You were born and raised in the Bronx, what brought you to LA?
For better or worse, I really didn’t think about it much, I just did it. I had a best friend who moved out here and I was curious to see the city that Bukowski wrote about. I was only writing for a few years at this point, still trying to find my voice, but I thought throwing myself into a whole new strange world and starting from scratch would give me the kick in the ass I needed.
To be quite honest, it damn near killed me. Writing was the only thing that kept me going… that and booze, lots and lots of booze.
When we’re the poems in “Wreck Collection” written?
2011 and 2012 mostly, during my first year of sobriety. Fresh out of rehab, my wife asked for a divorce and my dad died not too long after. It starts from a pretty dark place but… I like to think it ends on a more hopeful note. I hadn’t written a word in years, but after I started to come to terms with how out of it I’d been, and all the damage I had caused myself and those around me, the floodgates burst open. I’ve been writing again ever since, with a newfound passion and purpose.
You mention Charles Bukowski, who are some of your other influences?
I discovered David Whyte about 8 years ago and, like Bukowski, it totally changed my thinking about what poetry could be. Not just his poems, but his philosophy and what he wrote about poetry; how it affects people and how it can truly be a soul saving tool in this age of consumerism and corporations.
There’s also a lesser known beat poet named Lew Welch that a friend recently turned me on to. His collection “Ring of Bone” has been a constant companion to me as of late. Patti Smith and Leonard Cohen are two other mainstays whose work never fails to remind me how beautiful words can be.
We’ve covered some darker elements of your experience and creative process so far, but is there anything you’d like to share about yourself that’s slightly on the lighter side? Or something you might want to reveal about yourself that one may not know by just looking at you?
Honestly, although I am mostly reserved and introverted, I’m really quite the happy go lucky guy! I laugh. A LOT. Some people have asked why my poetry is so dark and my demeanor seems quite the opposite; it is simply because I’m not carrying around all that heavy baggage.
I can let it out… I write about it and that’s my release from it. Once you find you can let go of certain things just by writing them down or laughing at the absurdity of some situations, or just simply realizing how good you really have it compared with some people who have nothing, that’s priceless. Writing has always been extremely cathartic for me because I’m not making shit up… I’m writing what I see and how I feel and that kind of clears the path for the light to come in and out… When I start writing about unicorns and rainbows, that’s when you should start to worry about me, HA!
I also meditate daily, which has opened up new worlds of patience, compassion, and acceptance for me. Just being mindful and aware of how everything you do has an affect on others really gives you a deeper perspective. If I’m being kind and right with my thoughts and actions, whatever comes from that can’t be bad.
So what makes you happy?
Music has always been a panacea for me, though I’ve never learned or played a note, I’m just an avid listener. I grew up on metal and punk, but greatly expanded my horizons thru the years, thanks especially to a 10 year stint working at Aron’s Records in Hollywood. It was the first job I got when I moved here from NY, and I can’t think of a better way to expose yourself to new kinds of music than working in a record store. I met some of the finest, most knowledgeable folks there and learned so much. It was truly an education for me. I can always find solace and happiness listening to music.
I also volunteer at Burbank Animal Shelter every Thursday morning and it is almost always the highlight of my week. Helping another creature who can’t help themselves is one of the most rewarding and beautiful things we can do on this planet.