13 Questions with Catfish McDaris

by HST UK on January 1, 2012

Let’s open 2012. He’s sparred with our own Ben John Smith, and lived to tell the tale. He’s been in the trenches, swam across oceans and climbed mountains. Catfish McDaris is a veteran, but whisper this, because you don’t want him to think that you’re calling him old and wise. HST served up 13 Questions for him to knock back…

HST: Some of your poems descend into farce, how important is it for a poet not to take themselves too seriously, to allow an element of humour, be it dark or light, to shine through?

You ascend rather than descend into farce. It’s used by the Japanese in Kyogen, by Shakespeare, & by almost all writers. Its wordplay and self-satisfying, practicing poets must be their own audience first because there is very little money or prestige in the small press. When it quits being fun, I’m stepping away.

HST: ‘My Machinegun Is Always Loaded’ (http://www.redfez.net/poetry/1294) deals with negative interrogation, it touches upon several areas that blight many poets, notably the dedication to a fruitless pursuit, the noble slog which peers and family members often fail to understand and the comparisons to that great shadow who spits up from hell at all those that have come after him, Charles Bukowski. How do you deal with all the interrogations and accusations that are made because you write poems?

People that writers will 90% of the time not understand why you do it. There is no explaining it, but watch what happens if you try to stop. You will get encouragement from everywhere. Buk will never be silenced, not even if you dance naked on his grave.

HST: Your short ‘Trade’ (http://www.outsiderwriters.org/2009/trade-by-catfish-mcdaris) is a liver kick. Tell me your thoughts about the ownership of aggressive breeds of dogs. I’ve commented in the past that I believe that dog owners should have dog licenses, would that limit violent dog attacks?

Mean dogs should all be made into tacos. If a person needs protection get a gun. I prefer pussycats.

HST: Since you’re from Albuquerque, New Mexico, I was wondering if you aware of all the attention that’s coming to that area because of Greg Jackson’s Mixed Martial Arts training camp?

I haven’t been to Albuquerque in 25 years, so I don’t know much about the scene. The valley there used to be all low riders with lots of firepower and good weed.

HST: I spent six months working for the UK Postal Service on a temporary contract a few years back, you spent thirty years with the US Postal Service. Aside from the pay cheque, what did you like most about job?

The post office was mundane zip code work, I was able to write myself notes & think about poems & stories while I worked. I had to work nights for lots of years & it sucked. After Jeffrey Dahmer was captured bombs were sent to kill him in prison almost daily that was exciting. Then we had lots ricin & anthrax scares being sent to Washington D.C., also several shoot outs in the building. Employees going fucking POSTAL.

HST: Can an American become just as enlightened by travelling across the States, then if he were to leave the Country and explore the world, since essentially America is in a world of its own?

I think Americans need to travel all over the world, not just in the U.S. There are many different regions here, but nothing beats being exposed to other cultures & languages & terrain. I don’t know what you mean by America is in a world of its own? Maybe you’re right?

HST: What happened to the presses that published your work in the 90’s, ‘Irregular Horse’, KPG Press, Angelflesh Press etc? Do you stay in contact with any of your old editors; are any of them still knocking around the poetry scene?

Skinner’s Irregular Horse was taken from Hercules Skinner (a Scotsman) & the 1st Bengal Lancers a calvary unit. The dudes that started this mag were college students & they fell through the cracks. KPG Press was Kenneth P. Gurney (a poet & computer whiz) he does Adobe Walls magazine now out of New Mexico. Angelflesh Press was across Lake Michigan from Milwaukee in Grand Rapids, MI. I’m no longer in touch with these guys, but loosely with Ken Gurney.

HST: The Republic Party nominations are on the horizon, who is best placed to dethrone Obama? Speaking of the President, do you think Obama’s stance of change and progress were fantasist notions, in a time which requires patience and good old fashioned survivalist grit?

Buk said politics is like trying to screw a cat in the ass. Democrats are cold shit, Republicans are hot shit. I agree. It’s the rich that run everything, regardless of affiliation or country. Obama will be blocked at every step, I voted for him, he can’t accomplish anything. The others are all pathetic jokes.

HST: I’m not at liberty to explain how this happened, but I was chatting to a mentally ill man from Philadelphia yesterday, who was house bound and drugged up on a high dosage of Ritalin, he regaled me with insightful, intelligent discourse about historical and economic affairs. Are the great intellectual minds of this generation being led to the nut house because of the lack of opportunities?

I think it’s all the drugs we took as hippies coming back to bite us in the ass. I take bipolar & panic attack drugs & many others. There have always been “great” people with mental problems. Van Gogh, Abe Lincoln, Plath, Hemingway, Hendrix, Joplin, Winehouse, & all the rest.

HST: In an interview with David Blaine, over at Outsider Writers you made mention of writing letters. Do you believe that since the advent of Social Networking, and the sensory bombardment of facing hundreds of emails each week, correspondence has been diluted, affecting letter writing as an art form?

Dave Blaine is a good writer. The letter writing I spoke about was me being in Europe for 2 & a half years in the army & staying in touch with family, mostly my Granny. If there would’ve been e-mail I would’ve used it. The sad thing about not having a paper letter to save is it’s so easy to delete messages. It’s kind of the same about submitting poems snail mail versus the net, wow what a difference from back in the day.

HST: This is an all too obvious question, but I was wondering if you’ve ever took part in ‘noodling’ for catfish? Speaking of angling for catfish, I used to be a keen fisherman as a boy, and one of my dreams was to go out to Spain and fish the River Ebro for the monstrous beasts that dwell there. Do you hunt or fish?

I haven’t noodled because most of the places the catfish hide are filled with cottonmouth snakes & snapping turtles. I’ve caught lots of bullhead catfish, channel cats, & blue catfish, that’s a mean fish. I got spoiled fishing in Mexico, where I caught a 110 pound 11 foot long sailfish, it was work. I used to hunt mule deer with my dad, but there is only white tail deer in Wisconsin & people here drink a lot & hunt them from a tree stand. It doesn’t feel right to shoot an animal any longer. I find fishing boring now, I never liked cleaning them. If I had to put meat on the table, I’d do both.

HST: You’ve collaborated with our esteemed leader Ben John Smith, and another HST favourite Craig Scott. Writing is often a lonely journey, is it better taking the trip with somebody else?

I predict Ben John Smith & Craig Scott will be the next Bukowski & Ginsberg. I was honored to be able to ride down the trail with them.

HST: Let’s end with a poem, could you share a new one with us?

Here’s a hot one

Iguana Mexicali Boogie

The fat Mexican ignored me
as I checked out the stuffed
iguana on the cantina’s bar

Eyes of emeralds reflecting
an image exuding sex, a
platinum blonde in a lemon
yellow see through dress

She was holding a tequila
sunrise between her perfect
manicured fingertips, it was
lust at first sight

I walked over & laid a 45
caliber slug on the table in
front of her, she smiled &
swallowed it

I wondered if her ass would
explode when I slipped her
my salami, we soon went to
her room, I’d just split from

A downhill situation, maybe
this was Senorita Right, I
didn’t have long to wonder,
I hate it when my predictions
come true

The fucking bed turned into
a fiery inferno, I jumped out
the window into the swimming
pool, shook like a dog & headed
for Chicago & points north.


If you are interested in answering HST’s 13 Questions then email us: aprilmaymarch777@yahoo.co.uk

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