Michael Dwayne Smith


Michael Dwayne Smith comes from Mojave Desert, California

How long have you been writing? Have been writing since I was a kid (is one answer) but about every other day I ask myself whether what I’m doing is writing (as opposed to just typing). Crippling self-doubt is my superpower.

What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment as a writer? Honestly feel happy and relieved each time my work gets published. There are excellent writers entering the fray continuously, year after year, so staying power is worth plenty. I refuse to pay entry or reading fees— the prize circuit is not something that attracts. Books are excruciating and rewarding, but if I had to pick a single moment, it would probably be Frederick Barthelme selecting my prose poem “Camera Lux” for publication. This was my first publication since abandoning poetry and fiction writing for some fifteen years (don’t ask), and I’m always writing to get to a reader, that one reader willing to take the full ride, so yeah, having that one reader be Barthelme told me I was right to come back to it.

What projects of yours have been recently published? New book release from Cholla Needles Press is Roadside Epiphanies, a poetry collection, and signed copies are available at MojaveRiverPress.storenvy.com. I will be your friend if you buy my book. That’s how easy I am.

What are you currently working on and what inspired this work? Currently juggling a few projects, most of which are driven by a tornado of thoughtful anger and disappointment vis a vis the American Horror Show. There is a book of poems, very near completion, currently entitled Hanging the Bear, which chronicles a daunting and derelict stumble into American “manhood”; another book near completion which pairs my cynical, snarky Americanism/capitalism poems with surrealist comix panels by my son, an artist and graphic novelist; two collaborations with a long-time photographer friend, one a comic surrealist radio play and the other a book pairing poems with photos from small desert towns; a set of poetry videos (slow going); and emerging manuscripts for 3-4 chapbooks. Whew. Will I live long enough?

Where can we find your work? I’ve insinuated poems and stories throughout the interwebs, places like The Cortland Review, New World Writing, Gravel, Word Riot, Blue Fifth Review, FRiGG, Heron Tree, Heavy Feather Review, Pirene’s Fountain, MockingHeart Review, Monkeybicycle, deComp, >kill author, WhiskeyPaper, Literary Orphans. Print journals include Chiron Review, Skidrow Penthouse, burntdistrict, San Pedro River Review, Cholla Needles, and my poems continue to be anthologized.

How do you react to rejections? Rejections are a significant part of the process, right? I live in an area where there ain’t nobody to hang out with, swap work, talk over coffee or whiskey about poems or stories. It’s Trumpland. Hallmark is Poet Laureate. Of course, there is this one ancient desert rat who paints his cowboy poems onto rusty old saws (yes, I have a poem about that guy), but he is definitely not into other people’s thoughts and ideas. Point being, rejections are my source of conversation about work— when they roll in, and friends they roll in wave after wave, I scrunch myself over the lines again, grind out every little improvement I’m capable of and send them back out into the cold. As mentioned before, it’s worth it when, one by one, they get adopted, find a home, like my recent poem “Fire to Fire” at James Diaz’s Anti-Heroin Chic, and of course “Alison Asks Me About This Poem I’m Writing” right here at Ramingo’s Porch. The latter is particularly satisfying because it’s one of those pieces that feels like it represents the intersection of me writing and you reading within a city-sized sprawl of contemporary consciousness.

How do you react when one of your submissions is accepted for publication? Fuel in the tank. Let’s go!

What is your best piece of advice on how to stay sane as a writer? Sanity is overrated and writing is the time zone that frees us from an absurd and cruel human reality. For me that zone is made possible by a good woman, good music, and good whiskies. Lucky I am to have all three.

What is your favorite book? The Oxford Universal Dictionary.

Who is your favorite author? Depends what day you ask. Today it’s Wanda Coleman, who owned L.A. every bit as much as Buk did.

If you could have dinner with one fictional character, who would it be and why? Beatrice, from Much Ado About Nothing. Dinner calls for wit, and wit with beauty makes for intoxication. Why just have a meal when one can fall desperately in love?

What makes you laugh? People who, as a rule, take themselves seriously.

What makes you cry? These days? In the age of Mein Drumpf? Everything.

What is your preferred drink while you write? Whiskies, Scotch or American or Irish or Japanese or… well, you get the idea. These days, as I work toward completion of my next book, I’m working my way through a bottle of Irish that’s called Writers Tears. Quite tasty. Drop by and share a dram.

What is your favorite food? Enjoy foods of all sorts from all places, but must admit the one type of food I could eat three times a day for the rest of my life would be tacos. Anyone who makes me tacos and pours me a whiskey has my devotion.

Shakespeare or Bukowski? False dilemma! They were both carousers who wrote mostly to and for women, and they both eschewed the conventions of their day, inventing a new approach to writing as they went along. They would have been fast friends and hilarious drinking buddies. Besides, I read everyone. I pity them that’s not eclectic. It’s a big universe out there and there ain’t much time to enjoy it all.

Personal website/blog: Find me on Facebook, Twitter, and at michaeldwaynesmith.com

You can easily read his selected works here!