13 Questions with Craig Scott

by HST UK on November 21, 2011

“Craig Scott” is a pseudonym, and an unimaginative one at that. The man behind the pen name’s real first name is “Craig,” and his real middle name is “Scott.” It took about 0.5 seconds to come up with this alias. He used to write, edit and publish under his real name, but it dawned on him that incest, dismemberment and anal sex poems may prevent him from finding future employment. So, going forward, Craig Scott publishes the words, and the real name is reserved for “real” work (i.e. office work that pays the bills).

Craig Scott is the “author” of the collaborative collection Tales From a French Envelope (written with Catfish McDaris), available from Lulu.com (http://www.lulu.com/product/hardcover/tales-from-a-french-envelope/17266921). He also has two chapbooks coming out soon: All We Have (Thunderclap Press) and Garage on the Edge of Town (Writing Knights Press). And even though he’s a pseudonym, Craig Scott is the big boss of Ten Pages Press (http://tenpagespress.wordpress.com).

Mr Scott kindly answered our 13 Questions…

HST: First of all I would like to congratulate you for reaching a landmark figure of forty published e-chapbooks with Ten Pages Press. Let’s go back to the start – why did you decide to create Ten Pages Press, and what were your goals at the beginning of the venture?

Thanks! The idea for Ten Pages Press came to me while I was still editing my webzine The (http://welcometoyethe.blogspot.com). The had been on hiatus for some time and I’d just brought it back, but I wasn’t totally into it. It had run its course and I was like a tv executive prolonging a show that should’ve ended three seasons ago. The was a good project that lasted a few years (2008-2011). It allowed me to meet and publish some fine writers. However, I wanted to do something bigger. A single poem or two or three here and there was one thing, but why not a small collection? Surely e-chapbooks would find a wider audience. Plus I’d be able to give the writers something “impressive” (I use that word loosely) for their bios—an e-chapbook, a collection of their work.

HST: A recent e-chapbook by Shawn Misener from TPP featured poems that criticized Facebook. What are your own thoughts on Social Networking?

Privacy issues aside, social networking can be a good thing. For writers and the like, it’s an easy way for people/fans to contact you, follow you and learn about your projects. This of course is a good and bad thing, as you may stress over always needing something to post, add, like or offer, otherwise you’re forgotten. I’ve been writing and publishing since I was in middle school—I’m 31 now, so for about 17 years. Social networking came about during my lifetime. Before, you had to subscribe to tons of print magazines (not that subscriptions are a bad thing), write the editor and ask him to forward your address to another writer with your praise for his/her work in the issue, wait to see if that writer ever gets back to you, do the whole pen pal letter writing campaign, etc. Now you can befriend someone and contact them instantly. It makes things easier in that respect. It also allows you to form a community of like-minded peoples that you can rely on when you don’t have that in your non-digital life.

HST: I know it is impossible to pick a favourite, but what e-chapbooks have been the most significant to you personally?

The first two e-chaps. It’s good to have an idea, and want to start up a press, but if no one sends you work, what good is having the press? The first chap I published was actually a reprint: White Heat by the late, great Todd Moore. I’d originally published this in a print magazine I used to edit. I then reprinted the collection on The. It was the perfect candidate for Ten Pages Press. Plus, I wanted the words to live on. The second chap I published was the first one of new work: Evidence Pie by Misti Rainwater-Lites. Her collection is a damn fine place to start your Ten Pages Press experience.

HST: What can we look forward to from Ten Pages Press in the near future?

More chaps of course. Hopefully some of the writers I published will send me new work for consideration (hint hint, wink wink, nudge nudge). I would also like to put out more Readers—mini “anthologies” collecting work by previous and new Ten Pages Press contributors. So far I’ve released two of these with gems by John Sweet, Aleathia Drehmer, Puma Perl, David Tomaloff, Howie Good, Lyn Lifshin, and others. Catfish McDaris suggested a “best of” print anthology; maybe when I reach 100 chaps.

HST: As an editor, do you honestly believe that a poet from the small press community can cross over and become significant to a larger audience, outside of the realm of academia and the mainstream press?

I suppose you mean will we ever see another Bukowski or Ginsberg? Those “names” seem to come along every so often. It’s possible. We seem to be due for one, don’t we? Maybe the Occupy protests and life in the new millennium will inspire the next great epic poem and it will launch a great career for some poet.

HST: Your own collection ‘All We Have’ in the pipeline, due to be published by Thunderclap Press, care to share a poem from it?

Sure. Why not the title poem?

