The Flapper Press Café: Dee Allen 2022

Updated: Sep 2

By Annie Newcomer:



The Flapper Press Café features the work of poets from around the world. This week, we highlight new poems from one of our regular contributors, Dee Allen.


Poet, Dee Allen.

Dee Allen. is an African-Italian performance poet based in Oakland, California. Active in creative writing & Spoken Word since the early 1990s he is the author of 7 books (Boneyard, Unwritten Law, Stormwater, Skeletal Black [all from POOR Press], Elohi Unitsi [Conviction 2 Change Publishing], and coming in February 2022, Rusty Gallows: Passages Against Hate [Vagabond Books] and Plans [Nomadic Press]) and 46 anthology appearances under his figurative belt so far. Dee Allen. applies his pen to notebook and responds to current events, long-suppressed historical events, inscrutable human nature, and love for the natural world.


We reached out to Dee to ask him about his work and inspirations.


 

AN: The backstories on your work are extremely helpful and center us well. How would you categorize your poetry? It is always fun to see how a poet sees himself.


DA: Thank you, Miss Newcomer. This is the first time I had to do that for Flapper Press. That's Elizabeth Gracen's idea: "Submission guidelines" and all that. I'm glad you found the backstories helpful in explaining my original content.


I leave placing my writing into categories up to the reader (or listener, in the case of a live performance). Whenever I sit down to write a piece, the end-result, however, could come from either one of four frames of mind:

  • Miscellaneous (meaning, the inspiration can come from anything/anyone/anywhere)

  • Personal (the hardest stuff for me to write)

  • Philosophical (did more of that style of writing back in my 20s than I do now)

  • Political (what I'm best known for)

AN: You mentioned that you used a prompt for "Foggy Corridor." Can you share with our audience why prompt writing can be extremely beneficial? Do you often use prompts?

DA: Prompts are extremely helpful, especially in writing-workshop sessions. When you come into such a workshop and the desire to write is there but the ideas aren't, then prompts from the workshop facilitator are a good way to get the figurative gears-and-cogs inside your head rolling and, ideally, producing good content within a fixed time limit. Basically, prompts help you quickly think on your feet while cranking out your next great piece.


I use prompts often. Anything that I cannot write in a single sitting one day can be put away to work on the next day.


Regarding "Foggy Corridor," I've been a fan of Vampira (Maila Nurmi) since seeing the 1994 biographical film Ed Wood. For a time in the 1990s, there was a brief Vampira revival. The prompt from Zoem enabled me to think of the spookiest thing at the moment: the intro to The Vampira Show from KABC Channel 7 (1954).


AN: Your new book, Rusty Gallows, debuts in February 2022. Can you share with our writers/readers how you decide when a manuscript is ready to submit for publication?

DA: With me, a book manuscript is ready when the last piece in it fits the rest thematically and feels right. Editing and revising are parts of that process.


AN: Dee, thank you for stopping by the Flapper Press Café. We always enjoy having you.


 


Foggy Corridor


Lovely vision

From a televised nightmare:


Form-fitting black dress

Cinched waist

Raven-black hair

Pale arms and

Scandinavian-featured

Model's face

Long crimson fingernails that could

Shred skin

Slowly walks a dimly-lit

Foggy corridor

Approaching, approaching, slowly approaching

Closer, closer, ever closer--


Scream To The Night

An Ear-Piercing Scream of Terror


Comes down

With a gentle, elated coo


To suggest the ultimate

Orgasmic thrill--


Oooooh! Screaming relaxes me so!

____________________________

W: 10.29.21

[For Maila Nurmi, a.k.a. Vampira,1921–2008]


About the poem:

"Foggy Corridor" began as my written reply to a writing prompt for a Colorado-based Friday night open mic called Zoem. The host, Valerie A. Szarek, wanted something "spooky" for Halloween. 1950s late-night TV Horror show host Vampira's opening was it.




 


The Shut Door


The shut, locked door

Stands between me

And the disaster

Outside I cannot see


Having no effect

On animals in the least.

It chooses to pounce

On human beasts.


Streets nearly empty,

Cars and buses free to roam.

Shelter from disaster is easy to find

Inside my own home.


Libraries remain closed,

Restaurants will not serve.

Rectangular wood on hinges

Will help me bend the curve


Flattened for a longer, robust life

Beyond respirator masques

And hands covered in latex—

No telling how long this infection lasts.


While the most fool-hardy

Fall to the floor,

Safety is mine, sequestered behind

The shut, locked door.


___________________

W: 3.2020

[From the new book Rusty Gallows: Passages Against Hate, Vagabond Books, 2022]


About the poem:

In March 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom imposed a mandatory "stay-at-home" order to all California residents in the face of the Coronavirus pandemic. Since this was the one way to prevent infection, I placed my own thoughts on this "stay-at-home" order on paper. By nature, I'm a homebody anyway, and my home never felt like a prison cell during this pandemic.


 

Photo credit: Boston Public Library on VisualHunt

General Sherman


Season of spreading flames

Make the hot months hotter,

Make short work

Out of sequoia groves


Fireball orange

Days and nights blur

No slowing down seasonal inferno

Fright runs through spotted owl and other animals


California woods' future—drained of color

Blackened soil,

Charcoal columns,

Smoking cinders—


Two paths in Sequoia National Park

Lead to the first forest guardian

Standing at 275 feet high, 2200 years old

In need of protection—


Firefighters apply aluminum sheet

Covering roots and trunk at the very base

So flames of Summer

Won't leave scars on the tallest, oldest soldier


General Sherman

Who have seen

Ages come and go,

Beings become born and die,


General Sherman

Whose name evokes

Visions of past field battles between

North & South, over economics, over slavery,


General Sherman

Whose name, unfortunately,

Reminds us of spreading

Flames of war.

____________

W: 1.12.22


About the Poem:

I'd learned about the fate of Sequoia National Park and the tree General Sherman—its oldest resident—five months after the KNP wildfires happened. Thankfully, firefighters were on the scene to protect America's real national treasure from incinerating like the rest of the surrounding trees. Still, it's odd that the oldest tree in California was named after a Northern military leader who perfected "scorched earth policy" throughout the Civil War.


 

Annie Newcomer teaches poetry classes at the University of Kansas Medical Center's Turning Pointa place for hope and healing for people suffering with chronic health problems. Her North Stars series shares interviews with poets and writers and Annie's own experiences through writing.


Annie is also helms the Flapper Press Poetry Café—dedicated to celebrating poets from around the world and to encouraging everyone to write poetry!


FlapperPress launches the Flapper Press Poetry Café.

Presenting a wide range of poetry with a mission to promote a love and understanding of poetry for all. We welcome submissions for compelling poetry and look forward to publishing and supporting your creative endeavors. Submissions may also be considered for the Pushcart Prize.


Submission Guidelines:

1. Share at least three (3) poems

2. Include a short bio of 50–100 words, written in the third person.

(Plus any website and links.)

3. Share a brief backstory on each submitted poem

4. Submit an Author's photo and any images you want to include with the poems

5. Send all submissions and questions to: info@flapperpress.com

109 views0 comments