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The lawn mowers stop, the writer is summoned

by Anna Warner

‘ anna@yesweekly.comThere are times when creativity is lost. Publisher/editor Kevin Watson has always been the guy who wipes the dust off the mundane and sheds light upon the original.

Press 53 is located in Winston-Salem and was founded by Watson, who was a writer and specialized in short stories and poetry. Much of his work has been published such as the award winning “Sunny Side Up.” If there is one concept you grasp from a conversation with Watson, it is that creative writing can dawn upon you at odd times or under odd circumstances.

Watson stumbled across writing much as a carpenter stumbles upon his niche. In third grade he wrote a song for Elvis. Watson’s zeal for writing was not shared with a love for the cookie cutter definition of education. He was a “bad” student, a day dreamer, read slowly, and was dyslectic. Often times his teachers could not understand him when he spoke. Like most soldiers of endurance, Watson disregarded what he could not accomplish and acted on what he was made to accomplish. He bought a guitar, taught himself how to play it, and set free lyrics that gave him the label song writer.

As a young boy, Watson experienced the death of a somewhat distant cousin who had died in the Vietnam War. While attending the funeral, he inquired about exactly who this man was and his mother told Watson that Dean was a lot like him. “I wanted to see him. I didn’t understand the war or why he died. I just wanted to see him.” The casket was closed and Watson never got the chance to see Dean in the flesh. Years later, he was attending a friend’s performance when he felt an overwhelming urge to leave. “The words dropped out of the ceiling and they kept coming. As I wrote, I felt as if Dean was leaning over my shoulder.” The song Hey, Dean was recorded the next day. Watson eventually strayed away from songs as a result of his intolerance for revisions to his lyrics.

The characters in his works do not derive from the shelter of his creative niche. They dwell in the words that leak into his internal dialogue. A character from his award winning short story, “Sunny Side Up”, came to him while he was mowing the lawn. Over the groan of the mower, he heard the opening line: “All I wanted was a hot breakfast.” As a writer, Watson becomes infatuated by the psychological mindset of these ambiguous characters. Why can’t this character get his breakfast? These characters act as people he wants to sort out.

Since 2005, Watson has shifted his focus away from getting his works published and has focused more on editing and publishing works from active writers. He also has found a creative outlet for book layout. Press 53 has published 135 titles and counting, and has received nearly 30 awards for the books they have produced.

Although Watson is no longer engaged with his own writing, he is a great source of advice for any writer working on making a career. Watson’s advice is simple: read a lot and live a lot. “You have to feed your brain. You have to get up and leave the house and experience life.” According to Watson, becoming published should be the consequence, not the goal of a writer. “Start small, write short stories and poems and try to get those out there. Don’t set out to win an award winning prize.”

Press 53 will be hosting their fourth annual “Gathering of Poets” on April 5 at The Community Arts Cafe where 53 poets registered to read their work. It is a sell out every year. It is unknown when “Kevin the writer” will come back. “I may return to writing at some point, but for now I am content with finding great writing and helping those authors and poets find a wider audience.”

Press 53 assures any lover of writing that while at times creativity can be lost, it is never forgotten. Their goal is simple: become inspired and pass the book along. !

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