Our very own Donald Armfield sat down for a chat with Catfish, to talk about his writing and his career, drawing an exclusive piece from him in the process!
What was it like working at the Post Office, during the Anthrax scare?
While working on the letter sorting machines at the main post office in Milwaukee we would get all kinds of threats. Anthrax and Ricin were supposedly sent to Washington D.C. or other politicians often. The letters would go through the bar coder and sorter and they would explode in white powder, 99% of the time it was baby powder, rice, or oatmeal. We'd sometimes get covered in a huge cloud and Haz-mat teams were called and sometimes dogs for bombs. We'd be quarantined and checked for poisoning and sent for showers. When Jeffrey Dahmer was captured we got bombs on the way to prison to blow him up. We evacuated quite often. There were several shoot outs inside the building in my 30 year career and one guy went and committed a murder while on the clock and I watched the FBI drag him off in handcuffs
What sets the mood for you, to sit down and write?
Since I'm an alcoholic and addict that has been clean for 9 years, I drink coffee. I have a wife of 30 years and a daughter of 25 they give me a reason to stay sane. I garden, shoot pool, stay away from all my old bad influences. I haven't worn a watch in 3 years. I no longer care what I own or owe, when you get to that point you're almost invincible. I do have a little snack of pills from Dr.Feelgood.
Some publishers would definitely publish your work, why did you decide to go the Chapbook route?
I wrote a novel and it bounced around NYC, with agents and never saw daylight. I discovered Bukowski, another postal worker like myself. I started writing stories and the small press world liked them. I started writing poems and reading them in public. There was a great scene in Milwaukee and if you hold your own on stage here, you could do it anywhere. I met some famous folks along the way and read at some great venues. I invented Wordstock in 94 and a series of poetry and music events and gave all the proceeds to Hope House, a charity for homeless women with children. Editors from the small press invited me to do chapbooks with them and I later discovered no one buys poetry. You need academic credits to get the big publishers to take notice.
What's in the future for Catfish McDaris?
Future writing projects are a long piece about going into the Veterans Hospital for a 6 month boot camp rehabilitation to get clean called: Lipstick On A Pig. I'll have a new book from Kolkata, India in Bengali by year’s end. An old interview I did that was translated into Esperanto should see daylight again. I was just in The Lowdown an anthology dedicated and with Lawrence Ferlinghetti. I received Big Pulp today which contained my imaginary trip to visit Ginsberg and Burroughs. I have lots of other tricks up my sleeve. With the Web instead of snail mail and SASE's for submissions it's insanely easy to be a writer. Beware of face book.
Through A Hole In The Universe
(exclusively for beauty-in-ruins)
I’ll be the exterminator in a flea circus
play trombone in a bedbug parade
the worm swimming in a sun yellow
bottle being shared by alley skunk skanks
until their eyes fill with death tears forever
Kahil Gabran saying: it’s all love baby doll
or David Lerner: people hear my poetry and
weep, scream, disappear, start bleeding, eat
their television sets, beat each other to death
Change my name to December Q. January and
swim in the Sea of Tranquility and to the bottom
of the Mariana Trench and find a mermaid harem
and send up poems in bottles and never come back.
A huge thanks to Catfish for stopping by!