photo credit: Banner is taken from a shot called SkyHigh, by shalane
Poet Speaks Out!
Doug Knox is a poet who first captured my attention on the poetry site Arcanum Café (http://arcanumcafe.com). His use of sound and resonance of words combine to make a unique play of meaning and tone which arouses the senses. He seldom capitalizes letters which will be apparent from his answers to my questions, and his command of the language challenges the reader to pay attention, to be open, to slide into new zones of perception. Curious to know more behind his unique writing, I asked him a few questions. And so, it is with great delight that I invite you to an interview with Douglas Knox, pen name Wylde or wyldeone.
Interviewing Douglas Knox, Wylde / wyldeone
Full name: as above
Current residence: durban, south Africa – subtropical east coast – upon the lips of a warm, lapping indian ocean
Birthplace: pietermarizburg within the kingdom of kwazulu natal south africa
Favourite Childhood memory: none
Favourite expression: HUH?!!??
And we begin:
Judih: Can you use one word to describe yourself as a poet?
J: Do you have a special place or time for writing?
D: allways now. allways hear.
J: When did you begin to write poetry?
D: i recall collating a collection of scribbled poems into an exercise book when I was 12.
J: How have the arts contributed to your vision?
D: what is art. my vision is blurred. besides being disturbed.
J: Do you get inspired by any particular artist/s? (visual, musical, dance)
D: very especially van goghs other ear. jackson pollock. dali. jim morrison. njinsky. leonard cohen . edith piaff. bessie smith. heather nova. lou reed. pink floyd.
J: Do you hear your work when you write or visualize it?
D: definitely more here it.
J: Would you say you’ve had any particular literary influences?
D: r.d laing; dh lawrence; cummings; louis lamor; Xavier Hollander; herman hesse; erica jong; sylvia plath; anais nin; henry miller; graffiti on the inside walls of public toilet cubicles (mostly)
J: And who are your favourite poets?
D: dylan; bukowski; the beat poets. my daughter, amber.
Mechanics of writing
J: Do you ever find yourself composing poetry during a workday?
D: almost every day of the week. weekends are now usually reserved for my love and my loved ones.
J: Could you describe your writing process?
D: if ‘process’ alludes to some type of linear system, then i don’t have one. many of my writs have been the result of simply being filled or drenched with an intense emotion. followed by the uncontrollable need to then express and define, and or at least explore it.
the plosive – or other, sounds of words and combinations of words, as they are spoken aloud, although silently in my head at the time, are critical. as are the images that these words and sounds and combinations of both, evoke within my own experience.
the actual literal meanings of the words, taken in isolation and within their own context are often unimportant to me.
in my early days i found myself writing, listening to music. often a word or phrase perhaps combined with an image gets planted in my head, at any arbitrary time, quite regularly whilst driving, and that will be the fermenting seed.
this is a linear explanation i recently gave regarding the process and intent of a specific writ. i think it assists in explaining my writing process.
“enwrapped within a cocoon, not quite a cacophony, of sound, a squinting mind stumbles along with almost numbing, although continuing, stimuli. a realisation of meaning is birthed/christened (rising out of the baptismal font). through the tangle and strangle of the blur an understanding of value is none the less arrived at.”
another illustrative analogy might be that i use words like jackson pollock used pigments & paint splashed; dripped; draped – whatever onto a canvas seemingly randomly at times but always orchestrating a cohesive chorused event. Heh
for some reason i have an aversion to capitalisation of words, not to imitate cummings, it is a personal thing. and i allways (sic) frame my writs between two periods. Like:
i never title my writs. if required for posting on the net, i nearly always just use a word or short phrase from the piece to title it.
Poetry as Therapy
J: Is poetry a tool for therapy in your own life?
D: in my life it is and has been a powefueled cathartic process.
my writing is essential in contributing to my personal understanding – at various times and various moments – to my own experience, of this thing called living, and life.
through my expression i explore the relative nature, of (my) absolute truths. its about defining and understanding ones perceptions, gaining insight into ones own truths. deciphering and understanding my internal narrative. and through understanding that incessant silent internal dialogue one has with self; and then being enabled and empowered to change the script.
and therefore live a different experience of life. a more conscious chosen experience. its a dynamic continuing evolving process and experience.
J: Do you feel your poetry exposes you?
D: i totally hope so. revealing and bearing and being vulnerable is essential for the integrity of my expression. showing; sharing the raw pink palpable pulp beyond the thin reflective layers of conscious consciousness and seemed seamless actuality, is essential. the law of equal and opposite actions and reactions totally apply.
