So when asked to be a guest editor for MAGNET, my initial reaction was that my inner 18-year-old self might flip out so much that I might have nary a word to say. However, I persevered and was immediately filled with some of the memories of growing up in the proverbial “sticks” in the ’90s. Starting there and moving forward to the present day, I accumulated a list of people, movies, music, food, poets and other stuff that, although not exhaustive by any extent, it gives an insight into me, my music, the band, inspirations and interests. At the very least I would hope that a few of these things may also be viewed as recommendations that could steer people toward becoming acquainted with a few new people, and things that I find dear. It goes without saying, I appreciate the opportunity to “preach from the pulpit,” so to speak and air my opinion on so many different things. Normally people only care about what I say about my music or music in general, which can get tedious. So thank you, MAGNET, for providing the platform to impose my taste on others. Really and truly, I hope someone finds something in here that they, too, can enjoy.
I was playing a concert in Columbus, Ohio, many years ago, and after the set a guy from a blog came up to me and gave me a copy of James Wright’s Collected Poems. Said blogger told me that my lyrics reminded him of James Wright and I should give the book a try. Well it turns out that was a game changer for me. I read the first poem in the book and was instantly captivated by Wright’s language and verse and have been influenced by his work in some manner ever since. The comparison was very flattering but after further reading and meditation, I realized I am merely a peon in the shadow of Wright and have much to learn. Criminally under appreciated (which is the case for most poets in this day and age), Wright did, however, win a Pulitzer in 1972. So he was certainly successful in the larger literary sense but seems that he hasn’t yet become a household name. Here is one of his best known pieces that seems seasonly appropriate.
Autumn Begins In Martin’s Ferry, Ohio
In the Shreve High football stadium,
I think of Polacks nursing long beers in Tiltonsville,
And grey faces of Negroes in the blast furnace at Benwood,
And the ruptured night watchmen of Wheeling Steel,
Dreaming of heroes.
All the proud fathers are ashamed to go home.
Their women cluck like starved pullets,
Dying for love.
Their sons grow suicidally beautiful
At the beginning of October,
And gallop terribly against each other’s bodies.