Tucson Success Stories: Andrew Shuta

Andrew Shuta paints on things, designs for Spork Press (and other places), DJs weekly nights in downtown Tucson, plays music with Rcougar, works at a charter high school, & never sleeps.

Natasha Stagg: What are you up to lately?

Andrew Shuta: Lately, I’m doing my thing: working at a charter high school during the day, designing (for Spork and other clients) + making art, DJing & Rocknrolling at night.

NS: So you still in Tucson?

AS: I still live in Tucson, but it feels like Tucson is living inside of me.

NS: What are you reading?

AS: Even when I’m not, I’m always reading Pynchon.

NS: Suggest something to do in Tucson.

AS: Come see me every Thursday at Optimist Club or every last Monday at Retrolution. We play dance music.

NS: Suggest something to read.

AS: I really love Chelsey Minnis’ poetry. Oh, and all the new chapbooks we’re making at Spork.

NS: Name three inspirations in the categories of visual art, music, and lit stuff.

AS: Visual: I’m really digging sculptor Nick van Woert‘s work right now. I fell in love with it upon first click. Maybe someday I’ll be able to see it in person.

Music: I’ve had to dig into the deepest, darkest graves of the internet to find 80s goth music. Ministry, Sisters of Mercy, Danse Society, etc. I like to think of my current obsession with goth as a black room with a rose hanging in the center of it. But, I love all types of music.

Lit: As for authors, I’ve got too many to name. So, I’ll name some that don’t already have a million blog posts about them. I love Gordon Massman‘s hysterical (in both senses of the word) poetry. We [Spork Press] just made/released his new chapbook (CORE SAMPLE), which is hand-made and available to purchase from Spork’s website. Also, a literary inspiration is Spork himself. And by that, I mean Drew Burk. He is keeping the art of handbinding/handmaking books alive for the sheer love of art. He literally quit his job to work on Spork full-time. And hopefully people will appreciate the hard work we do. Especially Drew.


Tucson Success Stories: Drew Krewer

Drew Krewer’s work has appeared in Trickhouse, Poor Claudia, Pequod, and Quick Fiction, among others. Ars Warholica, a chapbook, was recently published by Spork Press.

Natasha Stagg: What are you up to lately?

Drew Krewer: I’m about ready to start a new project after finishing the one that came from my MFA manuscript. It makes me really, really nervous. And I’m currently working toward an MA in Library and Information Resources here at the U of A. I’m really excited to be working with information and art. I’ve also been working on my blog, mars poetica.

NS: Are you planning on staying in Tucson?

DK: I have no idea how long I plan to stay because I really like the landscape, people, and writing community here.

NS: What are you reading?

DK: Caryl Churchill’s play Cloud Nine, The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins, and Brecht’s Caucasian Chalk Circle. But most recently, I’ve gone on a foreign film binge.

NS: Suggest something to do in Tucson.

DK: Go to Danny’s Baboquivari… the place is amazing and is in need of artsy people to shake things up a little. They have a fire pit in the winter and an amazing non-internet jukebox. Umm… Best Western Karaoke is the greatest. Find friends with swimming pools and cars.

NS: Suggest something to read.

DK: One Flea Spare, a really short play by Naomi Wallace. It’s a beautifully written period play about class issues and the plague. I named my cat after the central character. That tells you how much I love it.

Tucson Success Stories: Drew Burk

Drew Burk is a founder of Spork, one of Tucson’s leading independent publishing houses. He is also the fiction editor and bookbinder. When I asked him if he’d like to be interviewed, he said, “Oh, hey, I’m not a Tucson Success Story. I’m a guy in Tucson who does stuff with other people in Tucson. We persevere. You don’t succeed in Tucson. You do stuff in Tucson, and then you go succeed somewhere else… But because everyone’s off succeeding somewhere else, that means you’re not fighting anyone here. You figure your shit out, you practice here, where nobody’s succeeding, and then you go succeed somewhere else.”

Natasha Stagg: What are you up to lately?

Drew Burk: I’m up to recovering from the Spork/Powhaus literary dance party we threw at the Rialto for the release of issue 9.1. I’ve got a list, and every day I copy that list to a new piece of paper, adding new things I forgot we still have to do. Today I crossed 6 things off that list, but added two more. The studio is almost organized again. We’re having plates engraved for the covers for Zachary Schomburg‘s chapbook From the Fjords, getting issue 58 of Sonora Review ready to bind (we’re doing the binding for this one), and re-mastering all the audio we made for our dance party.

NS: What are you reading?

DB: I’m reading China Mieville’s The City And The City. He doesn’t explain anything. It’s wonderful.

NS: Suggest something to do in Tucson.

DB: Tucson’s a place to do things that people in cities other than Tucson will appreciate.

NS: Suggest something to read.

DB: Read both Murakamis.

NS: Do you feel there is a literary “scene” in Tucson?

DB: There is, in Tucson, a standing outside and smoking lots of cigarettes while events go on without you scene, there’s a staying home with your current perpetual personal crisis scene, there’s the show up after an event’s over then complain that nothing was going on scene. None of those are exclusively literary. Tucson’s a transitional space and people come here and try to use the word ephemeral a lot. We have musicians that play too often, authors who read too infrequently, and audiences that don’t show up for either. I guess they showed up for us, and I appreciate that. And I think a lot of what goes on here isn’t worth watching anyway, too self-satisfied, too sure of its own importance, never delivering, and I don’t blame people for not supporting that. But we’re trying to do something about it. We’re working to create things I’d like to go to. Literature’s a single aspect of a broad continuum, and we’re looking to integrate and participate rather than assert any kind of independence. I think it functions best when it’s just a part rather than attempt some kind of whole.

NS: Where’s the best place to find something “literary” here, then?

DB: Ander Monson is the best place to go find out about this. There’s no good place to find out about it that I know of. We fail, all of us, to promote ourselves effectively. My scene consists of Amelia Gray in Austin, Aaron Burch (Hobart) in Champaign, Ed Mazzucco (Shelflife Records) in Portland… and my non-Spork friends here are all musicians or painters. Portland. You want to know what’s going on in Tucson, you go ask people who care (because people care about literature and books in general) in Portland.

Also, the tone, while speaking the above, is pleasant and matter-of-fact. It can read bitter if you let it, but it’s not.

Also, the Poetry Center‘s a good place to find out some stuff. But mostly I think we fail to adequately communicate with each other, fail to communicate with places like the Poetry Center or the English department at the U of A in general, and we have so few bookstores now that it’s hard to really feel like there’s any good place to go. There’s Antigone, of course, but they’re small and can only do so much… and Bookman’s is all about what was, not what is, so they’re not helpful to folk who’re putting out new stuff. You come across a local small-press title in a used bookstore here and it’s just kinda sad, doesn’t feel the same as the other books.