Good People, Cool Things
Good People, Cool Things

Episode 125 · 5 months ago

125: Writing Collaborations and Poetry Collections with Francis Daulerio


Writing might seem like a lonely and solitary practice, but it doesn't have to be. In fact, collaborating with others can often lead to better writing.

Francis Daulerio has written multiple books of poetry while also finding unique ways to collab. My particular favorite: a split collection of "covers" — he wrote poems based on another writer's short stories, and the other writer wrote stories based on Francis's poems.

He's also talking about his most bizarre reading, the top ways to market a book, and why existentialism can help you find meaning and joy.

I'm Adam Wayne Right and I'm met Canard and we're the host of the greatest song every song poorly, the podcast that takes Karaoke exactly as seriously as it should be taken. No interview was complete without our quick fire game where we ask everyone the same five questions, culminating in the most important question we could ever ask. If you could magically strike one song from every Karaoke playlist forever, which song would you choose? Don't stop. Oh, ice, ice baby, great, just because that song needs to be destroyed for all times. Easy lover by Phil Collins. Pure picture is just a song of love and heartbreak. Uh, and it just it ruins nights caroline. Probably my heart will go on. By Selina. Only one, only one. Um, can I kind of pick one band. So Hey, if you love Karaoke, Have Sang Karaoke, you've been in a place where Karaoke was happening, or are bagly where that's something called Karioke exists, come hang out with us. All episodes and Info are available at Sung poorly dot com. And remember that singing golf keep is still technically singing. Good people cool things. As a condcast feature in conversations with entrepreneurs, writers, musicians and other creatives. Get inspired by their stories to do your own cool thing, and here's your host, Joey Hell. Welcome to good people, cool things. Today's guest is Francis Dallaria, a poet and teacher from Pennsylvania, and Francis has so many cool things. But he's done this is why he's on the show. It's called people, cold things. You get it out. His latest book is Joy, a collection of poetry that, as we talk about, started off with the intention of being joyful, but then, hey, sometimes life likes to punch and kick you and knock you down. Francis has also written to other collections. If and when we wake and please plant this book, with illustrations by Scott Hudgison. And on top of that, Francis has released all is not lost, a collaborative vinyl EP of poetry infused music which helps benefit the tiny changes charity organization. And with a difference, which is such a cool concept. It's a book of covers with another writer. Francis writes some of writer Nick Gregorio's stories, turns those into poems and Nick Turns some of Francis's poems into stories. It's a brilliant idea. I want to see more people doing it. Let's collaborate, let's make it happen, because collaboration is fantastic and we should do more of it. You're not gonna see as much of the world if you don't experience it with other people. It's probably on a bumper stick or somewhere. If not, we'll have them in the merch shop by next episode. If you like to get in touch with good people cool things, you can reach out via facebook, twitter or instagram at GPCT podcast, or send me an email, joey at good people cool things dot com. Even better, head on over to good people cool things dot com. Just give me your email address. Real simple, real simple. Not asking for three thousand dollars. I'm not asking for a firstborn child or anything like that, just an email address and you'll get all kinds of helpful resources, tools tips to help you reach your creative goals, whatever they maybe you're gonna get a lot of the good stuff, just like this conversation with Francis. To start, for people who might not be familiar with your work, can you give us your name and your elevator pitch and then the type of elevator that we're writing on. Okay, Um, so my name is Francis de Lario and I am a poet and teacher from the Philadelphia suburbs. Um, my work, so I try to create poetry that helps people examine their place in the world. Um. I think that the way that the world is so complex and complicated makes it kind of hard to figure out who we are. Um, but I think that's a really necessary element of life. So my elevator pitches, I write work that tries to help people explore what their life is like and purpose and happiness enjoy. Um. And the elevator is, Oh Gosh, I'm sure this is probably so common.

