Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down – briefly, mind you – with bj draKe, author of a new collection of poetry, short stories and prose called “yowl / d” that is available January 23 on eBook and February 13th in paperback.
Q: How did “yowl / d” start?
A: It started as my alternative to taking medication for bipolar depression.
Q: What do you mean?
A: Whenever I was depressed and angry I would go into my office and write it out and at first it was therapeutic.
Q: Then what happened?
A: Then I let my writer’s pseudonym, bj draKe, dig deeper to find the roots of that soggy tree that kept dropping leaves scorched with hate that never rotted.
Q: Did he find them?
A: Sure, but he didn’t stop digging and eventually the earth collapsed on him and suffocated him.
Q: Then what?
A: He had to dig himself out.
Q: And, how’d he do that?
A: yowl / d .
Q: So, how would you describe “yowl / d?”
A: A documentation of a mind descending into suicide.
Q: There seems to be a lot of repetition of certain phrases in “yowl / d.”
A: In retrospect, that’s the cycle of depression. It is repetitious. There’s a routine and a feeding of the proverbial beast. So, situations duplicate and degrade with each copy from the original. The ink smudges more. Until it’s nothing but an inky smear. Cyclical and just like a tornado; just as harmless until it isn’t.
Q: Why did you call your book “yowl / d?”
A: A yowl is a loud wailing cry of pain and distress.
A: For ten years I wrote as a way to escape my depression and recently I realized I was writing my suicide letter in preparation of escaping my depression; this book is one long yowl.
Q: Does that scare you?
A: Absolutely. I also feel like it’s the writer’s curse to let the mind wander where others are afraid. Those areas are dark and they can forever dim your light. Those writers that we’ve lost – and will continue to lose – are the beautifully tormented minds that wreathe in silence with no one to talk to without running the risk of dimming someone else’s light, too. Those of us who know that we went too deep, too fast and to keep going is to risk digging through to the other side.
Q: Well, yeah, this book is…
Q: Who are some of your influences?
A: Kurt Cobain was a huge inspiration growing up. Jim Morrison, Hunter S. Thompson. Jack Kerouac. Ginsberg.
Q: Basically, everyone who is dead?
A: It seems like if they’re not dead when I first hear of them, they die soon after.
Q: Some people have said that if the BeatniKs were alive today that you’d be part of their group.
A: Maybe if they listened to Marilyn Manson and worshipped the 90’s.
Q: I noticed that there are a lot of references in “yowl / d” to creatives who eventually self-destructed. Dead poets, musicians and actresses. Does death – or their deaths – inspire you?
A: I wouldn’t say “inspire.” No. I think why I relate to their work is because we share this internal voice.
Q: You mention “a voice” frequently in “yowl / d.” What is that voice, exactly?
A: I think it’s the voice of artistic expression that keeps pushing you towards insanity. No brakes. It pulls you into depression, ripping your arms off if you resist. It’s the voice of the artist that thinks death is part of the act and keeps stepping closer to the edge.
Q: Do you think you’ve stopped the voice with the completion of “yowl / d?”
A: No. It lives in me. The best I can do is to turn the volume down.
Q: What do you have to say to anyone who might see themselves within these pages.
A: Seek help, immediately.
After seven-minutes was up, bj draKe stormed out of the restaurant furious that I wouldn’t delete the cassette-tape, so the interview is up in its entirety.