A NOTE FROM ELANTU
My writing, like my life, is all over the place; I’ve lived in a dozen locales, east and west, and while I have ranged from the mountains to the coast and back again, my writing has had love affairs with humor, philosophy, metaphysics, horror, relationships, nature studies and mystery genres. My recent submission, Eclipse – a metaphysical horror was published 7/7/11 by Amazon and I just completed the companion to my first published book, which appeared in the bookstores in 2003.
Ten Speed Press published my first book, The Contented Poacher. Poacher is a nature studies / humor / cookbook I wrote when I got a ticket for poaching, even though I: 1) had a valid license, 2) didn’t have any illegally acquired pheasant, but 3) did have an empty canvas bag with me, and 4) I made a joke to the game warden. Bad form that, but the humor in the situation gave birth to a book that garnered enough attention to win me a write up in Backpacker Magazine, a small TV gig in NY for World News Now and a slot on the Jimmy Kimmel show. After that, I took a deep breath and hid out in the mountains of Colorado for five years. In the meantime, I went back to doing art shows, which is what I’ve been up to since I was seventeen.
My mother wanted an artist. When other kids were getting Big Chief tablets and crayons, my mother was buying me Arches paper and Windsor & Newton watercolors. I used to try her patience by bringing snakes, tarantulas and small animals into the house. She convinced me that she’d prefer to have me paint a picture of my new friends rather than meet them in person and to this end, she insisted that I sit and the table and paint for a couple of hours a day. Her full immersion technique worked. I’ve had other jobs here and there (garbage truck driver comes to mind), but for the most part I’ve been supporting myself with my art. I started writing when I realized that my eyesight was refusing to cooperate with my fondest dreams. As of this writing, I see quite clearly within a small circle about a foot across and little more than a foot in front of my face. The rest of the world floats in an enticing mist, pulling away into the distance.
I didn’t begin writing until I was 39. Painting was that important to me, but like everybody else in this world, there were events in my life that kept erupting in the back of my mind. When I was 6 years old, my family took a trip east to visit friends in NY. One day when they were out and I was in the apartment alone, the woman upstairs was murdered. I could hear her fighting for her life as she died amidst a cacophony of shrieks and thumps. Needless to say, I hid under the furniture and tried to rock myself into a safety zone by conjuring up the comforting hills and turquoise skies of home. Trouble was, I could hear the murder’s shoes on the ceiling as he tried to erase the evidence of his presence. At 39, I wrote “Men’s Shoes” and tucked it away in a file drawer. Other short stories popped up here and there between paintings and art shows and I found that when I wasn’t exorcising a personal terror, that I quite enjoyed writing as much as I ever loved to paint.
One thing that I have been gifted with in this life is an array of fascinating people and events, some for only a few minutes, others for years, but each one has caught my attention and found a home in my memories. I met the physicist, Steven Weinberg, in a music store. We discussed Chopin and he told me that classical music conjured up the voice of the cosmos in his head. Lovely. I made friends with a homeless man in Pittsburg who sang for loose change in Point State Park. He had a voice to make angels weep for jealousy. Weekends at Randall Garrett’s. He always had a book to lend me by a new writer, never elevating his own accomplishments in the craft. An Inuit friend in Fairbanks, Aggeak Quakjuk, changed the course of my artwork by reminding me not to confuse the spirit with the fur. Mr. Tennyson, an aging immigrant, who taught me to read when I was 4. All the Navajo friends who laughed at my atrocious accent when I came down from my climb up Tsoodzil. The natural world: a maple tree in our yard in Cambridge that was so red it cast purple shadows; the green granite in Vermont that gave it the appellation “The Green Mts.”; the ocean as seen from Hurricane Ridge on the Olympic Peninsula; the otters who came out the river in North Carolina splashing and laughing to one another; the hummingbird who landed on my hand and the cougar who regarded me from the trees less than 20 ft away; the fire that took down a good portion of our house but spared me and my son; the earthquake in Alaska that shook more than my bones.
All of these things and many more, along with the murderer upstairs, color my work, the words I paint for my readers.
Thanks. Elantu Baiat Veovode