Meet the Poet
I’ve been writing poetry since I can remember. I studied Poetics in High School, and as a result, began honing my craft. In college I studied the art of making television and film. The goal was to eventually put my poetry onto video or film.
Stepping out from behind the camera, I became the front voice for the Performance group “The Mud People.” An avant-garde tribal group that played on the streets of Tucson. Elements of the performance included ambient sound, drums, electric guitar, fire, and authentic Santa Cruz River MUD (video exists of these performances, it’s just not on the internet yet).
Part of our schtick was to invite the audience into the Mud Pit, and slather themselves in the authentic Santa Cruz River Mud. George Arnst was the brain-child of this group that had performed inconsistently in and around Tucson for several years. Seeing a need in me to express myself, he brought me in as the “Voice.
I was undergoing intensive therapy at the time. I was writing to purge a bad childhood. I needed an outlet to vent my frustrations over yet another relationship gone wrong. George gave me that outlet. For six months, I had a place to be every other Saturday night. I was in recovery, I needed that alternative from going to bars. The Mud People became this outlet.
As an outcropping of The Mud People, I put together my first serious collection of poems. A small 10 page chapbook called “Power Fuck Poetry.” Then, I really went to work, and developed “Catharsis.
Catharsis became my reason for being. I still remember when I picked up the first 10 copies from the printer’s. I thought “Wow! This is my work, my stuff, my anger and angst of over twenty years, finally, in a bound version. I went to the little cafe that I frequented. While sitting there, with fresh books, a winter visitor came in and asked what the books were. She bought a copy right off me. That’s what self-publishing is about.
I continued writing, working, and going to open mic venues. I became the host for the Tucson Poetry Festival’s Open Mic for three years. I was the host for a major venue at Tucson’s Premiere of “Poetry Crawl,” a Poetic event held every May. And I have been a Featured Reader for “Make a Date with a Poet.” (no longer running).
I was the Angry Lesbian Poet voice of Tucson at that time. The definition of Catharsis IS my Artist’s Statement. During this tumultous time, I also produced video through AccessTucson, Tucson’s public access cable channel. I had wanted to produce video poetry since I first entered college. My friends at the public access station helped re-ignite this goal. During the time of “The Mud People” AccessTucson had what was called Instant Access. During Downtown Saturday Nights, there were live roving cameras. It never failed, the guys would put us (The Mud People) live on the wire. It gave me a lot of exposure.
On nights that I wasn’t performing, the producers would find me in the cafe, put the camera on my face and demand a poem. Pretty heady stuff. Before the Mud People I had only read my work twice in public. People continued to purchase “Catharsis.” And I continued to make video poetry.
I’ve completed two video projects: “Catharsis:” Which includes poems from the book. And “The Pain/Pleasure Ratio:” A Spoken Word piece about lesbian BDSM Relationships. Both of these programs ran on AccessTucson for a period of one year.
I was working on more video poetry when life found me back in the Valley of the Sun, Phoenix. I moved back to where it all began. It wasn’t a bad move, however I lost the creative and technical support that I had built up in Tucson. I spent my time concentrating on putting together several more books of Poetry.
I took time off from poetry to pursue a culinary career. It’s a little hard to make it to open mics when I’m behind a line cooking food for other folks. My food blog The Kitchen Shaman was born out of my love of food and cooking. And like video poetry, some day I hope to have food haiku parties, like in Imperial Chinese cooking.`
The dream of living in and traveling around the country in an RV is still alive and well. In the meantime I continue writing, cooking, taking photographs and shooting video. Some nights you can find me telling stories, other nights I’m out supporting other local and national artists working in all disciplines. We need Art, now more then ever. And this is my contribution to the world.
To purchase prints of any of the art or photographs contact Johnnie at