Dustin Brookshire works 9 to 5. Looks great in blue or green. Glows near a beautifully lit window. He’s a poet and activist, and a cool dude who just got a new shirt for Christmas. Yes, Dustin is so Brokeback Mountain gay even Dolly Parton won’t have him. (See below). But, Mom and I just can’t quit Dustin. We love him! We’re honored to introduce you to the one and only (unless there’s another Dustin Brookshire out there, sorry) Dustin Brookshire to our Potty Mouth Interview series. Get your seat belt on. This interview is dead serious, seriously. P.S. I love you Dolly Parton!
Almost Dorothy: Are you a fan of Tori Amos?
Dustin Brookshire: If by Tori Amos you mean Dolly Parton, why yes I’m a huge fan. I love Dolly with every beat of my gay heart.
AD: If you’re gay, this interview is over! Continue.
DB: I love her so much I’m not allowed within a mile radius of her gloriousness. So you’ll know, just because she sings about her Tennessee mountain home, it isn’t an invitation to visit her.
Okay. Okay. I wouldn’t call myself a Tori Amos fan; I have one Tori song on my iPhone, “God.” I admire her art and what she accomplishes as an artist. The only other Tori song I know is “Me and a Gun,” and I have a love-hate relationship with this song. I love the song because Tori, while writing a song to find the path to healing, helps other rape survivors. I “hate” the song because it makes me deal with my past.
Recap: Tori admirer and respecter, but all “fan-ness” goes to Dolly Parton.
AD: Mom says you’re so fucking brave you put some straight men to shame. Dustin, what motivated your series for Shape of a Box? Walk us through the creative/destructive process.
DB: Denise Duhamel once said, “As poets, I think we all write from a deep wound,” and a deep wound is where “I Don’t Like To Say The Word Rape,” “No Comedy In Tragedy,” and “Living Vicariously Through Extremities” originate. After the rape, I didn’t talk about it because I couldn’t talk about it. I even stopped saying the word rape. I became depressed. I’m the kind of guy who is usually busy making his friends laugh, so I worked double time to maintain a façade, and I exhausted myself. Then I discovered I could write about it. I know it might sound odd to say that I discovered I could write about the rape, but that is very much the truth. At the time I thought putting what happened onto the page would be dangerous; however, putting the words on paper helped me. I started burying a little bit of the pain in each poem.
AD: Mom says guys can’t get raped, come on. I told her yes they can. Men just don’t admit it, especially straight men. You’ve got balls Justin, oops, Dustin!
DB: “I Don’t Like To Say The Word Rape,” “No Comedy In Tragedy,” and “Living Vicariously Through Extremities” all contain movie references that deal with rape. A rape scene in a movie sends me back to that night, so it felt right to write about certain movies that affected me in dramatic ways. I’m nervous but excited that these poems are part of my chapbook, To The One Who Raped Me, which is forthcoming from Pudding House Press.
AD: If you had Double Ds, what would you do with them and why would you do it?
DB: The way I see it, I’d be the best Dolly Parton impersonator to wear rhinestones and a blonde wig. Can’t you imagine me performing at holiday parties, bar mitzvahs, and upscale retirement homes?
AD: When hell freezes! Dustin, poetry is…?
DB: Nourishment. Baudelaire said, “Any healthy man can go without food for two days—but not without poetry.” We can’t forget what Anne Sexton wrote in “With Mercy for the Greedy:”
My friend, my friend, I was born
doing reference work in sin, and born
confessing it. This is what poems are:
or the greedy,
they are the tongue’s wrangle,
the world’s pottage, the rat’s star.
AD: If you could sleep with any living poet, male, female, or tranny, what would you say to him/her/them?
DB: It’ll hurt for a minute or four, but trust me, after you get used it, it is going to feel great.
AD: Gross. I’m going to see my therapist now. He doesn’t bite….Ok, I’m back. So, biggest tragedy that impacts your writing?
DB: The rape. (Not to be a Debbie Downer, but you did ask.)
AD: Biggest comedy that impacts your writing?
DB: Hard question, but I like it hard.
AD: Grody man. Must I remind you that I’m a semi prepubescent teen?
DB: I feel like it has been over the last year or so that I have purposely tried to weave humor into my poetry. I look to the work of Denise Duhamel for assistance. In my humble opinion, Denise can make you cry, laugh, and want to pick up a pen all with a single poem. Isn’t this the best place to bring up Dante’s Divine Comedy? I remember reading The Inferno my senior year of high school. I’ve kept that book close to my heart ever since. Sin, symbolic retribution, hell, and it is all written in Terza Rima. One word: lovely!
AD: Captain or Tennille?
DB: Captain Morgan, but I really feel more comfortable with Vodka.
AD: Dude, it’s not a drink! What makes a limp wrist?
DB: Reading Limp Wrist —the limper the wrist, the cooler the person. Making a TAX DEDUCTIBLE donation to the Limp Wrist scholarship helps keep a wrist limp. The scholarship is open to LGBT high school seniors and juniors. One lucky student wins a spot at the prestigious Juniper Institute for Young Writers with tuition and travel expenses paid for by Limp Wrist. Btw- I can’t mention the scholarship without confessing it wouldn’t be possible without Dara Wier working as a liaison to secure the spot and Factory Hollow Press’s support.
AD: Finally, give us something to chew on. Don’t be shy. We’re all watching you.
DB: I’d rather you not chew on it. OH WAIT. Um… yes… I want to leave you with four statements, well, more like pearls of wisdom:
(1) “Sometimes the First Boys Don’t Count,” Denise Duhamel
(2) “If you live in a glass house don’t throw stones.
Don’t shatter my image ‘til you look at your own
Look at your reflection in your house of glass.
Don’t open my closet if your own’s full of trash.
Stay out of my closet if your own’s full of trash.”
~ “Shattered Image,” Dolly Parton
(3) “If you give me lemons, I’ll make lemonade. If you give me shit, you’re getting shit pies.
(4) Buy Beth Gylys’s Bodies That Hum. Beth will rock your world.
Dustin Brookshire is an activist and poet residing in Atlanta, Georgia. He’s won awards from the Oregon State Poetry Association, Alabama State Poetry Society, and been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. His work has appeared in Blue Fifth Review, Shape of a Box, Ocho, O&S, Apparatus, Ouroboros, Scythe, Qarrtsiluni, and other publications. Brookshire’s chapbook, To The One Who Raped Me, is forthcoming from Pudding House Press. You may find him on the web at www.dustinbrookshire.com.