A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview & new poetry by Catfish McDaris

with Catfish McDaris

Q1: When did you start writing and first influences and who are your biggest influences today?

Catfish: I started writing in 1971, while in the army, mostly letters describing shooting cannons and visiting different countries in Europe. I just missed Vietnam and ended in Germany for almost 3 years. I am from New Mexico and have always loved Westerns, so Louis L’Amour influenced me, Ivanhoe, Steinbeck, Zola, Pearl Buck, Poe. Currently I read Tolkien, since our books are archived together at Marquette University. I love Bukowski, Jack Micheline, Seaborn Jones, Adrian C. Louis, and mostly poets and storytellers I’ve become acquainted with over the past 30 years of my writing.

Q2: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer?

Catfish: My mother and grandmother believed I had talent and my wife, Aida of 38 years has put up with me vanishing into a tale or going out reading, now it’s the Zoom reading craze.

Q3: Who has helped you most with writing?

Catfish: My wife and daughter and writer friends.

Q4: Where did you grow up and how did that influence your writing & did any travels away from home influence your work?

Catfish: I grew up in Albuquerque and Clovis, New Mexico, but after the army moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I hitchhiked and rode freight trains across America and down into Mexico. When in Europe I was in the 1st Armored Calvary and when not playing war games against the USSR. I traveled mostly in West Germany and Amsterdam. I love Milwaukee and retired from the Main Post Office after 34 years, lots of excitement from workers going postal and bombs mailed to Jefferey Dahmer while he was in prison. I always miss the mountains and plains.

Q5: What do you consider your most meaningful work you’ve done creatively so far to you?

Catfish: I try to keep my next work my most meaningful, but my part in Prying in 97 with Bukowski and Jack Micheline was popular because of Buk and it is currently being reprinted in Germany by Newington Blue Press and another solo book: Valentina Mezcalito Blues is coming out soon from Laughing Ronin Press in Kentucky.

Q6: Favorite activities to relax?

Catfish: I quit drinking and smoking weed 16 years ago. I do like strong coffee, nature walks, thinking of new writing ideas, being with my Mexican wife, people watching.

Q7: What is a favorite line/stanza from a writing of yours or others? Favorite artwork or music video?

Catfish: I did a tiny book called: Making Love to the Rain and I thought about farmers with hope in their eyes watching their crops grow. That’s always hit me hard. Favorite artwork would be damn near anything by Van Gogh or Frida Kahlo, I’ve written extensively about both. Music video is Red Hot Chili Peppers Hump de Bump.

Q8: What kind of music do you enjoy? Favorite musical artists, influences, songs that inspire?

Catfish: Well, I got to see Jimi Hendrix twice, Little Feat, now I like Red Hot Chili Peppers, Joe Satriani, Kingfish Ingram, Gary Clark Jr.

Q9: Any recent or forthcoming projects that you’d like to promote?

Catfish: I mentioned my 2 books coming out. I’ll be Zoom reading Nov 3rd for Montgomery College, MD at an English 101 class my little chap called The Impala and maybe Cobalt from Prying and at Wounded Knee, SD probably some Frida Kahlo poems. Lots of stuff always come along, remember what’s on Buk’s tombstone “Don’t Try”.

Bonus Q: Are there any funny memories that you can recall during your writing/creative journey?

Catfish: There was a local music/reading long ago in the gay district of Milwaukee. I was reading with a sax player, named Big Frank, we had each other’s six. His warning for danger was he’d start playing Dave Brubeck’s Take Five. The Emcee was a guy with a dark beard wearing a wedding dress. He had a briefcase of fake $3’s after every performer read or played their instrument, he handed them a stack of money. This handsome blonde man kept staring at me rather strangely. After we did most of our thing, I grabbed the case and threw all the money in the air, people were squealing and jumping, but not blondie, Big Frank hit Take Five. He pulled his 357 from his horn case as blondie grabbed a handful of fucking chapbooks. We split posthaste. A month later the cops caught Dahmer, after he’d eaten most of 21 men. The cops came knocking at my apartment, they found 3 of my books at Dahmer’s house. I let them search, even the freezer. Sick huh?

Poetry by Catfish McDaris:

The Monster

In three days, I see
a new doctor
maybe he can help me

I’ll try to explain
the anxiety and panic

How I’m paralyzed by fear

How prayer doesn’t seem
to be the cure

How I wonder if God
has turned His back on me

How no one seems
to understand the terror

How I love my family
but even their love
can’t stop the monster.

