Interview with Writer, Noah Lekas

When I am reminded of the old fashion rotary phones, I think of a scene from the movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s where Holly Golightly (Audrey Hepburn) & Paul Varjak (George Peppard) walked into Tiffany’s to purchase an item under $10.00. Holly & Paul had been offered a sterling silver telephone dialer for $6.95. I thought it to really be quite thought provoking as it shows that there are items in this world that are strictly novelty back when a phone was just a phone. I bring this up, as Noah Lekas decided back in 2016 to basically toss his smart phone into a lake (not literally). Noah desired to be released from the proverbial chains of the infamous smart phone – for a certain amount of time.   I honestly don’t know how he did it, I can’t live without my phone – not only for purposes of communication but also portability.  Being able to do anything anywhere on a little tool that was imagined by Star Trek before it made its way to retail fruition. I mean, there is also something delicious about pursuing a tactile relationship with quill and parchment – the feel of the pen on the tips of your fingers as the ink not only bleeds on your paper but, your fingers as well. Once again, another one of life’s double edge swords.  Moreover, stay tuned as I now have my own copy of Saturday Night Sage which is on my list of books to review in the New Year.  For more info on Noah check out his very thoughtful website https://noahclekas.comand do follow on Instagram @noahclekas .
RMMW:  Have you ever been creatively blocked? If yes, how did you overcome it? 
NL: I haven’t met a case of writer’s block that a deadline and a check couldn’t fix. You can always write something; you just can’t expect it to always be good. 
RMMW: We all have an inner critic; how do you contend with yours?
NL: My inner critic questions relevance more than quality. It is much more apt to say, “Nobody will care about this.” But I think that getting the work out there is part of doing the work, so I contend one step at a time. Regardless of my mood I send cold emails, contact artists I like, send out books for review, and keep doing the complete work of writing.
RMMW: Do you have any artist rituals before starting a new piece?
NL: No, not that I know of.
RMMW: As someone who has taken on various styles of writing from: poetry, interviews, and articles — which one of these styles do you prefer over the others and why?
NL: I like them all for different reasons. Interviews are great because you get to bring someone’s story to life with them, in a really personal way. Also, it’s a very practical way to meet artists that you dig. Articles hit quick, so you can get an idea or topic out in front of people almost instantly. Poetry is freedom. It can be completely self-serving and emotionally indulgent. Poems go where you want them to go and you can get there at any speed you choose. They all serve different roles and I wouldn’t give up any of it. 
RMMW: What is your favourite subject to write about? 
NL: I’m very interested in mysticism, theology, philosophy, class, music and art. Saturday Night Sage is specifically about mysticism and menial labor, but the others are there as well. Those themes underpin most of my work.
RMMW:  When you write do you listen to music? If yes, who?
NL: I listen to a lot of instrumental or mostly instrumental music like Debashish Bhattacharya, Ali Akbar Khan, Grant Green, The Messthetics, Shakuhachi music, John Coltrane, Hank Mobley, Luther Dickenson’s Hambone\’s Meditations, Ebo Taylor and on and on. Someone recently turned me on to Kikagaku Moyo, they’ve been a great recent addition.
RMMW: I was reading a piece you wrote regarding disconnecting your smartphone on Nov 4, 2016 — do you feel it has hindered or enhanced your quality of life? 
NL: Giving up a smartphone was great. I ended up getting one again but for that year it was a great experience. So great in fact that I’m thinking about giving it up again. Removing the preoccupation and distraction from your day is really beneficial, it’s almost sobering.  I think the important part of those types of experiments is evaluating the trade-off. Technology of any kind is always a trade-off, you get and you give. Smartphones are amazing, there is a reason why we have routed our entire lives through them. But smartphones frame our perspectives, they crop our view and incentivize us to leverage our experience. On the same hand, they also connect us to infinite information and more people than ever before. They are amazing tools. For me, they’re just a bit more than I’m looking for in a telephone. 
RMMW:  At times, I feel like technology and social media take over more than they should — what are your thoughts on the current state of social media? 
NL: I think social media is more media than social. It has value, I’ve met a lot of great writers and artists through social media, there is no denying the benefit of that sort of connectivity. There is also value in blank space, disconnection and the natural ebb and flow of friends or colleagues in and out of your life. The Tupperware party element of it all, turning friends into followers and all that nonsense gets exhausting. There are plenty of essays on the addictive and emotional toll, and far more qualified people than me to give those dissertations. But I would say moderation is king. It is absolutely a media platform. They used to say that you should only watch an hour of television a day, I’d say the same rules apply. 
RMMW: What is the catalyst that propelled you to write? 
NL: It started with having something to say. DIY punk opened the doors. Listening to the music, reading the fan zines, finding the authors that bands referenced, it was this great big inspired conversation and I wanted to be part of it. I wanted to contribute. 
RMMW: What is the relationship between your written and oral voice? 
NL: I read a lot of my work out loud while I am writing it. I read it back to myself. For poetry I really like to find the right rhythmic cadence. For essays and articles, I like to see if they could hold up as a presentation. I like when writing has a live pace to it. 
RMMW: Have you taken any writing pilgrimages?
NL: No, not intentionally. I never had the desire to sit in Steinbeck’s chair or on Langston Hughes’s  front stoop. Growing up in the Midwest, that all just seemed so far away. I’ve taken many of the iconic American literary road trips but almost all by accident. I drove the Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance route before I read the book and that sort of thing. When I lived in New York I ended up seeing a lot of the places I’d read about like Washington Square Park, Mermaid Avenue, White Horse Tavern and McDougal Street. I’d like to check out Burroughs’ Orgone Accumulator someday. That’s a pilgrimage I’d like to take. 
RMMW: Do you hide secrets within your writing to only ensure those involved know the truth behind the piece?
NL: No, I don’t hide anything. I’m sure the guilty parties would read it on a deeper level, but it isn’t intentional. My goal is to hang it all out there. 
RMMW: If you had a superpower what would it be? 
NL: If I could choose, I’d take Shape-shifting. 

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