Episode 5: Weird Flex But Okay … with Jonah Barrett

We’re bringing the weird, friends! We’ve been stuck indoors all winter and we’re LOSING OUR MINDS! Luckily, though, we’re losing our minds with filmmaker, writer and multimedia artist Jonah Barrett.

In this episode, Jonah chats about his obsession with dark places (we’re talking caves, abandoned houses and creepy forests),  his “finite experience on the YouTubez,” and his past, present and future creative endeavors. There’s also a fair amount of sh*t talking (you’re welcome), and an ridiculous Q&A session fueled by friends.

**BONUS: Jonah rehashes his experience performing a personal essay, “Anal Pleasure & Health,” on this podcast episode.  He debuted the essay at Creative Colloquy in January 2019 (a video of his performance is below), and we’re *incredibly* excited announce that we’re featuring “Anal Pleasure & Health” online here at Blue Cactus Press.

Jonah also chats about one of his biggest ongoing projects, Wordsmiths, during the podcast. Wordsmiths is a video mini-series featuring literary groups in the Pacific Northwest and their impact on their local communities. We’ve included the first installment of Wordsmiths, “Chapter One,” for you below. In “Chapter One,” Jonah interviews Jackie Casella and Joshua Swainston of Tacoma’s Creative Colloquy – a nonprofit where writers come together and read their work monthly.

To see more of Jonah’s creative work, visit his YouTube channel, LazyEyesInc, or visit his website, Malicious Wallydrags. Jonah’s writing can be found in Creative Colloquy, Everyday Genius, Lit.Cat, OlyArts, and the bestselling Portland anthology City of WeirdJonah has directed and written two feature films, a dozen-ish short films and three web series. He’s also worked as a literary magazine and anthology editor, journalist, assistant director, script supervisor and art conservator.

About Our Sponsor

The Prickly Pear Podcast is sponsored by Oakes & Alder​ day spa and apothecary. Each of our episodes is recorded in Oakes & Alder’s lovely space in North End, Tacoma, where you can partake in spa services and find natural skincare products and bulk herbs. Check the spa out on Facebook at Oakes & Alder or IG at @oakesandalder! To see it in person, head to Oakes & Alder, 2714 N 21st St, Tacoma, WA 98406.

Hello, Carlisle!

Goodbye snow, hello spring! Well, almost spring 🙂 As we await blue skies and warmer weather, we’re also saying hello to a new addition to the Blue Cactus Press team: Carlisle Huntington. Please join us in welcoming Carlisle to the literary fold as a much-appreciated publishing intern! Carlisle is a student at University of Puget Sound, and she’s studying English and Creative Writing. Over the next few months, she’ll assist with all sorts of pesky editorial, marketing and distribution tasks here at Blue Cactus Press.

But before Carlisle’s work begins, we think it’s important to give you – our friends and readers – a sense of who she is and what she stands for. We held a quick Q&A session with Carlisle to do just that. Here goes!


Q&A with Carlisle Huntington


Q: What draws you to literary arts?

Carlisle: I’ve always been a voracious reader – ever since I was a little kid. There’s a great Shel Silverstein poem, “Magic,” which I think really sums things up for me:

“Read this to yourself. Read it silently.
Don’t move your lips. 
Don’t make a sound?
Listen to yourself. 
Listen without hearing anything.
What a wonderfully weird thing, huh? 

Reading is just a wonderfully weird thing! I’ve always been fascinated by the sheer magic of it all- that you could take a bunch of arbitrary squiggles and shapes on a page and create this beautiful internal experience. It feels like a super power.


Q: What interests you about publishing, in particular?

C: Publishers act as gatekeepers in a lot of ways, and when you read a lot, you notice which stories – which voices – are privileged over others. Despite the growth of digital media and online platforms, and that anyone can publish their work nowadays, a lot of people’s work isn’t necessarily being seen. I want to do my part to change that. I want to help worthy and deserving artists be seen and different stories being told. I want to change the narrative and (hopefully) change the world along with it.


