Poetry Showcase: Tony Brewer (April 2023)

Bio: TONY BREWER is a poet and audio artist from Bloomington, Indiana. He is executive director of the Spoken Word Stage at the 4th Street Festival and co-producer of the Writers Guild Spoken Word Series. His books include Homunculus, Pity for Sale, psithurism, and forthcoming from The Grind Stone: Fragile Batteries. Tony has been offering Poetry On Demand at coffeehouses, museums, cemeteries, churches, bars, and art and music festivals for over a decade, and he is a frequent collaborator with experimental music & field recording ensemble ORTET.

Fucking Indianapolis

Neither of us addicts
more like applicants
locked into maintenance now

the jungle of easement
like the buffer non-park
problems squat in

Eyes open in the big chair
wide with puppet holes
where the show begins

Making complex art
for a city wall
while houses flipped go greige

so sick of handouts
naturally color fades away

one weather for me
one weather for you
Just don’t look there

so common
we keep it going as if
there is no other way

How Did I Get Here

Dad watches her
take every toy out
of the Walmart cage
counting 1 – 2 – 3

Amber you know how this works
& she just giggles
I know she tells him
never pausing 
her misbehavior

Toys she doesn’t want
litter the intersection
of doll & robot

It’s a free country
Mom thinks walking
just out of earshot
browsing for a little
something for herself

Labor of Love

Maybe a way to build temples with all the wonder without the slavery – though it has been debunked – that slaves built temples ever – not slaves in our conception – people who do what you say or die – more like wage slaves – sweat equity investment – like the cutters who had graduated high school and then straight to the quarries – backs bent from decades of shimming blocks – they stroll around campus with a sense of pride – and relief – you could put kids through college by building the buildings – at first a steady paycheck – then seed money for that starter home – etc. – back then such things were possible – now only imagination is enslaved – builds no temples unless a J-O-B is attached – imagine a church built on tithing you – no one would pray therein – more a series of knowing nods as the parishioners run their hands lovingly along the walls – they’d just hire the lowest bid today – which is an observation not a judgment – still well-built but corners cut – people have unanswered questions – which is why so many churches now resemble barns – something raisable – can be put up in a day – belief the fleeting commodity – always another brick –another swing of the hammer – another day closer to paying off that debt

Poetry: Praise Jesus and Rockwell by Tony Brewer and David L O’Nan

photo from Norman Rockwell Museum

from the series “The Empath Dies in the End”

Praise Jesus and Rockwell

1 (Tony Brewer)

The gunshot of autumn walnuts

blasting a barn tin roof

shatters the quiet riverine scene


Blinded by watery glare

yet intent on staring down the sun

Certain of seeing something there

where wind whips up rapids

- but it’s water doing its thing 

2 (David L O'Nan)

I live like a retro bum
I feel like the ancient young
Praise Jesus and Rockwell 
Something left dangling like flashbacks from the last century
I dream in flashbacks.  Very rarely moving forward.
To face reality like a robot.  As we are all supposed to be these days.

So maybe I’m not a bully
Do I push and shove you?
Shake you and break you?
The glamour of reflections in mirrors never appealed to me.
I could perhaps just cut my whiskers dangerously.  Not to care anymore
How I’d look in your convenient stores, Maybe I just want to dance to “Born to Run”
Instead of “Nowhere to Run”

So if the itch became a little too long, maybe you’ve figured out the bite
Have I become that malaria embedding itself inside the bite?
Left my imprint  into your heart’s delight, not that blonde looker.
Not that Adonis that you call your hammer.  No, that regurgitated hooker.
The one hanging out by fat-whistled daddies with meth promises.
Now the local suited up weatherman says rain and storms are coming.
Maybe to cuddle in your psychotic brain.

The wind begins to gust, the walnuts scatter the yard.  Crunch after crunch.
The squirrels look at us with disrespect.
Doesn’t feel like Jesus here.  Doesn’t even feel like Rockwell. 
Doesn’t feel like the dustbowl, Doesn’t even feel like a sexual revolution.
Doesn’t feel like love,  It just feels like morbid hate.
It feels like crickets chirping like lasso whips to warn the martyrs down from the trees.
And break us into powdered ashes as we watch that American Flag barn burn to the ground.

