I was born almost seven decades ago in the upper mid-west. My parents and I came to Cali soon after. I had a very average life as a kid but I began to sense that something was missing, or at least that I was missing something, but it was years before I figured it out. It wasn’t until my early teens that the ‘missing thing’ began to manifest itself. I always seemed to be out of step with everyone else. It wasn’t until my junior year in high school that I realized that I was an oddball, an outsider always vying to see what was happening behind the glass, always trying to fit in, or find a niche that could fit more than one. Eventually I gave up and settled into my life as a “minus one”.
But things change. Even death isn’t static. The cosmos is in constant flux and so am I. One day I woke up and wanted something else besides my job as a handyman…I turned to music for a while, but didn’t have the chops to be anything more than a curious sideshow (for which there wasn’t much of a market at the time). It was then that I started writing poetry again after a 10 year hiatus (long story). That was almost 28 years ago…
It’s been 25 years since I started making books of one sort or another. It has been a long strange trip. I am the great oz, the man behind the curtain, the stranger in a strange land, the grand poobah, the head lummox. In short, I’m RD Armstrong, the man who is the Lummox Press. Together with the intrepid Yazoota, I have plumbed the depths of the shallow end of the literary pool in an area known as the independent small and/or underground press.
Yazoota has worked with me since 1997; he started out doing layouts for the old Lummox Journal…a precursor to the LUMMOX Poetry Anthology. Not that he was learning a trade since he had worked for Guns and Ammo as an Art Director for over 25 years! Together we strive to produce a striking product that satisfies the needs of the author as well as the readership.
As I move past this 25th year, I am proud of my work here and very glad to have met poets from many walks of life. Some I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know on this strange, ever-evolving journey. I have tried to run Lummox the way I ran my handyman gig (I did that for almost 30 years without too many complaints), but I came to realize that a mere handshake isn’t relevant in our world of suspicion and paranoia; even more so in the arts, where it seems that everybody is looking for a way to make money without putting in the time.
Here at Lummox, I place the emphasis on “game’ not “fame”…the Lummox Motto is Ingenium Non Celibritas (literally Game Not Fame). I’m not against publishing known poets, but I like to publish new voices, new writers who haven’t had a chance to strut their stuff in book form yet, or writers who for whatever reason haven’t yet gotten a full collection of their work published. It’s more challenging to work with a “newbie” in some respects, but it can be just as challenging to work with a seasoned “pro”. It’s these challenges that have forged my character over the past 25 years. There’s a saying that goes like this: “The best steel goes through the fire.” This has certainly been true in my case.
I’ve had to develop a thick skin to survive the “slings and arrows” hurled in my direction over the years. Apparently, being the big, sad-eyed guy in the room, I draw a lot of abuse from those with an ax to grind. I don’t like it, but so far I’ve survived my detractors. I suppose when I get tired of their BS, I’ll just fold up my tent and steal away into the night…
All in all, all I can say is that it’s been interesting so far. And as long as it stays that way, I’ll continue to be a part of the small press, and proudly so.
Long Beach, CA
See me talk about Lummox at a recent event held in Long Beach at Made by Millworks… courtesy of Steven Deeble.
Read an interview (go to page 62) conducted by Jonathon Murietta for Long Beach 908 (a feel good neighborhood magazine)…lord knows how I got this lucky, as “feel good” and Raindog are not usually associated with each other! And here’s a follow up video that the folks from www.lb908.com shot recently at Portfolio Coffeehouse of our encounter.
Go here to see some of my books.