Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Catfish McDaris

Wombwell Rainbow Interviews

I am honoured and privileged that the following writers local, national and international have agreed to be interviewed by me. I gave the writers two options: an emailed list of questions or a more fluid interview via messenger.
The usual ground is covered about motivation, daily routines and work ethic, but some surprises too. Some of these poets you may know, others may be new to you. I hope you enjoy the experience as much as I do.

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Catfish McDaris

Catfish McDaris’ most infamous chapbook is Prying with Jack Micheline and Charles Bukowski. His best readings were in Paris at the Shakespeare and Co. Bookstore and with Jimmy”the ghost of Hendrix”Spencer in NYC on 42nd St. He’s done over 25 chaps in the last 25 years. He’s been in the New York Quarterly, Slipstream, Pearl, Main St. Rag, Café Review, Chiron Review, Zen Tattoo, Wormwood Review, Great Weather For Media, Silver Birch Press, and Graffiti and been nominated for 15 Pushcarts, Best of Net in 2010, 2013, 2014, 2016, and 2017 he won the Uprising Award in 1999, and won the Flash Fiction Contest judged by the U.S. Poet Laureate in 2009. He was in the Louisiana Review, George Mason Univ. Press, and New Coin from Rhodes Univ. in South Africa. He’s recently been translated into Spanish, French, Polish, Swedish, Arabic, Bengali, Mandarin, Yoruba, Tagalog, and Esperanto. His 25 years of published material is in the Special Archives Collection at Marquette Univ. in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Bukowski’s Indian pal Dave Reeve, editor of Zen Tattoo gave Catfish McDaris his name when he spoke of wanting to quit the post office and start a catfish farm. He spent a summer shark fishing in the Sea of Cortez, built adobe houses, tamed wild horses around the Grand Canyon, worked in a zinc smelter in the panhandle of Texas, and painted flag poles in the wind. He ended at the post office in Milwaukee.

The Interview

1.       What inspired you to write poetry?

Trying to maintain my sanity, while working 34 years at the Main Milwaukee Post Office. Reading while in the army and describing Europe and the artillery. I like double meanings, the magic of words, after over 30 years writing, getting rejects and acceptances; it becomes like a second skin.

2.       Who introduced you to poetry?

Being autodidactic, every writer I’ve ever read leads me to be a storyteller, whether in poems or prose. I loved Bukowski, the Beats, the Asians, the South Americans, Mexicans, Europeans.

3.       How aware were you of the dominating presence of older poets?

Some of the older poets impressed me. I tried to walk in their shoes during the time they lived. That’s extremely difficult. None of them dominated me or my ideas of writing.

4.       What is your daily writing routine?

I take notes at any given moment. Whether it be a thought, a word, a conversation or a character. Then I fit them into the piece that works best. I write every day and night. I may not submit stuff all the time or might just go nuts for a while.

5.       What motivates you to write?

I am a writer. I need no motivation.

6.       What is your work ethic?

I remain my biggest fan and critic. Ethics are mostly disregarded.

7.       How do the writers you read when you were young influence you today?

Everything I’ve ever read influences me. Books are my best friends.

8.       Who of today’s writers do you admire the most
and why?

George Wallace, Marc Pietrzykowski, Mendes Biondo, Marianne Szlyk, Ryan Quinn Flanagan, Guinotte Wise, Ali Znaidi, and myself. Each of these writers is damn good and each are different.

9.       Why do you write?

It’s like breathing.

10.   What would you say to someone who asked you “How do you become a writer?”

Read a lot, write a lot, go to open mics for poems. Submit your work, the net makes it easy.
Never get discouraged. Never.

1. Tell me about the writing projects you have on at the moment.

I’m doing a 200-page collection with Stubborn Mule Press from Devil’s Elbow, Missouri. I’m putting together my half of joint chap with English writer John D. Robinson. I’m 1/3 editor of Ramingo’s Porch and Contributing Odditer to Odd Books from Kolkata, India. My main writing is working on three novels. I’m in the process of moving to Mexico for 2 months at a time, so I work in long hand and stay away from electronics.

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