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“You’re going back on the road, right? What’s that like?”

jeremiah walton poet

Jeremiah & Friends

Founder of Nostrovia!, Jeremiah Walton, recently was interviewed by Josh Spilker about hitting the road, Nostrovia!’s 2016 plans, and traveling bookstore, Books & Shovels.

JS: You’re going back on the road, right? What’s that like?

JW: Driving thru Kansas storms late at night.  You can’t see all that empty in the absence of light. Then purple lightning spider webs across the sky and you can suddenly see everything for miles.

Hitchhiking thru Vermont is quick. Fall there is beautiful. All the hills / mountains / forests along I-89 look like they’re burning. Within ten minutes of the first time I stuck my thumb out, two federal agents harassed me, seeing if I was a runaway or something. I was in a way, but not the minor they were hoping I was.  This was in White River Jct. Right as the sun began to set, my first ride snagged me.  This guy made unwanted sexual advances on me.  I pulled a knife, and was let off in Brattleboro.

In Brattleboro, I fell in love with a woman who picked me up.  We ended up dating, and bopped around together for a long time.

Pennsylvania was full of paranoia and fear. I was terrified of a man with a machete who I was convinced was out to kill me. He was just having fun. If he was out to kill me, he would have. But I was 18 and terrified, and madly in love with the woman who’d picked me up.  She was friends with him before he snapped.

The Grand Canyon is imagination manifested as a physical place.  Big Sur looks like someone else’s Eden.

Lost Boys & Girls in Tucson, where my soul grew fat with liquor and amphetamines, then struggled to empty. I left, came back, left. Tucson beat the shit out of me. Well, I did. I’m going back there though. That’s home. The family that formed out there, man, it was beautiful. We opened up a hobo haven, a place where travelers could come crash and grab a bite to eat. It fell apart quick w/ folks taking advantage of it, but while it lasted, it was beautiful. There’s nothing like falling asleep to the sounds of coyotes. Some of the greatest poets are out there, from sages of the desert, to young suburban writers with romantic notions of the road.

This is typed in New Hampshire. It’s all just bopping. The road is in control, weird opportunities manifest. We were almost carnies in Bradenton, FL. Living in Erie, PA, led to an opportunity to perform at the 2014 Snoetry Festival at Guide to Kulchur in Cleveland, OH.  Oakland was full of fire and passion when we marched in solidarity with Freddie Gray on May Day.

Everything slows down. You’re more in the moment. You don’t have four walls to comfort you. Everything becomes more vibrant and new as you move. Motion is key, the inbetween is a great feeling, long car rides, rambling. There were five of us crammed in a three-seater pickup truck at one point, three up front, two in the truck bed, squished with the traveling bookstore and our packs. That was fun. My friend Neeko and I, we’d freestyle in the back, and go back and forth with new pieces.

Not everyone is on the road b/c they want to be though. It’s not always a choice.  It’s not always beautiful. It’s often romanticized. We’ve met some amazing souls, both absolutely battered and strong. It does a toll on your body and spirit if you don’t care for yourself.

Read the full interview here


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