Cameron Conaway, Executive Editor at The Good Men Project, is a former MMA fighter and an award-winning poet. After attaining a BA in both English and Criminal Justice at Penn State Altoona, Cameron decided to give up his fight career in order to serve as the Poet-in-Residence at the University of Arizona’s MFA Creative Writing Program (2007-2009). He then moved to Thailand where he spent two years living in and traveling throughout Asia. A Wellcome Trust Arts Grant allowed him to study with some of the world’s brightest malaria researchers, the result of which is Malaria: Poems (Michigan State University Press, 2014). Cameron has written about the issues of child labor, human trafficking and poverty and some of his publications on these topics can be found in The Guardian, The Huffington Post, and the Women News Network. Cameron is the author of Caged: Memoirs of a Cage-Fighting Poet (Threed, 2011), Bonemeal: Poems (Finishing Line Press, 2013) and Until You Make the Shore (Salmon Poetry, 2014). (24:45)
Salmon Poetry has generously sponsored this month’s giveaway for our listeners. To qualify to win a copy of Until You Make the Shore, Like The Posmasters Podcast on Facebook AND leave a comment below. It’s that easy! We’ll announce our winner on Facebook at the end of the month.
“I took an Introduction to Poetry class, only because my favorite fighters all could say things so beautifully.”
“After I graduated with an MFA, I realized that both [poetry and Mixed Martial Arts] require a certain kind of toughness if you’re going to do them and take them both seriously.”
“I look back on the MFA at Arizona, and it was probably the most productive two years I’d ever had… We’re pulled in so many ways, especially as a writers–trying to make ends meet, trying to pay the bills, that to have a little bit of space… I kept tying that back to Brazilian Jujitsu and fighting: When you can create space, there’s an opportunity either to escape or to capitalize on your opponent. It’s all about those little details.”
“I would also encourage [writers and poets] not to shun the science programs. A lot of them are interested in bringing in creative nonfiction writers, poets, even fiction writers, and working with them. I think collaboration is needed more so in that regard, and I think it stands to benefit both, but especially writers who are struggling today.”
“We hear of Engaged Buddhism, where Buddhists are going into the prison systems. And we hear of Engaged Christianity, where Christians are out working with homeless people. We need Engaged Poets! We need poets to get out into the world and write about the issues that matter.”
“With the advent of Facebook, Twitter, the 24-hour news cycle, and smart phones, social awareness of issues like human trafficking are at an all-time high. But ironically, I think social media has also managed to dull social consciousness. The term tossed around the internet these days is slacktivism. We all know the world is burning seconds after the match lights, but we’re too busy retweeting the burning match to run for a pail of water.” — Audrey Camp
Sharon Olds – Cameron’s opening poem on this episode is a tribute to this Pulitzer-winning poet.
“How vain is it to sit to write if you have not stood up to live?” — Henry David Thoreau
The Wellcome Trust – “A big time science group based in London, renowned for funding artists to increase public engagement of science issues.”
“Absorb what is useful; discard what is not; add what is uniquely your own.” ~ Bruce Lee