Your First Real Banned Book: An Interview with Big Bruiser Dope Boy

Nathaniel Kennon Perkins
Oct 10 · 4 min read
Photo by Patrick Welsh

Even though Big Bruiser Dope Boy went to college in the town where I live, knows people I know, has published work in cool websites, is a person who is generally around, somehow I’d never heard of him or read any of his work. But then all of the sudden all sorts of people were posting on Instagram about him and his book, Your First Real Boyfriend and Other Poems (Clash Books, 2019). I caught the fever. I got all excited. I ordered a few copies for the bookstore where I work, and we set up a book release reading there.

I’ve never seen anybody sweat so much while they were giving a reading.

Sometimes I wear my Big Bruiser Dope Boy t-shirt (Designed by Steve Anwyll) when I’m out to dinner or at a bar.

The shirt has a picture of a gigantic penis on it, and people say, “Hmmm, that’s an interesting shirt.”

I say, “It sure is.”

It’s a refreshing thing to have a person like BBDB in a world where 99% of poetry is a disappointing plaid button-down.

We caught up via email, and this is what he had to say.

You live in Denver, but where are you from originally?

I was born in Boston, Massachusetts, lived there until I was eight, then lived in Austin, Texas for the rest of my adolescence.

How do the places/cities/regions you inhabit inform your work?

I really don’t know. I’m sure that it does inform the work, but I don’t know how it informs the work. I’m not worried about it. I don’t get paid enough to think about that. That’s a question for someone in environmental health or something making $80K+/year. Where you live is a big part of your life, and the life you live is going to have something to do with your writing. But yeah, the airborne neurotoxins from the petroleum refinery and pet food factory north of where I live are hurting me in ways I can’t see. Dating a promiscuous cokehead with an irredeemably withered conscience informed my work.

How did you get hooked up with the Clash Books folks? How has it been working with them?

Sam Pink recommended Leza Cantoral take a look at the manuscript I sent them. Leza and Christoph let me do what I wanted to do. When the first version was pulled from Amazon, they worked with me to come up with a new title and cover. They’ve been reliable and consistent in honoring the contract, and have promoted the book effectively.

Your book was originally called Foghorn Leghorn and had a different cover. Tell me the story of why that had to change.

It got pulled from getting sold on Amazon because the cover was sexually graphic and/or there was a copyright issue with the title itself/the Looney Tunes character depicted on the cover.

You say you’ve been writing for ten years, but this is your first book. Which poem in this book was the first you wrote? Which was the most recent?

In both versions, the earliest poem is “Devil Bottomless.” In Foghorn Leghorn, the most recent poem is “Your First Real Boyfriend.” In Your First Real Boyfriend & Other Poems, the most recent poem is “Life of Cryin’.”

Do you expect your readers to “understand” your work? Does that matter?

I don’t know what there is to understand in my work. The words are there and the reader reads the words and they have that experience. If a reader feels they understand my work, or understands something from my work, then that is their understanding that they have. People are trained to be shallow consumers of simple, entertainment-oriented art. They want to understand. They want there to be a purpose, a point, a meaning, and become frustrated and feel as if their time is being wasted when they can’t find one, dissatisfied with a lack of distraction.

Tell me about the history and vision of Gay Death Trance.

I wanted to start a website that looks good to me and publish writing on it that I like. Giacomo Pope, the guy who created Neutral Spaces, helped me design it and taught me how to do the basic HTML necessary to add work. There will be t-shirts soon, courtesy of Steve Anwyll.

What living poets, early in their careers, do you admire and recommend people read?

I don’t admire or recommend people read living poets with careers.

Are you working on anything new right now that you can talk about? What can people look forward to from you?

I’m working on a book-length poem and also fiction.

American West

Essays, reporting, travel writing, reviews and more.

Nathaniel Kennon Perkins

Written by

Publisher, bookseller, and writer. Author of CACTUS. Order my new book, THE WAY CITIES FEEL TO US NOW https://thewaycitiesfeeltousnow.maudlinhouse.net

American West

Essays, reporting, travel writing, reviews and more.

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