Noah C. Lekas can do it all as an author, poet, essayist, and journalist. He is already a very accomplished author, having released his first book Saturday Night Sage in 2019. The book is a collection of narrative prose exploring mysticism and menial labor in contemporary America. It’s a brilliant work of art and one of Noah’s best work to date with so much more to come and such a bright future ahead!
We had the pleasure of getting to chat with Noah about being an author, his first book release, the story behind it, and so much more!
Hey! Appreciate you taking the time to chat. For those who may not know who you are give us a little background on yourself.
My name is Noah. I’m a writer and musician from Wisconsin.
We’re in some unprecedented times, how has quarantine been treating you? What are some things that have been keeping you sane?
We’ve been able to stay healthy and keep the lights on, so I can’t really complain. Having a high-risk household member has created some challenges, but we’ve kept them safe and that’s most important. Staying sane proves challenging from time to time. It’s been a long year for everyone, but my family and I try to find ways to stay creative and motivated. For me, that’s meant writing and looking for opportunities to collaborate with friends from a safe distance.
You released your first book Saturday Night Sage back in 2019, which is a brilliantly raw work of art. How did it come to be? Is there a story behind it all?
Thank you. There are a lot of stories behind it. Some of the poems go back almost 20 years, others we written specifically for the collection, About 10 of the pieces were inspired by Donald Groscost’s Second Nature series. Poems like Steamroll the Sky and We Got A Problem with Groudwater were written in response to some of Donald’s paintings. There has been a cross-disciplinary element to the entire collection. The poem Saturday Night Sage was inspired by a sermon I once heard about not getting lost on the Saturday between Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday. Religious devotion and repetitious labor, the Bodhisattva and the Buddha, the bar and the wishing well, these are all ideas that I’ve been kicking around for a minute, but the Sage character provided a means to explore them more acutely.
You got to work with multiple artists for the book like Alan Forbes for the cover art, how did all that come to be? What was it like working with all who were inspired to bring the book to life?
I met Alan through Dan Cervantes who runs Blind Owl. I’d been a fan of his art for a long time so getting to work with him was an honor and we’ve become great friends in the time since. For me, the collection really became a book when I saw Alan’s drawing, his vision of the sage really cemented the character for me. Everyone who has collaborated on the project is a friend. My wife Elizabeth did all the design and layout, Dan and I have been working on different projects for years, and I’ve played in bands or at pick-up gigs with all of the musicians, so getting to work together on this has been great convergence of worlds. Writing is such a solitary act, so I really enjoy finding opportunities to collaborate, especially with my pals.
As well as being an author you mention you are also a musician. Is that something that you have always been involved in or has it always been more focused on writing?
Music came first and in many respects was the gateway to writing. I still try to keep both moving but it’s hard to play a guitar and a typewriter at the same time. Usually, the keys get dusty or the strings get rusty.
Has music inspired your work more? If so how?
Absolutely. Language is rhythmic. Phrasing is a melodic choice, and a lot of my favorite writing has a sonic element to it. I think that the way a word looks and sounds is part of what creates a world inside of the work. Music is directly responsible for most of my approach to that.
How would you describe your work in three words?
One press quote said, “Ginsberg meets Grinderman” and the book was also described as “blue collar mysticism”, either of those are close enough for me.
You’re set to release Sounds from the Shadow Factory soon, what inspired that and what was it like working with the artists featured on it?
Sounds was really Dan’s brainchild. Originally, I saw the recordings as a way to collaborate with friends and bring a few poems to life. We were only set to do three, but that quickly turned to six or seven. On top of running Blind Owl, Dan also plays guitar for Howlin’ Rain, so that’s how the Saturday Night Sage collab came together. Dan really had the vision for it and he deserves a lot of credit for producing it. The other tracks were all cut a while ago. Mrs. Henry, Ben Ambrosini and Chad Lee and I have all worked on different projects over the years, so it’s always cool to find new things to work on together.
Which project of yours are you most proud of?
The book, Saturday Night Sage.
Who are some of your favorite authors?
Writers like Robert Pirsig, Kerouac, and Herman Hesse were important for me. But there are different writers at different times, lately I’ve been reading about St Francis.
Is there a moment or memory in your life that you always want to hold onto? Or a moment that has taught you a lot?
In the late summer months of 2003, I pulled off Highway 93 in Northwestern Montana to practice fly casting on a small bend in the river. Despite the high afternoon sun, a brown trout was clearly visible from the bank. I tied on a fly and started after him. My presentation didn’t inspire interest or fear in the trout. For the better part of a half-hour I tried without result. Eventually a wide shadow circled the river as a red tail hawk rode the current high above head. I got closer and closer to something resembling a respectable presentation, but all with the same results. I made one final attempt and as I reeled my line back in the hawk swooped down, grabbing the trout in its talons before flying directly over me. A drop of water fell from the dying fish onto my shoulder. That’s one lesson I think it wise to hold on to.
Lastly, once this whole pandemic is over, what is one thing you can’t wait to go out and do again? (Thanks again for your time!)
I just want to see my family and play some music.
You can preorder Sounds from The Shadow Factory here!
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