Norb Aikin’s poetry has a rhythmic flow to it. You feel Norb is leading you to a crescendo. In Mutants the poetry is all leading up to that ultimate crescendo. You are absorbed in questions: of existence, of falling apart, of caring, of wandering if one little change could have changed it all. But this is just the opening verses. Your emotions are pulled into the song. This is how the mind flips when the anxieties of the world becomes flippant. How you become headstrong to arbitrary as the world is described from the intro in “Matador Rose” How cumbersome every day’s monotonous tasks and rituals become. Reflections, the unsures, the never was’s, the what cans, or can’t even fathoms. Norb’s work truly will make you think. Mutants is a great collection of poetry that lets you escape your mind or furthers you deeper into the paths of endless clouds to count and dream them up a name. Poems like “I Melt Sugar” & “I Said Maybe But I Never Said Forever” “Thinking About Suicide Takes Years Off Your Life” hits your brain like a rocket into the dunes of ponderings amassed in loneliness, fear, the wonder years that never really go away, and then we reach the crescendo that is Norb Aikin’s Mutants.
Norb Aikin is the author of Mutants and 100 (Eliezer Tristan Publishing). He is a Mental Health activist originally from Buffalo, NY and now lives in Cortland, NY. His work has appeared in various online publications, including Pink Plastic House and Fevers of the Mind. You can find him on Twitter at @Fivesixer.
This review is also in the Fevers of the Mind Poetry Press Presents the Poets of 2020 Anthology available now on Amazon. Check recent posts for links.
Full title: OnBecoming (Aesthetic Evolution of the Rising Ancestor)
A poetic memoir by Hokis.
Imagine being a child (a young girl) adopted, unsure about yourself
Because you don’t have all the answers. Where did my ancestors come from?
Why do I react the way I do? Where does my perseverance come from to get through? When traumatic adversities come into play as a teenager into womanhood, where do I turn to?
This collection of personal poetry tells the reader through the wonders of imagery on how realizations, finding the reasons, fighting the stresses, and knowing when to persevere & not give in when it is easiest to do so.
Hokis’ OnBecoming is a wonderful read of linkable poems that connects thematically the traumas (political, familial, toxic masculinity & sexual violence) and turns to feminism & ancestral guidance to help overcome these detours in life. You will feel shattered with her as you turn through the pages, but in the end you become whole. Ultimately to feel resilient to the monsters we all face daily.
Austin Lucas has a new album “Alive in the Hot Zone” which many have in their year-end best of 2020 award nominees.
(Cornelius Chapel Records)
First off Thanks Austin for granting an interview with us at Fevers of the Mind Press for the Fevers of the Mind Poetry Digest: The Poets of 2020.
Austin: Thanks so much for including me!
It has been over a year since the last issue. It is weird, it seems like something might have happened to try to jog away from the creativity into a slow depression month after month as this has continued. The year 2020 has been some work, and it has taken nearly a year for me to fully get my creative fuses (mostly out of the anger of this year) to feel like there has to be another edition! There are many voices out there that have been writing through the year, and their voices all need to be heard.
With that, how have you kept your creativity with writing songs & putting out a new album? Was it any different going into the studio and recording the new album in the wake of the pandemic.
Austin: I have found myself baffled by the disconnect from reality among my fellow americans, along with their seemingly limitless capacity to entirely abandon reason. As for inspiration and the process of staying active in song writing, it seems that I was able to have even more time to exercise my capacity for creation with so much time off the road.
I was a huge fan of Immortal Americans & Shallow Inland Sea after hearing your appearances on the comedy podcast Improv4Humans with Matt Besser. Even my 8-year-old daughter became a fan of “Immortal Americans” and I love that song and Shallow Inland Sea) How is Matt Besser and the Improv4Humans experience?
Austin: I love Matt and all the I4H crew so it’s always so cool when I get to collaborate with them and also when I hear that someone discovered me through that medium.
I’ve been listening to the new single “Drive” on repeat listens, and watching the interesting Pandemic feel of the video on Youtube. Where was it filmed?
Austin: Well it was shot in Berlin during the pandemic, so what you were seeing is life as it is currently lived. That video was a phenomenal experience because I was able to cast a bunch of my favorite people who I honestly don’t get to see often enough.
How are you maintaining focus and coming up with new creative endeavors without the touring and the availability of concerts? Tell us a little about the Save the Stage movement also.
