Tag Occupy Wall Street

Podcast – The Peace Poet

#NJPoet on The Virtual Memories Show

Virtual Memories Show: Charles Bivona – The Peace Poet

“I think people are experiencing a lot of things in America that they just don’t have the words for. If I’m going to run around and wave this POET flag, then my job is to jump into the difficult situations and try to put them into words.”

Charles Bivona‘s business card reads, “Poet, Writer, Professor,” but he’s a lot more than that. Over the course of an hour, we talked about what it means to be known as NJPoet, his theory on the transmissibility of PTSD (based on the first-hand evidence of his father’s Vietnam War trauma being visited on his family), the value of building a massive Twitter network, the lessons of growing up poor, how Walt Whitman saved him on one of the worst days of his life, the virtues of a gift economy, and why getting bumped out of academia for blogging may have been the best thing for him.

“I think the core of my project is asking you, ‘What do you think your children think about what you’re doing right now?'”

We also discuss the role of poetry in America today and the poets who saved him in his youth, why he doesn’t publish poetry online, whether Twitter is more like The Matrix or The Watchmen, how his responses to Occupy Wall Street and Hurricane Sandy elevated his online presence, and why it’s important not to put yourself in an ideological cocoon.

“If you relax your ego, and say, ‘I’m here as a student and a teacher,’ you’ll get a lot out of social media.”

Enjoy the conversation! Then check out the archives for more great episodes! Related conversations:

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Luz & NJ Poet

About our Guest

Charles Bivona (pictured above with his wife, Luz Costa), has the following on his About page:

Charles Bivona would tell you that he’s just trying to help his creative friends figure out ways to reach their goals, to help them in any way he can—writing letters, Twitter endorsements, all-out social media campaigns, word-of-mouth networking. Whatever helps. Otherwise, he’s reading, tweeting, listening to alternative news media, producing blog posts, and writing the first of hopefully several Kindle books and paperback poetry collections.

If you push him to be more philosophical, to talk more specifically about the social media strategy that built his audience, he frames his work as a Zen Buddhist approach to engagement based on mindfulness and honesty. With this in mind, he’s gathered an artistic social network that simmers with creativity, compassion, and humor. The writing itself, the poetic prose on his website, is also clearly informed by a Buddhist literary theory, rooted in practical teaching, mindfulness, and a vivid social reporting.

“It’s more of a life philosophy and a daily practice than a marketing plan,” Charles often says. “I’m using the web to make an attempt at Buddhist Right Livelihood, to try to make a living as a working poet in the United States.”

Credits: This episode’s music is Ladder of Success by Ted Hawkins. The conversation was recorded at Charles’ home on a pair of Blue enCORE 200 microphones feeding into a Zoom H5 digital recorder. The intro and outro were recorded on a Blue Yeti USB Microphone. Processing was done in Audacity and Garage Band. Photo of Charles Bivona and me by Luz Costa. Photo of Charles and Luz Costa by me.

Podcast: Sound Before Story

Virtual Memories – season 3 episode 5 – Sound Before Story

To celebrate the publication of Middle C, the new novel by literary legend William Gass, I sat down with writer Greg Gerke, who interviewed Gass for Tin House literary magazine. We talked about Gass’ position in the postmodern literary tradition (as it were), what Greg learned over the course of reading much of Gass’ writings and interviewing The Great Man, what it’s like to construct a literary monument to horror, which authors Greg discovered through Gass’ essays over the years, how you can’t judge a man by his (roommate’s) bookshelf, why Gass holds self-publishing in disdain, and how one can build a powerful literary career by putting Sound Before Story.

Enjoy the conversation! Then check out our archives for more great talks! And buy the issue of Tin House with Greg’s interview with Gass, while you’re at it!

Greg Gerke on The Virtual Memories Show

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About our Guest

Greg Gerke‘s fiction and non-fiction have appeared in Tin House, The Kenyon Review Online, Denver Quarterly, and Mississippi Review. He’s the author of the short story collection, There’s Something Wrong with Sven. You can read his work and find links to his criticism at greggerke.com and Big Other.

Credits: This episode’s music is Life’s a Gas by T-Rex. The conversation was recorded at Greg Gerke’s apartment in New York City, on a pair of AT2020 mics, feeding into a Zoom H4n recorder. I recorded the other material on a Samson Meteor Mic USB Studio Microphone into Audacity. All editing and processing was done in Garage Band.

Podcast: Not the camera but the eye

Virtual Memories – season 2 episode 16 – Not the camera but the eye

It’s time for the last Virtual Memories Show podcast of the year! This time around, we interview Kyle Cassidy, an amazing photographer based in west Philadelphia.

As he puts it in his bio, “Kyle Cassidy has been documenting American culture since the 1990’s. He has photographed Goths, Punks, Cutters, Politicians, Metalheads, Dominatrices, Scholars, and Alternative Fashion, in addition to less prosaic subjects. In recent years his projects have extended abroad to Romania, where he captured the lives of homeless orphans living in sewers; and to Egypt, where he reported on contemporary archaeological excavations.”

Kyle’s work has appeared in the New York Times, Vanity Fair (DE), the Sunday Times of London, Marie Claire, Photographers Forum, Asleep by Dawn, Gothic Beauty and a ton of other publications. He recently published War Paint: Tattoo Culture & the Armed Forces. In 2007, he published Armed America: Portraits of Gun Owners in Their Homes. We spoke one day after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, so our conversation began with a discussion of gun culture(s) in America.

“Guns are a huge part of many people’s lives, and have been from the beginning. I think it’s going to be very difficult for someone to convince lots of Americans that this is something they need to stop.”

Trust me: the conversation moves on to lighter topics after that, including how he discovered his next big project, Where I Write: Fantasy & Science Fiction Authors in Their Creative Spaces. We also talk about roller derby, fan cultures, the breakdown of discourse, how he got started in photojournalism, his most hated digital photography tricks, and whether he owns a gun, among other topics.

There are a lot more bad pictures out there, but there are a lot more good pictures out there, and there are a lot more things being covered that weren’t covered before. It’s a very good thing.

(Also, you may notice a certain vibrating noise that rises and falls during the show. That would be the purring of Kyle’s cat, Roswell, who joined us for several stretches of the episode. She also horked up something like a hairball at one point. I found it difficult not to break out laughing when she crawled into Kyle’s wife’s microphone box to watch us.)

Enjoy the conversation! Virtual Memories – season 2 episode 16 – Not the camera but the eye

KyleCassidy

The Virtual Memories Show is on iTunes! If you’d like to subscribe, visit our iTunes page!

If you’d like to check out past episodes, you can find us on iTunes or visit the Podcast page for all our back episodes, as well as e-mail signup and tip jar! And why don’t you friend the Virtual Memories Show at our Facebook page? It’d make my mom happy.

As I wrote at the top, this is the last episode of 2012. I’ve got some good guests planned for next year, and I’m hoping to get the show up to a reliable twice-monthly schedule. Thanks for supporting the show, and drop me a line if you have any suggestions for guests or topics you’d like to see me cover.

Credits: This episode’s music is Gun by The Golden Palominos. I recorded the intro on a Blue Yeti mic into Audacity, and the conversation was recorded in Mr. Cassidy’s home in Philadelphia, on a pair of AT2020 mics, feeding into a Zoom H4N recorder. All editing and processing was done in Garage Band. Photo courtesy of Valya Dudycz Lupescu.

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