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From Sou’wester


Our Associate Editor, Shining Bright

Jason Lee Braun is a man of many talents and he’s always up to something new.  (He was one of the main creative forces behind our new website and the new cover.) He hosts Literature for the Halibut, a weekly hour-long literary program on KDHX 88.1. He writes fiction and poetry. He releases music under the moniker “Jason and The Beast.”

This month, Jason released his most recent projectMade This For You: The Mix Tape as Literature – which is weird and wonderful and one-of-a-kind. Consider yourself strongly urged to check it out.

Furthermore, yesterday he guest-posted on Jane Friedman’s blog: “If the Book is Dead, Then Why Buy a Zombie?”





If the Book Is Dead, Then Why Buy a Zombie?

From a blog post I did for Jane Friedman:

A year has passed since Jane Friedman’s 2011 AWP panel, “The Future of Authorship and Publishing in a Transmedia World,” and I’m still sorting through the fallout.

I went to the panel with my friend Jamey Bradbury, a fine fiction writer, who happened to be John Irving’s research assistant. Jamey wanted to learn more about e-books. I wanted to see how music might fit into the future of literature. We were immediately thrust into a much larger dialogue.

It was science fiction writer William Gibson who said, “The Future is here. It’s just not widely distributed yet.” But it is Jane Friedman who is trying to help us all with distribution. Just five minutes into the show, the panelists were tossing questions like Molotov cocktails:

Click the link to read more.

If the Book Is Dead, Then Why Buy a Zombie?.

Made This For You In RFT

From the Riverfont Times:

Homespun: Jason & the Beast
Made This for You: The Mix Tape as Literature
By Christian Schaeffer
published: March 15, 2012

The title of Jason Braun’s latest release, Made This for You: The Mix Tape as Literature smacks of a term paper’s heading, but that’s very much the point. Braun, who performs as Jason & the Beast and teaches creative writing at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, has long been set on mixing hip-hop and higher ed, quoting from the canon while staying rooted in non-sampled, live-instrument beats. This mix was assembled at Will Jones’ Yellow Hat Studios with help from members of Humdrum as well as DJ Uptown (a.k.a. Jerry Hill). But the musicians take a back seat to the less musically inclined guests; Braun gives various writers and his SIUE comrades chances to wax both eloquent and ridiculous.

In keeping with standard mixtape etiquette, Jason & the Beast pairs songs with interludes and spoken-word bits. But instead of hokey skits, this one is long on literary ephemera of varying sonic fidelity — there are snippets from Braun’s on-air interview’s from KDHX’s (88.1 FM) Literature for the Halibut, snatches of late-night bar talk and pieces of professors’ lectures. Early on in Made This for You, we hear name-checks to Odysseus, Dr. Faust and Macbeth’s Weird Sisters. But Braun is a pop-culture junkie as well, so riffs on Bob Dylan’s selling out, Crocodile Dundee’s hero’s journey and Ryan Adams’ girlfriend-stealing get airing in the interludes. Some offer passing profundities, though a few too many have the had-to-be-there feel of an inside joke.

The more straight-ahead songs on the mix are various versions of indie-friendly hip-hop, and most are less than two minutes in length. “The Thermodynamics of Laundromats” rides on a clicky beat and some circular acoustic guitar picking by Humdrum’s Dan Meehan. The bohemian bongo jam “Giant Man, After Matt Kindt” shows Braun’s Beat aspirations while Adam Sirgany’s baritone sax offers breathy counterpoint. One of the best is the moody, thumping “Basquiat,” which recalls Stevie Wonder’s “They Won’t Go When I Go” while praising the late graffiti artist. Taken all in one piece, Made condenses the high points (and some of the fluff) of an Intro to Literary Studies course into 30 entertaining minutes. But like any good teacher, Braun leaves you a little hungry for more knowledge.


Words with Jason

Words with Jason.

Download Poet Jason Braun’s Free, Digital, Literary Mixtape – Look-Listen – February 2012 – St. Louis MO

From St. Louis Magazine by STEFENE RUSSELL

Ask any poet, novelist or playwright about the Association of Writing Programs Conference—AWP for short—and you’ll get one of two responses. Either their eyes’ll shine like fairy boot buttons or they’ll stick a finger down their throat in the universal gesture for “it makes me gag.” Then they’ll either tell you that it’s the only place they see certain writer friends, or that it’s a self-indulgent cluster#$&@.

As this writer has never been to AWP, I can’t say who is right from the point of view of an individual writer. I do know that AWP (which kicks off today in Chicago) has become crucial in helping little magazines and university presses connect with the reading public. St. Louis poet Jason Braun will be holding down table G5 at AWP’s Book Fair as the editor of Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville’s Sou’wester.

If you were not one of the 9,500 writers who scored tickets to AWP before it sold out, Braun is offering a free digital mixtape so that you can soak up the AWP experience through osmosis. Made This For You: The Mix Tape as Literature features songs like Is The Book Dead, Al Katkowsky? and is downloadable at jasonandthebeast.bandcamp.com. It’s a name-your-own-price download, which means you can listen to it for free, though if you do have the extra scratch, we hope you’ll pay, or even overpay, for it, in the spirit of supporting local literature. If you find yourself in Chicago this weekend, Braun will be hanging out afterhours at the Hilton Chicago or The Green Mill bar. You can always stop off and offer to buy him a couple of rounds. After a day in a book booth trafficked by nearly 10,000 people, we reckon he might need it.

On March 27, Braun appears on the creative writing panel, “Thinking About Space,” as part of SIUE’s College of Arts and Sciences Colloquium. On March 29 at 7pm, he’ll read his work at the SIUE bookstore as part of the school’s Graduate Writers Read series. And on March 31 at 7pm, the St. Louis Writers’ Guild brings him to Kirkwood Train Station for a night of poetry and music.

Download Poet Jason Braun's Free, Digital, Literary Mixtape – Look-Listen – February 2012 – St. Louis MO.

Paradise by the iPhone Lights: St. Louis Poet Jason Braun Creates the Definitive (And First?) John Milton App – Look-Listen – January 2012 – St. Louis MO

Paradise by the iPhone Lights: St. Louis Poet Jason Braun Creates the Definitive (And First?) John Milton App – Look-Listen – January 2012 – St. Louis MO.

Hip-hop is poetry

“Jason and the Beast have one goal, to prove that hip-hop is poetry. With an impressive collective of musicians behind him, the titular Jason employs a man vs. self approach that evokes not only Shakespeare but Sage Francis and Saul Williams.” Bryan J. Sutter, Playback STL

ESPN.com had some words to say…

“Braun boasts a rap resume that includes a run with the popular jazz/hip-hop group Jupiter Jazz, a gig that landed him opening spots for B.B. King, The Black Crowes, and others. Though that group disbanded a few years back, Braun says Jason and the Beast is the creative outlet he’s been craving and he’s more committed than ever to showing young audiences that poets like Shakespeare can still entertain with the best of them.” Chris Files, ESPN.com