Daniel Crocker is here and has started a Group for Trailer Park Quarterly. He has been a staple of the indie fiction community for like more than a decade. Figured we could all say hi. Hi Daniel. Awesome. I agree with his reading advice thusly, actually.

Q (Nicolle Elizabeth): Hey Dan. You have a ten plus years history in the indie fiction universe and are the editor of Trailer Park Quarterly and have started a group for it here at Fictionaut. How is the group going so far what are your plans for the group?

A (Daniel Crocker): Closer to fifteen, I think. Though I took some time off there for awhile. So far, I guess the group is going well. I would like to see it end up a place where group members post their on work, or turn the rest of the group on to something they should be reading. The good news is, I think, that anyone interested enough in a group called “Trailer Park Quarterly” to join probably likes the same sort of writing I do.

TPQ has a fairly strong voice and aesthetic. Can you spell it out for us? (The voice and aesthetic, not the TPQ abbreviation.)

That’s a good question, and one I’ve thought about, then stopped thinking about, then started thinking about again. It’s pretty simple in the long run. I like poems that make sense and stories with plots and characters. Obviously it’s more complicated than that, but it starts there.

I especially get frustrated with poetry. Poetry, deep down, is probably my favorite art form, but I don’t often admit it. So much of it is so bad. It’s no wonder why people, even poets, don’t read much of it. The thing is that a good one, a really good one, will knock you on your ass more than a story or film or even a song.

If no one can understand what the hell is going on, however, then I don’t see the point. A poem should be about a lot more than just being clever. Edward Field, a fine poet that everyone needs to read, once said something along the lines of poetry isn’t a place to hide things in. I agree. If I wanted to read a riddle, I’d read a riddle. I don’t like poetry for the sake of pure language–stringing some words together because they sound neat. I get it. Sometimes it is neat. In the end, however, I want something that makes me laugh or feel. Humor is always good. It’s hard to be funny and I appreciate it when writers send me work that makes me laugh. There doesn’t have to be a deeper meaning for me. Funny is good by itself. Work that connects on a deep emotional level is always appreciated as well.

Starting in issue two one of my favorite poets, Rebecca Schumedja started handling most of the poetry editor duties. She has done a great job. I’ll still solicit things from poets I know are going to lay down some clean lines though.

In the end, people usually want to know about the title. I grew up very, very poor. I’ve lived in a trailer park. Poor people like poems, too. In fact, poetry is made for them. As for the no Hipsters policy–that’s pretty self-explanatory, right?

Who are some writers TPQ feels are nourishment equivalent to eating dinner?

There’s so many, and I don’t know if you mean unknown or the big names. I’ll list a few of both. Stephen Graham Jones is one of my favorite younger writers. He can do everything–literary, horror, etc, etc. Nathan Graziano is probably my soul mate. Mary Miller is always writing good stuff. On a line by line basis, her fiction really pops. Gerald Locklin. I read “Howl” about once a year. When I feel like I’m losing my way as a writer, I go back to Carver and O’Connor a lot. Both writers who were fountains of emotion, but knew their craft well enough to be restrained about it.

It may sound cliche, but I go back to Bukowski, too. Because he could, after a while, pretty much publish what he wanted and because they’re still coming out with books of his poetry that probably shouldn’t be getting published, people forget how good he really was when he was on. Sure, his persona gets in the way. It either bothers people or, conversely, and especially with writers who discover him young, makes people want to be like him. There’s not going to be another Bukowski though. That’s a good thing. Most writers drinking like a fish and living on the streets are just going to end up homeless alcoholics because they don’t have the talent or willpower Bukowski had. He read a lot too. That’s always good advice for a writer.

What is the best dish soap for washing dishes?

The restaurants I’ve worked at have all used whatever they could get the cheapest when it came time to put in that week’s order. Now you have me all nostalgic about my dish washing years (something I still do in the summers at a small bar and grill one of my friends owns). It’s a great job. When you’re done, you feel like you’ve really put in a night’s work. You don’t take your work home with you. It’s very liberating. Doesn’t pay for shit, but if restaurants offered health insurance then it’s the job I’d still be doing full time. Who knows…if we can get a universal health care plan . . . .

Talk to us about your own books, actually.

First, I can’t believe anyone still remembers my books. It seems like a long time ago. Like I said, I took some years off as well. I didn’t stop writing, but I stopped submitting. At the time, I couldn’t tell you why. I think I just had to change things up though. I’d written just about everything I could about being young, impoverished, and pissed off about it. I’m a middle aged man now. I couldn’t do another 20 page poem like “People Everyday.” It would be ridicules. For a nineteen year old (when I wrote it), it has some good lines in it. That book–People Everyday and Other Poems– could have only been written by a 19 year old, I think. It’s still the book I get the most comments about. The title poem and “Sorry, Richie” still seem to hit home with some people. I can’t really read them anymore, though. All I usually see is the sloppiness. I’ve really got to try to be generous with myself when I read those old poems.

As for the other books, well, they have their moments.

Nicolle Elizabeth checks in with Fictionaut Groups every Friday.

  1. Marcus Speh

    I’d like to go back to Bukowski with you, too. Great interview, thanks.

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