Suddenly I see Jesus and I see Rockwell.  What good does it do me now?
Do they baptize us in renamed ponds?  Do they dress us up like obsolete Americana? 

Current bio for Fevers of the Mind’s David L O’Nan editor/writing contributor to blog. 

Poetry by Tony Brewer : “You and I are Human Beings” “the Seashell & the Clergyman” 

 Paperback & Kindle version of Cursed Houses is now available from David L O’Nan on this link below
https://amzn.to/3VQudCI  The History of Projectiles by Tony Brewer 

Cursed Houses by David L O’Nan coming out next week!

Here what several important great people have to say about this upcoming book by editor/poet/writer David L O’Nan

Writings by David O’Nan is a special treat to poetry lovers. He often uses prose-style openings to draw in the reader, such as “I met the supernatural near this river by Osage Mint on a wet June day, fertile ground full of footprints” (from “The River Near the Osage Mint”). Then just as we start to get comfortable, O’Nan has a certain knack for dropping in piercing lines such as, “Our moment became shrapnel” (from “Noah and Satchmo”), or “Love like the sad” (from “Cardiac Weekend”), that becomes a sort of push and pull technique, moving the poem and reader along on the evocative journey each of his poemsprovides.      –Samantha Terrell, Author of “Vision, and Other Things We Hide From” and “Keeping Afloat” among other books and creator of the poetic trinitas style of writing.

David O'Nan is an artist, a poet who explores the interesting and sometimes astounding facets of life through his work. In 'Cursed Houses' David writes in a style that is immediately engaging, sometimes humorous, always thought provoking. In his poem 'Utopian Window Blinds', he writes: "Beautify my broken heart. Look into my mind and tell me. I am Magical." That is precisely what David gives us, the reader. – Jay Maria Simpson  is a published Australian Poet out of Perth, Western Australia who loves poetry, art, music, satire and dark comedy.

Cursed Houses by David O’Nan swirls with dynamic imagery at a manic pace. Its long probing lines are propelled by maddening spirals of rhythm and rhyme. These poems bob and weave, teasing dreamscapes out of rich details inhabited by a host of characters and situations earthly and un-. Love, lust, loss, bewilderment – degradation of the human spirit coupled with the uplift of having experienced something wholly holy. Cursed Houses offers room after room of astonishment wrapped in acute observations: standing outside, lonesome and creepy, a piercing inward gaze.
-	Tony Brewer, author of psithurism and Pity for Sale

David O'Nan's poems are beautifully haunting, a landscape of Historical and Pop Culture memories. From death to Sunsets to homes of broken glass and even Andy Warhol, O'Nan's poetry will shake and stir you as the colors of his rhymes will resonate long after you devour each one, with verses like "The Feast" you will be craving a taste for more.  
-	Adrian Ernesto Cepeda, author of La Belle Ajar & We are the Ones Possessed amongst other collections.

The willpower is a long highway.” ~an immortal line, akin to Tom Petty’s But love is along, long, road.” David O’Nan has rock and roll in his soul.
“Spending nights in plastic neon blue and wondering why you didn’t know who’s hand was the knock on your door. Was it Mr. Peasant or Mr. Posh? All that you knew was a new daughter was calling you a mom.”   
Like no other, David understands and exposes the plight of a runaway mother, perhaps a fixture of the 1980’s, the unsung heroines, the debris of the 1970’s 
“I paint pictures for the cages of silence” 
David O’Nan speaks for a disinherited generation left to suffer the sins of parental and cultural disintegration

