"And then one day I got a true look at the Poor, millions
of the Poor, patient and toiling; more patient than
crags, tides, and stars; innumerable, patient as the
darkness of night--and all broken, humble ruins of nations."
-Carl Sandberg from Masses
It's a common thread in literature, the blue collar voice, the tired steel worker, the poor and the patient, the unpaid and disrespected. I have heard some state that this genre is currently filled with complainers, and that everyone hates their job. They question the significance since it is such a common experience. However, isn't that the very reason why it is so vital to poetry? The fact that we hate our jobs has become almost a universal truth. It is the poet's responsible to paint our picture, sing our praise, to champion our cause, and to simply tell our story.
One such poet is Wayne Mason of Central Florida. Wayne is a factory worker who has discovered that he has the hands of a worker, but the mind of a poet. Wayne also studies Buddhism and tries to allow what he is learning them to seep into his writing. Last year, Wayne self-released his first chapbook, Broken Zen, and is already shopping his follow-up to publishers. Wayne has also started a group called The Wordcore Collective to promote the local poetry scene in and around his home town.
Recently, Wayne took some time to answer our questions on the collective and his work in general.
Orange Alert (OA): What came first for you, the poetry or the Buddhism?
Wayne Mason (WM): I was writing poems long before I knew anything of Buddhism, although it’s definitely had an impact on my writing from the koan inspired minimalism to the re-occurring images of Kannon or Dogen. Actually I’m not a very good Buddhist, I can read Buddhist text all day long and I really try to follow a boddhisattva path in my everyday life, but as far as meditating everyday or abstaining from vice…. I’m really terrible.
OA: The statement on your website states that you are working on a novel entitled, 'Buddha In Purgatory'. What can you tell us about your novel?
WM: Man, I’ve started and re-started this novel a million times but I think I’m finally headed in the right direction. As surreal as the title is, it’s basically the story of an artist and his crappy factory job and his attempt sat dealing with these two totally contrasting lifestyles… something I can certainly relate too
OA: Your poem "Dead Poetry Gods", which was published in the Spring 2007 edition of Words Dance, touches on the struggle between acknowledging and learning from the poets of the past and deeming yourself unworthy to work in the same realm as those poets. Who are some of your biggest influence, and how do you deal with this struggle?
WM: Like a lot of others I was hugely inspired by the Beats. Mostly these days I read my contemporaries, and I often find myself humbled and flattered being published alongside them. As far as the struggle goes, it’s something I don’t spend too much time worrying about… except for the occasional existential crisis.
OA: Your first chapbook, 'Broken Zen', was published last year by Beer and Loafing Press. How was that experience, and are there any plans for a second chapbook?
WM: Beer and Loafing was sort of my own little “press” to release my chap. It was very limited. But all in all is was a good experience. Right now I have another chap manuscript put together titled “Every Day Is Labor Day”, which is mostly working class stuff. I’m hoping to place this one with a publisher to see it done right. Any takers?
OA: Can you tell us little about The Wordcore Collective?
WM: The town I live in isn’t exactly a small town but it’s not exactly a big city either. There’s a decent music scene, decent arts… but when I decided I wanted to move into live performance I quickly realized there was really no literary scene. Rather than sit at home and complain about it I started Wordcore. It’s been hard but it’s been rewarding too.
OA: What's next for Wayne Mason?
WM: Just to keep on writing. But more immediately another beer.
OA: Coffee? If yes, what is your favorite type of coffee and where is your favorite coffee spot?
WM: I love coffee. Nothing fancy, black coffee the stronger the better! I can’t afford those hip little coffee shops, give me a greasy diner with a never ending cup of coffee.
OA: What type of music do you enjoy and who are some of your favorite musicians? Does their music affected your writing in anyway?
WM: Sonic Youth, Merzbow, John Zorn, stuff like that. When I write I either tend to listen to jazz or extreme noise…. anything without words. I’ve played in several bands over the years and for better or worse I think that musical training is something I still carry with me as a poet.
For more information on Wayne Mason visit his website.