Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Holding On

Susan chimes in: We were intrigued when Joey Truman, a novelist from New York City who was born in Wyoming contacted us. Geography informs our writing lives, and Joey has gone from the sparse, open spaces of the West to the bustling excitement of the big city (and they don't get much bigger). Along the way, he has gathered insights he shares here with you.

Guest post by Joey Truman

Joey Truman posing on his 1980 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme
in the badlands around Worland.
When I moved to New York I was nineteen. Well not yet, not specifically. I was living on Race street in Denver, just off of Colfax, the longest street in America. My friend Iver had come blazing through town on his way to Tacoma to meet a friend of his, hold on, I just got ahead of myself.

Denver was the Big City. The catalyst to the world. Being from a small town in Wyoming it appeared vast, foreboding, and dangerous. But there wasn’t another option. Salt Lake was insulated and Chicago was too far away. Denver seemed like a cattle guard, scary at first, but if you understood it, it was just something to be navigated. 

I had been living in Powell, playing in a band with a couple of friends and wishing for something more. A friend of ours was living in Denver at the time, and needed roommates. Turns out that this was something common. Something we would be good at, filling up space for friends with houses. 

We took the Greyhound to Greeley. We spent a few days there playing music in peoples living rooms and smelling burning blood from the meat processing plant. That smell still sticks to me to this day.
Joey's band playing a street fair in Laramie in the '90s
When we got to Denver we moved in with our friend Mike. There were two bedrooms and five of us. Mike got his own room because he had the lease and the four of us in the band shared the other bedroom. Nobody had a mattress. We all slept in sleeping bags. On the floor.

We got jobs at Ticket Master and took the 25 bus to work. At night we drank beer and thought about the future. We were poor but happy. We had a rehearsal studio downtown, and the band sounded good.

When my friend Iver came through town he told us about his apartment in New York, about how he had an extra two rooms and the rent was cheap. We stayed up all night talking about moving there. We decided to move there.

This was October, 1996.

Now writing in New York City.
I think of this often because it informs the way I write. I was always so terrified of the outside world while growing up in Wyoming. Even Denver, the most milk-toast of cities, and I don’t mean that as an insult, but I have been all over the world, and Denver is a very easy and simple city, but it was so absolutely terrifying that just hanging out on Colfax gave me a jolt, the weirdoes and the disabused. And how scared I was moving to New York, and how tame it seems now. I don’t know, just the thought process of dealing with that makes me embarrassed.

But at the same time when I go back home I find myself on the edge of mountains during a casual hike, like, wherever, Carter Mountain, and can’t look down because I am unsure of my footing. And my brother telling me to relax, you couldn’t fall down even if you wanted to. 

But here, here in New York, I am the essence of courage. Making art that no one else would make, because it is on the perimeter, and almost nobody else would like it except a few people in Wyoming, I don’t know, I think of my brothers hunting sheep in the Bighorns and I think:

Art is not scary, who gives a sh*t, it’s just Ideas.

You can’t be afraid of Ideas.

I think of this every time I go to put something out in the world:

You couldn’t fall, even if you wanted to.


Joey Truman is a Writer/Performer/Musician/Visual Artist/Actor in precisely that order. He is from Wyoming. He now lives in Brooklyn, NY. For the last 15 years He has worked most notably with The Collapsable Giraffe and Findlay//Sandsmark (Iver Findlay, Jim Findlay, Marit Sandsmark, Pal Asle Petersen). During this period he has also worked with Jim Dawson, Jeff Sugg, Jack Warren, Gandalf Gavan, Young Jean Lee, Diane Madden, Eric Dyer, Stephen Moses, Claudia La Rocco, among other very notable artists.  As a musician he is currently in three bands: Um, Wet Dream Machine, and Bronco Dilator.
He has written 2 novels, and has three in progress. His first novel, Postal Child, was published by Whiskey Tit Press. His latest novel, Killing the Math, is set in Worland, Wyo.: "Five brothers, one just on the cusp of realizing he might be too big for the place. What could possibly go wrong?"


  1. I didn't know Colfax was the longest street in America! Oh, the memories... :-) and ouch! I can smell the rose water at Mataam Fez, as we speak.

    I've been to New York a few times. Had a hard time negotiating the sidewalk crowds--country trout swimming against the city current, it seems.

    Thanks for this post. I couldn't fall if I wanted to, eh? You're right, Joey. So right. "It's just Ideas." We must remember.

    Before I get back to writing, how can I find a copy of Killing the Math?

  2. Well, if you come to Denver and hang out on Colfax, it might seem dangerous to a country kid. Hell, it's dangerous to the city kids too. Lots of drugs, booze, and wild, wild women.

    Funny that Joey was living within a block of Colfax on Race. The Lighthouse Writers Workshop building is on Race within a block of Colfax, on the north side. Nice coincidence.

    I'll have to remember that "You couldn't fall, even if you want to" as I start trying to get my first try at a novel shaped up.

    Nice post.

  3. No, thank you! Fun to write about the good times.

    Um, you can get the book two places, the Whiskey Tit website which is www.whiskeytit.com, and you can get it on amazon.com too.

  4. Thanks Art!

    It's good advice, if that's what you wanna call it. Good luck with the novel!


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