I hail from Los Angeles, California, the city of angels. I was born and raised there, as was my father; my mother spent most of her life here, too. I guess you could call me a Los Angeles native; in fact, I call myself one in my bio, which you can read about on the Spillwords website or on my website.
I do want to mention that I feel that home isn’t just a physical place; it is a feeling, and where I hail from is really a feeling. There is this feeling we have, this kind of oceanic ache and we are all trying to escape this feeling, trying to get back home, so to speak.
We all have it; I am sure of it. We were all born to this world in different places and grew up in places which we choose to call home, and then we lose ourselves in this place, whether it be Los Angeles, the city of angels, or wherever; we feel this ocean within us start to take hold and we get lost in it. I got lost in addiction, in alcoholism and drugs, particularly marijuana. I am an alcoholic and a drug addict, and part of me is searching for home, to go back to the womb, so to speak, as a metaphor or something, is me trying to find security and shelter within my own being.
So, I guess, I write in order to get back to a feeling that enough-is-enough; that I’m okay wherever I am, and whoever I am: be I an alcoholic and an addict, as well as someone with autism (I say I have autism rather than I am autistic; I prefer third-person language over first-person language regarding myself and autism). And I hail from remembering acceptance, that true feeling of angels that can be clouded in this city of angels.
What is the greatest thing about the place you call home?
Continuing to take on this extravagant metaphor, the greatest thing about home is that you don’t ever need to leave; and in fact, you’ve never left. I’ve had experiences where I emptied and bore all my secrets to someone, and I felt lifted off the ground. In fact, I looked down below and saw myself hovering about half an inch off the ground and floating like a buoy in the ocean, the great ocean of our lives, the great ocean we travel. This experience lasted for a few hours, at least five, maybe six or seven. And it has returned, though less pronounced. And I feel that we are all experiencing this home, this great floating; it’s akin to satori, except satori is fleeting.
But, by far, when you’re home, when you’re feeling this… and you’re aware that you’re feeling it, then you’re perfectly OK just the way you are, and everything is absolutely OK; in fact, everything is groovy. And you don’t have a care in the world. In fact, you couldn’t think inside your head if you even wanted to; the right answers just come. Everything you need is taken care for you.
What turns you on creatively?
I love to open up random books and just read at a random page or take some words and just piece them together. I have a few different invented poetry forms utilizing this. I also utilize meditation pretty heavily, and I read a lot and listen to a lot of audiobooks. I didn’t always like reading growing up.
Going outside is very helpful. I’ll go to this park near my “physical” home, called Hotchkiss Park; it’s located in Santa Monica, California. I’ll describe the scenery or listen to other people’s conversations and it’ll do something for me; I will be engaged in passion. I will no longer be myself, and I will lose myself to another me: the writer, and draw upon the muse within: a muse that is ever-present, yet I cannot see.
I also meditate heavily. “Stay meditated!” as I like to say. One day, I’ll need to trademark this term. I meditate at least 45 minutes every day, in the morning upon awakening, and have done so for over 3 years.
In fact, before I got sober, I didn’t believe meditation was possible; I guess, I misunderstood what meditation was. Now… I still don’t know what meditation is, but I learn, and I forget and I learn and forget again.
I meditate and write often. The two commingling makes an unstoppable force, like lightning striking an umbrella: when it hits, it’s really something. You better be sure you’re the one standing back and watching the show, else it could be pretty painful. You need to remove yourself from yourself to experience yourself. When I’m in the process of writing, I need to be removed from the process in order to not get in my way, in order to not be both the lightning and the umbrella and the one holding the umbrella and going uh oh… That’s why meditation is important; it takes away the perfectionism, but it also helps bring out the editor in me, when it is needed. I can also experience the world with such greater joy and empathy, a kind of writing flows through all things, and I get to take that in and produce surreal products of love (not to be cheesy, but yes, to be cheesy, indeed).
In fact, I wrote and edited an entire full-length manuscript out in Hotchkiss Park, walking in a circle, and engaged in a meditative state. It’ll be coming out soon, and it’s something very groovy.
What is your favorite word, and can you use it in a poetic sentence?
My all-time, favorite word is groovy, and unfortunately, I cannot use it in a poetic sentence. I’m not sure what a poetic sentence means, anyway. In fact, I don’t consider poems to have sentences. I prefer poems to be made of lines and maybe stanzas, too. I think of each line as a sentence, but there can also be sublines with indentations, and multiple-indentations, too.
I find that I have favorite terms I create instead, such as “Solar Sinai” or “forgetful darkness” or “hosannavino” (a frankenword of “hosanna” and “vino”). I come up with these terms in a poem and then I find myself using them in more poems, because I like them; and others seem to enjoy them, too.
What is your pet peeve?
My pet peeve, I’d have to say, is when people use m-dashes when they mean to use n-dashes, but don’t know the difference and just think it’s all hyphens anyway. There is a big difference. I don’t want to go into it, because I will write so much on it, but it’s important to realize that punctuation can have a role into how a poem is read or any piece of literature is read.
I believe that there should be a one-to-one correspondence between the visual presentation of a poem and its oral presentation. Perhaps, it’s just my mathematics background, but I strongly believe in this, and I write, accordingly. This is something that people don’t take into account as much, especially when writing free verse. Free verse is highly structured, and people ought to use punctuation more often in their poems; they also really ought to (and I try not to “shoulda,” “coulda,” “woulda” or “oughta”) read their poems with the line break that is in the physical poem. People don’t do this as often as they should, even among well-established poets.
What defines Joshua Corwin?
What defines me… How long do you have? I’m just joshing around… The love of the written word, and the spoken word, too; a desire to strive to be who I am meant to be; a love for others; a mathematician; a meditator; a philosopher; an intellectual; someone who yearns to be of service and help others; a compassionate soul on a journey like everyone else; a truth-seeker; a teacher; someone with autism, ADHD, multiple processing delays, anxiety disorder; and someone who is working on being more aware of his suicidal ideation tendencies as well as depression; someone who believes in perseverance; someone who is learning what listening means, and will never arrive at the meaning, but is constantly growing toward that meaning, where it resides in the home within us and surrounding us all. Isn’t that nice? It came around full circle, like an ensō; we started with home and we ended home; I guess, we’re defined by our unique yet universal home.
Joshua Corwin, a Los Angeles native, is a neurodiverse, 2-time Pushcart Prize-nominated, Best of the Net-nominated poet and Winner of the 2021 Spillwords Press Award for Poetic Publication of the Year. His poetry collection Becoming Vulnerable (2020) details his experience with autism, addiction, sobriety and spirituality. A UCLA lecturer, published alongside Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Corwin has read with 2013 US Inaugural Poet Richard Blanco. He hosts the poetry podcast “Assiduous Dust,” writes for Oddball Magazine and teaches poetry to autistic addicts in recovery at The Miracle Project, an autism nonprofit. He is the editor of Assiduous Dust: Home of the OTSCP, Vol. 1 (April 5, 2021) featuring 36 award-winning poets, demonstrating one of his invented forms. He is working on an existentialist novel about an alcoholic lawyer plagued with suicidal ideation.