If you had to brag about yourself:
I cured my depression from my boyfriend Earth’s murder with poetry. And I mean it! I LOVE this question and thank you for inviting me to participate!
Your writer crush:
Every word of the song “Skótoseme” by Diamanda Galás & John Paul Jones, most especially this AMAZING live rendition: (play it AS LOUD AS YOU CAN AND THRASH!)
Any place in the world:
Marfa, Texas! If I find out I have a week left to live I will drive through every red light in America to spend that week there!
(this is from my vegan cookbook I’m working on): It is in 3 parts:
1. Freshly made brown rice, garlic and rosemary cracker with a thick slather of darkly roasted and freshly ground almond butter topped with finely minced purple and green sauerkraut and finely minced raw purple onion with a fine dusting of cayenne pepper and apple-wood smoked dulse.
2. Extra firm tofu baked to reduce water, then reconstituted in black cherry juice, then grilled until crispy and topped with a mix of freshly whipped tahini and black cherry preserves and sprinkled with freshly toasted sesame seeds, black pepper and sea salt, the whole thing served on a bed of nasturtium flowers and arugula which had first been tossed in a small amount of sesame oil, balsamic vinegar and lemon zest.
3. Tall glass of freshly juiced peach, apple, kale and a few leaves of fresh basil.
Going with friends to the volcanic hot springs in Asheville.
Your rituals (writing or not):
Every single day I do (Soma)tic poetry rituals and the notes I take during the rituals are later culled and shaped into poems. Rituals such as creating 18 star constellations of my own in the night sky, translating Shakespeare sonnets with crystals, contacting ghosts, investigating what the word DRONE does when entering the human body, making a map of an ant’s travels across the desert floor, and many others. You can see all the rituals I have done and am currently working on at this link: http://somaticpoetryexercises.blogspot.com
Least impressive thing about you:
That I pay my taxes knowing FULL WELL that our military uses the money to kill people in 7 different Middle Eastern nations. BABIES! Our drones have massacred over 200 children in Pakistan alone! And three children die of war-related injuries in Afghanistan every single day! Every citizen of the United States who pays their taxes is guilty of these war crimes and I don’t know about you, but I’m not sure if we can stop it. If you do know what we can do to stop these wars please write to me as soon as possible, I’m quite serious!
Favorite space to write:
There is a (Soma)tic poetry ritual I call “Resurrect Extinct Vibration”
That is a short text about using the audio recordings of recently extinct animals. While driving across the USA I stop a couple times a day to lie on the ground and saturate myself with these sounds. I expected, even prepared to be depressed. The opposite is happening I’m rejuvenated, and look forward to the ritual.
I was born in 1966, and these wild organic vibrations were alive in real time on the planet when my cells were first forming. When I lie on the ground for the ritual I saturate my feet first, then move the headphones up along my body, my every cell soaking their sounds like old friends. It’s disturbing because my body is telling me the beautiful world is still there, but it is now inside MP3 files, virtually. Yet I am addicted to this ritual. I keep waiting to tip in the other direction emotionally, but no, I continue to feel fantastic, more than ever.
What should we know:
I am not a motivation speaker I am a poet!
Guilty literary pleasure:
Fortean Times Magazine! (IT’S FANTASTIC!)
Best book nobody talks about:
The truth is people ARE talking about these two books, but not as much as they deserve to be talked about and when I win the lottery I’m going to give copies of both to everyone I know and buy extra copies for all the new people I meet.
HOUSES, by Nikki Wallschlaeger
INSTANT CLASSIC, by Erica Kaufman
Character (TV, book, movie) you most identify with:
Thelma & Louise (More Louise than Thelma. Susan Sarandon is one of my heroes, talking about the most pressing afflictions of our neoliberal system of government, tied directly into the digestive system of Wall Street. This interview is evidence of her frank, fearless voice speaking AGAINST the rhetoric of power.
Last time you lied:
A few weeks ago I think, closer to a month ago actually.
My mother asked if I enjoyed having sex with her old boyfriend when I was 16 and I told her “No.” He was actually GREAT in bed! He worked in the quarry drilling holes into rock and inserting dynamite. He LOVED to have a shot of warmed cow’s blood before sex and he LOVED to have sex while blaring Black Sabbath! If you’re going to sleep with your mother’s boyfriend you should at least lie and tell her he was lousy in bed.
Question you secretly want to be asked:
Why do you talk about money and class so much?
No one asks this, but it is clear that when I do talk about money and class it very often annoys people. If I were to be asked this question I would say it’s because I owe it to the factory workers I come from. These illiterate, frightened, mean, homophobic, racist, ignorant angry people I come from. Poverty and lack of education creates tyranny, I know this is true and see it every time I have to see my family. I write poems for these people who have never lived the lives they wanted to live. Bronnie Ware was a hospice nurse who over the years asked her hundreds of dying patients one question, “Do you have any regrets.” Ware kept track of these answers and she says the number one regret is, “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself instead of the life others expected of me.”
When I was 9 and visiting my Nana Conrad I was obsessing over her shelf in the living room with little pieces of art by all 9 of her daughters and sons. Nothing on the shelf was made past the age of 5. I innocently asked her, “Nana where is the art they are making now?” She was instantly annoyed and said, “They’re in the factory! They haven’t got time for art!” My aunt Darlene had a beautiful little self-portrait of herself flying over the town in the sunshine, smiling. Not long ago she retired from the dental floss factory after many years of seeing millions of miles of cinnamon and mint-coated white string, and she drank herself to death six months later. I continue to write my poems and will write them until I die to live the life I want to live and not the life someone else thinks is best, safest, or the right thing to do. FUCK CAPITALISM! Fuck every single evil piece of shit person profiting off the backs of the poor! And FUCK anyone who thinks I should keep my mouth shut about money and class! I owe the truth, at the very least.
CAConrad’s childhood included selling cut flowers along the highway for his mother and helping her shoplift. He is the author of 9 books of poetry and essays the latest While Standing In Line For Death is forthcoming from Wave Books in September 2017. He is a Pew Fellow and has also received fellowships from Lannan Foundation, MacDowell Colony, Headlands Center for the Arts, Banff, RADAR, Flying Ojbect and Ucross. For his books, essays, and details on the documentary The Book of Conrad (Delinquent Films, 2016), please visit http://CAConrad.blogspot.com