Look upon the faces of the gents who hath shit Wordsworthing.  We each wrote a bio for ourselves, but then let the other chaps have a crack at it.  Result?  Unknown.  

Photo by Andrea Hackbarth

Photo by Andrea Hackbarth

Ben Toche

Nick says:  Let’s math some legends here (not their writing, just their legends).  If you took the wandering idea of Wordsworth and made the beast with two backs with the substance abuse of Bukowski and slathered on the vocabulary of Nabokov as lubricant; if you wedged the depression of Virginia Woolf in there along with Carver’s appreciation for dark beauty; if you threw that seething mass into a roiling kettle of human experience in this time in this place; if you cooked it all above the heated all-caps conjecture of Jim Harrison (AMELIORATING), then you’d get the person that Ben thought he was trying to be, but was failing, because he’s better than that combination and just needs to accept it.

Dan says:  Ben will walk into a home, not his, or a church or, as likely, a local beverage-dispensing establishment, and there will be persons already in these places that will catalog assumptions like Ben does bird species in his journal. Were they to speak to Ben, these persons, they would not know many of the words he would proffer, and the construct and rhythm of his speech would have them feeling both unmoored and a tad star-struck for the dichotomy of it all. Mr. Toche conveys information at a holler better than most would with their inside voices. For paid labor, Ben works with the mentally disabled in a display of patience, empathy and pragmatism which we, you and I, find exceptionally admirable. He has three sons, the newest of whom carries the name of both a hero and a titanic example of incomprehensible literature. They are all handsome, these sons. Ben lives in Alaska not distant from where he received an MFA in creative writing from the University of Alaska Anchorage. He is not above talking to strangers.

Ben says:   See the man. Filthy and ragged humping along the trails and streets of a frozen Palmer, Alaska. He wears a pitifully thin beard and dresses in tie-dye like an aberrant hippie dislodged from an open air music festival. He mutters to himself, tales of woe, tales of lust, as he weaves through the drinkeries of his hamlet. Nights he lies in stuporous drink as he snores away a dreamless yet troubled sleep. He could have been something, but he’s not.

Photo by your mom

Photo by your mom

Dan Mickelsen

Ben says:  Dan Mickelsen is a man moving through a professional world that I, personally, cannot fathom. He takes airport drinks at the United Club. He’s flown to the not quite exotic locale of Indianapolis to schmooze with fatback capitalists at Lucas Oil Stadium over the simulated combat of American football. He’s slain bowling pins with a 50 caliber bolt action rifle. Yet he’s also the man who’s wept, in my arms while we drunkenly sat on a ratty sofa in a college dorm common area, after recounting the story of his heart’s sundering.  

Nick says:  While Dan is busy assuming that he’s white noise, that he’s a sponsor, and he’s invisible, I’ll sneak around that to tell you he’s full of shit.  He’s an exceptionally attentive and caring father.  He provides some of the very best critical analysis of literature I’ve ever seen.  When Dan hugs, it’s cheek to cheek and loaded with bear-power like he’s trying to push love out of his chest and into yours.  He’ll lend you his clean undies and not ask for them back, even though you demand that he take them.  He’s the full value human, filled with spectacular mistakes and beauty.  And generally his smell is not disagreeable.  While Dan is busy believing that there isn’t a reason for him to exist, the rest of us can refuse to put up with that shit and love the core of one of the sturdiest dudes we’ll ever meet.

Dan says:  Dan has enjoyed homemade fig cookies in Somoza’a Mangua bunker with the man responsible for Somoza’s over throw. This was done un-ironically. He is encased by the obligations he owes his children who, though teenaged, are the three finest people he knows. Dan owns a snake, has flown a plane from John Wayne Airport to Las Vegas in order to lose $100 at blackjack during lunch, and has done responsible things as well. He almost has an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Alaska Anchorage but does have a photo showing him standing far too close to a moose. In November he will anxiously sweat through a test for Sho-Dan (black belt) in Itosu-kai karate, something he’s thought about for 40 years. Dan has a motorcycle for sale and believes in unconditional love–from dogs.

Photo by I'm tracking it down but it's taking a while

Photo by I'm tracking it down but it's taking a while

Nicholas Dighiera

Dan says:  There are single-cell organisms who possess flagella, whip-like structures with which they locomote. I believe somewhere in these cells–the mitochondria seem likely–there is some waving of flagella dedicated to disappointment in the cell’s sense of self. Nick is comprised of a stack of such cells, his meat stack, and flagellates with abandon, though locomotes via bipedalism. He has a face, a nice face, which he obscures with beard prowess that mocks most of the animal kingdom. I should point out here that the word ‘nice’ is underappreciated. Nick knows things about explosives you and I do not, and will not. There are a pair of boys in his life and of his loins and if Nick could force into them with a fervent and violent love all that a man needs to know about the world, he would do so. Nick’s visceral writing whips the reader with immaculate detail and description, and no lean share of heartbreaking poignancy. He has an MFA in Creative Writing from the scenic University of Alaska Anchorage, and seeks to kick your goddamn teeth in at all points.

Ben says:   In the apocalyptic scenario of whom to take into a fallout bunker of limited capacity (6 individuals) where the choices are yourself, 4 young fertile women, 1 aged doctor, 1 electrical engineer, 1 economist, 1 politician, 4 young men, 1 woman and her baby (not yours), your own mother, and Nick Dighiera, I’m taking the 4 maidens and Nick. The others I’m sealing out to their radiological doom. If that doesn’t clue the curious in to the type of man Nick is, then I am unable to elucidate further.

Nick says:  You are a self-aggrandizing know it all.  You are a life of one repeated mistake:  the belief that this time when you love someone you won’t hurt them.  You are past your prime and a shitty writer.  You are a hot, dichotomous mess.  You wear many masks to hide: beards, glasses, hats, personalities; all checkmarks on someone else’s list you think will make you more “acceptable”, allowing you to burrow further.  You don’t have the ability to accept things like “care” or “love” or “praise.”  You are talentless, and truth be told pretty lazy.  You are not smart enough, strong enough, fast enough, good enough, beautiful enough, or anything else enough for anyone to love you.  And you understand that all of the above is in your head, but you can’t do anything about it.  In this way, you are Nick.