Paul Rance interviews American good hearts and good creatives Christine & Richard Bruness; Alley Cat by Christine Bruness review
Sondra C interview Danielle "L" interview
Christine Bruness at Live Journal
I recently sent some questions for two of the shining lights on Associated Content, Christine & Richard Bruness, and their answers are below. I will be looking to interview a few more people when time permits, and it's not just talent I'm interested in. Only kind hearts - to people and animals - need apply! Thanks to Christine and Richard for sparing the time.
Q: How did the two of you meet?
Chris: We met in December 1990 when I was an undergrad working as a manager of a lingerie store and Rich was working as a security guard in the Mill Creek Mall. I had an exceptionally unruly customer and called security for help. Rich came and saved the day. He asked me out that day and we have been together ever since.
Q: You've been published quite widely. Can you list some of the publications you've appeared in?
Chris: Oh, let’s see, I’ll list twenty for you: A Hudson View, Ancient Heart Magazine, Bewildering Stories, Bolts of Silk, Covert Poetics Journal, Dreams of Decadence, Frogpond, Haiku Headlines, Literary House Review, OCEAN, Poetic Hours, Scifaikuest, Skyline, Subtle Tea, The Cynic Online Magazine: Café Del Sol, 3 Lights Gallery, Timepieces, Useless Knowledge, WOMB, and Zygote in My Coffee.
Rich: My photos have been in newspapers, on book covers, and in a fire ground photography magazine. They’ve also been published online at Associated Content, eHow, and Skyline.
Q: What and who has inspired you, creatively?
Chris: Cats and free spirited bohemian types.
Q: You've both got an obvious love of nature. Do you think this is something that is innate, or is a result of the way you were brought up - or a combination of the two?
Chris: For me, it’s instinctive. I can’t think of being any other way.
Rich: I think it’s a combination of the two.
Q: You've created a "small backyard sanctuary" for wildlife. What sort of critters come visiting?
Rich: We have raccoons, skunks, gofers, garden snakes, field mice, possums, cats, squirrels, and all kinds of birds. We have woodpeckers, tufted titmice, cardinals, mourning doves, rock doves, finches, sparrows, blackbirds, grackles, robins, nuthatches, blue jays, mockingbirds, dark-eyed juncos, starlings, hawks, and even a snowy egret. It was in the fishpond looking for food!
Q: I always wished I could play the guitar really well (I wanted to be Hendrix), but failed. Which is the one creative thing you would really love to master?
Chris: I would like to be able to sew well. I am actually considering it. We’ll see….
Rich: I would love to master woodworking – you know, to be able to make a living from it.
Q: What advice would you give to any creative soul struggling to get recognition?
Chris: I haven’t really gotten the level of recognition and the financial amount that I had once hoped for; however, I don’t obsess or sulk about it. I just do my thing. I would say to all those who ARE obsessing and sulking about it: Work on your art. Don’t let other people define you. Use your art for good. Donate pieces to a charity that’s dear to you (for the organization to sell or auction). If you need to sell pieces, start with modest prices and work your way up over time. Don’t let the fact that you aren’t in a gallery stop you from sharing your work. Explore other avenues on the web – even try representing yourself on your own website. Understand, too, that a lot people right now simply don’t have the money to spend on art. You can either adjust your prices accordingly or choose not to sell.
In these tough times, I must confess that I often don’t even have the money for paint or canvases. I don’t let that stop me, though. I will break out my markers and old magazines and cut out words and draw images to make art or handmade cards. I even repurpose discards like bottle caps and plastic twisties to create. If you’re creative and resourceful enough, you will always find a way to make something unique. That’s the beautiful power of creativity: It’s yours – part of you, and no one or thing can ever take it from you.
Q: And what do you think are the best websites for creative types to utilize?
Chris: I think Etzy and eBay are great places to sell your work.
Q: What ambitions do you still have re your work, and how would you define success?
Chris: I would like to get gallery representation in NYC. With my writing, I would like to be an author at the kind of publishing company that can reach more people. I wanted and still want to be able to make enough money to fund a shelter for cats and help some people who really need it.
Chris: I would define success as loving what you do, making a positive difference by doing what you do, and being able to support yourself doing it.
Rich: I haven’t been all that ambitious in terms of showcasing my work. I do plan on exhibiting and selling my work more down the line. I take pictures all the time and love doing it – always have.
Rich: My Definition of success? Liking what you do and getting paid to do it.
Q: If you lived on a desert island together, which three things (three each) would you want to take with you?
Chris: My two cats (that counts for two things) and plenty of drinks (that includes booze, coffee, tea, and water).
Rich: My police scanner, lots of food, and my pet fishes.
Q: If you could change five things in the world what would they be?
Chris: I could go on and on about these things so I am glad that you only asked for five. Here goes:
1. End animal testing in cosmetic and household product laboratories.
2. End factory farming.
3. Create and enforce stiffer punishments for those who hurt animals and harm the earth.
4. End all war.
5. Foster a global reverence for Mother Earth and all of her inhabitants.
1. End all war.
2. Find cures to terminal diseases.
3. I would love to be in a financial position to help people and animals who really need help.
4. Clean up environmental waste and pollution.
5. More days off for the working class.
© Copyright Christine & Richard Bruness, 2009.
Alley Cat by Christine Bruness - reviewed by Paul Rance
Alley Cat is a glorious slim volume of poetry from New Jersey poetess Christine Bruness. However, those of you who have read Christine's work on Associated Content won't be surprised at the high quality poetry displayed here.
Published in 2008 by Covert Press, with a foreword by John Dorsey, Alley Cat comprises of 21 mostly short poems, and what strikes the reader is the insightfulness of the poetry, combined with an underlying humanity and frustration at the way society is heading - or has already reached. The poetry is particularly perceptive in the way that it understands people.
Examples of this perception, for the facade we all sometimes put on, for example, is Undone, which accurately portrays that feeling, particularly when one is young, and bowing down to peer pressure, of the relief when we find the confidence to be ourselves. Other examples of perceptive poetry are Ahead of His Time, which is about someone bottling up all their emotions, not wanting to love, remaining unloved, and dying alone. The Laundress accurately depicts the life of a woman just struggling to survive, and how she appears to others is not top of her list of priorities - something the middle classes often don't 'get'.
Christine's frustrations with some aspects of modern life shines through with Media TV - "...these phony gods/Who wouldn't exist/If you pulled the plug", and her poem about the internet - Mind Pollution, and THE PRIZE, which is about fighting against the Big Brother invasiveness in modern society.
The poetry is deep, but is of an uplifting, inspiring nature, and some simple poems like Her Hat Box remind us what really matters. Band Days and Her Blank Canvas are poems of gentle eroticism. Mistaken Identity, a poem about why revisiting one's past is not always a great idea. Fever and Bleeding Bottles are about the perils of booze. Fragmented and Until? are about the way women are often made to feel unworthy in today's society. Hoping is poignant, and the barbed Alive with Electric Words sounds like the poetry reading from hell, with the male poets pouring out their sexual desires behind their 'poetry'!
This collection ends with the mysterious Elusive, and begins with Alley Cat, and Christine's poem about befriending a stray cat - appropriate, for the author is a great cat lover, and cats adorn the front (plus a skull!) and back cover of this smartly produced volume. The reader is advised to read the collection from back to front - worked for me!
Alley Cat is available to buy here
Christine's first collection, Imbalance, An Experimental Collection of Micro Stories and Poetry, is available to buy here
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