sp: give us a brief history of publishing genius press, and the reasons you started doing it (and you can't say pussy because, i don't know, maybe you can actually)

ar: Thanks for asking. You’re the first person to ever ask this. I’ve wanted to do a press forever, I don’t know why, maybe I wanted to just make everyone really like the books I really liked, or maybe it’s due to my tendency to start clubs. I mean, I am forever starting clubs. When I was a kid I would get all the neighbors together and organize things and explain rules, then some other kid would go, “Or we could just all be friends like we already are.”

At first when I started PGP I set up all these meetings with other publishers to ask how they did it, what it takes to do a press. I worked diligently like that for a while “doing R&D” until my girlfriend at the time, the amazing Stephanie Barber, had a chapbook of poems published by Roberto Harrison, who runs Bronze Skull Press and wrote the frightening book, Counter Daemons (Litmus Press). Steph’s book seemed so simple, but so lovely. Ten poems in a staple-stitched book with a red cover and a black inner leaf. So I scrapped all my research and decided to just do these chapbooks, completely ripping off Bronze Skull.

PGP has done 8 books, and like 20 things for This PDF Chapbook, which is a series of shorter works formatted for reading online, at Issuu. Issuu is cool but I don’t think it’s user friendly enough so you can also print out the books, but who does that? I don’t know who does that. Sean Lovelace says he does it at his college there, so I figure there’s one person.

Oh yeah, there is also Is Reads, which started as a class project in 2006 (back when I was doing all the research on how to start a press). That’s the thing where we hang up poems on abandoned buildings and light posts and stuff. Peter Cole, the madman behind Keyhole, started doing that in Nashville and then Poets & Writers wrote about it and now it’s going to be in Hawaii and stuff too. Phoenix. Wal-Mart. That’s it. In a nutshell. I don’t want to go on and on with details about Everyday Genius, the daily update journal. Is anyone even still reading this interview?

sp: please describe an altercation between you and another child, in grade school.

ar: In first grade, while waiting in line at the drinking fountain, I pulled open Stacy’s shirt and looked at her chest. She cried. What a disappointment. I got sent to the principal’s office. I wish I remembered her last name. I had a crush on her until I graduated high school.

sp: when was the last time you got revenge on someone and what were the circumstances.

ar: This guy at work, Ace, taped a box of pennies to the door of the top cupboard of my cubicle and when I came in one morning and opened it, all the pennies spilled out all over everything. So when he walked away from his cubicle later and left his PC unlocked, I sent an email from his account to our boss saying “I did a poopie in my pants so I have to go home, okay hon?” Plus I reset his desktop image to the cutest picture of My Little Pony.

sp: the readers want to know, what's up with your book? what's inside it? will it be fun to read? what is the ideal place to read it? are there reading group notes in the back of it? if not, please provide some here, briefly.

ar: Tell everyone that my book should be out in August. It’s got about 60 poems in it. I’d say they are about 18 lines long on average. I try to use a casual voice in them, sort of like yours a little bit, maybe not as hip, but sort of my own, too. Well, not really my own. I think my book, which is called ADAM ROBISON AND OTHER POEMS, will be fun to read because it has some good lies in it and some good truths. I think it’s the sort of poetry book that should be read one at a time, wherever. It doesn’t matter where so much as how many.

I’m totally going to include reading group notes in the back, as well as a blank page that just says “NOTES” on the top. That’s a great idea.

sp: what is the best kind of author photo? is it, "leaning on a tree, arms crossed?" or perhaps, "at desk writing something, not taking notice of the person taking the photo?" is it something else?

ar: I’ve seen so few author photos that really worked for me. The picture of Lester Bangs in the front of Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung, in which he’s wearing a flannel pulled open over his belly to show an ABBA tee shirt, is great. He’s in his office there, I think, in front of a stack of records. I also really like the picture of Blaise Cendrars, leaning against a huge stack of books.

My author photo is probably the best. It’s a portrait painted in a classical style by the amazing Shaun Preston. I sat for it. It’s going to be the cover.

sp: are you working on any other writing projects at present? if so, what are they?

ar: I’m not. I wish I was, but I’m not. I would die.

sp: if you could have like, a totally huge sleepover at your house, who would you invite and what would happen at the sleepover?

ar: I’m actually getting tired of drinking! Finally! Well, maybe not really. But for the purposes of this answer I am, so I would invite my best friends from every stage of my life and see if we still clicked. We’d, um, we’d stay up really late, like till 2am, and talk about the story “Teddy” by JD Salinger.

sp: does the efficiency of velcro shoes overcome the social stigma?

ar: Who you fooling? You’re not really thinking about switching over to Velcro – everyone knows you don’t even take your boots off.

sp: do you ever hide in the clothing racks at stores and then grab peoples' hands when they reach in? maybe hand them a copy of LIGHT BOXES?

ar: I don’t. I’m too busy looking at my profile in the three-way mirrors. Have you ever seen yourself from the side? It’s crazy! I don’t even recognize myself. My legs look bowed. I get really self-conscious.

sp: there seems to be (or maybe i am making this up) a divide on the internet between those who like what is called "realism" and those who like, we'll call it, "surrealism." where do you stand. what are your thought s adam robinson?
ar: Well, I think I know what you mean. The boner in me wants to straighten out this term “surrealism” and return it to its proper roots in Satanism, and unpack the term “realism” and claim it for literature that calls into question the things we think are real – but I think I know what you mean and I’m okay with keeping things in quotation marks until the brainwaves coming from the ivory tower filter into our popular lexicon.

