Over the years I have mapped my personal journey, as an outsider, predominantly in writing. I have a memoir, five novels, and a book of poems in the world, most met with critical acclaim. Others underway, always.
I’ve been making visual art since 1990ish. I’m self-taught. I’ve been making sonic and visual noise since the turn of this century.
In every medium, my aesthetic voice has similar qualities. My paintings and videos and photographs look like characters and scenes in my novels which sound like the ruckus I make with banjos and synthesizers. These days I’m less and less concerned with the outcomes of my projects, good or bad. More and more I simply find joy in the making.
My first novel, The Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break, grew out of a poem by the same title that came to me, almost complete, as I was walking across a bridge over the Iowa River, on my way home from posing nude for a roomful of undergraduate art students. That was 1992. I’ve been in the company of that horny beast since. The novel got me a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship for Fiction in 2002, went on to be translated into 8 languages, was released as an Audio Book by Neil Gaiman Productions.
Random House nominated my second novel, Visits From the Drowned Girl, for the Pulitzer Prize. I didn’t win, but…That book also saw publication in the UK and into Dutch, German, and Italian. Joy, PA, novel four, was lauded in the UK. My old bull-man horned his way into print again with The Minotaur Takes His Own Sweet Time, 2016, with a glowing full page in the NYTimes Book Review.
I’ve written for TATE Magazine, Modern Painters, and Art Review.
For a long time, I had 750 very old wooden crutches in my basement. I miss them.
Last summer, I put a high-quality microphone inside a freshly dead grackle and recorded three days of glorious decay.
Three winter solstices ago, I burned seven pianos in an abandoned quarry. It was dark. It was cold. I called the event Septet at the Threshold. There was close to a hundred people there. Many cried.
I am a devout imperfectionist.
I am a humanist. Also devout.
My newest book is different. Motorcycles, Minotaurs, & Banjos: a Modest Odyssey, is as much memoir as it is a travelogue. On my 60th birthday, I left Pennsylvania on a Royal Enfield 650, carrying a small banjo, and made a 2500 mile, 21 day, journey down the spine of Appalachia to play and sing at the graves of banjo heroes. It’s a book about creative process. About overcoming. About music and machines. It’s a book about 21 days and 60 years.
I like to talk about, read from, and teach about, all this stuff. If you invite me, I’ll come.
There’s much more on this website, if you’re willing to poke around. If not, thanks for visiting anyway.