Contributors’ Corner: Britt Melewski

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Welcome to our new interview series, “Contributors’ Corner,” where we open the floor each week to one of our contributors to the journal. This week, we hear from Britt Melewski, whose story/poem “Scharky” appears in HFR 3.3.

Britt Melewski grew up in New Jersey and Puerto Rico. His poems have appeared in Puerto del Sol, The Philadelphia Review of Books, Spork Press, the DMQ Review, and are forthcoming in Avatar Review. Melewski received his MFA at Rutgers-Newark in 2012. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Can you share a moment that has shaped you as a writer (or continues to)?

I read JG Ballard and Charles Bukowski in high school and wanted to be them, wanted to do that.

What are you reading?

I’m always behind, catching up, reading what I should have read yesterday and the day before. I’m reading Late into the Night: The Last Poems of Yannis Ritsos. A lovely poet named Nick Johnson recommended this guy to me a few years ago and I keep coming back to his amazing little poems. Jack Gilbert’s Collected always sits at my bedside; Wallace Stevens’ Collected and John Ashbery’s Self Portrait are stacked in the toilet; Andy Mister’s Liner Notes in the fridge. Books scattered everywhere! Just recently I finished Sam the Cat by Matthew Klam and really loved it.

Can you tell us what prompted your “Scharky”?

“Scharky” came from a dream. Totally cliché, but that’s where much of this piece REALLY happened. I have a mildly unhealthy crush on Bill Murray. As a kid (from four years old to eight) I used to watch Ghostbusters twice a day. The tape would finish and I would rewind it and watch it again. That spinning buzz and crank was the worst part of the day until I could press play and watch again. An important side note: somehow my parents (Mom’s idea, Dad’s execution?) cooked me up a copy of the flick without the scene where Dan Ackroyd gets a windy from the pretty ghost. Good for them. I saw the movie when I was older and spit my root beer all over the room when I saw that. Anyway, I continue to watch his movies, but always see him as Pete Venkman. He sneaks into my dreams still and this was one that seemed particularly important to remember. Mom was there. So was my love. All the parties involved sort of upped the ante and marked it as important. Like an assignment or something: make this again. How did you not know Ghostbusters is everything?

What’s next? What are you working on?

It’s line by line for me. I go to work every day and I have all of this work to do at work. So it’s great when I get a line or two or three a day. “I quit my job so I could go out all day and walk upon the waters.” You’re in on it with me. I’ll use this little wrench to make a poem, hopefully, before I fall asleep at home tonight. Though, I can’t quit my job.

Take the floor. Be political. Be fanatical. Be anything. What do you want to share?

I love playing basketball but don’t particularly like watching it. Participation is a great thing. You’re validated when you chuck up a shot and it goes in. You have hit something; you can do that. I think that’s what art can be sometimes. You swing enough times and it’s only once or twice you hit your head on a chandelier. The best hitters in baseball fail seventy percent of the time. Sometimes you’re in a hardware store looking to buy a replacement trip lever for the broken toilet and Nick Flynn walks in wearing a bike helmet. That is something that art is too—chance and the mundane. I try my best to be a part of it, this art thing. Craft and sound is everything. Getting it right or at least getting it close. To be real, I feel like it is mostly all a near-hit, a foul tip. Sometimes I think trying fucks me up—all of us. I was such a funny dude in high school, but it was when I wasn’t really trying. I can’t be that funny anymore—there is a bone that grew over the network of muscle and bone. Something that was once essential to it is now covered, or lost. Or maybe that’s just America? At the same time I completely disagree with this entire line of logic if anyone would be so crazy to call it logic.

Art is one of my favorite things, if not my favorite thing. Maybe that’s because, to me, art becomes everything? Even sports get lumped into it: the gravity hanging from an insane corner kick; a fruit I forgot the name of; a knuckleball looking like it’s bouncing on air; kissing; an argument on the subway; green airplane food; whatever. The gross is the net. One side of the balance sheet disappears and all that is left is art.

Read Britt’s story/poem in HFR 3.3.

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