Wednesday, January 25, 2023

GAS Members Interview Poet, PW Covington


GAS: How would you describe your “voice” as a writer?

PW: I write a lot about place and space and how that intersects with identity and experience. Whether I’m exploring form, persona, theme, or atmosphere, real or imagined, I always try to offer the reader a view into a life.
That life may or may not be mine, it may not be the reader’s, but I do hope to lend voice and elevation to some intersection, where the great Leonard Cohen called “the holy places where the races meet”.

GAS: How has that “voice” changed over the years?

PW: When I first began reading poetry in public, a lot of my work was rooted in my experiences emotionally, spiritually, and culturally re-adjusting, following duty as a Peacekeeper in East Africa.
I became categorized as a “Veteran Poet” by many…I still have a difficult time thinking of myself as a “poet” and not cracking a smile or shaking my head, nevertheless being expected to speak FOR or AS ‘the voice of’ any group, or anybody besides myself.
    Back then, with Right Wing, Desert War, Ego-Armed, Flag-Fellating, “patriotism” running rampant in the part of the country where I was first reading, I found it challenging to present a more evolved, more healed, and inclusive spectrum of voices (plural), while still sharing my writing in an engaging, relatable, entertaining context.
I hope I have been successful in that, more often than I have failed.

GAS: How has the path of poetry changed for you through the years?

PW: I’ve always tried to bring the work-ethic and opportunism modeled by gigging musicians to my career as a poet and performer.
The first time I ever rode an airplane, off to read words I wrote, to people that wanted to hear them, it set my head spinning!
I’m just a drop-out kid from some tiny oil-patch town in Texas that you’ve never heard of; writers do not come from there.
    I’d drive 100 miles or more, one-way, to sign up and read at open mics in cities like San Antonio and Austin. I’d stay ‘til the very end, hanging on every word by every reader…I’d study these poets…then, I’d drive back home, at night, down dimly lit state highways and county roads, once or twice a week.
The carbon footprints I left, crisscrossing, the Eagle Ford oilfields of South Texas wouldn’t earn any kudos from Greta, but all that driving and all that poetry fed my soul and kept my creative fires stoked for years.
    Soon, I was being invited to share more of my work as a featured reader, at events once or twice a year.
These days, I enjoy introducing other poets and writers to venues and spaces that have resonated with me, and encouraged my work.
I try to spend about 100 days, every year, out on the road, performing and facilitating workshops; sharing and listening to Indie poets, across the country.
The path of poetry, to me, for me, has always been the path to the horizon…and beyond.

GAS:  What do you like best about being a poet?

PW:  The amazing pay and benefits package! Knowing that I can usually purchase an entire fast-food value meal with my monthly Amazon royalties is an amazing ego-boost!
    I’ve always valued the friendships and sustained collaborative experiences, over decades, that get built among those that stick it out, and keep showing up, that keep encouraging new and unsteady voices, that come to be true family.
As writers, and beyond that, as poets, we often stand metaphorically and  occasionally, physically, stripped bare in front of our audiences…in front of each other, exploring the very best and the very worst of what humanity is made of; the very best and the very worst in ourselves and each other. That can be an incredibly volatile and rewardingly ego-destroying space to occupy, once you’ve learned to appreciate it, that way.
The friendships that thrive at that level of vulnerability and ‘No Bullshit Tolerated” can end up being their own rewards and encouragement.
    Poets do not work in the physical realm anyway; we are, at our best, pushers and peddlers of the Spirit…I believe it’s that realm where the true rewards of poetry are found.

GAS: What is it about modern life that most inspires you to write?

PW: Swimming against the grain, here, but, Social Media.
    I enjoy being able to keep up with joys and challenges in the lives of friends all over the world…their local projects and concerns, their shared humanity and responses to events of the day encourage me to keep my beliefs and views flexible and inclusive.
I enjoy being able to see and share work from, for, and with readers and writers at all levels of development and personal truth-discovery.
Any voice that stretches my understanding, either through endorsement or challenge of my lived experience, is silver; those that introduce entirely new thought-worlds, are gold.
    I’ve become quite receptive to dialog and conversation-based Social Media interactions for daily inspiration and perspective in my writing projects.

GAS:  You write novels and short stories too. How long have you been writing?