“Old Satchmo at 49 smells vaguely of gasoline and some extinct cologne from 1989” 
David O’Nan captures the zeitgeist of the crumbling American west, it’s bravado on it’s knees, still trying to please some long lost need.
“The devil has your shoelaces tied to the wrong feet” 
An apt description of a runaway on the streets struggling to find their footing. An epic and strong poem describing what happens to the disinherited, disenfranchised in American society.  Thrown out, as Jim Morrison said “like a dog without a bone.” Better than any other poet living, O’Nan describes the struggle of losing in a pre-apocalyptic America.
“We are powerless and the army has no artillery.”
Reminiscent of Neil Young’s “Helpless” lyrics is O’Nan’s vision of a dystopia left to carry on alone, abandoned and helpless, it’s government having long abandoned the field.
“All You see is the bones rise up when the moon hits the shine of the lake”
O’Nan describes perfectly the perfidy of the illusion of normalcy in what is in fact the toxic waste dump of America’s forsaken landscape.
“Maybe the king lives within the waters to drown your narcissistic glare. The River, the River near Osage Mint” 
O’Nan reflects tangentially on the tortured history of the rivers cutting through the heartland of America, how they meander, the dangers they pose,  the dams that feed them, while soul searching and reflecting on the American dream, much like a latter day Jack Kerouac. One wonders what chain of events drew the poet to leave near this place. The nameless “River near Osage Mint.”
If you were to read only one poem from David O’Nan, I would suggest Mandolins and Shrapnel. I personally find it on a level with Ginsberg’s best exuberant howlings. Mandolins is a tour de force. One feels oneself spinning with the poet down the highways and through the wastelands of post-industrial America  littered with billboards proclaiming hell and damnation, torn through the middle by predatory birds, symbolic of lives shattered and scattered like shrapnel on a battlefield. 

“Oh, those billboards by the way are just a hole for the vultures to fly through. listen to the breaking Mandolins, as our skeletons become shrapnel.” 
-	Elizabeth Cusack -Poetry on the Rocks for Lonely Hearts, a poet/writer traveler from Los Angeles. A recovering actress.

"David’s worlds always open new channels for looking at life. They are so often inventive stories that hold a spilling of truth – like the hull of a ship sloshing about on an unpredictable ocean – a world with a multifaceted cargo, perfect in every detail – in fact, a fusing of all details – making them oil each other to enhance their experience and their free passage. They are a generator of energy for the listening ear. From lyrical and beautifully sung – to hard and colourful poetry, told "like it is" – and that "is" always leaves me thinking I have moved forward in life’s puzzle of experience by reading these poems. So many wonderful lines – so many wonderful characters and their various situations – whatever your interest in poetry, you will need to read these poems to pass go. 
David L O’Nan is without a shadow of a doubt one of the best poets of this moment and due for greatness in the longterm.  – Peter Hague author of Summer With the Gods, Gain of Function,  Hope in the Heart of Hatred & more.

David O’Nan is a poet but he may be a sorcerer in his Cardiac Weekend. Or into a world of dreams in Screams, Tears, Tennessee Voodoo. In Small Deaths and My Burning Bedsheets, he fashions his death and exhorts us to give a reason for him to continue his furtive imaginings in word and paintings. Do you have the power or are incited to provide reason for such as him? In Noah and Satchmo he colorfully tells a story of two grimy men in a way that MUST make you feel better. It is a story of confirmation, to send you on your way of superiority, as you love their place, so much lower than your own. Love Thy Neighbors describes a region of hell… Of voyeurs with horns and long tails being forced into your face. This is the world of O’Nan in fantasy and grime, incitement, and torment. You were minding your own business and this magician named David came along. Watch your step.

We are thankful no heaven can control or manage David O’Nan’s poetry. His work is not designed for the comforts of heaven or the torments of hell. David’s poetry breathes with us, and sustains our present, that we may whisper our lives to one another.  – Giulio Magrini is a longtime writer living out of Pittsburgh and is receiving wonderful reviews on his new book “The Color of Dirt” 

