Montgomery Maxton is so bizutiful. He writes. He takes photographs. He makes video reviews of other writers. He wears a mask for fun, but not all the time. And I think he does acrobats too. In other words, he does lots of creative stuff that makes me want to fly on his superhuman wings. He uses swear words too in front of cakes. (See below.)
Almost Dorothy: Tell us about your first collection of poetry, This Beautiful Bizarre. What makes it beautiful and what makes it bizarre?
Montgomery Maxton: I look at the world as a very beautiful and very bizarre place. And life is very beautiful and bizarre, too. With this book I take excerpts from life, and from the world, and showcase them, glorify them really – love, death, tragedy, triumph, etc. – to the point that it becomes the reader’s life. People who are connecting with this book are those who haven’t picked-up a poetry book in their adult life; your everyday people. The big wig poetry diva’s and divo’s that have read it have given it wonderful praise, but it’s the everyday men and women – the hard workers, the broken-hearted, the ones who can’t write a poem to save their life – who are reading it over and over and A-bombing me with great feedback, for which I’m completely grateful.
AD: I read, or heard you say, that you hate writing as much as you love writing. Explain.
MM: It can be an exhausting process and that’s when I hate it. When something I’m writing comes easy I love it. When I have to push myself to the point of exhaustion I hate it. I read somewhere once that a lot of writers burn-out by 40 and I can completely see that. I’d like to say that I’m retiring at 40, though, not burned out. I guess we’ll see in 10 years.
AD: Do you really want to bed Billy Collins? What about Billy Elliott? Or Billy the Kid, not the Goat?
MM: I’m no cheerleader, but Billy Collins is a wonderful writer, I don’t care what his contemporaries say, or Anis Shivani.
AD: You were born a photographer, but also to write. Is creativity genetic or something that is cultivated?
MM: I’ve no doubt that my creativity, homosexuality, (read the definition of homosexuality on Wikipedia or read Conservapedia’s American Flag all bullshit description of homosexuality here) and blue-eyes are all linked together. Notice I said “my” not “our” because I only speak for myself. So yes, for me, it’s genetic. But I have to work for my creativity. It’s there in a little ball of batter, but it’s up to me to make the fuckin’ cake. I will admit, however, that it is harder for me to write a poem than it is for me to take an great photograph.
AD: I love that you used the word fuckin’. My ma doesn’t like when I use that word. She’s a cake. So, how does your photographic work manifest itself in your poetry?
MM: It doesn’t.
AD: Oo laaah lah.
MM: I keep them very separate. They are my “twin art” having started them both at exactly the same time – age 16 – but I use one to escape from the other so if I married them I’d wind up divorcing them both. I put the exact same amount of time into each, but keep them apart. They’re twins separated at birth. Everything deserves its own identity.
AD: What pisses you off the most?
MM: Nothing much anymore. I mean if you lived through the Bush years you pretty much lived through the most awful part of modern history – albeit the holocaust – so nothing pisses me off anymore. When you’ve lived through election years of constitutional amendments to ban your love, when you’ve lived with the threat of sodomy (for a definition of sodomy, my new favorite word, click here because, for some reason, Conservapedia doesn’t want to define sodomy) laws being enforced, when you’ve lived in the Midwest, when you survived having the shit beat out of you everyday for ten years straight at the hands of your classmates, when you’ve survived jumping into an icy swimming pool in the dead of winter to kill yourself because your teachers and preachers and leaders tell you that the way you were born is wrong, what’s left to be pissed-off about? The weather? The fact that I still haven’t met Charles Jensen?
AD: What makes you feel happy?
AD: Do you still have the hots for Ben Roethlisberger?
MM: Who? No.
AD: Teaser, what’s your upcoming in the works novel about?
MM: My partner doesn’t even know that. Sorry, kid.
AD: Final question: a bird or a plane?
MM: An aeroplane. I mean, it’s what Bizarre is all about.
Montgomery Maxton, born in 1980 in Cincinnati, Ohio, is a freelanced photographer for National Geographic Magazine: among his publications with them is his photograph “Barack Obama in Ault Park,” and his photograph “Self-Portrait with My Dying Grandmother” which was nominated for their International Photography Award. His work has also appeared repeatedly in Andy Warhol’s Interview Magazine. A poet since sixteen and an award-winning writer, his first collection of work, This Beautiful Bizarre, was released in 2010. His writings and interviews with him have appeared in USA Today, The Washington Post, The Advocate, Blood Orange Review, Poetry Foundation, Cincinnati Enquirer and dozens of other publications. A former resident of Columbus, Ohio and New York City, he is presently residing in Philadelphia working on his first novel.