PW:  Seriously, since the mid-late 1990's. I do enjoy short fiction, and I've published one novel...which was optioned (but declined) by a production company, back a few years ago, but live performance of poetry is my passion and where I've found the most fulfillment, if not 'success' , through the years.

GAS:  Tell us about your most recent poetry project:

PW:  I’m super-excited that Poetry is Dead: An Inclusive Anthology of Deadhead Poetry, which I edited, and published last year, through my micro-press, Hercules Publishing,  has been selected to be presented at the Southwest Popular/American Culture Association’s (SWPACA) 44th annual  conference, next month!

It was so much fun, sharing this collection of poems, submitted by folks from around the planet, in the stands and on the parking lots at Dead & Company shows, this past Summer Tour, and it’s going to be a blast sharing the enthusiasm and community that this project sprang from, right back with the scene that birthed it!
We’ll be back out at shows, in Boulder and San Francisco, with this collection, come summer, but not before Professor Andy “Sunfrog” Smith of Tennessee Tech University (who wrote the collection’s foreword) and Central New Mexico Community College educator and KUNM NPR personality Don McIver join me to present this anthology for SWPACA, in support of their mission to promote an innovative and nontraditional academic movement in the humanities and social sciences celebrating America’s cultural heritages.
Whether poetry is being written and shared to support the healing of trauma survivors, to elevate and amplify marginalized voices across identities and cultures, to express awe and connection between lovers, to challenge systems and the status quo, or to acknowledge the spirit of community that develops among fans and followers of a psychedelic rock and roll band, poetry is the glue that holds community together.
It is language elevated with meaning and artistry. When we choose to share it, we join a chorus that began before time itself, and will echo for as long as words are read.
    Please visit my website at

Thursday, January 19, 2023

GAS Members Interview Poet and Artist, Belinda Subraman

Recent photo from Beyond Van Goph

GAS: What life event drew you into poetry? 

BELINDA: I was dyslexic and had a hard time learning to read. I finally learned to put my finger under the letters and pronounce each one. Even today I hear myself read each word inside my head. It was in the 6th grade that I became excited by poetry. I don’t remember what prompted me to read books of poetry.  Maybe it was my teacher, Mrs. Woodruff.  I remember writing poems in the 7th grade.  They were often humorous and classmates enjoyed them and passed them around. I can say poetry has been an important part of my life since around eleven years old.

GAS: Are you a musician? 

BELINDA: I don’t think so but I can make some cool sounds on steel tongue drums and I took African drumming lessens for years. Sample:

GAS:  Regarding the visual arts, are you taught or self taught? 

BELINDA: Self taught, but I read books, see videos, go to museums, etc. All those things tigger excitement to try new things. Only recently do I feel like I’m finding my own voice.

Inside a Combination Lock.  Mixed Media.

GAS: How is the place you live reflected in your creative work?  

BELINDA: I live in the desert. Cacti seems to pop up in a lot of my paintings and I grew up playing in a forest so trees often appear.  However, mostly I paint abstracts. As for poetry (and art), everything thing I’ve experienced plays into it as well as the places I’ve lived. One time I wrote down all the places I’ve lived and it came to about 25. I’ve lived in a lot of states, lived in Germany for six years and traveled to many countries.

My Desert. Mixed media.

GAS: How did GAS: Poetry Art and Music come about?

BELINDA: I’ll try to make a long story short. I started appearing in small magazines under different names in the 70s (Belinda Bumgarner, Mary Eldreth, Belinda Subramanian).

Some of my chapbooks from last century, before Print On Demand.

I started a magazine in 1984 called Gypsy, mostly because we were moving every couple of years or so. 1994 was the last regular publication of Gypsy and Vergin' Press for a long while.  In the early 2000s I did one more print issue called Loose Leaf Gypsy. It had hand-colored drawings, poems and photos on 100 lb. paper.  The poetry was bound in the middle of a folder and the side pockets held art that you could frame. That was way too expensive so the next Gypsy was online.  I did three issues online back when personal computers were still fairly new.  I didn’t know how to code and used a Flash program that not everyone could see. Somewhere in all this time I went through a divorce, went to nursing school and became a hospice nurse (as well as producing a weekly interview show and being politically active). Around 2007 I did a blog called Gypsy Art Show and did articles about poetry, art and music. A couple of people contributed reviews and essays from time to time.  After a few years I bought the domain name but when it came time to renew the name I could never do it. There was no way.  I kept going in circles.  I lost the blog and “they” tried to sell my name back to me for $5,000.  Heck with that.  In 2020 I started GAS: Poetry, Art and Music which you are reading right now.   I also started a video component to GAS which you can click on from this site. Example:

