We started the end of 2014 making way from Bradenton, FL, to Tucson, AZ, for Green Lions, Red Raccoons, a poetry reading coordinated by performance poet Zarina Zabrisky. 3 am El Paso opened up to my first view of the desert passing by thru the varnish of a murky Greyhound window.
Before being invited to perform in Tucson, my lover of the time / childhood friend / & I intended to bop right over Arizona into California, straight-shooting on the bus from Florida.
This show opened up 2015 w/ a pattern of serendipity & terrifying synchronicity.
2015 is the year I turned 20, the year I beat the shit out of myself w/ serotonin pistol whips, the year that took Books & Shovels, our traveling bookstore, cross country multiple times, darting back & forth from Coast to Coast, & the year Nostrovia! & I found home in the Sonoran desert, & a family that grew beyond borders.
Nostrovia! at the turn of 2014 looked like what it was; a small publishing press w/ heart managed by a 19 y/o kid. While N! had been active for years, it had been kicking around w/ projects spread too wide & thin to chew. N! had begun developing a small name for its haphazard rumpus attitude, but we had not yet reached where our hands were outstretching.
It was staggering to see the amount of people that gathered around N! in 2015 & pushed us forward towards grabbing at our goals. We want to create a space physically & digitally to push accessible dissidence thru art / provide amplification to 21st century writers & dope projects we support. There’s a lot cooking on the burners for 2016, new projects & old revitalized, but we’ll get to that soon. This post is a review of the weird shit that happened thru this past year.
In the adderal haze of Florida, a month of foreshadowing jittering in faux-heated arguments that resulted in the emptying of a CVS of their Sangria stock, N! crossed digital paths w/ Christopher Morgan.
Christopher is a Bay Area poet, & joined up w/ N! as a Tavern writer. Not much time passed till we began to bang around the idea of a Chapbook Contest. To summarize how things went, he is now Co-Manger of Nostrovia!.
Over the year, we coordinated shows, a new publishing schedule, & plans for N!’s growth into 2016. He’s brought a lot to the table for N!, helping the press grow to better fulfill pushing Passionate Living > Making a Living, and making that a more accessible concept.
Rather than create a block of text outlining the year, here’s it visually unraveling.
Oi to the Tucson Homies:
Oi to those that didn’t make it thru the night. Oi to those that are locked up. Oi to those who lashed out in fear. Oi to those who kept moving thru the slow burning ticks of fear & joy arm wrestling.
Hopefully, soon, some of us will walk away w/ the understanding, not just the knowledge, of how to let the bones locked in combat break, re-grow, & function as a wave, a hello, a good-bye.
Hosting Gatherings : Mongolian Yurt Reading Series // No Mic Open Mic
These event series were short lived due to external pressures that were both within & beyond our control. I bear blame for their discontinuation, but thru the process, learned how to better coordinate for future events.
The kick off show went beautifully. The first Mongolian Yurt Reading incorporated touring poet & video maker Steve Roggenbuck, Tucson local artists Melanie Madden + hip hop artist Neeko Ford, & free stylist Romeo Castro. There was a balance between organic opportunity for the show to grow its own direction + enough structure to provide amplification for performing artists.
We burned a Christmas tree. It was not symbolic of anything.
Shot In The Dark: No Mic Open Mic
These events gave N! the opportunity to better connect w/ Neeko Ford & poet James Mulroy, two cats who hit the road w/ us when we dipped from the desert.
2015’s Chapbook Contest & the Results
Helmed by Christopher, N! launched its first Chapbook Contest in March. Over 80 collections were sent in over a two day submission window. During the following weeks, we went back & forth over the collections, making the difficult choice of 10 finalists & 3 winners.
- Dalton Day – “To Breathe I’m Too Thin”
- Meg Eden – “I am Linwood Eden or Current Resident”
- Logan Ellis – “City of Broken Analogies”
- Leah Mueller – “Allergic to Everything”
- Bob Schofield – “Moon Facts”
- Beach Sloth – “March 23rd, 2015″
- August Smith – “Bird Lizard Horse”
- Adam Tedesco – “Psycho Genetic Trans Fur”
- Barrett Warner – “Twin Speech”
- Sarah Xerta – “Juliet (II)”
Out of those 10 finalists, Sarah Xerta’s “Juliet (II)” + August Smith’s “Bird Lizard Horse” + Bob Schofield’s “Moon Facts” were decided upon as our winners. We moved into the editorial + production phase immediately to prep for our upcoming tours & their debut at the 2015 N.Y.C Poetry Festival.
The other 7 finalists are featured in Fuck Art, Let’s Dance Issue #011.
***all 3 winning chapbooks have sold out & are now available as free PDFs!
Beast Crawl & Dirty Poet Street Ciphers
A crew of three left Tucson to head towards Beast Crawl. The group didn’t last long.
In Santa Cruz, CA, an argument between all three of us escalated rapidly after a show. It escalated until X bailed, w/ the vehicle, back to the desert.
We were immobile in an empty parking lot on the outskirts of the city. Neeko & I, not sure what to do, hid the books & food in bushes, & wandered the city aimless. We weren’t sure what to do w/ the books anchoring us w/ responsibility.
Christopher Morgan swooped down & snagged us up to the Bay. He let Neeko + I recover at his place as we made plans for a new approach to our upcoming deadlines & stammering plans.
We left Christopher’s to bop around the Bay, crashing out on East Bay concrete till hopping Bart barriers into San Francisco. We hit an open mic, hoping to sell a couple chapbooks, failed, wandered, busked, kicked it aimless, killing time till Beast Crawl, waiting for us almost a month away.