I read a story by Paula Bomer today called “An Important Day in the Life of Marjorie Wallace” that I think fits into the definition of the word “realist” (my quotes are meant to indicate the popular term, marked by straight prose where, for instance, the word “tree” denotes “a leafy plant with a trunk and branches”) and it was okay. It has a beautiful and effective conclusion that is worth reading the story for, but to me, the payoff doesn’t seem big enough to rationalize all the work she must have put into writing it. I mean, when the story was over, the sum of my thoughts was: huh. Not as a question or anything, just blank.

And plus, when you write that way – if you make a tiny little mistake, like she does with this clause – “a wonderful February sun falling onto her face” – you risk losing your audience. And mistakes like this are much more obvious in traditional, unmediated prose. Plus, in this story she has the main character, Marjorie, yell at a merely casual friend for not calling her six weeks earlier. I thought, “No one would do that.” So I was basically workshopping this story as I went along, even though I just wanted to read it for whatever reason people read stories. I did the same thing with a Barbara Taylor Bradford book I recently listened to in my car. With “realist” stuff, I always already feel like an expert on whatever a writer is talking about, and I get distracted by matching it up to my own perspective or something. I figure, why bother – unless there is some flat out stunning style to it.

I like Paula Bomer a lot, I think, and I know she’s intentional when she writes this way. I like that she’s sticking up for it. But when you do that other thing – where the language of the story is as essential as the story, and where the story is as essential as an exploded metanarrative, in the sense that it calls into question even the telling of the story, especially the telling (and that might not sound like it’s saying anything but it is) – you’re demanding that readers become familiar with the back or the inside story. When the reader invests like that for a work of art, when he allows himself to become a part of the work, its language and habitat and unfamiliar everything, he is more likely to dig in enough to appreciate it, less likely to discount it, shrug and walk away, as he might with something where he doesn’t “believe” one character would really say that thing, would really note the wonderful sun falling on her face.

I’m not really sure that nugget of theory holds up, and anyway I love impeccable writing, no matter what form it takes. I think my favorite novel is still The Brothers K by David James Duncan, at least in terms of emotional response, in terms of “holy crap, literature is amazareehing,” in terms of tears-to-page ratio. But nine times out of ten I prefer the mind-bending stuff to the “there is meaning in the accumulation of ordinary experience” stuff.

sp: if you could jump on anyone's face, like a trampoline, who would it be and why?

ar: I used to keep a list. I can only remember it had my scoutmaster on it because he yelled at me for being impolite to a foreign exchange student. Now I don’t really hold a grudge. Actually, wait, yeah I recently had violent feelings toward a person who contacted me on Facebook to tell me I had behaved inappropriately toward his girlfriend when we were all standing around on the sidewalk in front of a bar. I apologized and asked could he be more specific about what I did, because it’s not unlikely that my actions were misinterpreted or something. He said, “It concerns me that you need a specific action.” Man, that made me mad, but I apologized anyway. It “concerns” him? What gives, Sam? Did anyone your age ever tell you that something you did “concerns” them? How do you take it? It’s so authoritarian. I guess I don’t take correction well, because I would totally trampoline on that dude’s face.

sp: you live in baltimore. is there any way to avoid being asked for money on the street? one time i was wearing a blanket as a winter coat and someone still asked me for money. i usually give whatever i have but sometimes i just don't want to be talked to. what is your method? are you a starer? are you a, "sorry man" kind of guy? do you explain yourself? do tell.

ar: I mean, sometimes I give some money, a few silver coins, or if I don’t feel like giving them money I offer them a cigarette. Or if I don’t feel like giving them anything I’ll mumble, “Sorry man, I don’t have anything.” Then invariably they’ll say, “Okay, thank you, have a blessed day” and I’ll feel like a jerk.

But a few weeks ago I got mugged and a bottle smashed over my head, and while I was walking away, trying to call 911, this guy asked me for change. I just looked at him with my bloody face and he said, “Oh, okay, you okay?” I didn’t give him a single red cent.

sp: have you ever seen a porno that really disturbed you? if so, what occured in said porno?

ar: When I was in college a Japanese guy I knew, a bass player, showed me some of his collection. It was pretty disturbing. It’s all threatened women stuff over there, I guess, because he said his stuff was the norm. But I mean, it was all about women being chased and stuff. I am for porn in the sense that I think women should capitalize on this economy that capitalizes so much on them, on the form of their existence. But that’s not the only reason I’m for it.

Why is this the last question? I’m scared.