Tyson Bley interviewed by David F. Hoenigman
Link to Tyson’s book, Drive-Thru Zoo: http://gobbetmag.wordpress.com/books
What projects are you currently working on?
I’m always working on a poem, producing about three a week. I either put them on my blog, soapstain.blogspot, or reserve them for possible collections.
When and why did you begin writing?
About ten years ago. I started writing not because I felt I had something to say. I didn’t. But I had the urge to say something without being obnoxious – and the only way to do that, I felt, was via nightmare nonsense poetry. Perhaps along the way of writing consistently aimlessly I was meant to find something real to say, but I never did. And in a sense I’m glad: it would’ve spoiled what had turned into a therapeutic daily exercise of freewriting and dogged meaning-evasion I didn’t know I desperately needed. The moment there was a hint of a valid ‘point’ sticking its head out of a poem, I felt instantly deflated.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
What inspired you to write your first book?
I have a few self-published collections and a proper collection, Drive-Thru Zoo, brought out by Gobbet Press – my first concerted attempt to get something out there – the former just for the sake of keeping record, since they all belong to a certain era of development. I consider an ‘era’ a period of two months. Usually in writing a poem, I have no idea what I’m doing. It has a sense of newness. So time moves really slowly around the poem. But some are bad and some are good and after scraping some of the good ones together and seeing them huddled in a collection – I felt they needed a better home than the dusty vaults of Lulu (where many of them still reside).
How has your environment/upbringing colored your writing?
I try to write myself deep into the unknown, deliberately avoiding the comforts of familiar experiences and knowledge. When they do slip into my writing somehow, it feels gray and dated. Perhaps this is inadvertently a route back to the subconscious, which isn’t an abyss that allows itself to be directly stared into.
Do you have a specific writing style?
Style is a bit relative. The most boring style can be exciting to someone jaded by face-eating quirkiness. Although that may be more relief than excitement. And the person would need to be pretty jaded (to suddenly start liking boring styles). My own style is conservative. This may be the only area where I feel experimentation is not allowed. Changing my style even slightly I feel incredibly pretentious. It’s as though the effort is visible, luridly, and it’s embarrassing. Which is a pity. It would be nice to mess around with different styles.
Is there a message in your work that you want readers to grasp?
Only the sort of message you’d glean from looking at an inkblot.
What book are you reading now?
I’m reading, or have just finished reading, ‘This Book Is Full Of Spiders’ by David Wong.
What is the most misunderstood aspect of your work?
Any memories of particular works: the writing of, feedback, the thought behind…etc.
In Infinite Jest the father killed himself by putting his head in a microwave oven. He made a hole in the door and put tinfoil on the gap around his neck, if I remember correctly. With the door open the oven wouldn’t have worked. But then the son walked in and the son thought (or said aloud), ‘Something smells delicious!’ Along those lines. It was a long time ago that I read the book. But I think about that scene a lot .
Tyson Bley’s latest collection, Drive Thru Zoo, is published by gobbet press. He blogs at soapstain.
David F. Hoenigman is the author of BURN YOUR BELONGINGS (2010 Jaded Ibis Press) and SQUEAL FOR JOY (2014 JIP). He’s the founder and organizer of PAINT YOUR TEETH, an avant-garde live performance event regularly held in Tokyo. He’s an associate professor at Meikai University and also writes for The Japan Times. Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, he has lived in Japan since 1998. He’s currently working on his third novel MAN SEES DEMON.