Robert Stikmanz is the creative identity responsible for the magical and surreal cycle of novels, The Hidden Lands of Nod. His first three books, Prelude to a Change of Mind, Entranscing, and limited copies of Sleeper Awakes, appear under Blue Moose Press out of Austin, Texas.
His invented language, Dvarsh, has been fashioned into a primer, The Way it Grows: An Introduction to Dvarsh, with the aide of co-author and poet, Amanda Kimmerly, under their joint publishing company, Confabule. Non-novel materials interrelated with the Hidden Lands of Nod, such as Nod’s Way, an invented oracle, and Death on the Toilet audio disc, also make up Confabule’s distribution.
Extended Author History:
A native of the gulf coast city of La Porte, and a graduate of Austin College (Sherman, TX), Stikmanz began publishing poems and occasional illustrations in the late seventies. Moving to Austin in 1979 he became an active presence in independent Texas letters, contributing poems, short essays, illustrations, design and production assistance to numerous small press publications, including the Sleepy Tree anthologies, Window Magazine, The Argonaut, Aileron, VíAtzlan, Lone Star Socialist, SA, Austin Duckweed and Vowel Movement. Three collections of his poems are out of print, probably for the best: The Green Book (Sleepy Tree Publishing, 1981), 6 (Aileron Press Miniature, 1983) and Restless Native (Ambrose & Lewis, 1988).
In December of 1988 he moved to Iowa City, Iowa, where he contributed essays and illustrations to The Iowa Idea, publication of the Iowa Socialist Party, and The Human Condition, an irregularly appearing newspaper devoted to political and cultural events. He also became a volunteer producer of video art for Iowa City Public Access Television. 1994 saw him venture into book publishing with production of Amerikan Journeys: :Jornadas Americanas,by Ricardo Sánchez. The last original collection by this significant poet to see print before Sánchez’s death in 1995, a limited quantity of the title remain available directly from the poet’s widow, Teresa.
Audio & Video artist
November and December 1978 saw his first sound art recordings in collaboration with John Witham. The collaboration was renewed in 1983, in Austin, developing eventually into Jam Cadre, an art music formation consisting of Stikmanz, Witham, Michael Ambrose, Karen Pittman, Kirk McIntosh and Cleveland Maxwell. This collective met regularly after hours at Liberty Graphics, the graphic design and production studio operated from 1983 to 1988 by the partners, Ambrose & Lewis. Evolving what Pittman described as an “improvisation/ overdub method” Jam Cadre manifested in three releases: ”Reproduce at Will (1984), Big Bucks to this Address (1986) and Good Tomatoes (1988),” as well as a limited number of memorable live performances.
Robert continued exploring improvisational musical expressions during his years in Iowa, both solo and with his brother, Mark. Notable among his video/musical works during this period was Two Brothers/One Hundred Years, shot and recorded in La Porte during the town’s centennial in 1996. Produced, videotaped and edited by Robert, Two Brothers features voice over narration by Mark and an expansive, atmospheric soundtrack by Mark and Robert.
Returned to Austin in May 1997, by the spring of 1998 Robert had begun exploring a new sound art collaboration with John Witham and Karen Pittman, working together as neverthesameriver. In 1999 Pittman departed the formation, and Witham and Stikmanz set aside the still unfinished audio opus, Art Movie w/ Subtitles, to focus on abstract, evolving, ambient video improvisations. Rich, allusive projections by neverthesameriver were often seen at dance events, primarily those organized by the Texaliens and by Last Laugh LLC, as well as in gallery performances and festival installations. After neverthesameriver ceased activity in 2003, Robert continued working as a solo video artist using the cognomen, stikmanz.
Robert began work on the material that underpins The Hidden Lands of Nodcycle in 1983. In 1984 he completed a first draft of a first version of Sleeper Awakes, now denominated third book in the cycle. Almost immediately upon completing that draft, Lewis set aside Sleeper to focus on Prelude to a Change of Mind, originally envisioned as a short story. By 1986 he was working on both novels in alternation, as well as setting down and consulting the ancient oracle book of the Dvarsh, Nod’s Way. During the course of these efforts he acquired the basics of Dvarsh language and calligraphy, and found inspiration for his visual work in Dvarsh design principles and motifs. Robert released a preliminary version of Prelude to a Change of Mind from 2000 to 2006, using the print-on-demand service, Xlibris. During this experience he learned that not one, but several currently active authors publish under his birth name. One of them, a children’s author in the UK, has international presence. For this, among other reasons, Robert decided to adopt his nom de video as a pseudonym for all creative activities from that point forward.
A new, revised edition of Prelude to a Change of Mind was published by Dalton Publishing in February 2007, who followed in October 2007 with Nod’s Way, ancient oracle of the Dvarsh and a companion to The Hidden Lands of Nod cycle. Entranscing, the second book of The Hidden Lands of Nod was released in August 2008. Sleeper Awakes, third book of the cycle and the source book from which all of Habdvarsha has sprung, reached the shelves in June 2009. The relationship with Dalton Publishing terminated in spring 2010.
Blue Moose Press published a fully revised third edition of Prelude to a Change of Mind in June 2010, and a second edition of Entranscing before the end of that year. Sleeper Awakes remains in revision, but Stikmanz has been producing short fiction for the gaming ‘zine imprint, Zarathustra Publishing. He and Amanda Kimmerly have just announced publication of their co-authored The Way It Grows: An Introduction to Dvarsh.
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