GB: A little of both. Started out learning on my own, then took writing courses in college and graduate school – for both creative and academic writing. I had to take quite a few composition and literature courses throughout higher ed as required for my teaching degrees. But now in my 30s, I\’m back to learning on my own. Funny how life spirals like that.
I love broadsides… But when I saw the broadside Glen Binger had send me digitally, I was in complete awe. Do you know what he did? It was totally brilliant. He has drips of poems in an organised fashion on the page that had lines like fold marks of a paper airplane. I genuinely thought that it was quite clever. I’ve a lot of broadsides but, nothing like that one. Glen also gets very artistic with his blackout poetry – beautiful pieces indeed. For more information On Glen check out the Bing Bang Books website or follow on Instagram @bingbangbooks .
RMMW: Have you ever been creatively blocked? If yes how did you overcome, it?
GB: All the time. It\’s the worst! But I\’ve come to realize, like all things in life, creativity operates with balance. It comes in waves and we have to acknowledge that. Some sets are surfable and others are flat. I\’m an English teacher… so during the school year, I\’m very often fatigued from my day. I\’ll come home super inspired from whatever podcast I\’d been listening to and whip out my Moleskin only to scribble absolute gibberish. Other days, even without any coffee, I\’ll surprise myself with words I forgot I knew after grading an entire stack of papers. I think the key is to let the obstacle guide you. If you\’re constantly hitting challenges, that means you\’re heading in the right direction. And even though you might finish a piece that feels completely unusable, you\’ve at least practiced the skill of putting your ideas down on the page… and THAT is a step ahead of anyone who decided to come home and watch Netflix instead. Your subconscious knows this. And the subconscious is more powerful than we realize.
RMMW: Do you have any artists rituals before starting a new piece?
GB: Coffee and music. Maybe some Vitamin Sea if the weather permits.
GB: Bing Bang Books is an arm of the independent media company I started back in 2007 when I was 20, BingBangCo. It\’s the branch that focuses primarily on fictional literary pursuits – reading, writing, learning – that sort of thing. I wanted to bypass the gatekeepers of traditional creative media publishing. Getting your work out there and building a fan base was a lot different back then. We didn\’t have things like Instagram and YouTube. You either tried to get an agent or you started a blog. I was a broke college kid so I started a blog. I made zines in the computer lab and scattered them like seeds; left em in coffee shops, stuck em on the shelves in bookstores, handed em out at shows. Very punk and DIY at its roots. BingBangCo. supports the underdog because we\’re underdogs too.
RMMW: Tell me about your art including your DIY blackout poetry pieces?
GB: Art is such a loaded term. Different meanings for different people. To me, everything is art. And maybe that\’s just how I was raised. My mother was an art teacher and my father was a carpenter so I grew up seeing people create things, make things, build things. Watching that, I learned there\’s a difference between making something and creating something. The latter needs heart. Courage. Fortitude. Anyone can make something. Creating something is about working through your failures because you have to. Because there\’s no other option. That\’s where I fall. I\’ve always been a creative person and found many different mediums to be enjoyable. Everything from music to paint to pixels. I\’ve played in bands, acted in short films, built sheds and Jeeps. I\’d even argue that playing ice hockey my whole life is a creative outlet. But somewhere along the line, I found my groove with language. With words and writing. All of it from narrative to academia, poetry included. Recently, I\’ve been experimenting with blackout poetry. Apparently, a lot of people knock it; label it as lazy or theft. I just don\’t see it like that. To me, blackout poetry is a chance to take someone else\’s eyes and repurpose them as your own. And really, that\’s what art is… it\’s about expressing your perspective of the world. I come from the Austin Kleon mode of thought, in that all art is theft. It\’s the creative bettering of stolen ideas because you have to. The ability to create is what keeps us human.
RMMW: What is the inspiration behind 4old?
GB: I wanted to make a chapbook that was different than my previous ones. Something that had a little edge to it. I\’ve been building this fictional canon – the \’Plexiverse\’ – for about a decade now and wanted to add some different dimensions to it. A buddy of mine, Sean (aka Space Bat Killer), and I were talking about small print batches last summer at a Bouncing Souls show in Asbury Park. He got me inspired by some of his Sharpie prints, so I sort of tied the two things together: poetry and sketch work. It was fun to make… really forced me to step outside of my comfort zone.
RMMW: As a teacher what do you feel is the most important lesson you\’ve taught your students?
GB: To learn how to learn. How to think critically about the world we live in. If we lose the ability to analyze our perception with an open mind, we become the brainless consumers \’the man\’ wants us to be. Love, empathy, happiness… these things all stem from the ability to see things for what they are with our own sharp eyes.
RMMW: Who are your favourite authors and why?
GB: I always get shit for this because they\’re so mainstream now, but I\’m a result of the OG outliers: Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs, Hunter S. Thompson, Kurt Vonnegut, Charles Bukowski, Diane di Prima, Sylvia Plath, Ursula K. Le Guin, Margaret Atwood, Maya Angelou. These people are the reason I write. I blame them for my endless misery haha.
GB: Betterism is another arm of the BingBangCo. empire. This one\’s still relatively new, but its focus primarily relies on learning and self-education, regardless of industry or lifestyle outlet. Right now we\’re a humble publication on Medium with plans to expand to various multimedia platforms (podcasts, videos, etc.). It\’s a community dedicated to helping others become better. Yes, that\’s a vague term and yes, it means many different things to many different people. But the goal of Betterism is to keep us from becoming stagnant. To remind us that we\’re always progressing, always changing – whether or not we realize it. So many people fall for the misconception that we stop growing as adults. We don\’t. We grow and learn until the day we die. We\’re all teachers and we\’re all students.
RMMW: What do you feel most contemporary writers struggle with in this day and age?
GB: Focus. Rising above the noise. Finding and engaging with authentic fans. So many creative people succumb to the algorithm game and, as a result, their art loses its value. The platforms we use will change and it\’s important to remember that. Yes, those platforms matter. But also it\’s important to keep moving forward. In his book, Perennial Seller, Ryan Holiday writes, \”The best marketing you can do for your book is to start writing the next one.\”
RMMW: Who are your favourite indie writers to read? This question is always so tough.
GB: I always end up leaving people out and I don\’t want to make anyone feel bad. It\’s a HUGE list of incredible talent. (What up fam?!) So I\’m going to sidestep this question and instead plug my NJ reading series, Stories By The Sea. Every summer I invite my favorite indie writers to come read with us. Here are a few features I\’ve been working with: Eric Keegan, Tohm Bakelas, Arthur J. Willhelm, Robert Francis, Dave Matthes, Craig Atkinson, Joe Federico, Morissa Schwartz, Lea Lumiere, MK McWilliams, Zola Cate Picone, Amy Kay, Amanda Clarkson, Kelso A. Nickels, Jesse Lynn. There\’s so many more.
RMMW: How long have you been writing?
GB: As long as I\’ve been able to hold a pencil. I started taking it seriously in high school when some of my work was featured in our literary magazine and my 12th grade English teacher suggested I submit to outside publications.
RMMW: Are you a classically trained writer or did you learn on your own?
RMMW: If you had a superpower what would it be?
GB: I was a big Deadpool and Wolverine fan growing up, so I\’d have to go with immortality. Though I\’m not sure if I\’m prepared for that psychologically.