I grew up in the small town of Meadowvale. Growing up, I remember nothing except the countryside and trees in all directions. I spent my youth exploring nature, knee-deep in muck. As I grew older, suburban sprawl uprooted trees and farmers alike, and by the time I hit my teens, I had already known that this was not the place for me. My creative side set me apart from most, so I started venturing into the city of Toronto, often skipping school to go downtown and hang out, smoking cigarettes, and getting into whatever precarious situation would have me. It would appear that trouble was open to all who dared to cross its threshold. After a bit of a cross-country adventure as a temporary resident from east to west, I found my home back in the west end of Toronto, in a neighbourhood called Parkdale, a community of artists, musicians, actors, and writers. In these formative years, I discovered the joys of breathing normally, or at least the benefits of not always holding my breath.
What is the greatest thing about the place you call home?
Toronto is a well-balanced, multicultural city with a thriving arts scene, many great outdoor spaces, and a beautiful waterfront. The number of bars, restaurants, and music venues is staggering. I am hard-pressed to choose just one thing about this city that I would call “its greatest,” but if I had to, I would say that a person can always find something to keep them more than occupied. It is difficult not to find motivation in an environment with diverse activities and cultural experiences, but it’s important to remember that this is not always how inspiration strikes. Now I feel like I’m writing a sales pitch for the town I now call home. Toronto has always been good to me in its support of my arts. I went from being a young artist painting questionably artistic landscapes to a well-aged artist painting the same landscapes but with fewer questions of self-doubt.
What turns you on creatively?
Years ago, when I was young, hanging shows of my painting, illustration, or photography, a friend told me I should try to focus on just one of the three. I could master one instead of being average at all three—my words, not his. With the recklessness and fashion of rebellious youth, defiance took hold instead of taking the advice of a much older and wiser person.
I became an upcycler of discarded materialistic memories, and wearable metallic fashion was in rotation. Reclaimed materials replaced canvases, nuts and bolts replaced paints and inks. Photographs were now animated, and my world was expanding. Musical instruments were being built and recorded for fashion shows, leading to theatrical performances, live shows, and studio-produced albums, all with Junkstruments. The discarded materials from metal dresses and musical instruments went into the creation of tiny robots, which in turn made their way into dioramas with painted landscapes in the background. As the different mediums grew, so did the stories behind them. The robots, now called Fauxbots, each took on a life of their own. And each life held an adventure just waiting for the right words.
It was here that I realized what kind of artist I wanted to be: one who didn’t shy away from new ideas or mediums and one who valued adventure over the outcome. I will happily leave the mastery to those who desire a place in history. I was looking for a place in the here and now. I have discovered that I am a one-day-at-a-time kind of person, and with that discovery came peace of mind.
What is your favorite word, and can you use it in a poetic sentence?
To find one word to call my favourite would be an impossible task. I have too many to choose from, each of which fits my mood at any moment. A litany of curse words was the first thing that came to mind, but I danced around with hyperbolic, vacuum, cocoon, and desolate before I settled on the word abdomen. There is a comfort I find when I say the word out loud.
THE FALL OF AUTUMN
She woke with visions of fall’s beauty, welcoming touches of warmth in autumn’s golden light fleeting moments in periods of progression. The splendour of its elegance in harmony, the sound of settling leaves. Notes in autumn’s eloquent song singing a lullaby to sleep this age away. She discovers how to dream anew by remembering how to fly. As she soars above a painted landscape, resplendent with tones, tender and alluring, amidst October’s delicate golden light.
*** Migrating thoughts of a lost generation soaring southward towards tropical liberation soured by a lifetime of winter hibernations. The renewal of promises. Commitments left unfinished. Fears of invariably falling with seasons of change. Toward barren landscapes, with cold skies blue-grey in hue. Vast sceneries of desolate trees, voiceless in their solitude, releasing branches of their picturesque foliage. Hallowed descent and soundless dissolution, relentlessly assembling amidst life’s decay.
*** Fertile soils offer her a cocoon under obscurity, the transformative abdomen of autumn, acknowledged as the season of patience. A cyclical command regarding one’s existence as the wheels of change carry her into the depths of serenity as she shifts towards the preservation of existence, leaving no loneliness in the petal’s absence. But the longing for possibilities as yet, to be explored.
What is your pet peeve?
Growing up, I was lucky to work with my father in the trades, something akin to the arts in my heart and mind. One of the lessons he taught me was to do a job right the first time. That lesson led to a dislike of backtracking, much at times to my hindrance in moving forward. It’s not the same as supposed failures, which I love and have learned the most from. Happy accidents are also beneficial. It was the idea of doing something over again because I was too lazy to do it right the first time is something I try to avoid. “Try” is the operative word there. I don’t always succeed, and I still find myself trying to cut corners when I want to move on to something new. It inevitably leads to me wasting twice as much time and getting half as much done. I also curse like a sailor when I spill something, and for some reason, having to clean up my involuntary messes gets under my skin.
What defines J. Iner Souster?
In trying to keep this under ten thousand words, I will do my best to focus and not allow the rambler to take over. I hope “change” defines the person I want to be, to keep getting better and learning from my mistakes, and to be open to seeing things from other people’s points of view without judging or giving my opinion. I must constantly remind myself that there is so much in the world I have yet to experience and understand, and the second I think I have mastered something, that would be when I would have to re-evaluate my ego. It is in the unknown where I find joy, with its results being unexpected. A little more than a year ago, I decided to try my hand at writing, and with that, I have grown beyond my wildest dreams. Through self-reflection and evaluation, I hope I have become a more promising artist and a better person. Had I allowed my years of struggling with the written word to continue to hold me back, I would not be at this point today where I can end these questions with a thank you.
Iner Souster works as a visual artist in Toronto, Canada, as a painter of landscapes and portraiture, a sculptor who creates musical instruments out of reclaimed materials, metal dresses out of hand-spun metal, and a collection of upcycled FauxBots. He is also an illustrator, photographer, and mixed-media artist. As a musician, Iner has recorded with his Junkstruments, producing film and television work. He spent a few years in the theatre as a performer, set designer, and prop builder. As a writer, J. Iner Souster's work has appeared in Spillwords, Friday Flash Fiction, 100 Word Project Issue 2, The Drabble, A Story in 100 Words, Free Flash Fiction, and 101 Word Stories. Iner's short stories have appeared in Wicked Shadow Press's anthology Rise: Stories of the Undead, Flash of the Dead, and Soulmate Syndrome. Iner's short, The Great Mystery, was published by Written Tales Chapbook VII: All About Life. Iner is the winner of the 2022 Friday Flash Fiction Edinburgh Festival Competition.