Graham Isaac on Filthy Jerry’s Guide

Graham Isaac

Graham Isaac is a writer living and working in Seattle, Washington. He holds an MA in Creative and Media Writing from the University of Wales, Swansea, where he co-founded The Crunch, South Wales’ largest regularly running poetry and spoken word open mic. He hosts the monthly Works in Progress night at Richard Hugo House and co-curates Claustrophobia, an underground poetry and performance series around Seattle. He was also co-curator of Five Alarms: The Greenwood Lit Crawl.

In the first segment he talked about his perceptions of the Seattle literary scene, how some poets and events transcend the cliquishness of the community and how Carl Sandburg was among the poets he believes have served as a foundation for Seattle poetry. He talks about how the the city of Seattle was “founded by half by drunken logger whore-mongers and half hard-working Scandinavian and Dutch Protestants who highly believed in the value of education and highly believed in the value of the arts.” Part 1 (9:40)

In segment two, Graham discussed his early poetry influences, mostly those poets he saw in performance in Bellingham, including Coy King, Jack McCarthy and later poets like James Tate, C.A. Conrad, Marvin Bell, Charles Olson and others. He talked about how he ended up in Wales, going to school and curating a poetry reading series called The Crunch. Part 2 (7:18)

In the third segment, Graham talked about the inspiration for his latest chapbook Filthy Jerry’s Guide to Parking Lots. His apartment was almost surrounded by parking lots, which provided part of the inspiration and then his foray into writing poetry from a particular character’s point of view. He read the poem Foxes of Bainbridge (1:47)from the book and discussed the notion of recognizing we are moving into a post-industrial/post-colonial reality and that systems we have come to depend on are beginning to crash, as evidenced by the treatment of Bradley Manning as opposed to Wall Street Bankers who precipitated the great financial crash of 2008. Part 3 (10:12)

In part four he discussed why he employed the prose poem form for many of the poems in the book, how he occasionally has happy accidents when composing, finding phrases of images that he may not consciously understand, but recognizes is good writing. He also discussed his own cosmology and spiritual upbringing, how he comes from a long line of Free Methodist and Advent Christians. He read All Things Return to the Shari’s Parking Lot. (3:00) Part 4 (9:21).

In the fifth and final segment, Graham discussed the degree to which these poems are autobiographical, the importance of the Hugo House and other literary centers as well as his commitment to beauty and current project, revising The Third Best of All Possible Outcomes. He read All Things Return to the Dusty Liquor Shelf (1:30) after Richard Hugo’s Death of the Kapowsin Tavern. Part 5 (9:37)

His blog is: Somewhere in Colorado. You can find work at Babel Salvage

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