Another End of the Road

After 2 months and 35 cities promoting Shapes the Sunlight Takes on Asymmetrical Press’ Word Tasting Tour, I traded the rental car for hiking boots and walked 80 miles across Montana’s Bob Marshall Wilderness. 10 days of winding rivers, grizzly tracks, cutthroat trout, vast and wild vistas, sunsets, wildlife, and 4-leaf clovers.

Living these duel experiences back-to-back nourished the full spectrum of my spirit. As fortunate as I was for the chance to read to and interact with audiences of up to 300 people at a time, the process called for intense effort. Occasionally we’d do the whole set up, perform, tear down, sleep, drive, set up, perform, etc… 5 or 6 days in a row. Our audiences, full of beautiful and engaging people, kept me going, but my introversion usually got the best of me by the end of an evening. Coming down in the solitude of the forest was exactly the recharge I needed.

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Though I mostly read from Shapes, I opened every show with my poem Voice, and I had several opportunities to read my essay I Need to Take this Thing that I Love and Get Rid of it Immediately. Even at the roughest events, where I didn’t feel a lot of energy or connection, someone would approach me, often with tears in their eyes, to let me know how much these pieces moved them or to tell me who they would be sharing them with. “Can I get a link to that essay? I teach 8th grade and want to read it to my class,” are the greatest words a writer can hear. Both poem and essay will be available in my collection of short works called Nothing In Mind, coming out later this year.

One of the most rewarding parts of the tour was sharing the car and the stage with The Minimalists, Colin Wright, Shawn Mihalik, and Skye Steele—all brilliant, kind, and innovative artists from whom I learned more than a thing or two about performance, presentation, and interacting with readers. I grew in all these areas thanks to my companions and the non-stop pace of the tour. In the woods I reclaimed my stillness.

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So what’s next? Along with Nothing In Mind‘s release, I have my hands full with a new stage play, Love Causes Cancer (co-written by Cory Fay of Holy Lands), comics pitches, a smattering of film projects, and the inklings of a new novel. This one’s about Japanese monsters. Later in the year I’ll make a full announcement about this book, which I will be live-writing online and undertaking huge life changes in order to create. My plan is to engage audiences in this project not only through its transparent and open-source nature, but through multiple avenues and opportunities for creative collaboration. I’m hoping to expand the process of novel writing into something more public and interactive than the usual isolated incarnation.

As always, stay tuned!

Jeff Medley as a Japanese demon (Oni)

Jeff Medley as a Japanese demon (Oni)