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Feb 27, 201311:33 AMCulture

Fun and Culture in the Mid-State

Five Questions for John Destalo

Feb 27, 2013 - 11:33 AM
Five Questions for John Destalo

John Destalo uses his skills as an observer and an analyst to design and develop expressions.

He started writing his thoughts down over ten years ago using simple words to explore complex ideas about what it means to be human.

He began this exploration as a conversation with himself and then eventually started sharing this conversation with others, including the Almost Uptown Poetry Cartel. He expanded his interests in writing and design to create ways of displaying his work through postcards, bookmarks, brochures, and booklets.

His first book, Raw: Exposing the Untamed Mind, is available at the Midtown Scholar from PostDaDa Press.


Tell me about the Midtown Human Performance Lab.

I work in program analysis, and there's a certain spontaneity about people that we can't rely on to develop our capabilities. I want to establish a workshop where people can consider the skills they have or need to develop their own performance, be that art or any other kind of work. People in different fields can demonstrate different ways of working.

You have self-published booklets, but your first poetry collection, Raw: Exposing the Untamed Mind, is out on PostDada Press. What is the experience of self-publishing versus working with a press? Is there a mode you prefer? Does each mode have something unique to itself that you enjoy?

PostDada is a press run out of the Almost Uptown Poetry Cartel. It was ten times better having someone with experience formatting my work. Marty Esworthy, PostDada's editor, made it such a tight book. I'm so happy with the product. We have known each other for a while, so I did not know how I'd take the criticism, but we had a great working relationship.

I was really blown away because I tend to work better as an individual than collaboratively. Going through that was a good experience, since working collaboratively is vital if I want to launch the Performance Lab.

What is it like being a writer surrounded by such disparately talented visual artists?

I had been trying to find a way to get myself around visual artists more. I collect local art. I go to New York City to the museums and have written many pieces inspired by visual art. The visual is an important inspiration on my work. If you're headed so much in one direction, like I am with writing, visual art makes you look a different way. It's a balance.

Did you always have a space to go to to write, or is your studio at the MakeSpace the first of this kind you've enjoyed? How does it inform your process?

Before setting up here, I had space in my home, but I wanted a group to work with. I posted my work on the walls of my studio and it made me think of my work in a different way. There's a different feeling around it.

I can keep going back and looking at what I've done. I write a lot of small pieces that become parts of something larger. I create brochures that are all small, but together they become something larger. At the Bloodlines show here at the MakeSpace, I read for fifteen minutes. Developing a whole reading around that theme added a whole other dimension to the art show. I'm happy I can do that.

"Honesty Haunts Me"
By John Destalo

this voice

way down deep
swallows all my deceit

red face
straight tongue

I cannot communicate
with anyone

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