I have no filter.
when I organize my thoughts."
This is the first thing I read about Bryce; it was in the description section of his profile on a poetry website. It was so simple and straightforward, it was refreshing and I instantly went to read his poetry. I wasn't disappointed - his language was honest, metaphorical, humorous and very, very surreal. He struck me as down-to-earth and yet with enough dreaminess to capture your imagination and lift you up from the mundane. His poetry I found to be full of color and bombastic flavors, and other poems sharp as knives of truth. He invites you to dance and laugh and reminds you to be conscious of life, yourself, and of what is happening around you and in the world; this encouragement for awareness extends even into heavy and dark realities of life and people, so as to be conscious of other perspectives and not become fixed in one's own view or turn a blind eye to things. For in dong so one perpetuates willful ignorance. But he also reminds you to smile and connect with your inner child. And above all, to play. He has said of his true calling and life purpose:
"When people ask what I do for a living, I respond:
I sensually embrace the entirety 's
divine lips kissing my spirit
with consecrated words
merging into me -
a blissful osmosis of neurotransmitters
waltzing with my consciousness
flowing liquid electricity
with molten rhythms of oxygen
in kinetic unison through moments
of subjective apocalypses
slowly returning to yugen."
He has a soft spot for comedy and weaves that into his writing. He not only is a writer but also a meditation instructor who encourages one to live in the moment - one breath at a time. Read more to get to know this gentle soul and his appreciation for surrealism (so much so that a teacher once stated that his writing is like "verbal LSD"), what inspired him to start writing, and why he likes to cut through the bullshit of life.
I would like to start out with one of your descriptions about yourself: "I literally say whatever's on my mind." It was one of the first things that stood out to me and I feel it tells a lot about yourself already, without even reading your poetry. It's very straightforward. With that being said, tell us how much saying things as they are shape your interactions with the world, which in turn shapes your writing and poetry?
Saying and seeing things as they are is what comes natural to me. At a young age, we're all taught about being honest, but then as we grow up we see all these examples, like through politicians or even just friends where saying the "right thing," aka the truth, is frowned upon.
But the whole being honest thing stuck to me for some reason, I don't know why. But it's gotten me in trouble fore sure. It's weird how saying things as they are bothers people sometimes. So sometimes I have to think about how to say something where it's still true, but maybe not as blunt. And I'm already a kinda, sort of head-in-the-clouds type of guy anyway. So when I'm thinking about what to say it almost naturally becomes more poetic because that's how my thinking mind works a lot of the time.
I don't know, honestly. To some extent I was always writing. It was an escapism a little bit. But I guess what, or rather, who really inspired me to write was my 8th grade English teacher. She took me and a group of other students after school to do a poetry group kinda thing. We'd write, learn about different/basic forms of poetry and write some more. Ms. Kann was her name. She was maybe the first adult, that wasn't my parents, who gave me encouragement about all the weird wild crazy things I was writing. It was a very liberating experience, to be able to express myself at that age, especially because - and I fully admit to this - I was a sheltered child.
Oh really? So you feel around the 8th grade was when things started opening up a bit for you, and you started experimenting with self-expression?
Yeah, around then. To an extent Ms. Kann encouraged it. She was, from what I recall anyway, one of the first teachers that was also very self-expressive. She'd make some silly sounds from time to time, especially when we were reading Animal Farm by George Orwell. She'd do a lot of the different animal noises. But, there were days when you could tell she wasn't really feeling it, and she'd let you know that too, for sure. I'm sure other teachers I had before this point were self-expressive too. But, I can't really remember, so that kinda says something too I think.
8th grade was also around the time I started getting into writing plays for the church I went to at the time. Maybe a little before that. Oh, I also dyed my hair red around that time too. My parents weren't a big fan of that but I wasn't doing it for them, you know?
It was after that did I start experiencing teachers that were more, expressive. Maybe I was gravitating more to that kind of vibe. Maybe it was just more of the teachers in high school seemed to like what they do, I don't know.
You have quite a number of poems about family, and most of those poems aren't "sweet or happy" but filled with truths. What kinds of experiences did you go through with your family that motivated you to turn them into poetry?
Well, if you go by my saying about poetry happening when I think, I've done a lot of thinking about my family. I think that's partially because I was around them for the first 18 years of my life - like, a lot. I didn't get out much. It wasn't just one thing; though, sometimes I do highlight one incident here and there. It was like a slow chipping away of all the "rules" my parents, particularly my over-protective mom, would set up.
There was this time my parents decided to take out all the doors to the house except the bathroom, front, and back doors. They said it was to "foster communication." Even then, in middle school I think it was, I remember thinking "well, that doesn't make any sense!" It was stuff like that, you know? Or the time I found porn when I was looking for the Nintendo64 my parents tried to hide from me as a form of punishment. I remember saying something about it to my Dad I think, and he said that they were from an Uncle who recently died. But I remember the shipping address on some of the videos had my mom's name and the house address on them too, so... yeah.
