We'd like to start off Volume Two's series of community interviews by interviewing a man who straddles the line between fact and fiction, anonymity and pure legend. He's Eli Van Sickel, and he's one of the great heroes of the Terre Haute, Indiana, indie folk scene, and he was published in our first issue. (Yes, Terre Haute, the city that gave to the world Eugene V. Debs and took from the world, by way of the Federal Death Row, Timothy McVeigh.) Let's see what he has to say...
1. How many songs would you say you've written and performed?
I've written about 20-25 songs since I started playing and writing almost 6 years ago. I've performed most of them live.
2. What are some similarities between playing acoustic guitar and writing haiku?
There is a spirituality about it that people tend to forget. It is very open to interpretation and the player/poet has incredible creative freedom, though the rules of the style have to be meticulously followed.
3. You're about to begin your master's in Theater at Illinois State University. Are there any types of theater you would associate with haiku?
Well, Japanese theatre, obviously. I am fascinated/intimidated by Noh plays; it's a very dense, beautiful style of theatre that hasn't changed in centuries. I'm also a huge fan of dramatic/poetic realism, minimalistically staged; that kind of stuff really doesn't hand the audience much on a silver platter, but rather requires them to interpret the work.
4. How will the Legend of Eli Van Sickel read in 20 years?
Hopefully it will say that he is happily married with children, serves as either the artistic director of a non-profit theatre or the chair of a university theatre department, and continues to write and perform music. Also, his books Deaf Theatre In America and The Theatrical Legacy of Clifford Odets are both New York Times Best Sellers. A Tony Award or two would be nice as well.
5. Do you think Terre Haute's diaspora of wayward artists will ever truly be able to come home?
I think Terre Haute is definitely growing as an artists' home. Slowly but surely, it is becoming safer to "let your freak flag fly," as it were, and create. However, many of us (myself included) find that there's only so much that you can do in Terre Haute and so long you can stay here before it's time to take the next step and move on; but I think you'll find that anywhere.
ELI VAN SICKEL is going to send us a bio. For now, check out his music here.