Can I be that glass elevator from Wonka that like floats around so you can see everything from a higher perspective? Absolutely, you can be whatever elevator you want. I like it. I like it. Now, going way back to the first thing you ever wrote, do you remember it? Because I feel like some writers it's like they've got it framed or they've got it, you know, set in their head of what they wrote. Others are like I don't know. I barely remember what I wrote a year ago. So what where do you fall on that? So it depends what we're talking about. Um, I remember writing little poems and stuff as a kid. I was definitely already into writing pretty early on, but I guess somewhere around Middle School I stopped writing for writing and started writing for music and lyrics and things like that. So there was a really long gap where I wasn't really writing any poetry at all. Um. And then, I guess sometime right within my first year of teaching, so my first year out of college, probably in twenty three years old. Um, I remember a student of mine gave me a copy of Richard Brownigan's book, Um, the pill versus the Spring Hill mind disaster, which is a collection of poetry, and it blew me away and she said you're weird, this is weird. I think you'll probably like this. Um. And I read that and was like wow, this is incredible. I'd like to try and do this. And so I guess it was around twenty three I started writing again and I can remember the first thing I wrote then. Um. It was a lousy little poem that I showed to a friend of mine and he said it sounds cool, but I'll be honest, I don't think it means anything, and he was completely right. Um, and so that was Kinda I kept doing that until I felt comfortable enough applying for M F as I like it, and that's a that's a good friend too, that they'll they'll be honest like that. Oh, yeah, you know what, he's my he's my editing partner to this day now. We just we throw poems back and forth at each other all the time. I couldn't write anything without him. Well, that's the that's a ringing endorsement and I like that. I like that. Now your latest collection is way Um, which this is kind of a two part question, because some of your other titles, I think, are very I don't even know what the word I'm looking for is, but they're very like they stand out like if and when we wake, please plant this book. But Joy a simple word. Something, one one word. was was that like always the plan? Like how do you come up with the titles? I guess is this kind of the first part of the question. And then, for joy in particular, what was the inspiration behind it? So my first collection was full of these really short, actually very browning and esque poems. Um, they could be digested and like a hot second, I would write them, I would speak, write them into my voice memo APP on my phone on the turnpike on my way to work in the morning. So that's how I wrote like my entire first book, and so I loved sticking these really, really long titles on these really short little poems. Like there's a poem in that book called I keep talking to past relatives when I'm supposed to be talking to God, and I think the poems only three lines, three short lines long. Um. And so after I started doing more readings, particularly after please plant this book came out, I was like, man, these poems are so short. I love doing readings, but these short poems you have to read like thirty of them to get through a night and it just makes everything difficult. And I was really getting into writing in longer form because it was just more fun. I think it was just a palate cleanse, but reading them at shows was just way more interesting. So what I ended up with was this collection joy that has comparatively substantially longer poems, and so I thought let's give it a really short title, Um, and joy's what came out. I like it. I like. Do you have a particular favorite from the bunch? Uh, I think right now my favorite is a poem...

...called Good Morning Blueberry, and it's the second third poem in the book and it's interesting. So when I set out to write this book, it was right after if and when we wake it had come out, so this was around two thousand and sixteen. I started thinking about this Um and it was one. It was terrible. The things that I was writing just weren't I couldn't find my footing with it Um. And then my wife got pregnant and we were both so excited and I was like I'm going to write a happy book, I'm gonna completely shift gears, I'm going to redirect from if and when we wake and I'm going to write something happy. And then everything just kept getting difficult. I mean the last hunk of years was just so tough. And then my writing partner, Scott, who illustrated my books if I'm awake and then please plant this book, was set to illustrate joy um and he tragically passed away by suicide in two thousand and eighteen. So despite like trying so hard to write a happy book, I just kept getting punched back down, Back Down, back down, and so what ended up happening was this book that kind of contemplates joy a little bit Um, but doesn't ever really feel like he completely gets there. But this is the long way of saying that my favorite poem is Good Morning Blueberry, which is about expecting a new baby, and it was the I think the last poem I wrote for the book, but it's the third poem in the book and it's what I had first envisioned. The entire thing would feel like just these really overjoyous like yes, things can be wonderful. Um. So it fits where it is, but it was just it's funny that that came last in the writing process. Yeah, I think it's it's always interesting, especially with any kind of collection, and to to kind of see like hey, where, where did these go like within it? And I know something. I wrote a book of short stories and I know something people always ask is, how did you know what was done, like how did you know this collection was complete? And I was like, I don't know, it just it felt like I can't, I can't, there's no actual feelings. So do you get asked that all the time? I judging by your face, it seems like perhaps, yes, that's I struggle so much with putting things in order. So I don't write chronologically. But I really like when a when a book, follows a sort of path, and I even though their poems, I sometimes try to include like an arc in the book, like it's if you want to read it cover to cover, it will feel like you should have. So that helps me kind of determine when it's done, like when the story that I was aiming to tell has been kind of covered front to back. Um, I at least have like a plot line, outline, which is so weird. It feels like we're talking about fiction, but I can only write about things that happened to me. Um, so I guess. I guess I just wanted to tell this story of how a hunt for happiness didn't end with happiness, but maybe with a stronger understanding of life. Um, and when I felt like I had answered that, it was done. But as far as like I need this many poems and this many pages in this many words, I can't. Yeah, I just I don't think that happens. I don't know. I'm always impressed with the people that say I think they're lying there. It's fun. It's fun. Yeah, exactly. Yeah, Oh, I knew exactly. At sixty one words, flawless, flawless. We've got behind you. In fact, your vinyl of poetry inspired music, all is not lost, which is perfect for an audio podcast to call that. But you you had mentioned how you kind of took a break from writing poetry to kind of write music earlier in your life. Is there a significant difference in your approach to writing between the two mediums? So, I don't think I'm. I don't think I'm by far a fan hastic poet.