ALL WE HAVE

There are no gods, it is only us,
only myth and horror and ordinary death.

Only sex to make more hungry mouths and minds
so we have someone to teach how to

repeat our failures and minute victories.
There is no eternity, no soul,

just the dust we try to hold in our broken hands.
All we have is laughter and hope,

love, each other.

I love this poem. I call it one of my atheism poems (yes, plural; I have multiple atheism poems). I was reading a lot of David McLean at the time of its first draft. It went through some revisions and ended up as this. Since I feel this is one of the strongest pieces in the manuscript, I made it the collection’s title.

In my bio I also mention another chap coming out, Garage on the Edge of Town. Two of my poems here on Horror Sleaze Trash, “Daddy’s Little Girl” and “She’s Not a Whore” will be in it. It is more extreme poetry, whereas All We Have is more odd/intimate.

HST: Talk to me about the genesis of ‘All We Have’, how did you come to compile this batch of poems?

I met Amanda Deo of Thunderclap Press through Facebook. She published some of my work in her magazine, Thunderclap! She told me she also put out chapbooks, and if I had a manuscript to send it to her. I had poems jotted in notebooks and sitting on my computer, so I typed them up, printed them out and put them in a pile. I went through the pile and removed work that didn’t flow well together and came up with the manuscript. This is all new work.

Garage on the Edge of Town was the same, except I was limiting the work to my hardcore poems. These were my dark and dirty pieces. Some previously published, some new. I wasn’t expecting them to find a home with a publisher due to the content, and was expecting to have to put it out myself through Lulu. But here we are.

HST: How did the editing process go for this collection, a poet tends to get excited when they have written a batch of poems that they see fit for publication, only for an editor to pick a lot of holes in their cherished creations – did everything go smoothly for you?

I suppose I am lucky in that I can get into my editor mindset and look at my work objectively. I don’t have a problem revising my work or trashing it. My full-time jobs have all been editorial positions, I do freelance editing, I edit Ten Pages Press (another project in a long line of projects), so I have a good idea of what works and what doesn’t work. (For the most part.)

HST: Can you reveal some information about where you are from, to provide some context or setting to the more everyday poems you write. How influential is place to your writing?

New Jersey, born and raised and currently residing in. I don’t really find “place” influential. If people read my work, they won’t say, “Craig Scott is a New Jersey poet.” They would expound on all the weird and dirty shit I write about. I grew up and still live in the boring suburbs. I try to write my way out, kill the dullness by creating absurdly absurd words. Or just plain ol’ kinky words.

HST: Your poetry appears frank, provocative and honest. Is it essential for a writer to bare his soul?

I think so. Whether your novels do it with fictional characters that readers can relate to, or in poems that cut like the knife across the eye in Un Chien Andalou, you have to gut yourself on the page. It’s the only way readers will take you seriously. Otherwise you might as well give up and write yet another legal thriller.

HST: Included in your collection are some poems with strong sexual themes. Poetry, even in the underground is still not fully accepting of such aspects of the private sphere. Why can a writer be so honest on one account, yet not write openly about sexual matters without being hauled over hot coals?

It must be the little censor that lives in people. That internal voice that formed from religious teachings, political correctness and general social propriety. Things are fine and dandy to a point, but once you cross the line, it’s not funny, it’s not fun. For a lot of people this line is sex. And if sex is okay, it may only be to a certain point. Sex jokes in Mel Brooks movies are okay because they poke fun of the dirty deed, but Howard Stern joking about porn and masturbation is filth. Some would rather save sex for the bedroom than speak about it openly and frankly. I don’t know how many times my wife has said these exact words to me: “You know, there’s a line, and you always take that extra step over the line.” I take it as a compliment, but I don’t think she means it as a compliment. And if you read my more hardcore poems (Tales From a French Envelope or Garage on the Edge of Town), you’d realize I don’t have that internal censor. I don’t see this as a bad thing. I’d rather not hold anything back.

HST: Can you detach yourself somewhat from your own writing timeline, and see where you currently stand. Are you approaching your peak as a writer, or do you believe that you will continue to develop?

I hope I will continue to evolve as a writer. Once you stop evolving as a writer, your work dries up and you die. I’d hate for that to happen to me. I really like this writing thing.

HST: Lastly, I would like to descend into the lighter realm of triviality, which will end this interview in a perplexing manner – I was wondering, what do you usually eat for breakfast?

Placenta.

Visit:
http://tenpagespress.wordpress.com/
http://thunderclappress.com/

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

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