Austin: As I mentioned before, I seem to have almost boundless creative energy when so much of my time isn’t spent traveling and feeling worn down by life on the road. Sometimes I get incredibly tired still, due to my intense training and coaching schedule with Muay Thai but even that doesn’t distract me and leave me feeling so depleted as constant travel.
When I heard your interviews regarding your songs in the past, I was excited to learn that you grew up in the Bloomington, Indiana area. I grew up in Western Kentucky and lived in Evansville for nearly 20 years. I’ve spent many nights visiting Bloomington. Always good shows up there. What was it like growing up in the Midwest? What about the Midwest do you love, and what part of it makes you shake your head?
Austin: I don’t know, there are so many things I both love and hate about the Midwest but honestly, I don’t find much more wrong with the Midwest than I do with any other part of the USA. There’s good and bad and the bad things are found in literally every corner of the United States. I do love how direct people are in the Midwest vs. other parts of the US though. We’re polite but we won’t bend over backwards and bullshit you if we think you suck.
I know you have many roots in punk music and for most of your career, you have spun punk ideologies into an Americana/rock-folk carving. So, who were your heroes musically, and inevitably with writing song lyrics that maybe have helped you weave the two musical styles into your niche?
Austin: His Hero Is Gone, Discharge, X, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, The Beatles. Jason Molina is probably my greatest lyrical influence but there’s a lot in my repertoire that’s derived from my upbringing in the Bluegrass and folk lineage.
What is your process when you write a song? How long does it usually take to come up with a full song to your liking, music and all?
Austin: It really depends, I’m a notoriously furious and extensive self editor so it can take anywhere from hours to years for me to write a song. I generally begin with a riff and build words and melody around the first riff that I write and go for there.
I’d like to congratulate you on your nomination in the category for Americana Song of the Year in the upcoming AMA-UK Awards in 2021. How do you handle the recognition that you deserve for your work?
Austin: Thanks so much, I honestly just smile and feel grateful. I’ve been in this songwriting game for a very long time and have yet to receive many accolades. Which means that while I appreciate it all the more as a result, I also have a hard time imagining that it will be a regular occurrence. At the moment I’m just gonna soak it up and be grateful that some folks cared enough to nominate me for an award in the first place.
You’ve worked with many great artists on albums such as Lydia Loveless & John Moreland. Is there a musician out there that you would love to work with, or came close to working with that once (hopefully) someday when COVID is gone that you’d feel like this could be the ultimate collaboration?
Austin: I’d honestly love to work with several artists but the dream for me would be to just sing duets with Dolly and Emmylou or Gillian Welch. My other biggest dreams are to make albums with Baroness and Neurosis and also to make an album with Blitzen Trapper would be an absolute dream.
Out of the many, many songs you’ve written. Which do you feel the most complete lyrically let’s say, or just satisfied with the outcome. Do you ever feel like hey, where did these words come to me from? I think lyrically Monroe City Nights resonates with me so well. I can feel the sadness of the Midwest & the vulnerability to adapt and so everything just seems stagnant (in the solitude of okay, I guess this is how my life has to be?)
Austin: To my mind, that song is absolutely one of my crowing masterpieces in a lot of ways. I’m honestly very proud of my body of work overall but my last 2 albums have probably had the most of what I’d consider “me” in them.
Tell me about the new album “Alive in the Hot Zone” released this Fall. What about this album is getting the buzz of Austin Lucas out there in the Americana & Indie scene. What about this album, do you feel is different from your other albums?
Austin: I honestly don’t know, I guess it’s the fact that I managed to write about what everyone was going through in the world right now and actually release it while we were still experiencing it as a global community.
Finally, the dumb question. Let’s say some bozo with some weapon comes up to you. Let’s say He’s like I’ve got 2 albums that you have to re-make, and you have to choose one to cover completely (no matter what it does for your career) and hey maybe you can change the dynamic of people’s minds about the albums, Do you cover Milli Vanilli’s “Girl You Know It’s True” album or Debbie Gibson’s “Lost in Your Eyes”?
Austin: I’d personally rather cover Go Go’s “Beauty and the Beat but I think I’d go with the Debbie Gibson album, if those were my only two options.
No really, we’ve seen like full album covers by artists like Beck, the Bird, and the Bee, and ummm…yeah Ryan Adams do such, if you ever went that route with an album what would you consider an awesome honorable album to cover?