Q: Do you create art? If so, tell us about it!

I used to write a lot of poetry when I was younger. I even competed in my hometown’s  first high school poetry slam competition. But lately, I identify more as a fiction writer. Even when I was writing poetry, it was very narrative-based. I also crochet, embroider and dabble in water color painting every now and then. I’m really big on the DIY scene, in general. I just love being able to make something where there wasn’t anything before.


Q: What inspires you creatively?

The obvious answer is other writers. Nothing makes me want to write more than reading good fiction – the kind that makes you stop and reconsider the world for a little while. I’m also a big film fan, so movies can be a big source of inspiration – especially animated films. There’s so much craft and care in each frame and the world-building is astounding! Particularly, I’m a fan of the director Hayao Miyazaki … He really takes his time to tell a story … pausing the action to meditate on a single image like preparing ramen or watching grass move in the wind.


Q: What do you enjoy reading?

I love romantic poetry. I’m a big Wordsworth and William Blake Fan. I also love my ladies of modernism, like Djuna Barnes, Gertrude Stein, or Marianne Moore. They’re just so wonderfully bizarre … Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of short stories. I love magical realism. Karen Tai Yamashita is a new favorite of mine right now … I also just finished Her Body and other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado and it absolutely slew me! There’s something so engaging about folklore on a real primal level, and it’s such a ripe landscape for deconstructing our gender and sexuality.


Q: How are you involved in your local community?

I’m very much involved in my campus community at University of Puget Sound. I do a lot of work with the English Department to plan literary events on campus. A big goal of ours is to draw-in students from across all disciplines and show them literature is for everyone. One way we do that is with the campus book club, which is open to all majors and minors. Every semester we have a different theme. This semester, the theme is metafiction – or writing about writing. We’re starting with Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov. It’s been incredible to see people who’ve never taken an English class get so excited by literature.


Q: What changes would you like to see in our community?

One of my favorite things about writing for Puget Sound Trail is that I get to interact with the literary community off campus and serve as a liaison between UPS and the greater Tacoma community. There’s such a great artistic community in Tacoma that is growing more and more each day, and I love finding more ways to get other students involved with it.


More about Carlisle:

Carlisle Huntington is a junior at the University of Puget Sound, majoring in English and creative writing. Originally from Orange County California, she’ll deny ever having lived there. She’s had a passion for reading and literary arts for as long as she could hold a pencil and turn a page. Though poetry and fiction were her first loves, she also has experience with journalism. She writes for University of Puget Sound newspaper Puget Sound Trail. When she’s not writing, she’s planning the next creative event for her local campus community. She’s the head of the UPS English Department Event Planning Committee and she oversees the UPS English Film Series, Holiday Book Swap, and Campus Book Club. Her Other hobbies include crochet, embroidery, and boiling her entire identity into a pithy paragraph.

Episode 4: Experimental Artist & Library Gangster, Nicole McCarthy

Put down the holiday cookies and pick up your headphones, friends, because we snagged an exclusive podcast interview with experimental artist Nicole McCarthy! Nicole is from the pacific northwest. She earned her MFA in Creative Writing & Poetics from the University of Washington Bothell. Her work has been performed and encountered through installation pieces throughout Seattle & Tacoma.

In this episode, Nicole chats about her artistic journey, her biggest influences, and how we can use art to rid ourselves of shame. She also explains how she became a library gangster. Literary journals we chat about in the podcast include: The Shallow Ends, Glass Poetry Press and Hugo House. Writers we shamelessly name drop include: C.A. Conrad, JM Miller and Harryette Mullen.

About Our Sponsor

The Prickly Pear Podcast is sponsored by Oakes & Alder​ day spa and apothecary. Each of our episodes is recorded in Oakes & Alder’s lovely space in North End, Tacoma, where you can partake in spa services and find natural skincare products and bulk herbs. Check the spa out on Facebook at Oakes & Alder or IG at @oakesandalder! To see it in person, head to Oakes & Alder, 2714 N 21st St, Tacoma, WA 98406.