Beach Rain, but I just had that on Monday Toads a couple weeks age. After that, probably the first one I posted on my blog called Float On, which like Ashes has a pretty decent and sweeping scope and a couple of lines that make me all tingly when I read them. I have so much work that I still have to transfer form the WC on to my blog, I know compared to others the cupboard is a little bare...but its coming.... head for the hills by the Gods...its coming.
J: Now I have a new favorite—“..And when I can let gossamer words float like petals on the surface/I will taste that gaze and the North Beach rain.”—yeesh! I notice the name of your blog is taken from a Wall of Voodoo song. How important is music to you, and what kinds do you consider ‘yours’? Do you play an instrument?
C: Yeahhhh!!!!! I love that song and the remake of the song by Authority Zero. I also love Mexico...would live there and may live there some day, at least part time. I wrote a poem that is on my blog called MyTown which is a tribute poem to Stephen Morath's painting “Sunset Overdone” and to the song Mexican Radio. It’s one in a series of three poems that are tributes to his paintings and different songs. I play the guitar but not very well. I have a few songs that I have written and recorded that I may post on my website soon, they are loooovvveeee songs for my sweet so if I do, try not to throw up a little in your mouth...lol. Kerry has heard them, she still hasn't recovered. I have way more guitars than talent.....
J: IMHO, it's pretty hard not to love Mexico if you're alive and sucking air, and there’s always room in this world for another love song, (or love poem,) so I say go for it. Is there anything I haven’t asked that you’d like the Toad universe to know?
C: I love them dearly and want to thank them for including me...(ha, there’s the guilt thing again, how can you not read my stuff after that!) I would like to thank them for writing their hearts and sharing. Sometimes that’s not easy. Thanks for letting me be myself...I know there are some who don't like the darker stuff with curses and all, but no one has ever called me out and asked me to shut my dirty mouth...I like that.
J: I think that's called mutual respect, something I also appreciate about this place.
To finish up here, I liked what Isadora did in my interview with the closing quick questions so here are a few in that style:
Are you a pet person? If so, dog, cat or piranha?
No pets, we travel too much and it wouldn't be fair to them. Nothing against them though.
Favorite way to relax after a grueling day?
Read some Toads, mess with my guitar, drink with my honey and my friends, throw down a hot mess of a poem, ride my bicycle fast and dangerously.
Some favorite authors or poets?
Stephen King, Steinbeck, John Irving, Rudolfo Anaya, Vonnegut, Whitman, Dylan Thomas you all know, this list goes on and on and on.
Politics: Exercise in Futility or Blood sport?
Extremely disappointing and frustrating...but I will remain ever hopeful that some day we as a species will figure it out. My gut says that our inability to play nice is inherent and accepting it would be better than fighting it...I don't know, blah, blah, blah.
Rhyme or free verse?
Free Verse with rhyming refrains....Wooohoooo!!!!!!
This was my favorite question Izy asked, so I’m passing it on:
What are your three favorite words?
“Are you awake?” lol....rowrrrrrrrr
The thing that most ticks you off about life?
Not living up to my potential.
The thing that most gives you hope?
My children, my friends that write the truth, the fact that apple will come out with a new product that I have to have every couple of months. Yeah....
Thanks, Corey. It’s been a pleasure and/or total blast getting to know you. I hope everyone will browse through some of these links to your work and get a feel for the amazing talent you have.
Photo Credits: (c) Corey Rowley, 2012
And here's the original song, Mexico! Allow a few seconds for the soundcloud clip to load...