Paul Cunningham Answers Our Questionnaire!


What is your favorite breakfast food?

Eggs Benedict is one way to my heart.

Tell us a bit about your work in REALITY BEACH.

I’ve been working on Ad Campaign for a number of years. They’re poems that are constructed using real material and real quotations from various American advertisements and television commercials ranging between 1954 and present day. Helixing from poem to poem is a language of consumerism seeking to bombard, invert, recall, and confront issues of technology, gender, sexuality, race, nationhood, and economy via slogans and interpellative taxonomy. One of these poems could begin in 1986 and conclude with a phrase from a popular jingle from 2006. Direct quotations are usually italicized. If something originally appeared in an ad or a commercial rendered in all-caps, I try to mimic/preserve the original appearance. Or whatever the formatting. Then I try to make all the pieces fit together somehow.

What is your creative process?

I’m not sure I have one. I do like to plan things out. I am always thinking large scale. I can’t really just sit down and write anything without having a plan first. Lars von Trier inspired me with the way he plans his films out by storyboarding across the walls of his office. He just writes a sort of timeline of events right across the walls. So I kind of similarly take up a whole room when I work on something. To me, a desk is a limitation. I guess my creative process is that I need a room with no furniture and no people. I can’t be in a public place like a coffee shop. You start to eavesdrop on uninteresting conversations and so your writing becomes uninteresting and next thing you know you’re just writing poems about how shitty the coffee is etc. I like to sit on a floor—in silence—and have everything I need within arm’s reach: notes, books, research articles, etc. I do a lot of research. Actually many artists do research contrary to popular belief. I think a lot of people think artists just sit down and smoke a bowl and everything just comes flowing out of them all magic and easy. I mean, I have nothing against weed, but there’s typically a lot more to it than that. But I also can’t really write stoned or drunk.

Where would you like to be at the end of the universe?

I would prefer to perish alongside someone I love. And should the universe end in a series of catastrophic explosions, at least there’s the chance that our flaming, exploded parts might mix together mid-air, cinematic-like, in the smoke of some reddening protein haze.

What is your favorite part about being human?


What do you rule over?

There’s a Radioactive Moat I’m pretty fond of. It’s a chapbook press with a bi-annually published online journal component called Deluge.

How can we support you and buy more of your work?

Toad Press is distributing my translation of Sara Tuss Efrik’s three-part poem The Night’s Belly this fall. The Night’s Belly (or Nattens Mage) first appeared in the 2013 Gurlesque issue of Sweden’s 10TAL lit journal. You should also check out Volume 1 of OOMPH! Press’s recent Contemporary Works in Translation Anthology, which includes the translation of Part III of The Night’s Belly (side-by-side with the original Swedish). It also includes translations of poetry and prose works from the German, Arabic, Hebrew, Croatian, Spanish, French and Portuguese languages. Also, if you’re a fan of Sara’s work, there might still be some copies of her Automanias chapbook remaining—available from Goodmorning Menagerie.

What is your daily motivation?

Knowing each new day could always be my last day.

Anything coming up in the near future?

Possibly my last day. Which will keep me quite productive in the meantime. I’m just here to have a good time.

Who is your alter ego?

Grace Jones

Make sure to read Paul’s work in Issue Three!