Raining Cats and Dogs - Interview with Raindog
(Chatting with Raindog about Lummox Press, Lummox Journal, and DUFUS )
I had the pleasure of recently e-speaking with Raindog about his literary publications: Lumox Press, Lummox Journal, and the e-zine DUFUS. In addition to being an accomplished poet and publisher, Raindog is quite a character. You may have seen him feature at the last ReallyBIGShow/poeticdiversity reading at the UnUrban. He was giving away free poetry – the kook!
Raindog has agreed to be my life mentor. Hell, he's even offered to make emergency house calls (it's possible I'm that far gone). Following is our conversation. ~laura
How long have you been involved in the L.A. poetry scene?
What do you see as the biggest change in the scene since you first got involved?
Hmm, just the sheer magnitude of it all… You’ve got all these poets doing there thing in their various neighborhoods, and there doesn’t seem to be much homogenizing going on. By that I mean there aren’t too many poets going outside the safety of their own ghettos. So, what you end up with is a fractured and fragmented scene, with nomads like [me] roaming from venue to venue without having a “base” to operate from. It’s more like a “seen,” if you get my drift.
Who bugs you the most? ;)
I don’t think you want a real answer to this question because there are any numbers of hacks out there who really bug me, personally. So, let’s just say the type of person who bugs me the most is someone who thinks they’re “all that” when they aren’t and they get the weak-minded to support…and encourage them. That kind of shit bugs the hell out of me. Or, people who aren’t that good as writers getting the grants or the kudos for their stuff because they’ve been around for awhile or they know some mucky-muck.
Where do you see the scene headed (besides to hell in a handcart)?
I have no idea where the “scene” is headed. The only reason I care at all is [because] I want to sell copies of my books/mag…I hope the scene is headed toward a place where the readers/listeners will want to add my shit to their collections, and that means if I have to go to recorded media, so be it. Apparently, not only do we live in illiterate times but also lazy times—why read a book when you can listen to the author read it to you? Even the president doesn’t like to read. We are so doomed!
When did you begin Lummox Press? What was/is the driving force behind it?
I started the Lummox Press in 1994 because I got tired of not having any say in the way my poetry was published to the world. It was really just a way for me to control how my work was presented. Later it became a means for other poets to have their work presented with “love”—if you can believe that.
What types of poets does Lummox Press publish?
Known and unknown. I’m listed in Poet’s Market, The Directory of Small Press Publishers and Journals, and Zine Guide and other reviews like it. Last year Lummox Journal (LJ) got about 1,000 submissions, of which I published about 2–3%. I don’t publish crap. Now I’ve got a poetry editor named Ed Jamieson, Jr., and he’s even stricter than I am…
For those who don't know, can you explain your three projects: Lummox Press, Lummox Journal, and DUFUS?
I imagine most of your readers have never heard of any of this. If they visit www.lummoxpress.com they’ll get a good idea of what’s going on. In short, Lummox Press publishes the Little Red Book (LRB) series, which is a group of small books written by old school poets (AD Winans, Gerald Locklin, Todd Moore, Leonard Cirino, John Thomas, Philomene Long, etc) and newer school poets (Scott Wannberg, Laura Lustig, Lindsay Wilson, Rebecca Morrison, Patricia Wellingham-Jones, Will Taylor, Jr., and more). There are 44 titles to date. I have also published most of my own books here, as well. LJ came out monthly from October 1995 to the beginning of this year (‘04), when I switched to every other month. The 100th issue will occur in July-August, which will also be the premier of a new anthology I’m publishing [that] features the work of 49 poets and three artists! It’s called LAST CALL: The Legacy of Charles Bukowski, and it shows the influence on small press literature since Buk’s death ten years ago!
LJ started out as an exploration of the creative process, using interviews and essays as its primary tools; but over the years it has evolved into something else…maybe a springboard for [the] exploration of my creative process. I seldom hold back in my examination of what makes me tick, and the essays and reviews I publish spare no punches either. Apparently, most of my readers agree because they keep renewing their subscriptions (which, at $22 a year, may or may not be saying much).
As to DUFUS…it’s an irregularly published e-zine [and] has a pretty loyal readership. I use DUFUS as a place to publish the longer pieces I receive that might not be suited for LJ because of space considerations. Plus, I can publish color artwork there, as well. DUFUS is an adjunct to the LJ, but I don’t see it being a replacement for it. But, nothing is written in stone.
Would Lummox Press publish my chapbook? What should I do to be considered?
Lummox would have to see your manuscript, and right now. I’m really behind in my LRB commitments. Gifts always help (lol). No, most of the poets I’ve published were by invitation. So your work would have to be damn good (or your lasagna, or…).
What about DUFUS? How do I submit to that journal?
Now DUFUS is another story. You could send me a few examples of your work and I would forward them to Ed, and he would look at them and decide. It would help if you read an issue of DUFUS first. Ed would like it if every poet we publish would subscribe to LJ, but sometimes I think Ed lives in the clouds. People would rather spend more than $22 to go to a movie with their girl/boy than spend that amount on something that would give them at least SIX times the pleasure. People are strange. You [can] send your work to me at email@example.com.
Do Lummox and Dufus have different audiences? Why make the two publications so different?
I don’t think so. Most of my readers are well-read, whether they are old-school lefties or gen-X-Y-Zers. They are often contributors, [and] many subscribe to LJ. The only difference might be that the DUFUS readers are more computer savvy. Believe it or not, there are still some fine writers out there who don’t have computers! I know; I was shocked myself…
What's next on your plate? Working on a book, got some features coming up, taking a vacation?
Well, of course there’s LAST CALL, which will come out in August. I’m also hoping to find a publisher for a revised edition of "RoadKill," my epic road poem about 9/11 and the ultimate stretch of highway..[It] will also include two other road poems: “On/Off the Beaten Path” and “A Journey up the Coast.” I’ll be reading at several venues over the next few months, which your readers can check out if they go to www.lummoxpress.com and click on the Calendar link. Most important of these readings will be my appearance at the SF Public Library on Oct. 20th to read with 11 other poets in support of the library system and against the (so-called) Patriot Act.
Why don't you ever come visit me at ReallyBigShow?
I guess I’m just shy…
Can I get a free copy of Lummox Journal for my collection?
What have you got to trade for it?
RD Armstrong (Raindog to his friends) lives in a barrio in Long Beach, where he continues to publish some of the best poems written in this century in his magazine, The Lummox Journal and online at DUFUS. The curious may visit his website at http://home.earthlink.net/~lumoxraindog/. He also has a new book entitled RoadKill (meditations on 9-11 and the American Wanderlust).