Interview With Russell Streur, Writer, Poet, Editor, @ The Camel Saloon-See below Writers/Links/Tidbits More Information!
Editor Notes About Russell Streur.
I must start out by saying I find Russell Streur to be a unique blend of human and beyond personal traits: eccentric, pragmatic, and strong-willed with firm opinions and convictions. Russell hits me as someone who has visited many places, done many things, hit the coffee shops, wrote his poems on napkins or torn sheets of yellow paper, and tapped into more than his share of local bars. After all, he is the "Barkeeper" at The Camel Saloon: http://thecamelsaloon.blogspot.com/. All patrons treated with respect and welcome to come in. On a personal note, I have found Russell to be open to new ideas, ways of expanding his website, great with insights, and very generous and responsive with his time.
I found this introduction bio of Russell at the Blues.Gr! I'm only using a part of it here: http://blues.gr/profiles/blogs/talking-with-poet-writer-russell-streur-of-on-line-poetry-bar-the
"Russell Streur is a born-again dissident residing in Johns Creek, Georgia. His work has been published in Europe, certain islands and the United States. He operates the world’s original on-line poetry bar, The Camel Saloon, catering to dromedaries, malcontents and jewels of the world at thecamelsaloon.blogspot.com. He cofounded Poets Democracy in 2010 with Christi Kochifos Caceres and ---is the author of The Muse of Many Names, The Petition to Free Zhu Yufu, and other works."
"Many heartfelt thanks to all who voted for The Camel Saloon in the 2013 Preditors and Editors Readers Poll. The Chicago vote is in and I am delighted to share the news that the joint has won this elusive award."
Interview With Russell Streur, Writer, Poet, Editor, Local Barkeeper @ The Camel Saloon- Johns Creek, Georgia
Nine Questions with Russell Streur
(I gave him nine questions, and told him to feel free, to be original-and Russel starts out with a baseball game-I warned you he was different)
Questions According to Russell Streur
Baseball. Nine innings. It’s a good number.
Does that count as the first question?
And the second. It’s a tough game.
Who’s your favorite player?
Bobo Newsom. One of the all-time great arms of the game. Pitched forever, pitched for everybody, only guy to pitch to Babe Ruth and to Mickey Mantle, that’s how long he pitched. Also, one of the all-time great mouths of the game.
Late one game on the mound against the Indians, a line drive off the bat of Earl Averill smashes into Bobo’s knee and down goes the big lunk in a heap.
His manager comes bounding out onto the field and asks Newsom how he feels.
“My knee’s broke,” he says.
“I’ll get a reliever in for you,” says the skipper.
“Take me out of the game? Are you kidding me?” says Bobo. “I said my knee was broke. I didn’t say I was dead.”
You know the baseball immortals poem by Ogden Nash? Bobo’s the only guy mentioned in it who isn’t in the Hall of Fame. Course, Nash gives him an honorary place in the hall. Says Bobo talked himself into the place.
Big drinker too. Might have been a little hung over one day in spring training. He walked three straight batters.
“Hey, Ump,” he yells from the mound. “Stop wriggling the plate!”
Dirt floor bar in Florida he used to go to after he finally retired, always stood in the same place. After he died, cirrhosis of the liver, they encased his footprints in concrete.
There’s a thousand stories about him, dig through old Sporting News issues in the thirties, forties and fifties, he’s all over the pages.
They could’ve nicknamed him Poet, because he told his stories in diamonds. Bobo was from what he called everybody else, so everybody called him the same thing back, and there was already a player nicknamed poet, Poet Kenna, early 1900s, if you want to look him up, the bard of Kanawha County. The sportswriter Charles Dryden said Kenna was ‘long on meter but pitched ragtime,’ whatever the hell that is supposed to mean.
Are you a big baseball fan these days?
Nah, I’m a traditionalist. They ruined the game when they started wearing gloves.
Do you write poems about baseball?
I wrote one once, about Jesus tripling to the wall in right. He tried to stretch it home.
Got nailed at the plate. Cut-off man had a good arm. I know, blasphemy. Get over it. I’ll give you blasphemy, The Ten Commandments. Comes out of two places. One is a Ten Commandments I read somewhere and don’t remember, an avant-garde piece from the 1920s or so, a Ten Commandments of the Sun or the Sun God or somebody, and the other place is from The White Goddess by Robert Graves, what he says in the foreword to the 1966 edition: “The function of poetry is religious invocation of the Muse,” he says, “its use is the experience of mixed exaltation and horror that her presence excites.”
You bet it is.
And he ends the foreword with this: “How you come to terms with the Goddess is no concern of mine. I do not even know that you are serious in your poetic profession.”
Get in tune with that.