INTENSITY LEADS TO VULNERABILITY LEADS TO STRENGTH
Internet Poetry Scene
J: When did you first get involved in the internet poetry scene?
D: 1988/9 with a dial up 9kb modems
J: Do you think that things have changed over the years?
D: things? what are ‘things’? of course everything has changed. as much as nothing hasn’t
J: What happens when you come upon a really good poem on the net?
D: there is an impulsive connect with the words and or images. its almost like coming and feeling at home in an entirely new space. instead of shaking hands, it’s like shaking minds. unclenched. instantly nourishing relieving an emotional kwashiorkor*.
*note – kwashiorkor is a state of having a hugely swollen distended belly. NOT the result of over-indulging or over eating – but just the opposite – a symptom of dire malnutrition and starvation.
The ‘up’ is tempered by the huge amount of less than average garbage there is. everywhere. mindless dumbing numbing down of experience, a seweragacide society.
J: Would you consider ‘mentoring’ a good young poet? I mean, offering critique, praise, encouragement.
D: as time allows, im happy to mentor even bad old poets. i’m both weary and wary of misplaced “encouragement”.
J: “Misplaced encouragement” – a diplomatic way of putting it, having seen much praise lavished in places where a well-placed suggestion might have encouraged a poet to edit, re-think a piece.
How do you feel about getting political in your poetry?
D: so long as im naked and its sexy. plug me in. whetly.
D: immediate reply / response is no. i feel like skin draped over a collection of electrons and neurons. in amongst which, feelings and emotes are transmitted. just a little piece of matter (which matters to me) in a cosmos and collection of other matter. only the sum of sum parts which, matter. so, feeling like just an amoebic part of infinite andromeda strains, captured by skin & bone and emotions in a little cul de sac of the universe of life. however. having said that. i am extremely grateful for having grown up in an intensely fragmented yet passionate society / country which thrusts itself into the consciousness, and demanded questions of one’s self. like my own life, the society i grew up in was fraught, violent and confrontational. it was a petri dish ripe with a recipe for gripping intense living.
J: Is there a network of poets in South Africa? How is the writing scene?
D: im aware of a small forum that meets monthly in durban. im not naturally a social animal, and although all my poe is performance orientated, unless spaced or placed in a place beyond care, my larynx seizes when i read in public. Im too self aware.
J:What have been the most interesting comments you’ve ever received to your poetry?
“i felt the caress of dark waters, the buoyancy of life, the smell of blood.
Again the Wylde man dazzles with a marriage of cleverness and content.
You are, my friend, one of the reasons i come here”
“sounds like something Lennon would’ve written – had he gone to college.”
“Complex and not easy to ignore
Somewhere bw pinkneon and Leggolas
out of the Wylde, I hope you don’t mind
the comparison but I needed a yardstick
because you broke my mind with this
one and its the only way I can construe.”
“I’ve always been astounded, dumbfounded, confounded and stupefied your cryptic poetry while, simultaneously, being highly entertained and challenged.”
my bones do shiver!”
“No one makes nonsense make sense the way you do.” – frogglethorpe
“I don’t mean to focus on the opening line of a poem, but:
‘flaccid sky hangs limply like a bruised scrotum’
man, nobody creates imagery the way you do, Wylde!
That one stuck with me through the whole read lol.
I’m not about to attempt rapping a response…I’m way out of my element!
Unique and potent…as always…and quite colorful, too .”
“Wow! My brain hurts, but in a good way! Loved the verbal acrobatics.”
The Work, itself
J: Do you have a favourite piece of poetry? Could you offer it here?
D: excuse the indulgence; as im not clear whether you want a favourite piece of mine or my favourite poem by another, here are both. Firstly two of mine:
another day of constipation and diarrhea
another day of constipation and diarrhea. the sun drizzles down; air swimming breasted strokes stuttering
astute azure turquoise with lime-slips of mocha. splattered barrels of coral issue bones ashen in razored
protrusions entering mind under over matter. matted in a coiffed swirl of expressionisms intent with
distilled intent of beauty being truth; a squatted patch just beyond the vision of my toes aches with space
consumed by occupation. in a lax innuendo strung hung like beads pearled round ankled necks taught with sinew
spurting from a foreheads after thought.
tangibilities plug (pr)essence into filters of stained orbs bashing my truths dominion. paper-mache & origami
feathers fold (sur)creased into pressed irons of egg-shell anvils. baton hatches swarm to curtains spilled
into eyes and while aloft dripping drain-pipes lava tunes to an ego mesmerised by self cognition recognising
place, space and vacant occupation.
