Honorary Associate Road Scribes Member
Biker Poetry Comes of Age: The LandscapeAn Interview with QBall of Vtwinbiker.com By MarySusan Williams-Migneault (RoadHousePress) As I said in the beginning of this series, it is impossible to draw a straight line through the history of Biker Poetry coming of age. There is not one identifiable source that sparked the fires of Biker Poetry; rather there are many small fires that have sometimes spread to combine with other wild fires and some that have petered out or sat smoldering until someone stoked the embers back into a flame. It would be easy to credit Cowboy Poetry as inspiring Biker Poetry, and believe me, many a Biker Poet holds that thought near and dear to them. Personally, I believe it is easy, and quite popular, to romanticize that Cowboy Poetry is the evolutionary parent of Biker Poetry, I thought so myself for a time. Upon deeper scrutiny and reflection though I began to see things differently. Take for example the fact that Cowboy Poetry is still a force of its own. Look at the cadence, the rhythm, the icons, the Cowboy Poets themselves.. their lifestyle and then give some thought to the Life of the Biker.. the heat of the motorcycle engine, the nuts and bolts.. the gravel, the brotherhood that is based on a set of principles, principles that are carved into their souls (read Sonny Barger’s: Freedom … Credos From the Road, Pub: William Morrow (HarperCollins), July 2005 ISBN: 978-0060532567) and remember … that not any one element is separate from the road itself. The Biker, the Bike, the Road, the Wind, the Brotherhood … is like quantum physics: the sum of all the elements of one particle is bigger than the particle being measured. What about the substance that holds it all together? Picture this scenario: A lone biker climbs off his motorcycle, listening to the click, tick, clicking of the engine cooling down. He unties his bedroll from the back of his sissy bar. He lays on the ground next to his bike, not wanting to be too far from her. He might take out a pen and scratch out a few words on a piece of paper that is wrinkled up in his vest pocket, maybe even have a few coffee stains on it. His mind is still on the road, feeling the wind against his face, spitting out insects, and he has to write it down … He is not worried about spelling or rhyming or meter … he is driven from a force inside to keep the ride going … A solitary biker … a piece of paper … And then in a suburb somewhere a biker climbs off his bike and locks it in his garage. He lingers, checking it over from tire to tire, wiping down the chrome … it almost hurts to leave her in the garage, but he does. He sits at his table, pulls a notebook off a pile on the table, picks up a pen and writes with longing about the road he just left. A solitary biker … a piece of paper. Someone, something, somewhere begs destiny to bring these two together … This led me to thinking about those who are behind Biker Poets … the publishers like Don Clady of the Connecticut Cruise News, Leo Castell of the Motorcyclists Post, Jodi Lipson of motorcyclegoodies.com, are well known in the Biker Poet Community, but there are others that are coming to the forefront and dedicating themselves to promoting Biker Poetry. BikerJer, Behind Barz, RoadPoet magazine, Biker Ally, Biker Bits, Songs of the Open Road (Uglicoyote), Road Poet & Biker Poet Forum: http://groups.myspace.com/RoadHousePress and many, many more are publishing other Biker Poets and bringing them together. Today, you can google Biker Poets and / or Biker Poetry and you will find countless web pages of Biker Poets publishing other Biker Poets. You can even go to your local Barnes and Noble store and buy a hardcover copy of the first Biker Poet Anthology with near fifty Biker Poets contributing between the covers: Rubber Side Down, A Biker Poet Anthology, Edited by Jose Gouveia and K.Peddlar Bridges, (Pub. by Archer Books, CA. ISBN-13: 9781931122191). The Biker Poetry landscape is filling in. One name that keeps surfacing over and over is QBall of Vtwinbiker.com. Every now and again I overhear a Biker Poet speak with great admiration for the start that QBall gave them by publishing their work on the internet. I asked Sorez the Scribe, who is and has been the House Poet for Vtwinbiker.com and is currently a columnist for the Poets’ Corner in Don Clady’s Connecticut Cruise News newspaper, to help me connect with QBall so we could mark his well-deserved place in Biker Poetry Coming of Age. Below are a few words from Sorez introducing QBall, followed by an interview with QBall himself. When asked about Q-Ball, Sorez the Scribe writes:
“A picture is worth a thousand words” ~Napoleon Bonaparte
How true the above quote. And then to consider over three decades of Biker Photography By Q-Ball, Professional Biker Photographer. His portfolio is worth more than a million words.You can sense his passion for chronicling the biker lifestyle and the Brothers and Sisters who live it every day in every photo he takes. Webmaster of one of the most popular Biker Internet sites in the USA, VtwinBiker.com, the works he shares with us is phenomenal. Every photo tells a tale that allows the viewer to imagine the moment, to come up with their own interpretation, and to become a part of that place and time when the shutter snapped. Behind the camera is a true artist who’s work has been featured in magazines and Galleries all across the United States and overseas as well. His devotion to the lifestyle he lives and breathes does not stop there. Q-Ball is one of the biggest Internet supporters of Biker Poetry and has been for many years. Featuring Biker Poets from the highways and back roads of America without critique. Submit a Biker Poem to Q-Ball and he will post it on his Website. He understands and supports Biker Brother and Sister artists and is glad to do so. The Brother is Righteous and Respected in our world. And whether he realizes it or not, Q-ball is a very important part of Biker Poetry History. ~Sorez
RHP: Q-Ball, as a Biker, and Professional Photographer for over thirty years and Webmaster of one of the most popular Biker Internet Websites, what sparked your interest in promoting Biker Poetry on your site?