Having elsewhere demonstrated his prowess and capability in shorter forms in this collection prolific poet David L. O’Nan proves definitively he is every bit as skillful and interesting with more substantial, robust constructions, applying his inventive flair for language and provocative willingness to delve deeper into the fecund muck of Americana than the majority dare, exposing our culture's at times less savory underbelly in a manner which is never dull, but rather consistently as thrilling as it is in equal measures illuminating. Through diverse approaches and fearless examinations of subjects deeply personal as well as endemic of societal concerns, rooted in the immediate and timeless both — harkening back occasionally at, paying exciting homage to our era’s most qualified bards and lyric laureates, from Cohen to Dylan to Joni Mitchell, in the most constructive, charged manners — readers will be hard pressed to find a finger more firmly pressed to, descriptive of the stilted, erratic pulse of Western ennui and the dark winter of postmodern societal discontent embroiling contemporary existence than in the pages of Cursed House. In our age of urgency and desperation, David L. O’Nan emerges resolutely from the fetid swamps of struggle with an important viewpoint and mission which our imperiled species would be well served by reviewing and reflecting upon mindfully at length. A rousing book of works appreciative of the gravity to our prevailing crises, by a poet who twigs well there is not a moment to lose. 

 – Jerome Berglund is a writer and has worked in Cinema-Television production and worked in the entertainment industry before moving back to the Midwest. Jerome writes many haiku, senryu and haiga online and in print. He is an established award-winning fine art photographer, whose black and white pictures have been shown in galleries in New York, Minneapolis & Santa Monica.

"When I read a rational, well reasoned, logical, objective argument I laugh and sing and dance through the gaping holes. 
What fools we are to stand pounding our chests preaching to the sun and everyone else that we are right, we have the truth. 
What is truth? Do you know? We move forward by the aid of created symbols and we change those symbols as we move forward. 
What gives you the right to deny the beauty, the honesty of poetry. There is no such thing as an endless straight line. 
The shortest distance between two points is poetic distance. Poetry is the way. No one makes it through any black hole of night
without the morning light of poetry. The debate over whether formal or informal, Latinate or colloquial is best is meaningless. 
Critics and Judges are the greatest fools. Poetry is the journey, the adventure in and through the valley of the shadow of death. 
Poetry is birth, the journey, and death. Poetry is Alpha and Omega. Poetry is life. Life is poetry. The word was the same 
in the beginning as the word is now. Say the word. Be the word. Be poetry. Be the poem you write. What else is there? 
In his brilliant new book, CURSED HOUSES, David O'Nan is the poet of birth, the journey, and death. 
David O'Nan is an original. One of a kind. I can't recommend his work highly enough."

--Ron Whitehead, Lifetime Beat Poet Laureate https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ron_Whitehead

"David L O'Nan's Cursed Houses is a lyrical poetry book that carries so many themes, it's hard to select a few. O'Nan transmits storytelling, narratives, and short story genres within his poems with brilliance. Poems about love, society, death, loss, small town Americana, and loneliness stand out the most. At the heart of these poems is O'Nan's ability to make you feel how the memories of past loves can still be felt in the present time."
 - Christina Strigas, “for all the lonely hearts being pulled out of the ground”

David L O’ Nan’s new book, Cursed Houses, from it’s haunting spooky cover to the end prose-piece,  is a scorcher – a work of narratives and lyrics, an anxious mythic exploration of  landscapes of broken shattered people; some likeable, poignantly portrayed, others monstrous, the walking-living Dead; their political screed like larvae spreading hate, the drunk military fathers, farmers, drifters and grifters, the abject young women and older matriarchs, full of hope and lies. Almost Biblical, its a book of character studies exploring upended toxic glamour, hopelessness, the cracks inside America where people fall. 

The book richly escorts questions and trades in entropy, about the lives lived in adrenaline-fueled fantasy where excess drugs, false promises, hallucinations, and lament intersect. In Sinking Prison the narrator’s pain and violence follows him right into the afterlife:  “You/were found and punished and/ become a nameless gazelle/in a jungle full of hungry/lions on your trail.” Ruminative and ferocious, David exposes families, meditates on life-lessons, draws from the personal, revels in a search for metaphysical meaning.  The lines are alternately clipped and expansive, musical, Intuitive, folk tales told by a raconteur for a lion’s den.

