On Wednesday, April 24nd, David Lawton will Headline the Open Mic/Feature at Milk and Roses. He will be reading poems from his NEW book of poems Sharp Blue Stream, published by Three Rooms Press. So, who is David Lawton?
1. Your new book, Sharp Blue Stream (three rooms press), is described as “narrative poems touching on rock n’ roll idols, beat icons, jazz and power…” If you were asked to write a review of this book, what might you say?
Well I don’t know if I’d be good as a reviewer, but the full story is that the book maps the “stream” of my life so far. The love of my family and the pain of losing those we love. The way that music and art can inspire and heal, and how being a maker of art empowers. How the littlest details bind us together and drive us crazy, and the silliest things can save us. The way I learned to follow the flow of the stream and leave what didn’t follow behind.
2. On stage, you are like lightening, erupting in various speeds through the cadence and power of your language. Can you talk about how you decide which way the words come out when performing?
Number one, you need to listen to your instincts. There’s a way a piece sounds in your head when you write it, but often, you have to unlock it. Rhythm is important to me. The way the words slap against each other in your mouth. Each poem is an event in itself, and can have its own tone and energy. You are the instrument to deliver the experience of the poem.
3. Are there any songs/musicians that you listen to when writing? Who are some of your influences?
I am hugely influenced by music in general and rock songwriters especially. I don’t generally listen to them while I write, because I wouldn’t get any work done. But my major influences would include The Beatles, Tom Waits, Warren Zevon, Johnny Cash, Lou Reed, John Cale, Iggy, Bowie, Jonathan Richman, P-Funk, Slim Gaillard, Sun Ra. Their economy of language inspires, but also their performance. There is a poem in the book about a live performance I attended by Sonny Rollins, and one about a recording of a string arrangement by Van Dyke Parks which each poured out of me immediately after I heard them. Usually I work very methodically.
4. You’ve been described as “a rascal”. How do you make mischief with your poems?
I try to bring humor whenever I can. An irreverence. Self-deprecation. Playfulness. I am not trained as a poet. I’m trained as an actor. So sometimes I play with forms without actually following them. I’m sure that drives the formalists crazy, but I want the poem to be the unique thing it is, even if “imperfect”.
5. Boston is etched in your veins and you are not quiet about your love for this beautiful city. How has it weaved itself in your writing?
The humor I just referred to is def a Boston Irish thing. Is often dry, sometimes sophomoric. The fact that I grew up in a Catholic milieu, in working class suburbs, in the classic rock era, all informs my stuff even though I’ve lived in New York for 29 years. And the Red Sox season affects my productivity. LET’S GO BAWSTON!!!
BIO: DAVID LAWTON is a native of Woburn, Massachusetts, and a graduate of the Theatre Performance program at Boston University, where he was also a Guest Artist in the Graduate Playwriting classes taught by Nobel Laureate (in poetry) Derek Walcott. He has acted in several Off-Broadway plays, and had his plays performed Off-Off Broadway. For 10 years, he sang background vocals with the late 80s underground band Leisure Class. At the band’s de facto headquarters in the Chelsea Hotel, he befriended Beat godfather Herbert Huncke and San Francisco poet Marty Matz and was inspired by their embodiment of the written word. (bio courtesy of Three Rooms Press)