 Cover art by Jocelyne Desforges. 
Poetry, art and music by to Andy Clausen, Doug Adamz, Dan Nielsen, Jack Albert, Tony Hansen, Karla Van Vliet, Joshua Michael Stewart, Christopher Ethan Burton, Beat Poet Society (Bengt O Björklund, Anna-Bella Munter) Mark Saba, Amy Randolph, Nathan D. Horowitz, Jose Varela, Emocat (Heidi R Blakeslee), Henry Stanton and Ken Clinger.

GAS:  Are you able to discuss the concept of ”success” in the arts?

BELINDA: That would be different for each artist.  I have created things all my life but only recently was able to call myself an artist. I only started showing my paintings on the internet about 4 years ago.  The first one I showed several people asked if it was for sale. I was amazed and stunned and just said I’d never thought about it. But I gave a price and someone came to pick it up. I continued to post new paintings and requests to buy came in nearly every time. It took awhile to part with more paintings and to figure out what they were worth, or rather what price it would take for me to part with them.  Somewhere around this time I started considering myself an artist. I always thought of an artist as a sort of magician and finally decided I was making magic too.

Brambles. Mixed Media. Lucky Trifecta:  Cover art of EPOCH  (Scotland) and Chrysalis (El Paso) and 2nd place winner in the Sun Bowl Exhibit 2022, longest running art show in the Southwest.

GAS: Do you find more inspiration, re:subject matter, from outside or inside yourself?

I don’t think I can make a distinction like that because everything we witness goes through our own filters and forms our unique interpretations based on our knowledge and experience or lack of them.  I guess the answer is both.  I do tend to be more philosophical now so sometimes my writing is more about ideas but that came from a lifetime of synthesizing experiences.

My Amazon Author page

Thursday, January 12, 2023

GAS Featured Writer: Ken Poyner


Ken Poyner has ten books behind him; eight still in print that can be found at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Sundial Books, and just about everywhere else.  He is married to a world class female powerlifter, and lives additionally with rescue cats and betta fish.  He retired as soon as he could from his government job, and now enjoys the thrill of getting lost during short travel trips.  Individual works have appeared in Analog, Furious Gazelle, Rune Bear, and many other venues.  Visit


He is going to find the owner of the cigar.  He has been smelling it ever since being abandoned on this bench.  The moment he was alone, the odor of it pierced him.  He can see no source:  left, right or in front.  Behind is a garden fence.  Thick stone, with concrete leveler.  He can only see over it if he stands on the bench.  Positioned, eyes barely past the fence top, he sees standing by an outgrowth of wild flowers the friend who had just left, smoking a cigar. He leaps from the bench, seeking a suitable throwing rock.



She asks again that the department store not dress the front window mannequins so scantily.  Full dresses, winter coats.  Nothing sleeveless.  Keep the neckline up, the hemline down. For heaven’s sake, no lingerie.  Our boys get ideas.  We have to drag them gawking sideways by those windows.  Leave them alone, and they stand at attention, imagining variations on this storefront classroom.  This department store leaves her so much to undo.  Don’t get her started about her husband and the silly nothings he brings home for her to wear.  It is not something she ever wants to explain to her daughter.



He wonders why a cricket outdoors is soothing, but one in the house annoying.  They are the same insect, they make the same sound.  Early evenings outdoors they are a joy, particularly in multitude.  Quibble looks forward to sitting on his porch, drawing strength from their sound.  Even by an open window, their voices leaking in pleasantly paper the heart.  Close the window, shut the door, and even one cricket stitching in domestic air is a challenge.  Half the night Quibble will chase the sound, rolled up newspaper in hand.  This is his house.  There will be no crackling defiance.