We see ourselves and others, our stories and-our-not-stories in a calm-frenzy of bardic, balladic currency and lyrical leaps. In a poem to a dead brother, the narrator speaks beyond despair, of “Popping firework amphetamine pills, dragons watch the alleys/The abusive and abused in corners and in jars./Oh lonesome traveler, a blood kissed jewel.” Tangled and mournful – this book’s rapid-fire pulse is a circling, uniquely crafted, blistering collection. Bite down hard, get one, roam through its outlaw pages. – 
-	Robert Frede Kenter, author, visual artist, publisher of Ice Floe Press. 

I assume no impartiality as I sit to write this acknowledgement and blurb for David. Having known David the editor, the poet, and the human has been the best creative gift of creative brotherhood I’ve grown to treasure and proudly parade. Cursed Houses is a world on its own folded neatly into a book cover waiting for you to unfold like a handkerchief concealing delicacies. Forget what you know about titles foreshadowing content and even casuistic usage of natural elements to convey sentiments as metaphors or similes because David layers natural elements to give you poetic suspense in every piece and theme. He is the magician’s tarot card of allure and demure – yes because poetic talent is in strategically controlling your subject’s emotional experience. Clarity is nice but with David, heavy and surreal is the vogue because Cursed Houses is a hex that will keep your mind spellbound as your lips pitter patter with magic, nature, love, mentality, and life’s other themes on duality. Cursed Houses is a book of personal causes for both the empath and the introvert as well as the curious and the bratty. In this book, his styles vary in tone and emphasis in a manner that gives symbolism and personification another dimension one that is holistic not elemental. The power of his imageries are not localized in a stanza or a part but throughout the whole piece. Have you seen a mood unfold like a jalousie window controlled with two lines to control shadow and light? David’s poems give out this effect because the first time you read a piece, you read it to take in the meaning trying to coin the aesthetics with what you’ve seen previously. However, upon reading his work for the second time, you will realize your heart and mind are the ones controlling what you are seeing whether they be extremes of light and shadow or even pain and beauty. For instance, in his piece “Womanizers”; David allows the reader to explore his subject’s cares and sentiments by showing how their antagonists envision or deal with them. By doing so he reveals his subjects’ points of strengths, advocates for them and showcases them in the light of humanity. Meanwhile in his piece “The Whole Mythology is Collapsing” David’s musings of spirituality are inclusive of dallying in engaging activities whilst touching base on the struggles of finding balance between the material world’s circumstances, the people’s expectations and prejudice and his desire to find peace and clarity. In this vein, the piece “If Masterpieces Were Bloodshed”, has left me in awe because If brushes had hurricane categories for thickness and aftermaths for handles; this piece is the epitome of the creative mind’s agony. He is able to take elements of magic and nature to project anguish and struggle for perfection. And last but not least in “A Botched Sunset”, David’s piece offers a lover’s despair as a palette of experiences in shades of confusion, denial, and unrequited love. Elements of nature speak in this poem for the poet’s lack of visibility and his reluctant bitter surrender to accepting the fate of being forever invisible and rejected like a sunset that was botched. My only wish is that everyone who stumbles upon Cursed Houses gets cursed with awe from David’s work. So, there you have it, Cursed Houses, your new poetic dopamine. Now go and get yourself a copy because you deserve it. With my Utmost Poetic Respect

Pasithea Chan (poet, contributor, artist)

David O’Nan creates mesmerizing imagery throughout Cursed Houses with lines like “You popped bubbles in the hot flames,/in flamenco streets with bleeding trains that lead you/from the whistles to the cheating rainfalls.”  It’s easy to want to savor the poem 10 Years “We Are Hummingbirds in the South Wind” with its haunting stanzas that contain potent prose “Through Winter roses and the bleeding Spring flowers,/the Summer storms and the Autumn leaves rustling/Each with a threatening torch in our blessed hearts.” This collection is a must read.

