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On the Collaboration

Michael Dickes asked me to send him a poem that he could make into a video. Having recently published “New Orleans” in Arcadia, I decided to go with that one.

And after 28 takes, (I think I had to reach a level of exhaustion/surrender/acceptance/simple-tiredness, in order to sink into, re-enter the experience/memories), it was done.

That life was exhausting.
That life was when I felt most alive.

It’s a poem describing (without directly referencing) my years in New Orleans as a street musician, living in rooming houses, working in restaurants, painting houses, eating red beans and rice at Buster Holmes, putting cardboard in my shoes, eating rice at the Hare Krishna temple—doing ANYTHING to survive, written when I was about to leave the city (foolishly thinking other places would be the same—they are not).

So I did a dry reading and was amazed when I got it back, set to music without changing a beat of the reading.

Though it is about New Orleans, most of the footage was shot in New York, where Michael lives.

The shot of the typewriter at 0:36 is mine, and the photo of the New Orleans graveyard at 3:06 was taken by my daughter on a trip to New Orleans to share with her the life I had lead (though I really couldn’t).

And the first time I heard it kick into that hard-rock thing I thought I’d died and gone to heaven

(or maybe New Orleans).

– Matt Dennison

Michael Dickes is a podcaster and radio host, writer, filmmaker, singer/songwriter, and composer, with nine CDs to his credit, and songs featured in film, television, and radio. Two of his short prose films were featured at the International Film Festival in Athens, Greece.  His short stories have been published in Southpaw Journal, Thrice Fiction, Kerouac’s Dog Magazine, Thunderclap Press, Connotations Press, THIS Literary Magazine, Blue Fifth Review, Istanbul Literary Review, and other literary magazines and journals. Currently, he is focused on podcasting and audio/video storytelling.

After a rather extended and varied second childhood in New Orleans, Matt Dennison’s work has appeared in Rattle, Bayou Magazine, Redivider, Natural Bridge, The Spoon River Poetry Review and Cider Press Review, among others. He has also made short films with Michael Dickes, Swoon, and Marie Craven.