Wow, that is crazy. So would you say, or feel, that "seeing" things as they are is one of the most common themes in your life and writing?
Yes. It's just these inconsistencies in their "rules" made me, I guess in a sense, more hyper-aware of what is and isn't truth, and also made me more observant in a way so I see what is and isn't bullshit. And it might not seem like a big deal, but to me it was because I was living a sheltered life. It was like my family and the schools were the authority on things, you know? So once I started seeing the cracks in those things it really began changing my worldview, I think.
Maybe I couldn't always express it, but that in turn made me retreat more into my imagination in creating these elaborate worlds.
It became this kind of, two different things colliding; these surreal worlds but also this, crumbling morality and the underbelly of what was really going on with my family, if that makes sense. John Lennon once said something to the effect of " The more real you get, the more unreal the world gets." Something like that, and so I think some of it is that over the years I was growing up and maturing, which included embracing these surreal aspects of my life, the more unreal the world felt because, as I said, I'm seeing these things, these rules, these learning institutions not all cracked up to what they're supposed to be, you know?
Oh, it's funny you mention surrealism because there's a lot of it swirling in your poetry, even your most beautiful create vivid imagery that gently makes its way to your senses, such as She, The Outer Space. Have you always had an appreciation for surrealism, or did this style begin at a certain age/time in your life?
Honestly, and this isn't meant to sound cocky or anything, but I think surrealism has just come naturally to me on account of spending large swaths of patched fabric in time within my imagination. It's always been something I've gravitated toward. Like some of my favorite cartoons as a kid that I'd watch mornings were, aside from super hero stuff, cartoons that not many people remember; like Ned's Newt or Toonsylvania or even The Tick.
I did watch Disney movies too as a kid, but the one that always and continues to stick out to me is Aladdin, on account of Robin Williams' Genie character. That, and whatever it is inside of me which has always been there and only continues to grow. Naturally, once I matured enough to be able to appreciate art, I began learning about Dali and Picasso. But at the same time, I was always reading books with a more fantastical element to them.
Speaking of surrealism, your first printed poetry book, Psychedelic Landscapes is full-on surrealism and filled with mind-bending words. It's literally a mind trip to read. It's like you exploded all your colors into these poems and unleashed your psychedelic mind wanderings.
Tell us a little bit about it. What inspired you to put this collection of themed poetry together?
Well, it was really a convergence of two different things going on. On one hand, I'd just gotten back from my second trip to Canada and... a lot was going on. My grandmother, on my mother's side, died almost two months after I returned. I didn't really want to be there for that, because I knew what was to come. I was right too, though I didn't realize to what extent. It was a bunch of family drama, my g/f and I called it off around the same time, my dad decided to leave, it was just a whole bunch of shit. So I was feeling kinda low. Like I said, I didn't want to be there for all that, but I figured since I was there I'd do what I could. But still, there was a heavy gray cloud of endless rain over me for a large portion of that.
But at the same time, I was really feeling something. There was this urge to put something together. But I was kinda nervous too because I remembered having a hard time getting approval, let alone good grades in my English classes at college because, especially the woman in charge of the fledgling poetry department wanted everyone to write like her. She made some good points here and there, don't get me wrong. But anyway, I was still nervous about sharing prose because of that. Also because, when I was at school for advertising, I often wrote in this weird, slightly schizoid stream of consciousness kind of way, which turned a lot of people off, kinda. Sorta. I had one of the teachers tell me "You're like verbal LSD," which I took as a compliment.
|available on Amazon|
Well, I think the experiences are often the subject matter I'm writing about, but the styles and tones of different people like Allen Ginsberg, Bob Kaufman and David Lynch have enabled me to filter all of those events through more surreal glasses.
But those people who have influenced me, like Bob Kaufman, a master surrealist poet with jazz leanings, have also shown me that it's OK to write and say the things I'm saying, even if other people think it's a little off-kilter.
You site George Carlin as your very first favorite person on a page called Miscellaneous Kitchen on one of your websites. How did his work and comedic sense influence your work and way of seeing society and people's behavior?
Again, it's that kind of rebellious thing about seeing through the bullshit. I remember my dad playing me some Bill Cosby and Bob Newhart cassettes or CD's, and they were funny to me as a kid, but it was George Carlin who was the first stand-up who could so clearly crystallize so many thoughts I had. I remember watching George Carlin's second stand-up special on HBO one night at my grandparent's house. It was at 4-5 in the morning, and as a bored kid in middle school the only thing I felt like doing was watching the TV. So after turning it on and flipping through some channels, I heard this guy, Carlin... talking about how time doesn't exist and how so many people describe time in such vague ways - and SO many lights went off in my brain because it was, again, exposing this bullshit about a mundane thing most people don't think about.
After I watched the rest of the special, I started doing research, and learning more of Carlin's rebellious nature and how anti-authority he was. But that was OK with me. I was right there with him.
