Greetings! I recently worked on a cover story for a local magazine regarding poetry and my book Madness (An Odd Collection of Poetry). Here’s the article and the pictures, for those who wish to see it. It’s a small accomplishment, but I’m proud of the final product.
It is the year 2014, and the art of poetry is alive and well in the city of Seal Beach. Tucked away amongst the quaint shops and bustling restaurants of Main Street, the faint heartbeat of this almost forgotten medium can be heard seeping through the cracks of an old apartment. You can find me (Sir Chase as I like to be called) sitting awkwardly on my discount sofa with a computer on my lap and a flurry of heavy metal soaring through my ear drums like some sort of winged, fire-breathing porcupine of blackened doom. This is how I like to work.
Obviously, this is not your everyday artsy poetic household. There is no framed portrait of Shakespeare hanging on the wall, and we do not quote Emerson or discuss Frost with friends while sipping at cups of very complicated coffee. In the Fortress of Hooper, we do things differently. We hang swords and dedicate time to improv comedy, semi-professional charity football, and debating which horror movies are best for a sunny Sunday afternoon. Perhaps this is a new age of poetry, or perhaps it is simply how childish adults do it.
I grew up writing. Even as a scrawny, loud-mouthed eight-year-old, I was constantly lost in my own imagination. I would spend hours sorting through the bits of odd imagery that were floating aimlessly around in my head in search of the perfect ingredient for creating something humerous (or weird…whichever came first). I can still remember being a second grader and sewing a tale of warfare and greed, starring a carrot and an army of evil alien vegetables with a hunger for interstellar domination. The rugged voice of my fearless carrot leader can still be found in the depths of my brain as he fights to save the day while maintaining his slick, green hairdo. This was my personality. I loved the feeling that came from the laughter of others. It was fuel for my creative engine, and it is something that I cherish to this day. Over the years, I have progressed in my knowledge and understanding of the world, but that weird little kid with the parted hair is still in there coming up with silly and inventive stories. I think it is important that we never quite finish growing up.
It was not long into my life’s career of childish behavior that I discovered a love for poetry, and a particular love for the silly structures and rhymes of great children’s poets. These individuals discarded the preconceived notion that poetry must be long, boring, and without made-up words. They created works that could entertain, teach, and fill readers of all ages with an unending supply of sweet, juicy silliness. The unrelenting creative monstrosities that were Dr. Seuss and Shel Silverstein were pivotal in my growth as a writer and my understanding of this viewpoint. They proved with each work that a poet did not need to smother readers in excessively ambitious vocabulary words and vague metaphors comparing love to slices of Swiss cheese. They proved that a poet could use humor and simplicity to tell a compelling, often compassionate story. The idea that a child-like approach could be used to convey an adult idea was a revelation that changed my life forever.
Now, before you shower me with insults, scoffs, and bags of smelly toenail clippings, understand that I am not attempting to discard all other poetry as boring and unnecessary. Quite the contrary, I have found great inspiration from the works of poets like Edgar Allen Poe and Emily Dickinson. I find that the macabre often lends itself very well to the ideals of satire. Poetry is unique in that it can be written about anything. It can be an epic endeavor or it can be one line. It can tell a story of passion, or it can be a comedic catastrophe. In fact, it is often the unexpected nooks and crannies where the best humor can be found. Poetry should not be confined to the ideals of High School English classes, for it is a gateway into the soul.
Children often grow up with the dream that they will one day do something legendary. Usually, this dream consists of something like digging up mummified dinosaur boogers, being the greatest athlete that ever played every single sport in the world, or jamming with a rock band on Saturn. My dream was a little more grounded. I simply wanted to be the most famous, respected, and influential comedic writer that ever lived. Perhaps, in retrospect, I should have been content with searching for those mummified dinosaur boogers. That may have been an easier goal to obtain.
I have not given up on this dream, however, and I never will. After all, writing is a passion that lasts a lifetime. I do not have publishers throwing checks at me, I do not have interviews on Good Morning America, and I do not have confused teenage girls lining up to see a movie starring me and numerous soon to be forgotten actors. I do not write for pay or awards. I simply hope to create something that the future little critters of my family will cherish as my odd little legacy. Not that I wouldn’t enjoy being showered with piles of money and certificates that refer to me as Supreme Leader or Really Awesome Guy. It is not, however, my purpose. I am simply a writer by passion. I make my living clad in the armor of justice, sniffing around South Central for the evils of the Earth as a Los Angeles Police Officer assigned to Newton Division Gang Enforcement Detail. I see mankind at its most unstable, and even in these moments of chaos, I find instances of humor hanging around like a drunk, sloppy, unwanted guest. Some would say that I am made up of an odd collection of parts; an improv comedian gang cop that plays football and pretends to be a knight while listening to extreme music and enjoying horror imagery and tattoos. I like to think that it makes me an interesting person. That is the beauty of life: It is our differences that create this unique world.
After twenty-seven years of weirding people out, I have finished my first poetry book; a volume of lines and stanzas crafted from my own eccentric mental hardware. Madness (An Odd Collection of Poetry) is my way of sharing my thoughts with the world. It is a way of bringing satire and silliness to a generation that has cast poetry aside as a boring, monotonous art form fit only for gentlemen, hippies, and a small population of grizzly bear rappers that live in Yosemite. It is my hope that the world will find humor and entertainment within the pages of my creation, and that the evolved, mutant Hoopers of the future will take solace in the fact that their great great great great grandfather Sir Chase was quite a character.
Of course, I’d like to think that my little book has it all. From a plan to end bullying, to a call to arms against zombies, and lovely ballads about O.J. Simpson and a hungry assassin, Madness is my personal take on what it means to write poetry. That is, it is a collection that was written in order to gift readers with deep chuckles and small stomach cramps caused by excessive laughter.
The art of poetry is alive and well in this sleepy little town of happy seasonal tourists and lovely shop owners. It is odd, irreverent, and whimsical, and though it may stray from the conventional path, its purpose is the same as every poetic endeavor that has come before it. It means to entertain and act as an escape from the perils that everyday life has to offer. So here’s to the ever-burning flame that is art. Cheers!
Madness (An Odd Collection of Poetry) can be purchased on Amazon or through www.sirchase.com