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Interview w/ Steven Roggenbuck

…attaching a stigma to making money from art is ridiculous. we all have to eat.”

Can you explain Boost House, and where you see it a year down the road?
A: boost house is the poetry equivalent of a punk house that runs a record label. we’re a team of 4 people (more in the future) living together in a way that embodies our values, and we make books and magazines and blogs that carry out our vision. in a year hopefully we’ll have a larger team, something closer to 8-10 people hopefully, in a bigger house. we’ll have a few books published and a bunch of tours under our belt, a more defined structure and process for what we do. we’ll hopefully be a lot smoother and more reliable in our operations, better at planning things in advance and executing them without slip-ups, hehe. im looking forward to it !!!!!!
There is a stigma with artists making money, especially from donation.  How has this affected you?
A: my work is very heartfelt, and it’s always provoked a lot of people to donate to help me carry out the work. donations have been a significant part of my income for years, and it’s allowed me to keep doing tons of creative work, and making all that work available free online. but all my donations were private until this winter when i did a kickstarter. then everybody could see the total amount of funds raised, and a lot of people got upset about it. it was realy shocking to realize the amount of people who’d be fine with me taking a job with a fucked up corporation, but they dont want me asking donations (and really, selling pre-orders) for an art project. in a world where even FOOD and SHELTER cost money, attaching a stigma to making money from art is ridiculous. we all have to eat.
There is a lot of criticism of your operations floating around the internet, but again, innovation always sparks controversy.  I do agree with you that literature needs to adapt to the current medians that people are reading, and though many purists are against this, I do believe more and more poets will shift towards taking advantage of the 100s of options we have to amplify our voices.  What have been the biggest challenges when it came to building a following, and putting your beliefs and self out there?  
A: the biggest challenge for me has probably actually been dealing with criticisms. when you gain a significant amount of success or become a “public figure,” your detractors don’t really treat you like a person anymore. to them, you become a symbol of whatever they dislike about you, and they say very mean and hyberbolic things about you, actively trying to convince others to dislike you also. sometimes their comments are so ridiculous it’s funny. but other times they really get under your skin. sometimes their comments can help you learn and evolve, but often times it just kills your energy and self-confidence, kind of “haunting” your focus with their disempowering words. i’m still learning how to best deal with the critics. i know usually criticism is actually a good sign: you’re doing something that’s worth talking about, people can’t ignore it. most poets ONLY get ignored.. but the hate can still be hard for me.

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