Marisa Silva-Dunbar, author of Allison, and When Goddesses Wake

Bio: David L O’Nan is a poet, short story writer, editor living in Southern Indiana. He is the editor for the Poetry & Art Anthologies “Fevers of the Mind Poetry and Art. and has also edited & curated other Anthologies including 2 inspired by Leonard Cohen (Avalanches in Poetry & Before I Turn Into Gold) and Hard Rain Poetry: Forever Dylan Inspired by Bob Dylan. He runs the http://www.feversofthemind.com website. A wordpress site that helps promote many poets, musicians, actors/actresses, other writers. He has self-published works under the Fevers of the Mind Press “The Famous Poetry Outlaws are Painting Walls and Whispers” “The Cartoon Diaries” & “New Disease Streets” (2020).”Taking Pictures in the Dark” “Our Fears in Tunnels” (2021) a collection of poetry called “Bending Rivers” a micro poem collection “Lost Reflections” and new book “Before the Bridges Fell” & “His Poetic Last Whispers” (2022) David has had work published in Icefloe Press, Dark Marrow, Truly U, 3 Moon Magazine, Elephants Never, Royal Rose Magazine, Spillwords, Anti-Heroin Chic, Cajun Mutt Press, Punk Noir Magazine, Voices From the Fire among several other litmags. He doesn’t enjoy the process of submitting constantly however. Twitter is @davidLONan1 @feversof for all things Fevers of the Mind. Join Facebook Group: Fevers of the Mind Poetry & Arts Group .

Blurbs for my (David L O’Nan) upcoming book “Before the Bridges Fell” from Ron Whitehead

*Announcements for October including release of Deluxe Edition of Before the Bridges Fell (Fevers of the Mind Press)*

A Review of “Before the Bridges Fell” by David L O’Nan (review by Ivor Daniel)

Poetry: They Had Sadness in their Eyes ( Like in Littleton) from David L O’Nan

A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Tony Brewer

with Tony Brewer:

Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?

Tony: I drew a lot when I was very young. My mom is a visual artist and encouraged me. When I learned to read, I started doing lettering and titles for the drawings, then captions. The captions became paragraphs and I just kept making more paragraphs. I wrote my first stage play in 3rd grade – an Empire Strikes Back ripoff – and I was a short story writer in 6th grade and junior high. My first major influence was Ray Bradbury and authors like Isaac Asimov, Ursula K. McGuin, Tolkien, Clive Barker, Thomas Harris. My favorite album as a kid was Chilling, Thrilling Sounds of the Haunted House. I have learned it was produced by the Disney sound effects department, so that makes sense considering I got into foley later on. I studied film and writing in college, at Bard and IU, and a girlfriend gave me books of Bukowski and Dylan albums – Love Is a Dog from Hell and Bringing It All Back Home were favorites – so around then I gravitated toward poetry. Experimental filmmaker Maya Deren wrote about the similarities of film and poetry and that really resonated with me, how poetry bends time and has the jump-cut and juxtaposition/montage quality of film editing. William S. Burroughs and Ginsberg were early poetry and artistic influences. Reading Beowulf in 8th grade was a major motivator.

Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?

Tony: Most recently CA Conrad and I’m reading a lot of Basho. Also Jack Gilbert, W.S. Merwin, James Tate, Louise Gluck, da levy, Neruda. People I actually know: Steve Henn, Tim Heerdink, Matt Hart, Hiromi Yoshida. I think William S. Burroughs is still a big influence, partly his writing and his voice – and he also is a Midwesterner – but mainly his process-based experiments like cut-ups and audio editing and shotgun paintings. There is intention in all that but he also liked to just set things up and see what happens. I have a background in improv theatre, so chance and free association have become central to all my projects. I like working across disciplines.