Graveyard Stew

My grandparents lived in the
Panhandle of Texas, there were
guns in every room because of
a long-ago feud that resulted
in prison time for my grandpa

We’d eat white bread with sugar
and milk called graveyard stew
and sleep in the mule barn guest

Room, grandpa would wash his
face with pumice soap to try and
remove the carbon black from work

They’d drink home brew on weekends
one night granny threw her tit over
her shoulder and her prune nipple

Hit grandpa in the eye, she started
laughing when he yelled and fell out
of his chair and shit his pants.

The Desert

Cochise’s dry hot tears
skeletons of buffalo
windstorm ghosts dry death.

Heat waves dance in dearth
forests are matchsticks waiting
animals on edge.

The heat of summer
beckons fireflies to sparkle
crisp plants beg for rain.

There But For the Grace of God

The Honduran immigrant
staggered into the meeting
speaking only Spanish, he
said he needed help

His entire body was shaking
from alcohol withdrawals, I’d
seen men like him, near death
some recovered, he sweated
out a pure booze stench

One hundred people prayed
for him, he died before midnight

It took Jose twelve years to
find his family in Chicago
and give them some closure.

Bio: Catfish McDaris is an aging New Mexican living near Milwaukee. He has four walls, a ceiling, heat, food, a woman, one cat, a daughter, a typing machine, and a mailbox. That’s enough for him. He writes for himself and sometimes he gets lucky and someone publishes his words. He remains his biggest fan. He’s been sliding in the shadows of the small press for 30 years. Catfish McDaris won the Thelonius Monk Award. His work is at the Special Archives Collection at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He is listed in Wikipedia. His ancestors were related to Wilma Mankiller from the Cherokee Nation. He’s on vacation from selling wigs in a dangerous neighborhood in Milwaukee. Van Gogh and Catfish were both born in ’53 and Vincent died on his birthday July 29th. Cat’s hometown is Clovis, New Mexico, Gauguin’s father and son were named Clovis.

A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Joseph Fulkerson

with Joseph Fulkerson:

Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?

Joseph: I started writing seriously about ten years ago. I had just gone through a divorce and found it helped to write down the wide variety of emotions I was experiencing. That and bourbon.

Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?

Joseph: It’s always been Charles Bukowski and always will be, but there are some great contemporary writers out there as well; whether poetry or fiction. Frank Bill, Brian Evenson, Donald Ray Pollock, Jonathan Shaw, Ron Whitehead, John D. Robinson, A.S.Coomer, Rudy Francisco, just to name a few.

Q3: Where did you grow up and how did that influence your writing? Have any travels away from influence your work?


I grew up in Western Kentucky, which is in the “Bible Belt.” My parents were real religious, so when we weren’t going to church, it was tent revivals, Bible studies, and prayer meetings at people’s houses. I was homeschooled all through middle school, then I attended a Christian high school. It took a while to figure out what I actually believed, versus what I was taught.

I say all that to say I tend to write from a place of cynicism and enjoy laughing at things that probably shouldn’t be laughed at.

A couple years ago I took a trip to Phoenix to visit a friend and we drove up to Southern California. We visited Charles Bukowski’s grave. It was an amazing experience.

Q4: What do you consider the most meaningful work you’ve done creatively so far?

I enjoy writing poetry, haiku, and I’ve been dabbling in short fiction. It is great watching a project take shape, whether that be a poem or an entire book. I started Laughing Ronin Press earlier this year because I love the entire process of writing and wanted to help bring to the forefront great writing that pulses with authenticity.

Q5: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer?

Joseph: Not just one moment, but a series of moments. The feeling of accomplishment after that first publication, submitted on a whim, was pretty great. Getting to know other writers like myself, who value the word as I do, was both affirmation and confirmation that I was going in the right direction.

Q6: Favorite activities to relax?

Joseph: Watching films, reading, taking my doggos to the park. A good glass of bourbon.

Q7: Any recent or forthcoming projects that you’d like to promote?

Joseph: Yes, as I said I started Laughing Ronin Press  this year. It’s been both thrilling and exhausting.

I have a quarterly journal, Seppuku Quarterly, coming out August 1st. So many great writers in this first issue.

I’ve released a few chapbooks as well. In the fall, Kevin Tosca has a great collection of short stories about his time in Romania coming out titled Ploieşti.
I also have a full-length collection of poetry coming out in the fall titled Snout Chasing Tail.  You can find these on the site as well as my social media accounts.

Fulkersonscorner.bigcartel.comIG- @laughingroninpress      @josephfulkerson 

Q8: What is a favorite line/stanza from a poem of yours or others?


The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?


That you are here—that life exists and identity,
That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.  ~ Walt Whitman

Q9: Who has helped you most with writing?

Joseph: I can’t thank one person as it is a continual collaboration between everyone in my life. My brothers/sisters in arms are constantly challenging me to reach higher, and I’m humbled to be counted in their ranks.