Thursday, January 08, 2009

Reader Meet Author

Corey Mesler

Growing up I had always heard the phrase "Support the Arts". It was typically associated with funding for the more creative programs in school, or possibility it meant attending a school play instead of a the football game. At the time it seemed like a choice that had to be made, a decision to do one thing or support one thing instead of another. Over time my understanding of support has changed, and a new word has been added to the phrase, independent. In a way it is still about choices, but most of your life is about choices. Supporting the independent arts is more about searching, caring, and desire to feed the most creative aspect in everyone.

Corey Mesler is not just an independent writer, but he is also the owner of an indie bookstore. Now more than ever, owning an indie bookstore has become a noble and foolish venture. Yet, Corey runs an established store in Memphis called Burke's Book Store, and like all other indie store he relies on patrons choosing his service and knowledge over the mega-chain or Amazon. Basically, supporting the independent arts is about thought, making a conscious effort to buy from local shops, directly from the publisher, or the artist. The keyword word, no matter when you go, is support.

Recently, the prolific writer and book store owner Corey Mesler was kind enough to answer a few of my questions.

Orange Alert (OA): Every week I skim through a long list of on-line literary journals and more times than not I see your name. Is there a trick to getting published? How often to you submit to one given publication?
Corey Mesler (CM): A lot is luck, of course. And the rest is writing poems that other people might want to read, which is like a conjurer's trick. It's hardest when it looks easiest. I have my favorite sites to submit to which I do probably 2 or 3 times a year. Also, I am always looking for new venues, new audiences.

OA: Do you feel that there is still more legitimacy attached to print journals? Are there certain types or lengths of stories that you submit to print journals as opposed to on-line journals?
CM: Yes, I think print journals still have more cachet. I'm a paper and glue man myself so I understand it. That being said, there is a lot of adventurous and exciting publishing being done on the internet. There are smart and creative editors working for literary webzines and I appreciate them. The landscape is changing and soon web publishing will be as highly regarded as traditional print publishing. A good sign this year was Dzanc Books' Best of the Web anthology. Of course it was published as, you know, a book.

I don't have a set of criteria that helps me decide which pieces to submit online and which should be print. Like most of what I do I do it on a whim and a prayer.

OA: The Agoraphobe's Pandiculations was printed by Lulu. How was your experience going through Lulu as it compares to your previous novels and chapbooks?
CM: I didn't go through Lulu, my publisher did. What I mean by that is that my two Lulu books are not self-published. They were accepted by Christine Laine's wonderful Little Poem Press and she uses Lulu, I imagine for the convenience. And that's about all I know about Lulu. Unless you wanna talk about the cute singer who had a hit with "To Sir with Love."

OA: This collection confronts the condition that you have lived with for a while now. Has its publication been freeing in any way?
CM: In a way, yes. I am still plagued by agoraphobia and still write about it. When that chapbook appeared my therapist said, let this be the last time you write about being an agoraphobe. What he meant was that I identified too much with the debility. I see his point but that's not how my writing mechanism is wired. I write about what I write about and a lot of that centers on how I am feeling. I guess I am a poet who is trapped in his own body. Its contours haunt me and feed me and wake me in the middle of the night with pains in new areas and sometimes with small poems, small middle-of-the-night poems.

OA: The media has made sure that every one is aware of the struggles in each industry in America. How is the book business? From what I hear from the local shops in Chicago is that the regulars are still the regulars, and that things have been fairly steady.
CM: Business sucks. I can't sugar coat it. We struggle. The fact that we are still here astounds me and all credit goes to my wife who is smarter than the average bear. This economy is trying to kill us and all small independent businesses. What a world it would be if people only had Barnes and Noble and McDonald's and Walmart and Amazon to choose from. Frankly I don't wanna live in that world. Help your small locally owned independent businesses; that's the message. All that being said, I have great faith in our newly elected president. I have never been this optimistic about the political climate and direction of our country. Wait, what was the question? How did I turn so pontifical?

OA: What's next for Corey Mesler?
CM: I have a new chapbook of poems due out any second now. I have a book of short stories, Listen, due out in March 2009 from Brown Paper Publishing, a book of dialogue pieces I am proud of. And I have another novel, called Following Richard Brautigan, from Livingston Press, in the pipeline scheduled for sometime in the dim time-to-come. I have another novel finished which I hope to sell soon. And, finally, and perhaps most importantly, I am making notes for another novel. I love the long haul of a novel and so hope to begin anon.

Bonus Questions:
OA: If you could have coffee with anyone (alive or dead) who would you want to sit down with?
CM: Martin Luther King, Jr., W. B. Yeats, James Joyce, John Berryman, Kurt Vonnegut, Frank O'Hara, Iris Murdoch, Ingmar Bergman, Alfred Hitchcock, Groucho Marx, John Lennon, Leonard Cohen (because I think he would be less intimidating than Mr. Dylan), David Markson, Zooey Deschanel.

OA: What type of music do you enjoy and who are a few of your favorites?
CM: Mostly 60s pop-rock with a special appreciation for psych-pop.
Dylan, Beatles, Lennon, Mr. Cohen, The Zombies, The Animals, The Rascals, The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band, Fever Tree, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Van Morrison, Elvis Costello, Jethro Tull, Big Star, Captain Beefheart, The Monks, The Monkees. In jazz, miles of Miles.

For more information on Corey Mesler please visit his website and don't forgot to check out Burkes Books here.


Rebecca Tickle said...

It is so hard to get an overall view of a person in a short interview.This hits the highlights and is good for forthcoming work, but I would love to see more of the personal/driven side that I know is there I can see it in the writing.

L. Ward Abel said...

A brilliant writer captured very well here. Truthfully, Corey's one of the best out there now...and yes, support BURKE'S!!

Luis said...


I like Zooey too, but I also dig her sister, "Bones."

Good interview.

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