Evan Burton on Discovering Soul Ancestors and Bouncing through Brush with Coyotes
Evan Burton is a storyteller, comedian, and advertising copywriter. He recently published an experimental novel with tNYPress written with 13 other writers over 16 days, and has work upcoming in an anthology of erotic satirical fan fiction that’ll be released in September 2016. Last year for National Poetry Month, he brought Allen Ginsberg back from the dead to stalk the streets of San Francisco. Evan loves a good laugh, brown rice & vegetables, and the sound of the ocean.
When people ask what do you do, you tell them…?
I tell them I’m a writer. And then a lot of people ask if I do it for work or if I make money at it. Then I usually divert the conversation to their sex life.
What’s your biggest struggle—work or otherwise?
I try to remain joyful, which isn’t really a struggle but it does take some focus and occasional adjustment of my perspective.
If someone said I want to do what do you do, what advice would you have for them?
I’d tell them to be original. I’m almost kidding.
Do you consider yourself successful? Why?
I’m sorry, I couldn’t hear you over the sound of all these gold coins I’m swimming through right now.
When you’re sad/grumpy/pissed off, what YouTube video makes you feel better?
This Colt 45 commercial starring Billy Dee Williams. It’s absurd, exploitative, boring (but hilarious), and basically meaningless. It’s a great reminder to never take myself or much else too seriously. Make sure to listen to that sweet can snap at 0:22. Excellent Foley artistry right there.
Do you have a favorite ancestor? What is his/her story?
I don’t have much history of any specific physical ancestors b/c the transatlantic slave trade. But I do discover soul ancestors all the time.
Who did you admire when you were 10 years old? What did you want to be?
I admired poets like Countee Cullen, Langston Hughes, and Gwendolyn Brooks. Even then, I was certain that a writer was the only thing I could be.
Describe your week in the wilderness. It doesn’t have to be ideal.
I would sleep on the earth, bounce through brush with coyotes, drink the moon and gossip with crows.
Are you using any medications? If so, which ones?
Gummy worms. And occasionally Gummy Bears.
How many times do you fall in love each day?
I’ve stopped keeping count.
What would you like to see happen in your lifetime?
I’d like to see freedom and an end to suffering for all oppressed people. And I’d like to see more and more people awaken to how beautiful & necessary they are.
What is art? Is it necessary? Why?
I’m not sure that art exists as an absolute category. I believe in instances of art, which are quite necessary because of their effect. The way, say, Kara Walker communicates entire histories and complex perspectives with such economy creates a definite change in the viewer, even if they don’t know it. That’s an instance of art. It’s also magic.
When you have sex, what are some of the things you like to do?
So, what do you do for work?
What are you working on right now?
I’m writing stand-up comedy and comic sketches.
What kind of work would you like to do? Or: what kind of writing do you most admire?
Something like the Oulipo, if the Oulipo included more women and people of color.
If there were one thing about the Bay Area that you would change, what would it be?
I’m pretty new here, and I think it’s obnoxious when people show up in a place and think they’re entitled to just start changing shit. You feel me?
What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever seen?
I think CNN is the strangest thing. Not only because it’s propaganda, but also because I’m not sure Wolf Blitzer is human. Maybe he was human at some point, but I think he’s been taken over by an alien species that controls your mind through your beard.
What can you do with 50 words? 50 dollars?
50 dollars, a good time and a nap. 50 words, same.
What are some of your favorite smells?
Sandalwood, jasmine, inside the spines of books, strangers’ hair, gold coins.
If you got an all expenses paid life experience of your choice, what would it be?
I’d choose the experience of having all my expenses paid for all the life experiences I choose.