He can’t remember when his grandson became his charge.  One day the boy was here and that day no one came to pick him up.  Family what it is, Quibble took on the responsibility of raising him.  He converted the spare room, began collecting boy furniture and clothes and toys.  His wife was at first not pleased and required a terror of convincing. But she adored how Quibble doted on the boy, slid comfortably into the role of a grandfather.  Tasting his delight, she imagined he would have been a good father, had they not decided to have no children.



Quibble loves to watch clouds.  Long hours he lies on his back in his close-cropped yard and stares at them dancing with what he believes is purpose.  At times, he can be in the town square settled in one of the four uncomfortable public benches, fixed on whatever clouds, no matter how few, warble angrily above him. Most citizens think that, like everyone, he sees faces and animals, shoreline and suggestive whisps.  No.  Quibble worries the clouds mean him harm, make him part of their rain-dreary schemes.  At night, the clouds creep closer, they stitch themselves with moonbeams into malice.

Thursday, January 5, 2023

Review of J. D. Nelson’s “in ghostly onehead” by Jerome Berglund



If you read literary journals, chapbooks, print and digital magazines you very plausibly are no stranger to the extraordinary, inventive, captivating poetry of J.D. Nelson.  A master and expert in a wide variety of forms, as comfortable in the pure and stunning nature subjects of haiku as he is with surrealist, dada, absurd, thrillingly experimental modes he is best known and revered for, I was admiring this poet’s exquisite collections (and many years of epic, fruitful publications fastidiously inventoried on his polished, immaculate website MadVerse which any aspiring publishing poet can benefit from frequently visiting) long before I dipped my toes into the writing game personally, or had the great privilege of making his kind and generous acquaintance through the wonderfully potent platform of connection and collaboration Twitter provides for likeminded, gregarious creatives! 


So it was with great excitement and anticipation that I learned of this upcoming, career-defining collection “in ghostly onehead” many years in the making, laying out painstakingly in crackling glory the grandest achievements and finest examples from a career which has spanned two productive decades, includes over two thousand published poems in upwards of 300 distinct venues from a genius talent carrying the luminous torch of the Beats and French avant-garde into our singular digital era.  This is J.D.’s first full length collecting of poetry (his seminal Cinderella City released by Red Ceilings ten years back, available to download at no cost, has long been regarded as downright iconic) and you don’t want to miss it.  From his legendary subterranean laboratory (also renowned for its sound art, available through Bandcamp under the banner of Owl Brain Atlas) this recent Best of the Net nominee has compiled something truly special in a slick, riveting volume.  From its glorious cover artwork – the mossy Gothic arche pair wonderfully, capture eponymous ‘ghostly onehead’ idea – to the intriguing and memorable title, as the poet continues his tradition of specifying the length of time the pieces within were composed over, spanning a round two thousand days from his Coloradan location, one gets an immediate sense of the enormity of the venture and its cumulative weight. 

A dedication to his niece and nephews also provides readers with an immediate appreciation and understanding of what a considerate and caring person Nelson is in life, anyone who has had the great pleasure and privilege of interacting with him individually is well aware of his equal famousness as thoughtful human being, caring proponent of the vulnerable – championing both homo sapien and animal rights, laboring for and magnanimously supporting efforts for peace, economic, racial, environmental justice – and struggling populations, amazing mentor and resource to fellow aspiring poets and artists, in the writing community he has earned a well deserved reputation as elder statesman, senpai and role model, deep respect from editors and contributors alike, has made invaluable contributions to any journal big or small worth its salt invariably, recently also been dazzling the short form world with spectacular haiku with classical sensibility one would be hard pressed to observe outside of Red Moon anthologies, the collected works of English virtuosos such as Richard Wright. 