I don't think that like. This is my I love doing it and I'm happy that people buy the books. I can list a billion other people that are better out of the mate. However, I am exponentially better at writing poetry that I am the writing lyrics. I think I'm just a garbage lyricist. Um, so it was fun and I love that process. But yeah, this is just it's completely different. So it's is this a one and done type of thing then, or do you have so I actually didn't do the music for this. Um, yeah, this was a collaborative thing. Um, I guess coming out of that working in bands thing for you know my adolescence. I love collaborations, so my first two books were illustrated. This record has a song by Laurie Cameron, who's a Scottish artist, on the a side and then on the other side is myself and a philly musician, Um, and I'm reciting poetry over his music. Um. But I just love working with other people. It's so much fun. So, uh, the record is probably a one off. I do have a few Um digital tracks that are coming out in the next couple of weeks and I'm really excited about Um. That are just again it's me speaking over people's music. Um. But yeah, I don't I don't think I'll be diving back into the actual music, at least not right now. Yeah, it's it's a completely different world for sure, and this seg was actually nicely into another thing. I wanted to talk about the collaboration idea, because I agree. I think it's so much fun to collaborate with people. They will help generate ideas that, like I would have never thought and it's just so cool to see how other people's brains work really and and any kind of setting, but particularly in kind of a creative space, like this and I really like the split album that you did with Nick Grigorio called with a difference. Yeah, I loved the inspiration behind it of the NOFX and rancid split from twenty years ago now. It was like Ifun took the hour old and it's very, very upset. So for I mean, I assume this idea just came from the collaboration sort of element to it, but was was there a particular rancid or no effects song that you were listening to on that split where you were like so I just got lucky, I hit the Jackpott. I didn't have to come up with this idea. So this nick is a good friend of mine. We went to high school together, we went to Um Graduate School for our M F A S at the same place and he was supporting me on one of my please plant this book readings and after the show asked if I would be interested in trying this out and I thought it sounded fantastic. But I can't claim any of the genius behind the concept because it was completely him. But it is so cool um it. It's like an album, so it's a book that you have to flip over to read both sides Um, almost like directions that are in other languages besides English, when you get like, you know, Ikea furniture or whatever, where you just keep flipping for your languages, Um, and none of them makes sense to me. I know you're like, wow, God, there's so many more than English. Um. But yeah, so, I uh, that was completely his idea. Nice and and the concept of his year taking his stories and turning them into poems. He's taking your poems turning them into stories. How, like did you decide beforehand? You're like hey, this is these are the ones, or did you write all new ones for that? How did how did that work, and how was it kind of taking someone else's work and turning it into your own? It was hard, but it was really fun. So what we did was we determined how many pieces we were each going to do and then I went through. So he has a novel and a few different books of short stories. At the time he had a novel in the Book Short Stories. Um. So I said I'll do I'll do the novel, which is like six line poem, Um, and then I did nine of his short stories. And so I just took them and I spent a...