One groggy morning that everyone else voted as “afternoon,” Neeko + I meandered into City Lights Bookstore. We hid upstairs in the poetry room, resting after a restless night, reading, & basked in the quiet. Here we met Chris Salas, a poet & cyclist that become our San Francisco Patron Saint. I write this in Tucson, AZ, in a grungy lil opium-den-esque cafe w/ him sitting next to me, wisps of cigarette smoke & the fumble of chess pieces play the table.
We kicked off w/ front feet planted, picked up a pint, & headed towards the 16th & Mission Open Mic. The night rolled into a couple more pints that wet my skin open w/ blood as I flipped over the front of his bike, bombing a hill imbued w/ swaying courage & a 50lb pack on my back. Neeko vomited over the side of a bridge. Chris bellowed poems from Excelsior rooftops, & gave us lodging thru to Beast Crawl.
& so it goes. We made it to Beast Crawl alive, broke, & smiling.
Books & Shovels set up @ the show w/ the Word Performances crew, featuring solo performer and coach Tina D’Elia, novelist Sabrina Seidner, novelist, poet and performer Zarina Zabrisky, poet Jeremiah Walton, wordsmith Todd Siegel, cabaret singer Nikola Printz, writer and Words Performances foudner Cybele Zufolo Siegel, & violinist Autumn Turley.
After the show, free shots lured us to an open mic where we met poet Clay Bugh, & bumped into our Venice Beach short-bus dwelling homie. The night was a wild run around the East Bay, lugging us thru to Salas’ place, an odd bar fight, & hungover morning dirty poet street ciphers.
Exhausted @ N.Y.C. Poetry Festival + the Chapbooks Debut
Neeko + I were fried at this point. Carrying Books & Shovels thru four days on Greyhound from Oakland to Boston wore us thin. We rested briefly in N.H. before grouping the books back onto our backs, & hopping another bus to New York City.
Salas flew out from the Bay to kick it in New York. Poet & festival volunteer Jennesey Herrera + poet & stubborn adventurer Michael Ganjehlou helped us manage the festival while we dangled from the bags under our eyes, pulling the bruises deeper, w/ & w/o conscious intent.
Neeko + Chris + I cuddled warm on the beach under a playground slide on Coney Island.
August Smith + Leah Mueller + Neeko Ford featured for N! at the Festival, the Chapbooks successfully debuted physically, & we wrapped our N.Y.C. days on Harlem rooftops.
Books & Shovels : Lit On The Road
Books & Shovels crossed the continent multiple times this year, bopping from the Tucson Poetry Festival to Beast Crawl in Oakland, to the N.Y.C. Poetry Festival, [rest phase in N.H.], & a straight West shot to Lit Crawl in San Francisco. Between major gigs, we hit dozens of open mics / slams / & street corners, kicking it with new poetry community’s & getting a vibe for writers across the country.
Books & Shovels is ramshackle, but stubborn. 2015 was a series of sucker-punches for the project.
We lost a vehicle, lugged books via Greyhound [setting up at the longer layovers], operated out of frame-packs, books wet w/ New England mugginess, new titles retrieved from dumpsters, low stocks knocking around our gas funds, harassed by Arkansas police, this project relied entirely persistence.
& it’s worth it.
This project allows intimate conversation to be fostered across borders between both the literature + local writers + ourselves bopping thru. We consistently flipped stock, pairing independent publications alongside established writers to promote writers of the 21st century, & tie, across borders, new ideas & inspirations.
On The Road: The Varnish of Childhood Peels w/ Mileage
The Arts Resistance & Lit Crawl Present: Write Piercingly
Words can be like X-rays… You read and you are pierced…write piercingly. But… Can you say something about nothing?”
We straight shot from New Hampshire to San Francisco in 3 days to ensure we made in time for the show. Circumstantial pressure pushed off our re-launch till the last minute, but aye, we made it.
“Three generations of writers of Afghan, American, Belgian, Canadian, Chinese, and Russian background and diverse belief systems deliver fiery tales of their personal quest for meaning in the context of a collective life. All authors have participated in The Arts Resistance event-actions in 2014-2015 and helped to support various causes: from funding the only US mobile bookstore run by teenagers to fixing a leaking roof in a Nepalese hospital to supporting the LGBT community in Putinist Russia. Always true to their core and with voices recognizable and resounding, our authors bring storytelling and spoken word to their shamanic roots by serving others and transcending the mundane by the power of language.
The reading will also feature art by Evgeny Avilov from the recent AR event, PAINTING IN BLOOD.”
***from The Arts Resistance + Lit Crawl Present: Write Piercingly Event Page
Write Piercingly’s features were Afghan born author Tamim Ansary, SF’s 16th & Mission Open Mics’ founder Charlie Getter, writer & Russian translator Yanina Gotsulsky, Belgium born poet & performer Simon Rogghe, China born writer & performer Xiaojuan Shu, United States born Jeremiah Walton, & Russian born performance poet & author Zarina Zabrisky.
Re-settling in Tucson & Stepping Forward
We’re back in Tucson, Neeko + Chris + myself + Hapgood + the whole crew. We retreated from Salt Lake City during our last Books & Shovels tour due to vehicular issues directing back down into the desert to kick-start 2016’s plans.
Q: “Well, what’s up w/ N! + you all for 2016?”
A: We’ll have an in-depth post up in the Tavern soon that outlines some new + refurbished jazz, but rest assured, Fuck Art, Let’s Dance will be relaunching, & round two of N!’s Chapbook Contest is in the oven.
More coming in soon, I’m over-caffeinated, & midnight jitterbugging in a haze of pushing sleep off to meet goals. Much love, thank you to those named & unnamed who had faith in N!, gave us chances to push our boundaries, & till the soil for our growth.