Mel Bosworth has a beard and a story about his beard appears in the August issue of PANK. He is also generous and charming. Today we talk with him about the state of his beard’s union, his pirate name and his writing.
1. Your beard is rather accomplished. Is there anything else your beard can do that you haven’t detailed in this story poem thing?
My beard can break dance. My beard can also store snacks. Eat from my beard. It will feed you–I just gagged. For reals. On a side note, I enjoy “story poem thing”Â more than “prose poem”Â or “verse fiction,”Â although each has great appeal.
2. Xyrophobic Me is rather whimsical. How did this work come about?
That’s a good question. Hmm. Well, I suppose I was sitting at my desk, like I do, and–I’d been wanting to write something “funny”Â for a while. Sometimes I get stuck in the shadows. Needed some light.
Anyway, as I was rubbing my cheek, it occurred to me that it might be fun (whether the end result is “funny”Â or not is debatable) to write a piece in which my beard has its own identity and life. People often give their genitalia nicknames and personalities (they do, right?) so why not a beard? Is facial hair somehow less deserving of personification? I don’t think so.
3. Why do you wear a beard? Do you ever think of shaving it off? What does your face have to say about your beard?
I’d always wanted a beard, so when I could finally grow a proper one, I did. That was–nearly 9 years ago. It usually comes off once a year. But then it grows back. My beard is willful, and refuses to leave.
I suppose I wear it so I don’t look like such a child. But it truly is practical. Good in winter, good in summer. Chicks dig it too, I think. I could be wrong. Honey, do you like my beard? Honey? Yeah–I could be wrong.
My face is a fan of my beard, but cries a little when I yank out the gray hairs.
4. This piece works very well with the surreal in a grounded manner. A lot of your writing, in fact, could be characterized as such. Do you think that the real surreal would be a good way of describing your writing? How would you characterize your writing style?
Wow. Look at you go with the good questions. Real surreal. “Yo, that shit is real surreal!”Â
Ha. I like that. I guess “real surreal”Â would be a good way to describe my silliness. Maybe not all of it, but a good chunk. I generally try to mix it up. Perhaps I fail, perhaps it all sounds the same. I’m not sure. But I guess in my little writing world the images are often bent like in funhouse mirrors. But I try to keep the heart honest. Somewhere.
5. The form of this piece is interesting. Why is it organized and divided as such?
Easy digestion. I didn’t want readers to choke on my words. I tried to keep my thoughts distinct. But I don’t always do this. Sometimes it’s fun to smash everything together. But it’s all about pacing, I suppose. White space is quiet and reflective. Absence is just as important as presence. I think it’s fair to say that a piece of writing is just as much a visual work as is a photograph or painting. It’s all about how your eyes interpret the information. For “Xyrophobic Me,”Â in particular, I wanted the information to be as accessible as possible. Cryptic can be cool, but cryptic can be taxing for both writer and reader. Sometimes you just want to sit back and enjoy the ride. Or you want to fidget and simply tolerate the ride until it’s over. I’m hoping readers of “Xyrophobic Me”Â experienced the former.
6. Ahoy! What would you name yourself if you were a pirate?
ARGH! My pirate name would be “Shits McGee.”Â Victims of my plundering would cry out, “We’ve been stung by Shits McGee!”Â
What would your pirate name be? Can I ask the interviewer questions? (ed. Yes, you can ask questions. My pirate name would be Red Light Harlota.)
7. Who is Eddie Socko and why does he no longer warrant hot lunches?
Ha ha! Eddie Socko! Well–.Eddie Socko is a sock. He’s been around for years. He’s been a puppet, a tool, a cleaning rag, and–.a friend. I wrote the story “No More Hot Lunches for Eddie Socko”Â about a year ago. It recently made its way online at an awesome zine called “The Writer’s Eye.”Â I don’t want to spoil the ending, so you’ll have to take a peek at the story to find out why Eddie Socko no longer warrants hot lunches. Then you’ll probably never speak to me again.
8. If you had to make a short story + poem mixtape, what tracks would you include?
Track 1: The Red Wheelbarrow by William Carlos Williams
Track 2: To a Stranger by Walt Whitman
Track 3: Santaland Diaries by David Sedaris
Track 4: A Clean, Well-Lighted Place by Ernest Hemingway
Track 5: Intersect by Tia Prouhet
Track 6: Twelve by Lao Tsu
Track 7: A & P by John Updike
Track 8: Christmas by George Saunders
Track 9: My Wheel is in the dark by Emily Dickinson
Track 10: God’s Eyes by xTx
Track 11: Mel by Darby Larson
Track 12: Important Things to Know About Career Girls by Roxane Gay (Ed. Awkward! Thanks!)
–.I like to close strong.(Ed. And you do.)