From the moment I met this man I hated him. As a matter of fact, I used to talk bad about him constantly to all my friends and family. Only thing is, I had never met him. I had no idea who he was. The reasons why I hated him are now long gone and he and I have become quite good friends as of late. Once I found out he was a traveling spoken word artist, I knew we would get along just fine. When we finally met, one beer led to another and we eventually started hanging out a couple nights a week. His work is good, and I highly recommend you take a listen to it. He has written poems on anything from his battle with weight gain to the pop sensation that is Justin Bieber. He adds a little dose of comedy in there too, but most of his material is honest and from the heart. He has been through a lot, traveled the world and seen places I can only dream of, and yet still puts on one hell of a show every night he performs. He even did a few of his poems at the first annual rickyleepotts.com presents six bands for six bucks event back in early August. If you have never heard his material, I suggest you check it out. He is a rare gem and a true friend through it all. It is my pleasure to introduce you to Michael DDE Miller.
What does DDE stand for?
DDE stands for Daonocto Dark Eyes. It comes from two names I used to write under. I realized that if I wanted to get any notoriety from my work, the name Michael Miller was slightly common and would be a pain to search for. Daonocto was the first name. It’s actually from short stories I used to write, but unfortunately nobody could spell, pronounce, or remember the name, so it went. Dark Eyes was actually an email address I had. The promoter for the Cometry shows I did in Germany kept introducing me as that because of my email. So when I started performing in Germany, I decided that I wanted to have a name that stood out and could be remembered. Hence the two names combined and the rest is history.
The Slammer? Now what does that mean?
A slammer is someone who competes in slam poetry, which is a competitive poetry show. Normally there are either three or four rounds where a certain number of people advance depending on scores from judges/crowd. There’s also the Fight Club style of slam (I’m not making that up either) where people face head to head and the judges and/or crowd decides who goes on between the two. Think 8 Mile. When I started going by DDE, I was doing a lot of slams, so it worked for me in the end.
Are you a poet? Or a comedian? Or perhaps both?
I’m a poet with a sense of humor. Anyone that knows me can tell you I’m always trying to have fun and joke around. I can write about serious topics, but I like to have fun on the stage and with the crowd. I get asked sometimes why I don’t do my stuff at places like Morty’s Comedy Joint or Crackers Comedy Club. I’ve thought about it, just never really did a lot to go that way with my work.
What made you get into spoken word?
I started writing in 9th grade. It was my one month anniversary with my girlfriend and I. I was too broke to buy her anything. I realized that I was actually decent at it, so I decided to write more. I actually did mostly religious poems at first if you can believe it. I did a lot about relationships back then, and it was later on in high school my way of being honest with myself about how I felt about a lot of things. In college was when I regularly started performing, and it was like an addiction. I was going to Morrisville State College in New York, and the writer’s club there asked me to join them. I did some open microphone nights with them, and the trip we took to NYC to see Def Poetry Jam on Broadway really helped me grow. A lot of people say that show made poetry too hip-hop, but it was the best thing that happened to me as far as my writing goes.
You have like five jobs. Where all are you working right now?
I work at Naked Tchopstix, Scotty’s Brewhouse, Defender Direct, and I’m going into commission sales for Goofy Smarty Pants Marketing and Promotions. And I perform my poetry. My jobs have even inspired my work somewhat. I have a piece about the Scotty’s I am working on, and I’m also working on a new CD about Naked Tchopstix called Something’s Fishy at the Nude Woody.
Why are you working so many different places?
It keeps things from being mundane. I like working. I don’t really mind working all the time too much, but I also have variety now. It’s nice. Plus all the interactions with various people is something I take a lot of pleasure in.
How often do you perform?
My work schedule decides that. I was a regular every Thursday at Urban Elements and Sunday at Midtown Lounge. I’ve also gone to Bloomington, Terre Haute, and have my first feature in Columbus, Indiana.
Where in the Circle City can someone go see good spoken word?
The ones that I know of are Metric Mondays at Locals Only, Poetry on the Patio at 300 East on Wednesdays, Urban Expressions at Urban Elements on Thursdays, Healing for the Soul and Write On is Friday at 34th and Clifton, and Spoken Soul Food Sundays is at Midtown Lounge. I believe there is one in Zionsville on Thursdays, and a new one in Indy on Saturdays I’ve heard, but I’m not sure about those.
What is this new Justin Bieber poem you are working on all about?
Basically, I can’t stand him. His voice is annoying, he sounds like a girl, and you shouldn’t write love songs if I’ve drank scotch older than you.
You have some merchandise, right?
I sell CD’s at pretty much all my shows. The one that is done now is The All You Can Eat Lyrical Buffet. I also have my own hat and shirts. I haven’t ordered the other one’s, but everyone knows me by my shirt since I wear it to every place I perform. I self promote and market myself a lot. Anyone can order them if they want through me. I used to sell them somewhat in Germany actually.
You sporting any tattoos?
I have one over my right shoulder with three rings around it. My ex wife had two boys, and we had a daughter. The rings represented that the kids were all equal to me.
Where do you get inspiration for a new poem?
In all honesty, it’s things that pop into my head. Or something that I feel very strongly about and I want to share my opinion on the matter. Usually though a random line pops into my head, so I write it down. Then another comes, and another, and boom. I’ve got a poem in front of me. Like Duma Key, minus the amputated arm and ghosts.
You have a lot of energy up there on stage. What keeps you going night after night?
I’m a very energetic person. When I get on stage, I just get excited. I feel like someone plugged me into a generator most times and put me on full power.
You are on MySpace. What about Twitter?
You have been all over the world. What is your favorite country to visit?
