INTERACTIONS: THE INTERACT LITERARY ARTS JOURNAL
VOL. 1, FALL, 2021
Interact Center for the Visual and Performing Arts has long been an incubator for extraordinary talent, a resource and venue for creative artists whose unique and idiosyncratic creative abilities might have been overlooked elsewhere. For the past 25 years, the organization has showcased both visual artists and performers with disabilities, providing dazzling work that brilliantly demonstrates our mission: to create art that challenges perceptions of disability.
We have long recognized that Interact artists often also have remarkable literary talents, and to this end we have created this literary journal to showcase their creative writing. Many of our artists are prolific, and so we can only provide a small sampling of their voluminous and absorbing writing.
Please enjoy this collection of stories, poems, essays, and samples of dramatic writing.
— Max Sparber, editor
MICHAEL JAMES BRINDLEY
Flammable orange lookalike sun came down, the waters of god fallen forever and ever, when it crashes, ability to releasable off-guard riffle sound, carried on the bubbly waves echoed smoothly and calm, pictured off the mindless brain attached to it, one beautifulness art, defaulted color was even then one clarified blue spirit shape, hearing it with love and compassionate vibe, winds blew surrounded by, how’d deep be, awakened beings of true feeling inside of it, relaxation into the fine uploaded world to be free, the opportunity to show the inner European waterfalls of soul reconnected
One Little Garden
Sweet pile of flowers, May showers will
relief, texture and literature, some little
adventure, sitting near the patio deck
chairs, windless rain actually came, it was
not so lame, don’t feel a shame, get some
the extra shade really close, smell delicious rose
into their own little nose so clear, the garden
of life, it seems really wet there on a field of
a joyous day, one thunder roars, snap crackle
and pop nonstop action, the character who’d
love to read a book, one rainy story to tell, and
fell in love over again
Hypocritical streets are the best, put on your fun-size vest, right on your own infamous quest, walkable ways of life were surrounded and grounded stillness on the bigtime moments, take a worldwide smile every time since. Reopens entire heart, let it by creating of art, brilliant minds would be smart, abilities will follow through the community lands in harm’s way, brightened sunlight roars and shine upright, rejoice those brilliant international flights become realistic air travel was the savviest spot to go to, achieved these breathtaking dreams really big and bright, eye popping delight, it seemingly insight, make a strong vibe to it, showable thoughts came out so suddenly, dwelling love was a key of success and retake
Michael James Brindley identifies as a poet both on the written page and by using his body in his theatrical pursuits. “[Theater is] part of my dream, my imagination—it’s kind of like creating words with my body.” Mike approaches each new work with grace and dignity, an outlook he has mastered in his twenty years at Interact. He feels particularly connected to the Interact shows that have travelled—stateside and internationally and says, “The best part of the touring show is to gather people together I would never have met.” Through his work at Interact, Mike gathers a local and international community together through motion and storytelling.
Zoom has become a big part of all our lives,
The pandemic has caused it to thrive.
Zoom brings people together,
Zoom is here to stay forever.
From Interact to Bible Study and Bingo,
To Scattergories and conventions on Zoom I go.
Logging on and waiting to be let into a room,
It’s all about Zoom.
Zoom is a great way to stay in touch with people,
Except when the “Mute Monster” gets you!
For now it’s our reality,
If it’s people we want to see.
Without Zoom, where would our world be,
From business to leisure and everything in between,
Zoom is our best friend,
Until this pandemic comes to an end.
2020 was quite the year,
Filled with little hope and lots of fear.
From a pandemic that crossed the nations,
To violence that rocked police stations.
Come March, reality as we knew it would stand still,
And going to the grocery store would become a thrill.
“Stay home!” is what we were told,
The message from Gov. Waltz was quite bold.
Toilet paper became impossible to find,
Hand sanitizer and Lysol wipes were not far behind.
And all that anyone asks,
That we all wear our masks.
Then came the George Floyd strife,
About a black man who lost his life,
The vandalism and riots brought forth fire,
The situation was quite dire.
Once our world was a peaceful place,
Who knew it was Covid-19 we would face,
Where unrest and racism we would chase,
We must unite together by God’s grace.
2020 is a year we will never forget,
One that will go down in history for our generations yet,
Now that 2021 is here,
May we conquer and divide for the end of Covid-19 is near.
Jennifer Dubbin was born in Little Falls, MN, and attended college at Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall. She currently resides in Saint Paul Minnesota and serves on a couple boards for organizations for the blind.
The seasoned eyes are a steely blue. The lashes are long but the brow is absent. The hair is a bit of wispy wrinkly grey with a flash of silver.
The face has skin of polished beige. There’s a bunch of whispery whiskers you could call a beard. It’s a well settled face trimmed with care but short on lines and wrinkles. With a prominent nose sits a pair of spectacles suggesting a learned mind. There are thin lips well-rehearsed to smile more than frown. Yes, a visage well suited to greet the world.
What could be more frivolous than speaking one’s mind?
A dust bin of complex or simple musings, fragments if you will, Of straight forward ecstasies that lead to nowhere.
Half crazed pitfalls that make new awakenings seem underdeveloped; underplayed.
That is what I first encountered and concluded the day before last — or was it twenty-four seconds ago?
No, it was on June 21st rather.
Anyway, it was about what the lecherous fool called a great well known feeble attempt to state the obvious:
One simply cannot speak of imaginings one knows of. Or more importantly, one cannot speak to the matter at hand.
Which is this: Life is full of dealings of delinquent dalliances deemed deniably and demographically Noteworthy to keep secret. What more can be said?
Could anything be more unobtrusive?
I mean would it be resourceful to use more language as the gravy over the potatoes?
After all, all’s not well that ends.
Everything depends on it.
Well at least it did on Friday.
First and foremost there is one more essential question Which I cannot ask because it makes me think of one hundred things I can’t remember.
But what is that to the purpose?
It’s about time I conclude this diatribe!
I’m about to become speechless finally.
“Tempestuous Joy” An absurdist monologue
Those were my butterscotch years when my life was firmly planted like a tree. There were tender little morsels of tempestuous joy. Those were the days. Yes, those were the days when I counted to fifty-six. Now I stand watch for those dreadful radiant sun beams that wash over my mind like a waterfall. Little can be said of that I suppose. No matter.
The execution of the forgettable lamentations is crucial to getting things accomplished. At least from the standpoint that translucent approximations are of little importance. I mean what is the difference between a small remembrance and a large cup of coffee? There is little difference if one calculates the amount of animosity brought to the forefront of the question. But I digress. Where was I? Oh yes. Those good old days of refutable and mistaken indiscretions . Those tender little morsels of tempestuous joy. I spent so much time thinking of what provocations brought the most tentative fancies. You know, the polarization of incandescent longings and perpetual dalliances. I laugh to think that there were only four different pieces of happiness possible at the time. I recollect that there were certain parameters that not a single circumstance could stand the test of time. Ah, those four pieces. How I can only remember not a single one of them. But I can only guess that they were hardly rapacious. Or serpentine for that matter. Alas, how unfortunate that we rely so much on our forgotten, sticky memories. Particles of minute seconds can’t support the condition of perpetual evolution. An evolution so vast that our minds bristle with tiny thoughts. It’s more than one can regurgitate. It exists as binary and silent music bringing us only muted repose. I for one find it useful to pretend that it only matters if one is adorably indignant. In such a state only can one speak with commodious authority. In short and in conclusion may I say this: Never remember what can only be useful if you’re dead.
Interact is lucky enough to call Jeffrey Haas the resident Shakespeare expert, dramaturgist, and performer extraordinaire. Jeffrey started his theatrical career as a child, he explains, “And now it’s my mission in life—to create works of performing art.” Jeffrey creates with gumption, spirit, and gentle strength in regards to his work at Interact and local/educational theater companies (Theater Latte Da, Theatre in the Round, and Lakewood Community College to name a few). “I do theater because it’s my passion, it’s what I love to do, I love enlightening myself and the audience. [Life] would be boring and I’d fall into a pit of despair if I wasn’t doing theater.”
ENRIQUE (HENRY) BROWN
My Exsant Poetry
Bonne Nuit I’m in French Bonjour I’ve got the French Bon MA Chère Mademoiselle
Les Poissons Bon Appett in a Pari clothing I speak 🗣 no AmeRicano ☕️ oh la la we we we Dear Madam Josette 🏵 Brown Bleue is my Preferee Couleur Bonne Apres-Midi I’ve got a Southern Exultet
Kon’Nichiwa HaBe ein SchOnes Wochenende Au Revoir Kanakak Apau Buona notte Tata Urban ThesauRus
Henry Brown began performing in high school and early on made the decision that he wanted to perform for the rest of his life. Henry has also been deeply involved with competing in the Special Olympics and workshopped with Upstream Arts (mostly acting and scene-work). He says, “Now I’m living my dreams, it’s a dream come true working at Interact.” Henry continues to live this dream at Interact by playing a number of characters ranging from a mischievous imp in Plotholes: A Fool’s Foibles to the benevolent King Bonafacious in Feast of Fools.
This Nature is a perfect place of people are going to great adventure out there and that is good for us to do that to go outside and have fun at a sunny day of happy, joy, laughing and peaceful and loving to so yeah and this message here is that I encourage you to go outside and if it’s nice out get dress and put your shoes on and if you have a jacket put it on because if you are out about get wild so yeah well just get out there and do crazy stuff or something thank you bye.
Ian Hounddog is part of Interact’s Visual Arts Department, and, in his own words, makes drawings about “politics, scary people, movies, rock stars, rock and roll legends, and superheroes.” With delicate lines and careful attention to detail, he explores the odd trappings of celebrity and pop culture.
Have you ever thought about why God made us different? Well just today I kind of did. God made me special and unique. But why? Why did he want me to have disabilities?
I guess I will never know the answers I want to know. Wait a sec … maybe I will.
God why did you make me the way you did? Sometimes I wonder what it would be like if I didn’t have any disabilities and I had two eyes to see out of. Is this normal for people with disabilities to wish that? Why did God create people with disabilities and want them in the world today?
I believe I know the answer … because he didn’t want everyone to be the same. So that’s why he created and made people with disabilities like me.
I love how God made me and who I am.
Sometimes you wonder in life why God wanted you in this world. What’s the purpose of living? People with disabilities like me are completely normal like everyone else.
Let me explain this better: What I mean by normal is we can do what people do who don’t have any disabilities. We all have our likes and dislikes like everyone else.
What’s different about people with disabilities is how God made us by the way we look. We may be insecure about how we look but you have to remember you are beautiful inside and out.
Sometimes we may think we are being judged by others. I wonder if others think the same thing. I believe and think when God created the world we live in today to have everyone be nice and kind to each other. But sadly that’s not always the case. I just wish this world would be more smiles and happiness.
As for me and with all my disabilities I am always smiley and happy.
Chelsey finds new ground in her first show at Interact, thinking that theater would be a new fun thing to try out. “…my friend told me about Interact and I thought it would be fun to try – to act, to inspire people and maybe make the world a better place.” J.K. Rowling, one of Chelsey’s biggest idols, inspires Chelsey because Rowling puts her voice out into the world. “I could change the world, so I better work hard to make that [change] happen,” Chelsey chuckles before preparing for rehearsal.
MATTHEW L DAHLSTROM
Two lovely (part one)
The affair Two people are in love between where is those name of spirit into as
Become Angel the same time of back in the day are so happy likes young couple on oneday he/she was looking someone at young boy his name Romeo he also. quiet man he written poetry for her say pace my mind this word put it down Line to line from heart and soul something in history see them.
The ghost of Edgar Allen Poe (part two)
Once upon a time, his name-calling Edgar Allen Poe this spirit of dark poetry
Went he walking by himself he will listen to the bells darkest of soul inside own
Mindedness come alive. I wish to be in see his work become my heart chart he
At nighttime, why to happen he passed away his books the of darkest long ago before born yet if we see him. I wishing about him filled spirit back in timely
Matthew L. Dahlstrom joined Interact five years after the company formed, attributing his admiration of other actors as fuel for himself becoming an actor. Since making the leap, Matt has performed in over thirty shows with Interact, often in featured roles. “I’m a comic, I make people laugh and laughter feels good in the heart…acting just comes out of my brain.” Matt feels particularly proud of his global travel, touring everywhere from England to Thailand. Matt brings his comedy, love of William Shakespeare, and poetic heart to his characters at Interact.
It is winter. ADAM has just arrived from his office job via a cab, wearing a red and black flannel overcoat, a matching hat, and a pair of lace-up snow boots among his office-wear. He is waiting for his PCA named William to return home. The front door to William’s house is locked.
ADAM: Thirty-fricking-degrees out … I hope Will is home.
Adam knocks on the front door three times.
Will, open up, would’ja?! It’s freezing out here!
Adam knocks again for five times.
Will, open the door, man; I’m freezing my arse off out here!
Okay, Will, you got me; ha-ha. Now open the damn door!
Adam frantically turns the doorknob but it’s locked. He pounds on the front door with his fist.
William! Open this door! William? William!
A red Dodge pulls into the driveway. A young man with light brown hair kills the car’s engine and steps out. It is William.
WILLIAM: What the hell—? Adam, what are ya doing? I told you I would be home late, didn’t I? Did you get any of my texts I sent you?
Adam turns around to face William who is wearing a flannel-lined brown jean jacket, a brown belt, blue jeans, and snow boots.
ADAM: Will, you know I turn my phone off when I’m working so it doesn’t interfere with my concentration. You’ve known that for a few months. Remember how hyper-focused on the wrong thing I can get if I get off-track? And besides, you usually get home before I do. You said so yourself just the other day….
WILLIAM: I know, I know. But I had to work today.
ADAM: But it’s a Tuesday. You usually work Mondays Wednesdays and Thursdays—
WILLIAM: Well they needed an extra pair of hands today, so I thought…
ADAM: But it’s a Tuesday—
WILLIAM: Yes, Adam, I know it is, but as I said, the resource center needed another pair of hands today and I was available—
ADAM: But-but now our whole Tuesday routine is off!
WILLIAM: It’s not that bad, Adam. Now come inside or you’re gonna freeze even more.
Adam stands still with his arms folded across his chest.
WILLIAM: Adam? Didn’t you hear me? Come inside where it’s warm.
WILLIAM: Why not? You don’t wanna freeze, do you?
ADAM: Well, no….
WILLIAM: Then come inside and we can warm up with some hot cocoa.
ADAM: Mom always says cocoa is ideal during the evening when there is snow on the ground.
WILLIAM: Why not now?
ADAM: Because, William, because William, it isn’t ‘evening’ yet.
WILLIAM: It’s 3pm; what would you call 3pm if not ‘evening’, Adam?
ADAM: I would call it ‘post meridian’, literally ‘after noon’. It is three hours after noon.
WILLIAM: (sighs) Okay, fine, it’s three hours after noon. So why don’t I just make us some hot cocoa and we can—?
ADAM: Because it’s too early for hot cocoa.
WILLIAM: Ugh, fine, I’ll just make us some coffee.
Adam shakes his head.
ADAM: No, mom says coffee is best enjoyed in the morning with breakfast.
WILLIAM: (unlocking and opening the front door) Adam—
ADAM: William, I’m thirsty and cold and tired and—
WILLIAM: Well since you don’t want coffee or cocoa—
ADAM: I never said I don’t want coffee or cocoa. It’s just that mom always says there’s a time and place for everything.
WILLIAM: Well, she is right about that. So. What are the current time and place good for then?
WILLIAM: Tea? At three in the afternoon? That’s about an hour early, isn’t it, mate?
ADAM: Mom says that I should be drinking more tea anyway so I can be more relaxed and not be so impulsive or hyper, so yes, I’d like some tea.
WILLIAM: You’d like some tea…what?
ADAM: (Sighs) Please.
WILLIAM: Okay, I’ll get you some hot tea. Now will you please come inside?
ADAM: What about you?
WILLIAM: Me? I’m already inside. See me, standing here indoors where it’s nice and warm?
ADAM: No, not that. I mean, what about your drink?
ADAM: Yes. If I am to have tea, what will you be drinking?
WILLIAM: Hot cocoa, of course.
ADAM: What about a second choice?
WILLIAM: Adam, it’s cold out, I’m hungry, there’s snow slowly piling up on my entry rug….
ADAM: But Mom always says—
WILLIAM: Adam, come inside.
ADAM: Not until you pick a hot drink. Cocoa is best for the evening—
ADAM: —coffee is ideal for the morning—
ADAM:—and tea is best enjoyed—
WILLIAM: Okay, okay; I’ll put the tea on for both of us. Now please, come inside.
Adam smiles, shuffles inside and sits on a bench to the right side of the foyer and starts to meticulously untie his snow boots. The house is comfy: minimal yet clearly visible winter holiday decorations hang from the railing of the split landing leading up to an upper level; the spicy aromas of cinnamon and baked apples waft throughout the space, bringing with them an air of the upcoming holiday season.
ADAM: Are you making your famous baked apples? I love your baked apples! (inhales, sighing in pleasure.)
WILLIAM: The apples are in the oven. Now, how about I make our tea?
ADAM: But—but the baked apples—?
WILLIAM: —aren’t ready yet.
Adam frowns, pouting slightly.
WILLIAM: Oh, it’s not that bad, Adam. They’ll be ready soon.
WILLIAM: Soon, Adam.
ADAM: How soon is soon, Will?
WILLIAM: S-O-O-N, Adam.
ADAM: I know how to spell, Will. What I need to know is how soon is soon?
WILLIAM: Does it matter?
WILLIAM: Does it really matter how long or short of time soon is?
WILLIAM: Because why?
ADAM: Because I just wanna know.
WILLIAM: How about this? As soon as you take off your coat and hat. Is that soon enough?
ADAM: But it’s cold outside. And the front door is still open.
WILLIAM: What d’you—? Oh! Sorry about that. Here, lemme get—
ADAM: I wanna get it—
WILLIAM: No, no, I can get it.
ADAM: I can do it myself!
ADAM: Why not?
ADAM: Because why?
WILLIAM: Because I said so, Adam. And I’m the adult.
ADAM: I’m an adult too. I’m 18.
WILLIAM: 18? That hardly makes you an adult, Adam.
ADAM: Well it does!
WILLIAM: Hardly. And besides, there’s some subtleties you might not understand….
ADAM: It’s a door, Will; what’s there to know about shutting a door?
WILLIAM: Well there’s the…um…I mean…you could…th-that’s not important, Adam. What is important is that the door…
(closes the door with a socked foot)
ADAM: Hey, I wanted to close the door! Why do you always do that? You treat me like I’m a—a—
WILLIAM: Adam, buddy, take a deep breath and collect your thoughts—
ADAM: Grrrr. You and my mom are always treating me like a child despite my being the legal age of adulthood. Why? Why do you do it? Why do people—you, my mom, my social worker—hell, even the bloody government—do it, Will? I am not a child, I’m just…I’m just wired differently than other folks are! You think just because I’m—
WILLIAM: A vulnerable—
ADAM: Don’t use that word. Please? I-I don’t like that word. It-it makes me feel…weird. Lemme try again. Do you honestly think that since I’m—I’m —ugh, I can’t say it—
ADAM: Yeah, that. You think I can’t see what you’re doing? What you and my mom and everyone else on my care team have been doing since we last went to see Doctor Stevenson? Since my diagnosis? The way you talk to me, the way you always do everything for me like I’m helpless? But here’s what I really can’t stand. The way you look at me. Like I’m unclean, like I’m somehow less than deserving of some small semblance of reciprocal decency, like I’m a disease. But you don’t mean to do it; oh no, you don’t mean to stare; you don’t mean to talk down to me or talk about me like I’m not in the same room with you, but you do. You do, and you do it without even realizing it and-and-and you-you—get out.