So I am much less a poet than I am a believer in the Muse. My Ten Commandments go like this:
And the High One spoke these words saying,
I am thy Sole Adored, who raised you from the grave and gave you breath when you were dead and voice to sing when you could not even speak; who brought you out of the Land of Egypt, out of the House of Bondage:
Thou shall have no other Brides before me.
Thou shall sound the truth and truth alone like the bellow of the thunder upon a winter sea; for I will not hold him guiltless who takes my love and word in vain.
Thou shall honor the serpent.
Thou shall honor the vine.
Thou shall play with fire.
Thou shall sow the whirlwind.
Thou shall kneel down before no one save for me.
For I am thy Fury, thy Grace, thy Muse, who favors you beyond compare and above all others. Defy me not.
And by the way, if you don’t kneel down before the Goddess, I have no idea how you can call yourself a poet. My suggestion is that you take up prose. Or be quiet. The White Goddess is an indispensable book for poetry.
What other books does a poet have to have on a shelf?
I’m of the belief that poetic language goes back a real long and dark way and the closer a poet can get to the root of that language, the better he or she is going to be able to express whatever it is the Muse wants expressed. So what I keep near is a dictionary of the Bible, an encyclopedia of symbols, and telling of myths. Those are the tools I keep, the keys to the old ways.
And I have some favorite books, too, ones I have kept forever. Like those four wonderful books issued by The Peter Pauper Press. Japanese Haiku (1955), The Four Seasons (1958), Cherry-Blossoms (1960) all translated by Peter Beilenson and the fourth, Haiku Harvest (1962) completed by Harry Behn after Beilenson crossed the river.
I just learned recently that the first volume is now in the public domain, the copyright was apparently not renewed somewhere along the way, it can be accessed online among the sacred texts at http://www.sacred-texts.com/shi/jh/jh00.htm
It belongs with the sacred text, that’s for sure.
Then two books of Chinese poetry, a paperback, The White Pony, and a hardcover, The Jade Mountain, which was due back at the library sometime in 1969. I’m a little late with that. So with the west, you know, the Bible and the myths, and the east with haiku and the Chinese classics, and the symbols from the subconscious, those are my essentials alongside Graves.
Are you writing much these days?
I am writing nothing these days. I’ve written a lot, at least a lot for me, I am not one of those prolific people with thousands of poems, or what the author says are poems, and I am not about to start repeating myself or typing thoughts in broken lines and pretending it’s poetry. That’s where the Saloon starts, to stay engaged with poetry on a continual and daily basis, to be the editor and barkeep there. My ego was satisfied, I had said what I had to say, I had seen most of it published.
And G. Tod Slone of The American Dissident also was in the mix of the Saloon, how he refuses to compromise his ideals and has given a forum to so many people who might not have otherwise found a place in the world for their voice. I wanted to make something that could redeem that same promise, to create a space in the world for voices.
The policy at the Saloon is one of inclusion and mostly because of that; it has been very gratifying running the place. Still, some things just don’t work: condescension of tone doesn’t work, and either does assuming the pose of superiority some poets assume. That type of arrogance is the antithesis of what the Saloon is about. So are interior monologs and abstract philosophizing. Give me some colors of the world, a place and a time of day or a season to share, some language or secret that surprises. Stuffed shirts, intellectuals and arty, pretentious types can buy a glass at a different joint.
Are cats still banned at the Saloon?
That’s the tenth question, so mum’s the word. Maybe the relief pitcher can answer. In the meantime, come by the joint: http://thecamelsaloon.blogspot.com/ The door is always open.
Michael Lee Johnson lived ten years in Canada during the Vietnam era. He is a Canadian and USA citizen. Today he is a poet, editor, publisher, freelance writer, amateur photographer, small business owner in Itasca, Illinois. He has been published in more than 950 small press magazines in 33 different countries or republics, and he edits 11 poetry sites. Author's website http://poetryman.mysite.com/. Michael is the author of The Lost American: From Exile to Freedom (136 page book) ISBN: 978-0-595-46091-5, several chapbooks of poetry, including From Which Place the Morning Rises and Challenge of Night and Day, and Chicago Poems. He also has over 133 poetry videos on YouTube as of 2015: https://www.youtube.com/user/poetrymanusa/videos Michael Lee Johnson, Itasca, IL nominated for 2 Pushcart Prize awards for poetry 2015 & Best of the Net 2016. Visit his Facebook Poetry Group and join https://www.facebook.com/groups/807679459328998/ He is also the editor/publisher of anthology, Moonlight Dreamers of Yellow Haze: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1530456762 and Dandelion in a Vase of Roses, Editor Michael Lee Johnson, is now available here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1545352089