Entretiens avec William Burroughs | Daniel Odier, William S. Burroughs |  First Printing

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

Tony: I grew up in Ladoga IN, a tiny farm town of about 1000 people. I’ve traveled a bunch and lived in NY my freshman year of college, but I had a Ray Bradbury childhood: sheltered and somewhat locked in the past, even when I was a kid, but I had freedom to roam. I’m not resentful of that shelter. It still feels very small and trapped in amber whenever I visit. I’ve written about my family dynamics, which are interesting to me, and I have performed in many states and Canada. It’s important to maintain a sense of belonging to where I am originally from but I don’t want to just write downhome stuff – barn poems, I call them – but also not come off like I am “from the internet.” I don’t want to write about things that I have only read or heard about but haven’t experienced myself. I mean up to a point, but I remember hearing at a workshop “I want to know what you think, not what the New York Times thinks.” I like the stories you have to dig down to find. I think that’s what poetry “covers”: not simply the zeitgeist but what squishes out when the hammer of media attention falls. The thing that’s taken me furthest from home – in terms of physical distance but also getting “outside myself” – is performing live sound effects because it’s not words at all. It’s performative and requires intense listening and observing. Director David Ossman has said I am painting with sound – I really like that. I’ve worked coast to coast and that’s been a broadening experience, both because traveling does that but also any kind of production work, I pick up ways to make my own productions better: how to take care of people, how to get good performances out of people. I try to produce readings and events I would want to attend. I co-founded the first poetry slam in Indiana in 2001, mainly because it was a different way of hosting a poetry reading. That’s when I started traveling to do readings. I was also a roller derby announcer for 8 years and I traveled with the team to announce for them at away bouts. In fact that’s how I got to do a reading in Canada: I stayed an extra day and read in Toronto. Trips that still stand out and that generated a lot of writing: Devils Tower WY, Iceland, New Orleans, Toronto, Shiprock NM, Whidbey Island WA. I finished my book Hot Type Cold Read in a hotel room while I was working a live sound effects gig in Fort Lauderdale. I do some of my best work in one field while I’m in the thick of it in another.

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


Meaningful to me, probably my 2010 chapbook Little Glove in a Big Hand. My cousin Jeffrey died in a farming accident when he and I were both 4 years old, and it tore our families apart. I was so young I was barely aware of it and no one really explained to me what happened to him. He was just gone. I’d been writing about that for probably 25 years but didn’t like any of it – I was either too close to the material or not close enough. Then the memories started coming back, more vivid than before, and I started having dreams about it and I filled a notebook with poems and workshopped them with the Reservoir Dogwoods and got them published all in about 8 months. I was doing some therapy at the time, really working on myself, so that’s likely why some dormant things resurfaced with more clarity. I really figured some things out in that project.

Meaningful to other people, probably the poem I wrote in 2004 “Cicada Blues Chorus 10 & 17.” I wrote it as a team piece for poetry slams the last time the 17-year cicadas came through. It continues to be my most endearing poem and I never get tired of doing it. I also have written a ton of meaningful poetry on demand, for total strangers as well as close friends who have trusted me enough to tell me intimate details about their lives, sometimes out on the street in the middle of a festival. A woman once asked if I knew anything about bipolar disorder (I do) and could I write a poem about her son? Another person was in recovery and asked me to write about it – and I asked questions like recovery from what? How long have you been clean? I’m not confrontational about it but this collaborative thing opens up between us and I feel compelled to push for details. I think the patrons feel compelled to tell me – after all they asked for it. I have written elegies on demand too for a haunted cemetery tour, and for those I always ask things like “So what kind of life did you lead?” or “Do you have any regrets?” and sometimes they laugh it off and sometimes they get very serious, more serious than they were probably imagining their night was going to be.

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

Tony: Learning how to parse any poetry, especially by reading Ginsberg’s big red book of collected poems 1947-1980. It took several years to work through because I really dug down into the forms and researched his life a bit to figure out what he was saying. Read most of it aloud. Suddenly the veil lifted and I could see with new eyes. Before that, some poetry was just unreachable, or maybe I didn’t work at it enough. There are poems I don’t like or poets I like more than others, but everything is available to me now. I think Poetry is enormous and I want to get at it. I’m not sure I ever wanted to be an artist, or a poet, but I’ve always done some writing and some music and some production work, making books or plays or movies. I just like doing the work: making poems, making live sound effects, making events. There is a certain amount of networking required and I don’t always feel like that’s conducive to getting underneath things enough to make poems, so that tension – the openness and the aloofness – fuels a lot of what I do.