so seizures of grandeur and delusions of normality husk my shivered spine.so. when u traipse that portal of
connection with self, hold its wringing hand clutching the horizons bowed possibles, and lick the fire so
tongues more than squeak to self, while (s)words rein in umbrellas of richness found in the grain of ear
sweating sushi slavers and cadavers attacking you in (k)night-mares gelded by posthumous valour.
the silver oak-leaf may nitrate in subliminal contusions, but balm delivers no harm nor jeopardy to one
plug socketed freely
my mind stood up [without much aplomb]
fleetingly foraging upon frayed tattered pieces
of a disconcerted ragamuffin subspecies
my mind stood up [without much aplomb]
shouting down my oesophagus like a mini atomised bomb
combing my hair with broken teeth of despair
i sat down looking up
curled up under my chair
and as my abscessed truth
festered while lying in that lair
my gums gave birth to the fundamental tooth
of one molar ejected
never equals quantum sums of an incisor dejected
let alone a limpid shadow with half caste lures
sinkered and swallowed deboned
being the all time seismic forensic cure
the malaise of puffins exhaling
so cruel and yet so pure
and one from my daughter, amber:
the air is cold and biting, it has the feeling of a day off near its end.
the moon beams gleam behind clouds
that not long ago spoke of rain,
it gleams in silent pride,
an unsung apology rings from its eminence.
lets move on, it says, its over, lets not speak of such things.
in the heavenly realm of earth below
the jasmines bloom quietly
whispering promises of spring,
lapping at the tips of the hair that wears them
with its subtle intoxication of its scent,
seducing the senses. broken clouds seem on the verge
of descending from the sky in order to swallow this earth below, but
they split and part to reveal that the gods
have blown a ring of substantial contradictory haze
in their last act of madness, perfect circle, not a stitch, string or plume
out of place. their mother seamstress must have been by,
for some reason this act seems to be of her instruction,
it pulsates of their mad perfection and her motley genius. we all
how to lift our eyes from their couched stupor
and how to probe this act of god. this miracle.calculate it.
analyze it.study and philosophise it.readjust the lens of our brains
and challenge it. what could it mean??a girl
up and doesnt want to know nor needs to, for the magic
of this madness is enticing and intrigues her runaway
mind of dreams. a wind quietly skulks behind her
and begins to whisper…”it is but a contract signed”….
the girl stares at the sky in silence…
the wind continues to whisper..
“it is a contract for the rains abstinence.
it has now abdicated a piece of its being by approving of this perfection.
so let us look little girl and know of its sacrifice in the name of madness.
let us look and not speak of such things”.
.the girl closes her eyes.
J: Any final comments, questions you wish I hadn’t asked or had thought to ask? Feel free to add, subtract.
D: im from a very humble and a poor background including growing up with a chronically alcoholic father, unable to afford (but wanting) a university education after school (by that time my father had died and i left home to care for myself at the age of 17) and later drafted into the apartheid’s infantry battalions to face the soweto riots of 1976 and also the horrors of the angolan civil war, where the apartheid forces, backed by Americas reagan faced off against the local fnla and mpla forces backed by the cubans and russians.
i am a business owner, self taught industrial chemist, and employer of some 30 people or so part of having ‘succeeded’ to such a position, has largely been not to follow conventional thinking or principals.
other than having a passion and a loving for what i did and do, i often followed the laws of physics in doing business. and living life. newtonian laws, the laws of einstein and more latterly quantum physics, which i believe dont contradict but rather complement each other.
also very important to me, is applying the african credo of philosophy “ubuntu“.
in a country ravaged with an unemployment rate well above 40% and with a similar percentage of the population hiv/aids positive (over the last few years 8 of my staff have eventually died) it really does soften and enhance ones perception of life, its experiences and others.
i would sincerely encourage you ( and perhaps others ) to read a little about it. heres a wiki reference. Ubuntu: “I am what I am because of who we all are.”
“a person is a person through (other) persons”
with my new wife shalane and my three daughters and siamese cat miesha, im in the happiest spot ive ever been. no longer this petrified little boy hiding under his bed, inspired by inexorable pain & suffering. and the wonder and wander @ the joy of still writing. rite on. thank you and thanks to my three daughters kana; sacha (who helped me do a rough edit) and amber.
J: Thanks, Doug. I wish you the best of conditions to feed your creativity. And may you continue to feed those who read and enjoy your work. Ubuntu, as you have said, is the underlying nature of things.