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Minton Sparks

A Conversation with Minton Sparks (continued)

PM: Can you remember when this kind of writing first came up for you?

MS: This particular writing--the Minton--this as a performance piece, it has a genesis. The first piece I wrote was when my mother called me, and she said, "Can you believe it, Trella's done left Frank. He's trash." And she was 91 years old, and I was just like, "We're nuts in this family." I mean, number one, he was mean, so she should have left him. But just the fact that everybody'd get on the horn and say that this had gone on and somebody was trash, I thought it was worth writing about, that particular thing.

PM: Wow. And the character was born.

MS: Yeah, the writing of the character started there. Then the character was born with Greg's one-man show, because he asked me to perform it. And that's sort of when the stage show was born.

PM: Before that, you'd written to publish.

MS: Yes.

PM: And you wrote in that voice?

MS: Well, I have a whole other set of poems that I don't get into, they're different ones. But in that voice, yeah, I was writing to publish for years before I did it as a stage show.

PM: And it was your brother Greg who convinced you to put it on the stage.

MS: Yeah.

PM: When he said, "Hey, this is a show," did you see it right from the top?

MS: Yeah, yeah. Well. not in any way how it is now, five years later, but as a voice--because they're so character driven. Most of my pieces are so character driven that it just lent itself to that, even though when I wrote it I wasn't imagining kind of channeling the person as I perform the poem. But it was a natural. It flowed into that pretty naturally.

PM: Having written originally to publish, has anything indeed been published yet, or did it just go down a different avenue in time?

MS: Several things got published. Before Middlin Sisters, about six of those pieces were published in various literary journals, and a couple of pieces were anthologized. But then I thought, "Nobody reads those." I mean, I read them, but--

PM: Well, yeah. My sister has become a published poet--she got a book deal and has been anthologized and so forth--so I've heard a little bit more about that scene. And more people read literary journals than I thought.

MS: Well, I hope so. I mean, not you're general guy on the street. But there are so many good journals. And people who are interested in writing usually read journals.

PM: Right.

MS: And the thing that's happened with me with performing is that people come up and say, "I hate poetry, but boy, I like this."

PM: And on the other hand, so many people are starting to like what you do, is someone in the loop continuing to look for a book deal?

MS: Finally, when I get some time, I'm going to put together all the pieces I've done so far as a book. I've actually talked with somebody about publishing a collection. I'm going to do the three CDs just in print, because I've never printed them before, because they were intentionally just oral. But now I'm just starting to have some time to think about that.

PM: Has anybody put you on TV yet?

MS: Nope.

PM: That's a crime!

MS: Coke Sams and I are doing a DVD, finally.

PM: Oh, really? Good. Because that was the next thing out of my mouth: why aren't we shooting a DVD?

MS: It's finally going to happen, in September.

PM: Good. Now, what's the deal? Who's doing it to you or with you?

MS: Coke Sams of Ruckus Films is going to do it.

PM: Ruckus Films, here in Nashville?

MS: Yeah. And we're scouting locations right now. It's going to probably have some of the people who have played on the record playing on the DVD. Hopefully.

PM: I would think so. You've got some of the best people in the world.

MS: Which would be lucky and good. So that's the hope.

PM: Well, for sure you'd have John Jackson and Steve Conn. They're both around town.

MS: And I've been playing with Pat Flynn all summer out at Puckett's, so I really like that.

PM: Well, tell me about that. I didn't know you were playing with Pat Flynn. Where did you say you've been playing?

MS: Puckett's is--there's that place out in Leiper's Fork, but now they've opened a new place on the Square in Franklin. [Just south of Nashville.]

PM: Oh, Puckett's Grocery.

MS: Puckett's Grocery, yeah. And we did an every Wednesday night show all summer, just him and I.

PM: And they get good crowds out there, like the Leiper's Fork crowd?

MS: They get really good crowds. They're white Republican crowds.

PM: They are?

MS: Yeah, which is a little scary.

PM: Huh. And do they dig what you're doing, the Republicans?

MS: You know, they do, because they just shut their ears to the part they don't like. It's amazing. It's like my parents. "If you don't like that, then just scuff over that."



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