And here with surrealism of the highest order J.D. similarly shines and amazes, will leave the reader absolutely astounded.  There’s something so inherently enjoyable about allowing dada poetry to immerse you, like enjoying an unpredictable but fantastic dream.  It’s a wondrous and stimulating experience, akin to navigating one of those immersive aquariums through a glass tunnel down the center, surrounded by marine life on all sides, floating past beside and above!  Yet the flashes of humanity, joy and pain, hope and suffering that emerge, illuminate sporadically like bioluminescent fish, somehow manage then to hit harder than ever being lulled into a false sense of security once you’ve settled into the sensory freedom of surrealism and abstraction…?!  It’s also astonishing to find Dada with such a meditative, Zen sensibility, there’s something beautifully Eastern and timeless energizing terrifically modern — in terms of form — poems like “the detroit rock! rock! rock! liver” with its closing line, “the faint ‘coo, coo’ of the mourning dove”.  Nelson’s deep appreciation for and command of the Japanese short forms, many years of experience composing elegant, hard-hitting, top caliber haiku certainly inform and galvanize the economic, punchy, charged snippets of meaning in thrilling fashion, and the pivots at times almost resemble the classic shifts of a masterful chain poem or renga if viewed from a certain angle! 


The gems of social and climate consciousness, and righteous concerns and deft critique, are also not to be overlooked or discounted, such as ‘the water water’, an urgent missive amplifying and giving voice to both a planet and the next generation fated to inhabit it (to whom this collection has been addressed explicitly), in powerful passages such as “earth is the water”…   There are deep qualms but also cautious optimism balanced and moderated thoughtfully: “closing another bank account at midnight…the help is the thinking cube”.


(The suggestion, legitimate earnest brainstorm to call the aliens for help — in the first poem of the second section — is also a quite reasonable outside the box solution one can’t entirely laugh at or dismiss in these dismal, apocalyptic times… <_<)


Indeed, a leitmotif of lifesaving liquid (“what is water?”) recurs a few times throughout, is quite reasonably on the modern everyman's mind, and gets articulated here with legitimate primacy.  Other striking symbols including the worm, boots, monsters, salt, pants, and the act of humming — reproducing the sound the universe makes? — recur notably and deserve attention and patient consideration.  But earth, as supporting character and often protagonist, is the most omnipresent and heavily featured force and focus of these poems, and is one of the takeaways readers will no doubt retain on their minds long after concluding.


The numerous years of hard, diligent labor that went into this are appreciable, and also charmingly apparent in occasional self-reflexive asides, echoes intruding from the outside world as near the end of ‘eye milk’ a third of the way through: “are you still writing your book?”  These interruptions further situate the collection in the fascinating, aware and fourth-wall-breaking traditions of confessional poets such as Hemingway and Buk’, Berryman and of course his revered Beat influences!


It’s a shame J.D. was not born in a more receptive era or anointed scion to some influential line, for he is without a doubt one of the most unified with the universe’s creative forces individual I may ever have witnessed. There is a sadness in that responsibility, a loneliness to the task and duty (or ‘dharma’ even), the thankless and at times outright self-defeating aspects of this noble calling — “a machine, alone at night” — like the nomadic sanyasin of Hindu traditions, the wandering monks of Japanese poetry’s golden age, the underappreciated geniuses of impressionism toiling in obscurity crafting the greatest masterpieces of all time, yet facing enormous difficulties in their lives from beginning to end as a rule with few exceptions…


Personally, I’d love to see posterity’s many accomplished luminaries receive more deserved recognition in their lifetimes.  As readers (and many of us writers) we can help with that by supporting outstanding figures, valuing their work and celebrating it, sharing with friends and family.  Can’t encourage you enough to start here, this collection is out of this world, something truly significant and mesmerizing I so hope society learns of and has opportunity to sit with, reflect upon, enjoy thoroughly.  Congratulations to the author for bringing this monumental achievement to print, it makes a phenomenal testament to his prolific career and a fine introduction for fresh readers to many profound capabilities, rich materials to be unearthed in his earlier chapbooks and countless sizzling publications across the interwebs.  Poetry for appreciators of Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell, Jack Kerouac and Baudelaire!!

Jerome Berglund graduated from the cinema-television production program at the University of Southern California, and has spent much of his career working in television and photography. His work has been featured prominently in many journals, including as haiga in Abstract magazine, gracing the cover of pacificREVIEW, and appearances in Drunk Monkeys, Evocations, Landing Zone, Oxford Magazine, and Please See Me last year.  His pictures have further been published and awarded in local papers, and in 2019 he staged an exhibition in the Twin Cities area which included a residency of several months at a local community center.  A selection of his black and white fine art photographs was showcased at the Pause Gallery in New York, and his fashion photography is currently on display at the BG Gallery in Santa Monica.