But Carlin was also a wordsmith. He wrote things and said things in a certain rhythm too. If you listen to his 7 dirty words bit, he plays with the rhythm of all these different curse words. He played with words so much, and I think I could sense that too.
You've published articles on politics too. Some of those pieces are very direct and present a different perspective on the current political climate of the US. You even wrote an open letter to Trump which is meant to be satirical. Tell us about what motivates you to engage in political topics?
Oh man. Politics. I try to stay away from it you know, but it seems like so many people want to keep talking about it even though it's all poppycock.
I mean, it's something people talk about, and to a small extent, has an affect on our lives. I don't like talking about political topics really. I know that may seem contradictory considering I do talk about them. But... I don't know. I guess it's an outlet to engage with people. But it's like, if you know even a little bit about how gerrymandering works or how the electoral college system works, very quickly can you see that it's all hogwash really. So, I try to just, in my writings about politics, focus more on ways people can think, or try to anyway.
The letter I wrote to Donald Trump was... it's just funny to me, because this guy is like, a living, breathing caricature and the epitome of what politics is really. I mean that about both political parties. Considering this guy has zero political experience, he's turning out to be the epitome of what politics and politicians are, which is full of bullshit. But so many people buy into what he says! So, I guess the articles I write about "getting people to think" are just an even more direct way to reach people.
My poetry is, more often than not, like a surreal escape for people, trying to guide them toward embracing the beautiful surreal aspects of the world. But the articles, I guess, are like... getting down in the mud with the people and taking on the not-so-beautiful, yet also surreal aspects of the world.
I'm going to switch topics and go back a few years in your life. After college you got a job in Cincinnati as a copywriter. How was that experience, and in what way did that experience make you walk down a different path that involved travel and self-discovery?
That experience was... many things. It was tiring after a while, but not solely because of the work. There was other bullshit going on too that was making life kinda frustrating for me. I don't really want to get into it because that's a whole other thing, needless to say, when I was let go due to budget cuts, I just felt like I had to do something different. I had started meditating more frequently and what I found when I finally had time to listen to myself was that I wasn't happy where I was. Once I was able to slow down, breathe and just observe my thoughts, not to mention all the crazy stuff that was happening around me, I was like, man, I need a change of pace and scenery.
Where did you go traveling and how did travel expand and enhance your learning on self-healing and meditation?
I went to Egypt and Canada at different times. Traveling to both places showed me that I just have to follow my flow, follow my self, follow that spirit of, something... yugen, eleutheromania - whatever it's called. By following that, that's how you heal. By following your heart and your mind, that's how you meet people who are on your same wavelength. It taught me to be much more flexible too. I mean, I was already a pretty go-with-the-flow kinda guy, but just sit in that. There's this phrase that inspired Clint Eastwood, of all people, when he was just starting out. Some director told him, "Don't just do something, stand there!" I think there's a lot to be said for when one is able to be kinda still amidst the chaos, even creative chaos too.
Also, you have started your own meditation practice and business called, Follow Your Breath. What is your philosophy behind your meditation practice and services? What do you hope people find in themselves by practicing meditation?
I just hope people find themselves really. Meditation is an excellent way to get to know yourself, if practiced correctly. The whole idea of meditation is to first of all, feel comfortable just being with yourself, but second, after you're comfortable being with yourself, to feel comfortable enough to look at your thoughts, feelings and past actions without judgment or attachment. When you're able to do that, which is akin to someone hiking through a dense jungle, and their thoughts and feelings are the vines, bugs and other things getting in the way and distracting us. There's so much happening in the jungle, you know? It's easy to get lost. But when we're able to get through that, into a clearing, there is peace. And once we're able to see that we can make that journey ourselves, without anyone else's help or anything else, it's freedom. There's a lot of people who try to tell us they have the solution for getting through the jungle, but it's just a temporary fix, you know?
Bryce's meditation services are divided into two tiers.
The Dolphin and Whale > read more.
He also offers free guided meditations on his website.
Here's a sample:
Any new writing projects or books that you're planning on for the future?
I'm always writing to some extent. But as far as projects go, I have one big one I'm working on. Another poetry book. I'm not gonna say much about it now other than it's going to be almost the exact opposite of Psychedelic Landscapes. Much more blunt force. Some people are going to get offended.
Oooh, that sounds exciting! Rocking the boat, eh? ;D
Where should people to follow if they want to stay updated on your poetry and meditation practice?
Well, for people who want to stay up-to-date on my poetry shenanigans, they should follow me on Instagram @thebrycical. I also write stuff on Medium, where I write and share articles. For meditation, they can check out my website followyourbreath.org.
Just for fun... Tell us something about you we don't know. Maybe something weird or unique ;)
I'm actually one of the last Beatnik Cowboys making my way through an alternate dimension trying to get back to psychedelic infinity of yugen.
Any words of encouragement for other writers or people reading this that you'd like to share? Any thoughts to stimulate creativity in society?
Just keep writing, painting or whatever art you do. Listen to yourself. Take breaks and keep on going on.
You can follow Bryce on: