#23: Nancy Stohlman
Nancy Stohlman is Denver’s flash-fiction poster girl: The author of a new collection, Vixen Scream and Other Bible Stories, and two novels, The Monster Opera and Searching for Suzi: a flash novel, she’s also contributed to four flash-fiction anthologies and helped found Fast Forward Press. And Stohlman’s dedication to the deftly quick literary genre even extends further, in her role as curator and host of the ongoing Fbomb Flash Fiction Reading Series. That might sound like a full plate for a woman who also teaches at local community colleges, but Stohlman stays busy nights as a member of Kinky Mink, a Denver lounge band. We asked Stohlman to answer the 100CC questionnaire; here are her succinct answers.
Westword: If you could collaborate with anyone in history, who would it be, and why?
Nancy Stohlman: Love him or hate him, I would have to say Andy Warhol. And not because I love every piece of art he’s ever made, but because I really identify with his impulse to keep experimenting. He dabbled in just about everything, from writing to painting to sculpture to moviemaking. Not all of these were successful, but it’s the mark of a true artistic life to continually ask oneself, what else would I do if I weren’t afraid to fail? I also relate to his impulse toward creating community—half of Warhol’s mystique is the orbit of awesomeness around him. People were drawn to The Factory because it was the center of something. I expect that if we were to collaborate I would discover entire veins of expression that I wouldn’t have been brave enough to try on my own.
Who in the world is interesting to you right now, and why?
I’m on a Peggy Lee kick. Berlin is interesting to me right now, so I’m revisiting Kafka, Kurt Weill, Marlene Dietrich, Wim Wenders. I’m particularly interested in art that happens at the intersection between genres—a sort of artistic osmosis as one form bleeds into another—Gertrude Stein’s opera libretto, Warhol’s movies, the anti-stories of Lydia Davis and local poet Rob Geisen, whose blog, Get in the Car, Helen, will make you rethink poetry completely.
What's one art trend you want to see die this year?
Sequels. And prequels. And for that matters, trilogies. I think there’s a point where you can know too much.
What's your day job?
I teach English and creative writing at Arapahoe Community College and downtown at the Community College of Denver. My night job is as the lead singer of the lounge band Kinky Mink.
A mystery patron offers you unlimited funds for life. What will you do with it?
Create the Factory here in Denver. I’m thinking an old abandoned church might be perfect.
What's the one thing Denver (or Colorado) could do to help the arts?
Art is an acquired taste—it takes time to understand it and even more time for it to start speaking to you. In that regard, Denver is doing a great job of making art more financially accessible—free days at the museum, First Fridays, Jazz In the Park and other initiatives like this are awesome. The library is the greatest institution ever created. But I’d like to see more: Free day at the opera. Free day at the ballet. Free day at the symphony. Free theater showings. Denver Book Swap.
I’d like to see a Reading is Sexy campaign. The ads might show two people, both reading, at a bus stop/bar/DMV. They are reading the same book. It’s love at first sight. Stuff like that.
In October I’m going to be part of Lit Crawl Seattle (my first time), which is an annual event in the “bar crawl” style but featuring 25 different readings at walkable locations in a single evening. Especially considering Denver’s notorious legacy of the Beats (Kerouac, Ginsberg, Cassidy, etc.), not to mention the late sheriff Hunter S. Thompson in Aspen, I think Colorado could capitalize more on its own literary legacy.
Who is your favorite Colorado Creative?
Nick Busheff—pianist and composer and my main collaborator on multiple projects including Kinky Mink and The Monster Opera.
What's on your agenda in the coming year?
On July 21, I’ll be hosting the first Fbomb National Flash Fiction Festival at the Mercury Café. We’ve invited flash fiction writers from around the country to converge—I’d secretly like to make Denver the flash fiction hotspot of the country.
Right after the festival is over, I leave for Berlin and the beginning of a six-city reading tour—Berlin, Boston, NYC, Baltimore, San Francisco—with my publisher, Pure Slush Press, finishing up in Seattle at the Seattle Lit Crawl.
Then in the fall I will be co-producing The Monster Opera with an original score and full cast. This will be the third time we have produced this show and it’s an event not to be missed.
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Who do you think will get noticed in the local arts community in 2015?
Nick Busheff’s Monster Opera score is off the charts. A symphony played by one. He combines classical structure and form with complete dissonance—at one point in the story he is actually playing the inside of the grand piano with beads and metal sticks. Think opera meets Tom Waits.
Nancy Stohlman will read from The Vixen Scream and Other Bible Stories at 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 27 at the Tattered Cover Colfax Avenue. Learn more about Stohlman online, and visit Kinky Mink’s Facebook page for information about the band.