Q6: Favorite activities to relax?


“Never hurry, never rest” -Nietzsche

I try to get into some woods near running water whenever possible.

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


I just put out a new chapbook with Alien Buddha Press: The History of Projectiles. I was invited by Ryder Magazine to do a writeup on it here: https://online.flippingbook.com/view/392109039/10/

Why buy from Amazon when you can buy directly from me? https://tonybrewer71.blogspot.com/

Seriously, hit me up and I’ll kick in something special and unique.

I’m doing some readings with Tim Heerdink in July:

7/10 Bluestocking Social Bookstore in Evansville IN: https://www.facebook.com/events/204093574943742

7/16 Poetry in the Park in St. Louis: https://www.facebook.com/events/185279830160680

7/17 Barb’s Books in Belle MO: https://www.facebook.com/events/498526064727221

7/18 TBA but likely we’ll be live on KOPN out of Columbia MO https://www.kopn.org/

7/29 I’m doing a formal book launch with guest readers in Bloomington in the courtyard at the Runcible Spoon Cafe & Restaurant.

Aug 10 and 24 Poetry on Demand at A Fair for the Arts in Switchyard Park in Bloomington

Sep 4-5 Labor Day weekend Poetry on Demand at the 4th Street Arts Festival in Bloomington

I just wrapped co-producing the 9th annual HEAR Now Audio Fiction & Arts Festival (virtual this year) June 24-27 https://www.natf.org/, where I also taught live sound effects, did some voice acting, and performed poetry live with the ensemble Urban Deer: http://urban-deer.com/

I also co-produce a spoken word series (currently also virtual) with live music for the Writers Guild at Bloomington on the first Wed of every month: https://writersguildbloomington.com/

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


“May you always be prepared for what you want. Amen.” from “Toast”
“The waiting period for revenge / is a sentence” from “Why we will never get over this”

Q9: What has helped you most with writing?


On the last day of Richard Cecil’s poetry workshop when I was a junior at IU, I asked “How do I keep doing this?” meaning making poems as some sort vocation outside of a college classroom. I wasn’t sure how serious I was about writing as a profession. He said there were 2 ways: get into an MFA program but you’ll be teaching and doing other things as much as or more than writing – although there is a supportive network there and you’ll get published and have books and all that. That was his world. I said OK what’s the other? He said just write and send your stuff out. Get a job that doesn’t destroy your mind and your willingness to keep submitting work, and eventually you’ll get things out there. I think I went that route, with an assist from audio theatre and poetry slams, which weren’t widely known at that point but I hosted a slam for 10 years and found my network that way. Many of my influences are “working poets” who have a job outside the field: William Carlos Williams, Lee Young-Li, slam poets who were active and touring before Poetry Slam incorporated. I liked that Richard didn’t say “and so you should take THIS path.” He just told me what was available.

Joseph Kerschbaum and I have workshopped each other a bunch. He co-founded that slam with me and we’ve done book tours together. The Reservoir Dogwoods poetry performance group I’m in – Jason Ammerman in Indy, Matthew Jackson in Columbus (IN), and me in Bloomington – has taught me a lot about collaboration and writing poems together. Same with all the poetry on demand. I have written a lot of poems I would not have thought to write except someone asked for it, and that compulsory aspect has stretched my boundaries. POD has helped me break out of writing slumps and keep my mind open to new forms. It’s another form of connectedness.

Poets Tom Hastings and Eric Rensberger have been mentors. Eric once commented after an open mic I was hosting: “More chips with the salsa please,” and that has stuck with me. Spice is nice but your need a sturdy delivery system. Tom has said: “You’re always working on a manuscript,” I think meaning you are always editing and collecting material for the next project, whatever it ends up being. I am definitely doing that all the time.

Poetry by Tony Brewer : “You and I are Human Beings” “the Seashell & the Clergyman”