QBALL: Early on Biker poets found me, and submitted their work. It became apparent that there was an interest, and a need to help promote fellow biker artist.
RHP: Many Biker Poets give you credit for giving them a chance to have their work published on your website which they consider a great honour and accomplishment, what are your thoughts on that.
QBALL: Always happy to help anyone in the biker community. It’s tough being a biker, and even tougher being a biker artist.
RHP: Who was the first Biker Poet that you featured on your site?
QBALL: Laurence P. Scerri (The Ironhorse Writer) was the first poet to submit his work. (http://vtwinbiker.com/BikerPoetry/bikerpoetry.html)
Vol Lindsey was the first to send an epic poem … http://vtwinbiker.com/Sam/sam.html
Sorez The Scribe is by far the biggest submitter, greatest supporter, best of brothers and featured poet. http://vtwinbiker.com/Sorez/sorez.html
RHP: You are well known throughout the Biker community and are able to cross boundaries so to speak, have you come across any Biker Poets in your travels or attended any events where Biker Poetry was one of the event features?
QBALL: Over the years I’ve met many a Biker Poet. Rarely did they let anyone know of their work. As for events featuring Biker Poetry, no. Except for the TRIBES MC Thanksgiving dinner where a fallen brother Grizzly’s poem is read every year.
RHP: Would you name some of the galleries and/or magazines that your art has been featured in, for our readers?
QBALL: My work has been submitted and published in all the major biker mags over the years by folks who I gave prints to. Recently Iron Horse magazine did a feature on me, and Hot Bike Japan did over a year of covers plus a calendar using my images from the 70s. I was honoured to be part of the “Motorcycles and Art: 1950 – Present, If I Have to Explain it…” Susquehanna Art Museum, Harrisburg, Pa. Then I was invited to show at The American Arts Gallery, and Battlefield Harley-Davidson during Gettysburg Bike Week.
RHP: What made you decide to publish a book of your art and why did you decide to include Biker Poetry in it?
QBALL: For years friends have encouraged me to publish my work, so I came up with my website. Like my poet friends I was happy to do my thing and share it. Seems this wasn’t good enough for some of my brothers and sisters, they wanted a book. I must admit books are special.
Folks like words in books. I’m not a wordsmith, and I didn’t want to publish any tales. Most bikers I’ve met don’t like to be photographed, and definitely don’t want be pinned to a time and place.
I felt Sorez was a kindred spirit, and his words could fill the gap. His poetry told the story without giving away details. He matched his poems to my photos in a non literal, but compatible way. In the end the sum is greater than the parts, giving the viewer a sense of our world.
Sorez after all is a master wordsmith whose words portray all the elements of a hard core bikers life.
RHP: Your book is titled ‘Living The Life’ how did you come up with that title and how is the project coming along?
QBALL: One day a friend, and national president of a 1% club spoke those words, and they became branded in my brain.
RHP: How did you come about using photography as away to express your artistic talent.
QBALL: Too long a tale to tell. Short version is, a high school art teacher saved me from the fast track to prison by getting me a scholarship to art school. By giving me a way to channel misdirected energies I could express myself in a constructive manner.
RHP: You play an important part in the History of Biker Poetry do you realize that?
QBALL: Shit Happens! LOL!!! Was not a conscious effort. Just followed a road that seemed interesting.
RHP: Any final thoughts you would like to share?
QBall: When it comes to poetry and art, most folks have a mindset that it is some high brow invention of and, for academics. Never realizing it has been a part of us since the beginning. They forget they experience it every day in one form or another. To illustrate this, I’d like to quote David Allen Coe, biker, lyricist, and musician:
Someone shoot out that spotlight
Spotlights are nothing but jive
Roll me a smoke
Give me some coke
Treat me like I was alive
Tell all the women I am single
Tell Lone Star beer I am dry
Everyone lying about living
I’m tired of living a lie.”
Long May You Ride,