WILLIAM: But Adam, this is my—
ADAM: Get out! Just-just—out, just get out of my sight. Just-just go and-and-and don’t look—DON’T LOOK AT ME LIKE THAT!
Adam runs up a small flight of carpet steps and stumbles, banging his right knee on the lip of the main floor. William moves to help him.
ADAM: DON’T! Just please—please don’t.
William pulls away and starts toward the front door.
ADAM: Wait! I-I mean—please, wait? I’m sorry Will, I-I-I’m sorry about what I said and-and did—
William bends down and hugs Adam before sitting on the stairs next to Adam with a long sigh.
WILLIAM: I’m sorry too, Adam. I know it must be hard ever since you lost your grandpa, and your…your diagnosis and everything….
ADAM: How would you know how I feel?
WILLIAM: Because, Adam; because I have a disability too.
ADAM: You do?
WILLIAM: Uh-huh. I know it isn’t quite the same as your being on the autism spectrum, but I have ADHD, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Ever since I was a kid, I would be all fidgety and-and ready to go go go and I’d get all wound up like a tight spring…. You could say I was like that pink Energizer bunny from the commercials….
ADAM: Heh, I like that pink bunny. But why didn’t you say anything before? These last few weeks we went to see Doctor Stevenson…? Wh-why didn’t you tell me or my mom or anybody?
WILLIAM: Because you’re right, Adam. About everything. You’re right about the stares and others’ ways of talking down to you or like you’re not in the same room as they are. And I really don’t mean to, but it’s hard, ya know? It’s hard to ask someone outright if they can understand, really understand, when that person has a unique brain like yours or mine without sounding condescending or without hurting their feelings.
ADAM: But why do people—normal people, I mean—have to react the way they do?
WILLIAM: I can’t really answer that, but here’s my guess; I think other people react to people like us because they’re maybe too proud of themselves or too scared to ask questions because they don’t understand how we live, or don’t know what it’s like to be different from everyone else.
William helps Adam up the stairs and pulls a bar chair out for him at a marble kitchen island.
ADAM: Do you…do you ever…slip?
WILLIAM: Slip…? I’m not sure I understand.
ADAM: You know, slip? Go in reverse? Get fidgety and all that?
WILLIAM: Sometimes I do, but I take meds to help even me out. Why do you ask?
ADAM: (Blushing) Just-just wondering.
WILLIAM: You don’t have to be embarrassed. I don’t mind talking about my ADHD. It’s okay to ask questions. That’s how we learn. That’s how we grow.
ADAM: (taking a long pause) Will?
ADAM: Are the baked apples done?
Etherium, Part One
Beyond sight, sound, all of the Senses
Beyond thoughtforms and trivialities and titles
Beyond Space, beyond Time, beyond the Beyond
There is the Etherium;
There is the beginning of the end and the ending of the beginning.
It is neither here nor there,
Neither hot or cold.
Rather, it is the opening,
the birthplace of all life and death
In both this, the world of the material, and that world which waits with all-sight and labored breath for our return and rebirth.
Such is the nature of the Etherium; it is cyclic, ecliptic, constant….
Etherium, Part Two
We have seen what lies beyond and behind Our mortal sight, and it is blinding. This world—so finite, so fragile, so long and lost and lethargic—writhes and worms its way through the ethereal womb to be born and reborn time after time and time again. We hear. We hear this material world’s cries—so shrill, so soft, so angry and abhorrent and absent. We have felt love, lust, luck, life. Such are the thoughts that permeate Our entry into the etherium that is this, the cosmic book of life, made into Word passed through the mortal hands of Our instrument.
Dan Mauck says that he was inspired to become an artist because of his parents’ love of music and attempting a multitude of musical instruments at a young age. “I was always encouraged to pursue my interests and music, dance, and acting have always been part of my interests. I have this creative side that just feels rhythm and music.” When Daniel performed a clarinet solo in Work of Heart, he felt elated and proud to perform alongside his fellow artists, cementing in his mind that Interact was the place he was meant to be. Daniel continues to challenge himself with learning new instruments and choreography to follow his artistic dreams.