Austin: Oh, haha, I guess I already answered that question but let me say two things. 1. Ryan Adams is a creep and 2. I’d also really love to cover the entirety of the Cure “Pornography” or “Darklands” by Jesus and Mary Chain.
Thank you, Austin for spending a little bit of your time with Fevers of the Mind, and much success on the new album & good luck with the award nomination.
Austin: Thank you so much for sitting down and asking me these questions.
Bio Courtesy of Austin Lucas.com
Austin Lucas is a punk journeyman, activist and songwriter from Bloomington, Indiana. Consumed by an overdeveloped sense of wanderlust as a young person, Austin spent his formative years in the driver’s seat of various beat-up Ford Econolines. Burning through countless miles and living the world over, he’s made his home everywhere from the American West Coast to the Czech Republic.
As a young person, Austin worshipped a diverse mixture of Classic Rock, Country, Punk, Psychedelic Folk and Mountain Music, and has made a career by successfully fusing these disparate influences into something uniquely his own. Emerging as a prominent and revered talent among his fans and peers, Austin has stood shoulder to shoulder with some of the most recognizable icons of Folk, Punk, Indie, Country and Americana, all the while uplifting the traditions of Roots Music and holding true to the attitude and ethics of political DIY Punk and Indie music as the lifeblood that runs through his veins.
Releasing albums since 2006, Austin Lucas has been a fixture in the worlds of Alternative Country and Folk Punk for nearly two decades, having sang alongside and toured with everyone from Willie Nelson, Jamey Johnson, Ray Price, Brent Cobb, Frank Turner, Chuck Ragan, Dawes, Langhorne Slim, Joe Pug, John Moreland, Lucero and many others. To hear Austin Lucas or see him live is to discover the type of well-kept secret that can only stay that way for so long.
During the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown Austin Lucas has sheltered in place in Mainz, Germany. Although growing homesick far away from his home and family in Indiana, he has successfully used this extra time and inspired energy to prove that it’s impossible to keep a good troubadour down, writing and recording songs for his forthcoming album, “Alive In The Hot Zone!”.
Volume 1 includes contributions from myself (David L O’Nan), HilLesha O’Nan, Rob Z photography, Ankh Spice, Catrice Greer, the Poetry Question & Chris Margolin, Jenna Faccenda, Ethan Jacob O’Nan, Icefloe Press, Robert Frede Kenter, Moira J Saucer Darren Demarree, Abdulmueed Balogun, Bradley Galimore, Anisha Kaul, Foy Timms, David Ralph Lewis, Paul Brookes, Sidney Mansueto, Lawrence Moore, Karen Mooney, Jenny Mitchell, Makund Gnanadesikan, James Lilley, Richard Waring, Vern Fein, Ediney Santana, Rachael Ikins, Samantha Terrell, Al Matheson, Ceinwed C E Haydon, Will Schmit, Dai Fry, Barney Ashton-Bullock, M.S. Evans, Megha Sood, Jane Rosenberg LaForge, Matthew M C Smith, Lucy Whitehead & Merril Smith as well as an interview with Americana/Indie/Punk musician Austin Lucas
Volume 2 includes contributions from myself (David L O’Nan) HilLesha O’Nan, Rob Z Photography, Troy Jackson, Book Reviews for Hokis, David Hanlon, Susan Richardson & Norb Aikin, Karlo Sevilla, Steve Denehan, A.R. Salandy, Steve Wheeler, Sher Ting, December Lace, Ken Tomaro, Kushal Poddar, Tan Tzy Jiun, Amy Barnes, Jason DeKoff, Raine Geoghegan, Jim Young, Tim Heerdink, Damien Donnelly, Kristin Garth, Mela Blust, Jackie Chou, Rickey Rivers Jr, David Hay, Kari Flickinger, John Ogunlade, Z.D. Dicks, Julie Stevens, Gayle Sheridan, Wil Davis, Samantha Merz, Iona Murphy, Gerald Jatzek, KC Bailey, Samuel Strathman, Mike Whiting, Peter Hague, E Samples, Ann Hultberg, Jane Dougherty, Michael Igoe, Maxine Rose Munro, John Everex, Lacresha Hall, Kelly Marie McDonough, Gabe Louis, Linda M Crate
Deluxe Edition is over 300 pages and includes all of the Poets, writers, interviews, musicians, photography & more.