Thursday, January 10, 2008

Writer's Corner

Misti Rainwater-Lites

"I love the popping sound of the machete slicing off their empty heads. I love the ruby geyser of blood and the roll of their heads across the yawning moss." from My Pretty Prize

When you think of the poet what word comes to mind? If the poet is Misti Rainwater-Lites the word might be insanity. Not that she is mentally deranged, but hers is a more controlled and much more literary insanity. Her work is filled with unpredictable and extremely exciting images of death, love, sex, life and reality. It is her ability to utilize short, jabbing phrases to build beautiful and relevant poems that makes her such a fundamental voice in today's small press. She comes across as wild and vivid, and above all else real.

Self-publishing a lot her own chapbooks and novels through Ebullience Press, Misti has establish quite a catalog for herself. With titles like eBuLLienT VoMiT, Arsenal of Spitwads, DanGeRouS HaiR, and many others, Misti's work screams for the long overdue attention that so many poets deserve, but never receive.

Recently, Misti was kind enough to take some time out to answer a few of my questions.

Orange Alert (OA): You have self-released many titles under the guise of Ebullience Press. What are some of the benefits of self publication? Do you ever see Ebullience expanding to include other writers?
Misti Rainwater-Lites (ML): The benefits of self-publication through are that it's free and you are in control of everything. Lulu is a dream for someone like me who is into instant gratification. Ebullience Press will remain a pseudo press, solely intended for my own PR and lulu books. At this point I'm only interested in writing and editing and publishing and promoting my own stuff.

OA: Why isn't poetry more marketable? I am sure the on-line marketplace has helped, but why are more people not buying chapbooks?
ML: Well, we aren't going to have much of an audience if the only place we promote our chaps is at MySpace, blogspot and in poetry zines. Poets rarely buy their peers' chaps. I know I don't. The obvious solution is to market chaps to a curious, financially sound audience. People have to be bored with Oprah's selections and the shit cranked out and sold like Hallmark cards at Barnes & Noble. I anticipate something big happening soon. I'll always write poems. I'd write poems in prison. But I admit I love the idea of making a living at it. I know this is audacious and unrealistic of me. That's what poets need, though...more audacity and insanity. Color outside the goddamn lines. Take some risks. My husband sold his car last year so that we could make a gig in Vegas. I want to read my poems five nights a week in Vegas and make a living at it. I'd read at Caesar's Palace or one of the seedier casinos on Fremont. I'm not a fan of slam poetry. I think it's too didactic. You can bring the house down just by reading poems from a piece of paper if the poems are good enough. The short answer: utilize YouTube. I'm going that route in the near future. Also...don't rule out the idea of a marriage between pornography and poetry.

OA: The concept behind the Next Exit series is really fascinating. What is it like to remove yourself (or at least your name) from your published work?
ML: I didn't like or understand the idea at first. Then I realized that it doesn't matter if readers know which poems are mine. It's about the bigger picture, the product as a whole. And what a great product it is! I was honored to be paired with a poet as good as Doug Draime. I like the idea of publishing an exquisite corpse type chap. Collaboration is exciting.

OA: Lullabies for Jackson is a beautiful and honest near diary account of your pregnancy. Do you think that motherhood will change your perspective on poetry or influence your work in anyway? How do you plan to pass along your enthusiasm for the written word to your child?
ML: I read to Jackson when he was in the womb, mostly Mayakovsky and Dr. Seuss. I've been too harried since his birth to read to him but he has an incredible little library in his nursery that will continue to grow. I'll read to him and take him to the library, maybe even take him to some poetry readings (god help him). I'm sure motherhood will influence my work to a great extent but I won't be solely defined by that role, just as I haven't been solely defined by my role as wife, daughter or sister. My life has always been a beautiful mess. I don't see that changing anytime soon.

OA: With groups like The Guild of Outsider Writer's and the Guerrilla Poetics Projects, what are your thoughts on the community feel of poetry today?
ML: I'll always be the fifteen year old loner in the wrong clothes listening to the wrong music. I have never felt a part of any community. So the community feel of poetry online doesn't do much for me. I've met a few good friends through poetry, though, and I'm grateful for that. I love the idea of having a poetry awards ceremony in Vegas each year. It would be like the award they have for porn stars but with better looking, smarter people. Seriously. There are a lot of hot poets in the small press! Way too much temptation. Makes me kind of nauseous.

OA: What's next for Misti Rainwater-Lites?
ML: 2008 is going to be huge for me. I'm saying that so that it will come true. Because if it doesn't come true I'll look like a jackass. I've got Dripping Milk available through Erbacce Press. All Aboard The Mindfuck Express available through Scintillating Publications. And I'm trying to track down Steve Wynn so that I can sell him on my idea of bringing poetry to Vegas.

Bonus Questions:
OA: Your name is wonderful, especially for a poet. What is its origin?
ML: "Misty" was a popular girl's name in the early '70s. Rainwater is Native American. Cherokee, possibly. Lites is my husband's last name. It's German.

OA: Some feel music and poetry are closely related. What type of music do you enjoy? Does music ever affect your work in anyway?
ML: After I heard Pink Floyd's "The Wall" in 1990 I thought,"That's it. I've got to take all my pain and turn it into something like that." Then I saw Oliver Stone's "The Doors" in 1991. I wrote Jim Morrison influenced poetry for a brief period. It sucked. Music seeps through me and informs everything...the men I fall in love with, the lipstick I wear, the places I visit. I'm a Luddite. I still make mix tapes. I've got this dream Spanish house in my mind that includes an enormous dance/club/bar room with a Wurlitzer jukebox. Here are some of the songs on that jukebox: "Andy's Chest" and "Make Up" and "Satellite of Love" by Lou Reed. "Something About You" by Level 42. "And She Was" and "Burning Down The House" by Talking Heads. "Go West" and "Dreaming of the Queen" and "Can You Forgive Her?" and "Vampires" and "Happiness is an Option" by the Pet Shop Boys. "Happiness is a Warm Gun" and "Across the Universe" and "Day in the Life" and "Hey Bulldog" by the Beatles. "Killer Queen" and the Flash Gordon theme song by Queen. "Rich" and "Black Tongue" by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. "Drain You" and "On a Plain" by Nirvana. "You're A Big Girl Now" and "Idiot Wind" by Bob Dylan. Selah. Amen. I mentioned a lot of songs I like in my novel, Nova's Gone Potty. Oh my god I forgot the Frogs! The Frogs are insane. I love the idea of putting together a band like the Frogs. I'd post an ad at Craig's List. I'd say,"A prerequisite to joining my band is that you must own 'My Daughter The Broad.'"

For more information on Misti Rainwater-Lites check out her blog or to purchase any of her current titles go to eBuLLieNCe PReSs.


Nobius said...

Wow, that was great.

Jason Jordan said...

Nice interview. Glad to have Misti in the decomP fold.

Luis said...

Good interview. Misti, the Vegas award show sounds like the great idea, just do away with the award part of it, and we could just have a good time. Lullabies For Jackson is a fine chapbook.