A review and an interview
HOWIE GOOD is an icon for POETRY! How to sum up his vision? ALL that is BRILLIANT, HILARIOUS, ULTRA-PROLIFIC, FREE-ROAMING MASTERY OF WORD SCULPTURES. MAGNIFICENT, UNFORGETTABLE, TRULY UNIQUE, and the MOST MODEST, GENEROUS BEING out there! I have an entire shelf dedicated to his work!
He will surely be horrified that I put this all in CAPITALS, but he is truly a human of the rarest kind who never expects anything, but does it all for the LOVE of the WORK!
And, he plays the UKELELE! How much MORE can one ADMIRE?
His latest collection, Frowny Face, combines his COLLAGES with POETRY! Now, that’s another gift. You receive two of his artistic talents in one outstanding collection, published by REDHAWK PUBLICATIONS! If Howie could only play his ukulele in the background, we’d be rocking an entire symphonic gem.
NO! There is certainly nothing missing in this sublime collection!
Here are a few quotes from Frowny Face:
“If I had had the proper encouragement growing up, who knows, I might not now be bent in the middle like a question mark, or wearing loose clothes to hide in, or counting out pills that will help me get through the day.”
“Poor humanity, always preparing for something that won’t happen or that already has.”
“My head feels like a locked doorknob that people keep trying with their germy hands–grabbing, rattling, yanking to no avail.”
“If there were any money in it, someone would bottle the tears we shed and sell them back to us online.”
“You know what they say, love means teaching a child to not step on a caterpillar.”
“Guards at the (Kafka) museum are hired in part for their ability to maintain a somber–some might say depressed–expression.”
“I’m not there even though I am.”
Howie Good never drowns us in insipid lines. There’s no filler. This book goes straight into the basements of history, ready to disclose their deep, dank corners of mildew.
So I asked Howie a few questions:
How many collections have you published?
I’m afraid I’ve lost count. Maybe between 30 and 40 collections of various lengths in print and online? I know how horrible this must sound – arrogant and self-satisfied – but I’m not really either. It’s just that once a thing is done, I let it go. That’s largely because I don’t want to rest on my so-called “accomplishments.” I feel like every collection is but prologue to what I should have written, should be writing. All that truly concerns me is my writing in the now.
What year did you first publish a collection?
My first collection was published in 2008 by Barry Graham as part of his Achilles Chapbook Series. He had previously published some of my prose poems in his online journal, Dogzplot.
What was it called?
Can you share some wisdom to the new batch of writers out there publishing everywhere and working to get a collection together?
I can’t claim to have much in the way of “wisdom” in these matters. What I have had is remarkably good luck in encountering editors and writers who have been generous with their guidance and support. These are people I have never met in person or even spoken to on the phone, but who found something interesting about my writing and have done what they can to nurture it and me. Dale Wisely, who operates a lineup of online journals under the umbrella of Ambidextrous Bloodhound Press, has been a faithful and indefatigable supporter of my writing for 20 years. Mike James, a wonderful poet who tragically passed away recently, advocated for my work with his own publisher, Redhawk Publications, which has since brought out two volumes of my poetry, Swimming in Oblivion and Frowny Face. I didn’t plan for things like this to happen. I had no reason to expect that they would. But they did, mostly because an editor who published a poem of mine or a writer whom I was published alongside adopted me as a project, a colleague, a friend. Writers in general, and poets in particular, are often thought to be egotistical, competitive, and petulant, and maybe many actually are. It’s been my fortune, though, to dwell among a different breed, writers willing to take precious time away from their own work to encourage and promote mine. It’s not me who is special; it’s them.
When did you start creating your fantastic collages?
About a year ago, while recovering from back surgery, I began making collages to distract myself from the pain and to have a creative outlet when I felt too physically depleted to write. Although not formally trained in visual arts (or in poetry either, for that matter), I have long had an interest in drawing, photography, etc. Making collages became a way to catalyze that interest. Eventually it occurred to me that the collages might be juxtaposed with my prose poems, serve as illustrations and commentaries on them, which is how they function in Frowny Face, my latest book.
How has dealing with health issues changed themes or altered your prolificity?
Healthwise, the past year has been hell. In August 2023 I got diagnosed with a liposarcoma, an extremely rare type of tumor. Following surgery to remove it, I underwent six weeks of radiation therapy. There was a period immediately after radiation concluded when I struggled with brain fog. I had difficulty organizing my thoughts or even having any thoughts worth having. Somehow, I fought through it.
My cancer diagnosis is still too recent for me to assess how it has changed my outlook or affected my writing. I do find I take rejections less to heart. There are, I have discovered, far worse things in life.
What is the link to buy “Frowny Face”? And what is the name of the cancer center that 100% of proceeds are going to?
Interested parties can purchase my latest book, Frowny Face, a synergistic mix of prose poems and handmade collages, from Redhawk Publications at here. I am donating 100 percent of my royalties to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. Dana-Farber operates, among other things, the Jimmy Fund, which sponsors research into and treatment of childhood cancers.
Anything else you’d like to add: some wisdom for all of us out there working our art?
I would recommend following Flaubert’s advice: “Be regular and orderly in your life like a bourgeois, so that you may be violent and original in your work.”
Can’t ask for more powerful advice than this! Thank you so much, Howie Good, for sharing some of your experiences with us!
BIG BIG LOVE TO ALL! Get a copy of Frowny Face, and check out Howie Good’s incredible body of work!
Meg Tuite’s latest collection is Three By Tuite. She is author of six story collections and five chapbooks. She won the Twin Antlers Poetry award for her poetry collection, Bare Bulbs Swinging and is included in Best of Small Press 2021 and Wigleaf’s Top 50 stories for 2022, 2023. She teaches writing retreats and online classes hosted by Bending Genres. She is also the fiction editor of Bending Genres and associate editor at Narrative Magazine. Visit her website at megtuite.com.