Thursday, February 19, 2009

Former Changing Hands Bookseller
Returns with Carnival of Vulgarities

Nina arm-wrestles the poet.

D. Hamilton Doggett. Now that’s a name worthy of an immense granite tombstone. Of course, the man behind the name isn’t anywhere near extinction, and even if he were, he’d likely prefer his ashes resting in an urn on his mantel, in snug proximity to his homemade samurai armor. Until he gives up the ghost, though, he’ll continue his pursuits as writer, poet, and master of the stutter-step.

Carnival of Vulgarities (2008) is Doggett’s most recent book, bringing together a collection of thirteen poems spawned over the last decade. From ghosts of war, erotic demons, and Edgar Allan Poe dying in a ditch, his work is “a conjoining of verse and myth that seeks to entertain, instruct, astonish, amuse and lay bare the commonalities that bind us all.” With diverse themes encompassing love, death, and war, Doggett borrows widely from history and mythology, but recasts characters with plebeian empathy. In response to why his work is laden with historical references, Doggett explains that he has always had an interest in retelling stories from the bottom up. By lending an ear to the lesser characters of major opuses, he draws out their narratives and embellishes their literary lives. The poem "The Illiad of Elpenor Ithakasios," for example, expounds upon Elpenor, a mere soldier of Odysseus’, who fell to his death from a roof in drunken squalor. As with Doggett’s obsession with the bizarre myth surrounding Poe’s death (which, in reality, was quite mundane), the piece demonstrates his attention to the unrecorded potentialities of moments past.

On having self-published the work, Doggett admits, “I love the control. I think a lot of people lose sight of that. They want to be that writer. I want people to like what I write." Of course he wouldn’t turn down publishers’ interest, but that Lone Ranger appeal of independently seeing through his own project would stand undiminished. He knows he’ll be compelled to write whether or not there is public interest, and this is what makes him a writer’s writer.

For more of Doggett’s writing, check out his novella The Evangelists (1998) and his short story "Clockwork Betty" (featured in the Maple/Ash Literary Review #2), both available at Changing Hands Bookstore. Also keep a lookout for Ghost of Iga, the first book in his forthcoming ninja saga.

Doggett will appear at Changing Hands on Friday, March 6 at 7pm. Read his blog, DOGGEREL, here.


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