Rolling Out a New Take on Printed Poetry
Wesley Adams • May 14, 2016 • Art •
In the presence of ever-evolving digital interfaces there are some practices that persist through the changing times. Max Toast, poet, author and artist, intends to fly the flag of stick-to-it-tiveness by utilizing overlooked practices which still carry a value unreplaced by the gadgets of the 21st century. The feel of paper and its impermanent nature come with a romanticism that drives Toast to have launched his newest endeavor into the world of authorship: printing his own works of poetry onto scrolls to be touched and read without the use of ion batteries.
ALOC Media had some questions for Toast regarding his writing, what his scroll publishing project looks like, and where he hopes to see it progress.
ALOC: How did you get started writing poetry?
Max Toast: Well, this is always a funny question, how does anyone get started writing poetry? Poetry is the most common introduction to any given language. So I guess I started in kindergarten. When I started to take it seriously I was in high school and my friends and I went to open mics in Boulder. Penny Lane, The Burnt Toast, the back of Espresso Roma. Always a coffee shop, all of which have shut down. Mercury Cafe in Denver is still around. I didn’t slam until ’07 after high school then I stopped taking poetry too seriously. For a while.
ALOC: How would you describe your style of poetry?
MT: Growing up, inspired by underground hip hop, the Beat poets under my skin, knowing how close they were to revolutionaries. I’m not going to name names here, both in underground hip hop and of the Beats. A lot have died, and a lot are still living and giving it everything they got. My style of poetry, when it’s good, is a rant. A long-winded explanation of exactly what I meant to say once – but instead was dwelling on for months and happened to have a pen. I call it Abstract Sequentialism.
ALOC: Have you been influenced significantly by other poets, and if so, which ones?
MT: Oh, now I name names. First of all, every open-mic anonymous-nervous first-time-on-the-stage-performer ever. Eyedea R.Eye.P. , Rhymesayers, Anticon, Sole, Sage, Slug, Love Shovel Ranch, Kerouac, Ginsberg, Saul Williams, The Mercury Slam Team, Walt Whitman, E.E. Cummings, Maya Angelou, Sunni Patterson, Dr. Seuss and They Might Be Giants, to name a few. Oh, and Tom Waits.
ALOC: Where would you like to see your art progress to?
MT: Ultimately, I think that art should inspire art, and art is a lot of things. The plan is to find a way to remain artistic and contribute to society, and better yet – improve society artistically. I want to write more poetry and to constantly improve my graphic design. I want to express myself while being relatable and find the middle ground.
ALOC: Can you speak about a particular instance where you have struggled to stay motivated in your writing, yet persevered?
MT: So far, to be honest, it happens all the time. If perseverance is to be measured by completion, but you know, anything I’ve completed would be a result of perseverance. My most recent example is this very answer which is exactly where I left off last night! I’m proud of progress, too. My incomplete novel Mad Max’s Roadkill Recipes is my favorite piece and story so far, but it won’t be done for a while. I need to travel more to finish it.
ALOC: How did you come up with the idea of the scrolls publishing project?
MT: Around 2008 I was hitchhiking the west coast and went face-to-face with desolation and solitude. Walking miles of highway with no cars in sight, I came across hundreds of feet of thick receipt paper. I’d written on receipts before but this was more durable and also happened to make several very compact notebooks. I still have those scrolls and many new ones, but publishing them came about after a few years of trying to publish my poetry. Certain poems work for certain context so publishing poetry on scrolls is not only efficient but meaningful. I like to say we came before Gutenberg.
ALOC: What does your idea of success in this project look like?
MT: I’d like scrolls to be a cool thing to have. It is also the staple of my personal design business. I’m working with a non-profit called Colorado Consciousness who plan to use the scroll format for a treasure hunt! Scrolls can be great for song lyrics and even contracts and other documents. They are already my business card, which is the low value but I’d like to see them driven to high value items such as a marriage certificate or signed works of a famous writer. Success is subjective but income and recognition would be nice, and that’s what I’m working towards.
ALOC: Why is the scroll publishing project important to our society?
MT: I believe that printed work has value beyond measure and all the Kindles and iPhones in the world can’t change that. The Zen of composition and decomposition are essential facets to maintaining wisdom in society. Poetry itself is so fleeting, yet has the potential to change lives. The scrolls are a way for people to appreciate and keep poetry in a tangible pocket size gift. Society is already thinking outside the book, but let’s keep on reading.
Toast’s first major step toward the launch of his scroll-based writings has been to setup an Indiegogo campaign to fund a workplace and the necessary materials for the operation of the business he has envisioned. Working to actualize an artistic vision is never an easy feat and to that extent this talented writer has just begun. Take the time to swing over to Toast’s funding page for more information on how you can support his work.Scroll Publishing Company