That’s a tough one. I loved living in Germany, but Italy was an amazing place. I would have to say Italy. The food was amazing, the country breathe-taking, and I was worried every time I went there I was going to come back with a wife.
I am going to test your skills here. Write a poem. No thinking, just write.
For a country that can’t even agree
On how its own name came about
It sure is quick on telling people
Who does and doesn’t belong here
Who deserves to have citizenship
And now the matter of titles
Have come to a whole new level
Because in its continued war
Against the Mexican people
Arizona now want to pass a new law
And in this law
To protect the American people
They are attacking the next generation
Because if you’re parents are illegal
And you’re born in Arizona
They are going to make it practically impossible
For you to gain citizenship
Because attacking an ethnic group
That already had a great deal of hatred towards them wasn’t enough
Now they will attack the unborn children
A guarantee that they can’t protest
Or speak up for their rights
They want to take away constitutional rights
Because they’re parents aren’t Americans
So this is the message to the world
The application deadline for citizenship
Apparently has a timeline
So you better get it while you can
Because if you don’t get here soon
You never will
That’s actually one I’ve been stewing over for a while.
You have some pretty political poems. Any reason behind that?
I try to stay away from politics in my work for the most part, but some things are just wrong. I’m born in Mexico. I grew up in the US, didn’t speak Spanish or have an accent, and still I was told to go, “back where I came from” in high school. There was a lot of racism in the area where I lived, and I didn’t have anyone to stand up and say that’s wrong. So when I do a political piece, it’s something I truly feel strongly about, and want others to know they’re not alone in both their opinion and pain. I also just like reminding people that with the state that the country is in, it needs illegal immigrants in their work force.
When you get an idea, what do you?
Run with it. A moment lost is a memory lost and a lifetime changed. I’d rather look back and say “that didn’t work at all” than “I wish I had tried that”.
Where do you get the most of your writing done?
Wherever they come to me. I do most of my writing at home, but that’s only because my laptop is here. I’ve written many pieces on napkins and receipts.
Where are you originally from?
That’s a fun one. I was born in Cancun as the greatest spring break souvenir/graduation present ever! Manlius, New York is where I first came to in the US, which is outside of Syracuse. I went to school in southern Indiana previously to college, where I sent in New York. I’ve lived in Indiana longer, but New York always felt more like home. I felt my personality was a better fit there, and nobody ever beat the crap out of me for being Mexican there.
If you were not doing spoken word, what would you be doing?
I’m really not sure. It’s my creative outlet, how I express myself. I’m not sure what else I would do. I can’t sing for crap, so that’s out the window. Maybe be a comedian, who knows. I just don’t think my humor would work for stand up.
You are a server at Scotty’s Brewhouse. What is your favorite item on the menu there?
That’s really tough. Obviously I like the burger that actually has bacon cooked inside the patty, but I love the Cajun tuna steak sandwich, and the Bayside Turkey Wrap. Oh, and waffle fries with mozzarella cheese. Peanut butter pie for Desert. Oh, and anything with Mofo’Mustard, which is fact its own food group.
What about your favorite beer. At Scotty’s, or in general.
Kristal Weiss. It’s a German beer, and it’s glorious. At Scottys, It’s a toss up betweet Turbo Dog, Sun King Wee Mac, and Franziskaner Heifeweissen. Of course, Spaten Oktoberfest comes in a few months, so that will probably top them all.
Do you ever forget the lines to your own poems?
Yes. Usually I can just jump around the piece and run with it, but I’ve had times where I just completely blanked. It happens to everyone at some point. Just got to roll with it.
Did you ever get that Danish?
Yes, and it was glorious. You should be jealous.
What all is on that disc you are selling?
It’s eight poems that I recorded using a gamer headset and my laptop. The pieces are Danish, High School Love, I Don’t Wanna Be “In Shape”, Scotty’s, Dating, Vampire, Sean and Jen, and Mi Hermanos Y Hermanas Mexicanos. They range from being playful to hurt to really really angry to just me being random.
Have you ever thought of putting your poems to music? Like a good rap song perhaps.
I’ve considered it. I never disregard an idea with my work. I’m willing to try just about anything with it. You never know when you do something out of the ordinary and everyone loves it.
Do you write all of your poems? Or do you type them on a computer? Or a mixture of the two?
Mostly typing so I can go back and change things easier. I also start thinking very fast when I start putting my work to paper, so it helps.
Do you ever perform outside of the city of Indianapolis?
Yes. I’ve performed in Bloomington, Terre Haute, Columbus, and next month will perform in New York in a few areas hopefully, as well as Michigan.
Do you ever get nervous up there on stage?
Sometimes. I just try to hide it. Whether I do a good job of hiding it is for the audience to decide, but I do at times. More so if it’s a new piece, or if it’s written for someone who’s there.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I plan on having a degree in business. I plan to have at least one tour finished, and a few more discs out. I also want to have my CD distributed, maybe even be found on iTunes one day.
What do you want to be remembered for when this is all said and done?
I want to be remembered as the guy who put it all out there for everyone. For always being there for his friends, and never have a dull moment around. When people remember me, I want plenty of “Remember the time when he…” and end with laughing and smiles. Even if I never have my name in big lights, I want that. It would be amazing to be remembered as a great poet, but I’m fine just by being thought of as a great guy.
I always let the artist get the last word. Go.
Basically, I want everyone to know that I write because I love writing. I perform because I love to be in front of people. If by doing either I touch someone or help them out then great. But either day, I’m going to have as much fun with this as I can, and I hope that my years can be filled with lots of laughter and pastries.
Forward and up… the only two directions I know