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Smoking With Joseph Young

Art by Marty D. Ison
Art by Marty D. Ison
Jesus. A powerful flash, Mr. Young. What was the first image that came to mind to give this flash its life?
Honestly, I don't remember; I wrote this a while ago. It must have been the corn though, since that's the very first image, and then the image of the devil in the corn. That's seems to be the way it happens, I drag up some image out of the darkness and then see what happens to it. Writing seems to become more and more a reliance on subconscious fishing trips. I try to shape what happens around the images, pieces of dialogue, etc., that come up, but it all starts with and is dependent on blindgroping.

The poetic lyricism and prosody of your prose—"hooves kicking up soil and the nests of wasps"—wows me time and time again. What does poetry have to do with flash?
A lot. I like compression in flash and I like the associations that flint off from that compression, how images and characters and dialogue rub against each other to make an experience of meaning, the same as can happen with the elements of poetry. I'm not sure that happens so much in this piece, which, for me anyway, gets its energy from the fun-ness of the images and dialogue rather than their associations, but it's what I like to play around with a lot in flash. I don't think flash can rely only on narrative because short stories do that so much better, there's more room to create narrative texture in them. So, what can flash give that stories usually don't? Poetic compression, for one thing.

It's not the Devil, I read somewhere, who made the world fall, but rather, our belief in him. Whattaya think? Is the Devil real or metaphor? And what power does the Devil wield in this world?
Hmm, I don't know how to answer this one. Religious images come up a lot in my stuff because they carry a lot of energy with them and I find myself fascinated by god and the devil and Jesus and all that even though I have no affinity for Christianity as a way of life. But its images and ideas are compressions of really powerful feelings and tap into deep places in us.

I admire the way you push against the boundaries of convention in your flash pieces. What's behind that push? An attempt to tear down?—build up?—or something else?
I guess I just really like flash and want to see what else it can do. For me, flash isn't just littler short stories, it's a whole other reading/writing experience, so I like to see when writers push it outwards, expand its possibilities. Flash is a great form, one worth dedicating your time to, one worth being serious about.

Say it isn't so. Your incredible blog "Flashlight" is going dark. Explain. Please!
I get bogged down pretty easily, and my head starts to fill with clutter, worries, inertia about writing, and I have to clean it out every so often just to free up enough space to write. The blog was a challenge to myself in that way, an opportunity to approach writing from a fresh angle and thus bypass that clutter. Then, the blog and feeling tied to it and fretting over it became clutter itself. It's great to be done with it.

Read In the Dust.
Issue Nine (June 15, 2005): Irvin Hammers a Cat House by Mike Young «» In the Dust by Joseph Young «» Pet Snail by Sam Vaknin «» Living in Sin by Stephen Ausherman «» China by Michelle Garren Flye «» In Too Deep by Kay Sexton «» How We Can Be Saved by Max Ruback «» Eros by Henry Stanton «» Saft by Jai Clare «» The Woman Who Sold Her Flute to Buy a Cabbage by Maggie Shearon «» Bird Tree by Lesley C. Weston «» Pornography by Steve Almond «» Brisket by Stuart Dybek «» A Deep Desire for Blue by Alexandra Fox «» The Names of Things by Cami Park «» Interviews: Mike Young «» Joseph Young «» Sam Vaknin «» Stephen Ausherman «» Michelle Garren Flye «» Kay Sexton «» Max Ruback «» Henry Stanton «» Jai Clare «» Maggie Shearon «» Lesley C. Weston «» Steve Almond «» Stuart Dybek «» Alexandra Fox «» Cami Park «» Cover Art "Groom Left Waiting at the Altar" by Marty D. Ison «» Letter From the Editor
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