Ryan Paradiso Puts His Neck Out for Nick Flynn (and Other Friends)

The Marfa-based arts and literature journal comes to Houston for an event with heavyweight writers and poets.

By Olivia Flores Alvarez March 27, 2019

The first edition of Neck, Ryan Paradiso's journal of art, literature, and poetry.

The NECK V2.0 event at Brazos Bookstore this weekend is more than just a reading or discussion. According to the journal’s founder and editor, Ryan Paradiso, it’s “a celebration of all the strange and lovely poetry communities that exist.”

Neck, which covers art and literature, started as a way for Paradiso to present work by his very talented friends. A few years in, and now releasing its second biennial edition with an accompanying audio cassette, it’s still just that: Paradiso, his friends, and their work. There are several more friends now, of course. Including well-known writer Nick Flynn, who’ll be with Paradiso at Brazos Bookstore’s event.

As a young writer, Paradiso considered Flynn’s book ​Some Ether ​“a sort of sacred text.” In 2018, Flynn went to Marfa, where Paradiso lives, for a Lannan writing residency. Flynn had heard about both Neck and Paradiso before the residency and sought him out. Paradiso’s passion and talent won Flynn over.

He has heady praise for Paradiso. Along with calling his writing “great” and related videos “beautiful,” Flynn tells us, ​“after only one issue Ryan has established himself as a curator of poetry with a particular vision, and has again attracted amazing poets to be part of Neck.”

Paradiso says he’s not quite as starstruck as he once was, but he expects he’ll be nervous sharing the stage with Flynn anyway.

If you read Neck’s first release, you can expect something decidedly different this time with V2.0. Each publication is unique, Paradiso says, so he destroyed all of the production information from the previous release before he began the second issue. Formatting, notes, everything—gone. Just a blank slate.

Starting from scratch is difficult enough, add to that the fact that Neck is a completely handmade publication, and scratch suddenly becomes arduous. Except for the writing, Paradiso does everything by hand in a small studio outside Marfa. Everything from editing, layout, cutting the paper to size, printing, collating, binding, trimming to shipping— it's all done by hand using second-hand equipment. He blames his extreme DIY ethic on his punk scene youth.

Paradiso even makes the master recording for the audio cassettes that accompany each copy of Neck V2.0 and dubs each tape. (The tape includes recordings of each of the V2.0 contributors reading some of their work, an audio piece by well-known poet Fred Moten, and music by Michael A. Muller and collaborator Machinefabriek.)

Houston-based poet Devereax Fortuna and Jonathan Moody will appear with Nick Flynn and Ryan Paradiso on Sunday.

Mar. 31. 5 p.m. Free. Brazos Bookstore, 2421 Bissonnet. 713-523-0701. More info at brazosbookstore.com.

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