13 Questions with John Dervishian

by HST UK on June 27, 2012

Following on from our interview with Adam Schirling we thought it best to seek out the poet he collaborated with on the gloriously frank ‘Nightmares & Lullabies’ – John Dervishian….

HST: Hello, John. Did you and Adam thoroughly plan how this collection was going to go, or did you just work from a loose theme of moonlight boozing?

Let me start by saying this, I met Adam after searching the web for real estate to put my poems on and it was difficult. Until I came across his site, Drunken Absurdity. I liked his style of writing and thinking; and so I figured that could be home for me. And it was and has been. He has been a big supporter of mine. So when he asked me to collaborate I was psyched, because I know there are many others he could have asked. So with that said.

We have always talked about getting together to do some readings but never discussed doing a book. When I the got a message from him asking if I wanted to do a chapbook with him I immediately, just like a virgin boy who just had his first piece, responded right back with , “fuck yeah”. So there was no loose theme of any kind but there has been booze and cannabis behind those writings.

HST: I’m interested in what kind of drinker you are, and how alcohol factors in to your creative process?

Jack and Coke would be my choice thanks to an old gal, Cheryl, who got me started. But (yes I started a sentence with but), considering the economy I would take a Narragansett Lager or the good taste of Pabst Blue Ribbon.

Alcohol and cannabis both have played a factor in my process. It is what got me started writing, as it helped me through my internal depression. I’m not condoning it, to each his own. At this point I don’t rely it on it to write. But it doesn’t hurt.

HST: Is the bar the last bastion of unbridled masculinity?

I think it is. In this day of age men have become too feminine; shaving bodies, manicuring eyebrows, skinny jeans… So the bar is “the last bastion of unbridled masculinity”. A place to go, on your own, to sit and show you don’t need anyone there with you to have a good time. “That’s manly”.

HST: There are several poems that address female behaviour in the social setting of a pub or a bar; who are the women in your poems?

These woman can be any female that catches me. I consider women to be like a priceless piece of art that people look at to get a smile or feeling. So why not write about it too. I typically and am in tune to people watching in general. I could write about a rock too if thought provoked. Noting that I’m not comparing women to rocks.

HST: There is a sense of inadequacy and shame lingering throughout both halves of the book. Is it difficult to meet the expectations of what Society (and I use that in the broadest terms) expects a man to be?

It’s difficult to meet expectations of society for anyone, not just as a man. We are all expected to be certain ways. It’s funny because when I first started writing I rarely shared it because I didn’t think it cool to be writing poetry as a male. I was never exposed to poetry or totally ignored it so didn’t have anyone to identify with. I joke and say, “I came out of the closet as a poet”.

HST: I also asked Adam this, but what is your favourite poem in his half of the collection?

Ok there are two actually; ‘the liquid distractions’ and ‘to fuck middle-aged hooker’. I am jealous I did not think of those or experienced them “haha”. They are well written. But if I had to choose it would be , “to fuck middle aged hooker”. It’s simple and entertaining to read. It combines the sarcasm, humor and deepness, which to me makes a great poem.

HST: What does the work of Charles Bukowski mean to you?

I tell you, I did not come across Charles Bukowski or any other poets for that matter until around 2009 when my friend, Pete (http://desimonecreations.com/id1.html) mentioned him. I was hooked. He’s a crass, simple, entertaining writer for people who want to hear it like it is. I am no-where in his class of writing but have no doubt I could be. The older I get the more crowded my mind becomes.

HST: I enjoyed reading ‘in the psychiatrist waiting room’ that was featured online http://boyslut.wordpress.com/2011/11/28/one-poem-john-dervishian/ Have you gone through Therapy?

My career in therapy began when I started having anxiety attacks and thought I was dying. After several hospital trips, tubes down my throat and tubes up my ass I was told I was having Anxiety. So, following my 7 year relationship, a year of group therapy and medication I am 75 percent healed.

HST: How do you note down what you observe? Are you the type of writer who scribbles on napkins, do you keep a pen and pad in your pocket, or do you make a mental note and vomit out the content of when you stagger through the front door in the early hours?

Haha,,, there have been times I would try to remember the theme of my thoughts but now I have been using the notes application on the Apple Iphone and type it one finger at a time.

HST: How did you become involved in poetry readings? Do you get nervous before performing your poems aloud?

I got involved through a friend who ran a promotion company (http://www.ellitepromotions.net) that ran “poetry cove”. So that is where I got my start. I’m always nervous before I go up because I do want people to enjoy what I read. So, I might have a couple drinks before hand.

HST: Tell us a bit more about your other collections ‘Purification: Cleansing of a contaminated soul” and “You can’t get inside my head it’s already crowded”, and why should we seek them out?

Well, purification was a collection of poems that were written in my early years. If you pick up the two books you will see a noticeable difference in my writing. It took a different path. Same themes but how I wrote them down is different.

Overcrowded takes the path of storytelling and shows the combination of my sadness, happiness and humor. It’s the same in Nightmares & Lullabies.

My poetry is not traditional in writing which makes it an interesting read. The stuff I write is my life, regardless of what goes on. It’s not covered with tons of metaphors (nothing against metaphors). It’s to the point. I have been told that I write what people think; want to say or feel and I have also been told that it sucks.

HST: I was reluctant to touch upon the Matt Damon connection, but as a Massachusetts native I was wondering what your opinion is on how his and his buddy Ben Affleck’s films portray the State (although most of their films seem to be set in Boston)?

I will say that any movie that ever takes place in Boston puts an overemphasis on the accents, no matter who it is.

HST: The State also contains many big sporting franchises. Are you a Sports fan, if so then who do you follow?

I am not. I have tried and tried. I will go to them for the drinking and will wear the sports hat but that’s it. My friends in college always made fun of me because I couldn’t stand Sundays.

The kicker is now though that I actually am a fan of The Greenbay Packers and Favre. This started because me and my friend, Chris (no website to insert), started gambling and I made a lot on money on the Pack.


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