...lot of time just rereading them and trying to zoom in on different images and finding my way towards the heart of what he was aiming at, and then I would pull that out and try and write my own poem that was aiming at the same thing. Uh. So they're they're covers, but I guess I'm uh, I probably am just too self centered and they ended up just being like me, becoming the the eye and the story and then figuring out what I would do with this new body. So it was fun, but it was challenging. Was it intimidating? It all to share your versions? You would think so. You would think it would be. With anybody else, that probably would have been. Nick is the nicest person you'll ever meet and he's so enthusiastic. I had to like learn his language to figure out if he actually didn't like something like if there was a lot of all caps and exclamation points, I was like, all right, that's done. But if you would say something like Hey, man, look, you're the poet. Uh, that's okay, all right, so that would miss. That would miss. I can I can try that again. Um, but no, absolutely not intimidating. He's a lot of fun. To work with awesome. Yeah, I love when you could pick up on people's like reading between the lines of their communication style. It's a it's a talent. It is it's tough. It's tough, but if you want, if you want to really get to what they're looking for, you got to try and learn how they speak exactly. So you've mentioned how you've done some readings before, you've done performances of your different works, and I always like to ask people this that that give some kind of performance. What's your worst Gig, your worst experience, my worst Gig? Um, so I've read in it's funny when, like you're getting started, there's so much you have to try and do so much promotion, but you also have a very small audience and they've they're like related to you. Um. So you're just like playing professional for a bunch of people that know that you're full of it. Um. And I remember doing a reading in a bookstore and I think there was like three people there and one of them was my wife, Um, and it was in this really tight little corner and it just like if you would have walked in, it would have looked like four people having coffee and one person standing up, like why they must not have had a fourth chair that that guy has got to stand up at Um, and I think because of that it's it's intimidating to read like soul bearing depressing poetry to three people Um and so that I just I walked out of their feeling like is this a thing to do or not? That I'm pictured that visual if someone walk again and just being like that. Guys trying to make a point. so He's standing. It's very and I think that that touches on something too, because I feel like I've heard from some writers who love doing readings. They like there. They give me several a month. I'm all, you know, I'll travel around doing them, and then other people are like no, I I don't want to do that at all and I'll find another avenue to to market my work. And I think there's merits behind both of them. Like, if you're not comfortable reading, doing a reading is probably not the best thing for you. There's there's other ways that you can you can get your work out there. So have you found, and this can be either like pre covid or during Covid, because that shifts everything too. A Marketing Avenue or just something that has worked well and getting more people to learn about your work, aside from guesting on great podcasts. Absolutely so. Yeah. So, besides that, Um, I absolutely love reading. Um, I'm one of the people that thrives on performance and the so I got lucky really early on by connecting with Um Scott from frighton rabbit. So he was the illustrator of my books and already had a very strong fan base who are really interested in the side...

...projects that he did. And so when we did it and when we wake together, I think I was kind of allowed in the back door to this kind of music adjacent group of people who love music but also love to read. And so because their lyrics were so poetic already and they didn't write like pop top forty songs, they wrote like songs that really got to the heart of life, their fans kind of adopted me. So I got really lucky there and from that I've kind of kept in with the music community, which has been nice. Um. So I'm on. I'm getting ready to go back out for a few more shows for joy. But all of the performances on this little summer book tour Um involved musicians in different cities. So I'm performing at music venues with musicians and we kind of talk back and forth. So they'll play while I read and then I will step back and they finished the song that they intro during the reading and it's a really cool process. But it feels so natural to be doing that with a musician on stage. I feel like this is going to be what I do for a little while. I think that's again like a nice way to collaborate with people and and get I mean both get your your own work out there, obviously get their work too, but just I think it's just so cool to meet people. I mean that's largely the reason why I started this podcast. Yeah, absolutely selfish reason, but we're gonna go with no, I don't think it is. It's what's that's like what this is all about, though, right like just finding ways to connect with other people. It's so it's so imperative, like, especially after you know what we've experienced for the past couple of years, like to find new ways to meet new, interesting people. I think that's what we should absolutely be doing right now. Yeah, and hopefully you've avoided all of the three people sitting down at a coffee shop at these venues and it's a little more. So far so good. Fingers crossed for the rest of them. Of sure ship they we we actually found out we just sold out our Brooklyn one, so that one's covered. Now I just gotta worry about Boston. Fantastic Boklyn. I mean I love all of New York. It's very, very enjoyable to get up there. Yeah, I love I've had a lot of really good readings in Brooklyn, so I'm excited to get back there. Excellent. And another question that I always like to ask. I always say it's because it's less work for me. As a question you wish you were asked more frequently, and we've kind of touched on it a little bit, that there's there's some existential philosophies going on in your work and making people kind of think about where they fit in in their life and in the world really and I like that you you kind of shaped it like this of how having that mindset can foster joy and meaning. So how can I? So yeah, I like talking about this because I think that it can be helpful. It's been really helpful for me. Um, I think that existentialism gets a bad rap because it's inherently it sounds depressing when you say nothing has meaning, and I get that, um, but I think if you read further into it, uh, there's ways to apply it in life that can be super helpful. Like the idea of authenticity can be so freeing to recognize that nobody knows what they're doing. The only thing that makes anybody feel better is when they can convince someone else to do the same thing that they're doing so they're validated. So like remember when you fail to test in school and you go home and you tell hey, mom, I failed to test, but everybody else did too, like somehow that's supposed to make us feel better, like at the end of our life that was garbage, but everybody else's was to Um. And I think that existential thought and this idea of living authentically can be super freeing and that like, let's just don't you don't have to do that. You don't have to you can do whatever makes you feel like you're honoring the Act that you weren't born as a lightning bug...

...or, you know, a squirrel, like the fact that you get to be a person is insane and let's not spend all that time worrying about about whether we're doing what everybody else is doing. So that's where the joy comes from. That just brought me back to high school in our our ap Bio class, where science certainly not my strong suit. I was probably or maybe it was just honors bio. I think this was freshman year. I don't think I would have been an AP class and I'm not that that advanced the science, but I remember we had for our grades, we'd have our individual I d numbers, and a friend of mine was so concerned about what I was getting that he found out, like somehow, what my number was and then just like looked it up and he was like, Oh, I did better than you, and I was like yeah, you know what you're doing in this class and I don't. Yeah, it's it's I don't know what it is that we're so excited about. Are People doing just slightly worse than us? Like that's it's. It's I mean it's in us, it's it's somewhere in our d n a that that exists, but it's something that we could be working really hard to get rid of because it's not working. It's not helping our species. No, certainly not. And I this is going to sound like the get off my lawn guy, but like social media is certainly not helping. No, not at all. Where I've seen a trend lately of the like instagram versus reality. Oh, yeah, like the glamorous but and then some of the reality ones I've still seen. I'm like, this still looks really curated, like like your reality is way better than my instagram. Yeah, I mean all that. I hate all that stuff. I think it's poison. Um, I've honestly, if I wasn't trying to do this, I wouldn't have any of it. I'm that. I'm that sad note. Now, yeah, everybody's it seems like everybody's handcuffed to it. It's just everybody's handcuffs or something different. Yes, yes, that's great. I'm sure in five years will have something else. Yeah, it'll be attached to our head. Just yeah, or planets straighty. Oh God, I hope in our even more in this. All right, well, we'll, we'll wrap up here with a more positive, positive note. There your top three. We always like to wrap up with the top three, and for you, perhaps the no effects and rancid by O split is one of them. But your top three albums to listen to while writing. I cannot listen to music that has lyrics that are sung in the language that I speak, because I just can't write when I'm hearing someone else speak, obviously for obvious reasons. Um. So I've found that one album that still has lyrics on it that I can listen to, it is absolutely beautiful, is a rouge of TAB's vulture Prince. Um. It is just absolutely incredible. Um. The other two are lyric less for the most part. So there's khaki king's legs. To make us longer, is an absolutely beautiful whim. She is an incredible Um instrumentalist, Acoustic Guitar Player, predominantly a lot of like finger tapping and it always sounds like there's twelve people playing, but somehow she does it by herself. Uh. And then the last one is Mary Latimore, silver ladders. Mary's a harpist and she's she's been on albums with people like cigarettas and giant Ross Gay. She did a collection with Ross Gay. Um and her heart playing is absolutely beautiful, but it's not necessarily classical, so there's a lot of like ambient things that are put in there too. So it's just really, really interesting to listen to and it can help you kind of like just get lost. Those are I'm adding those all too the lists. Throw them on. They're all beautiful. We'll drop in links in the show notes as well. So if anyone else once I to check them out. I mean would definitely recommend. There's this is a massive throwback, but I remember an old mashable article back in the day that was like obscure things that are on spotify Um, and one of them is pan pipes versions...

...of pop songs, and I the other day I was just like randomly thinking about it. I kind of put it on and did some writing to it and I was like I don't know if I could do this regularly because it's like I still know what the lyrics are supposed to be, but it's like so comforting to have that sound going. So I was like okay, for like a little bit of writing, this was was pretty nice, but then, like when you were young by the killers, came on and I was like yeah, then it breaks it. Yeah, whatever you had was gone. Yeah, it's gonna be a pop song. You don't know. Well, yeah, exactly. Well, Frances, thank you so much for for hopping on and taking the time to chat. This was fantastic. I'm excited too to see all the work that you've got coming out on top of what you've already got. If people want to learn more about you or see some of your work, where can they find you? Francis de Larrio dot com is the central hub of all things poetry for me. Um, so you can get books, toward dates, uh, contact information, all that good stuff. There links to poems that were published in magazines, so people can check those out if they want to try before they buy. But yeah, so that's Francis D Lario DOT com. Awesome. Will Link to that as well, so everyone no excuse to not check out prince's work. It's fantastic. Thank you again for hopping on. This is a blast. Thanks so much for having me, of course, and we've gotta wrap with a Corny Joke, as we always do. What did the poets say to Luke Skywalker? What metaphors be with you? After people, good people, cool things. Is produced in Austin, Texas. If you're a fan of this episode, go ahead and hit that follow button. That helps more people here the show. You can send me a message Joey at good people, cool things dot com. Thank you to all of the guests who have been on good people cool things and check out all the old episodes via good people, cool things dot com. As always, thank you for listening and have a wonderful day.

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