Robert Stikmanz is the creative identity responsible for a body of magic and surreality growing under the umbrella, Habdvarsha. A presentation of his invented language, Dvarsh, An Introduction, was released in December 2017 by Stikmantica, the commercial entity Stikmanz founded as a production and marketing conduit for his works. In the same month, Stikmanz was named “Best Creator of a New Language” in the Austin Chronicle’s “Best of Austin 2017” awards.
A native of the gulf coast city of La Porte, Texas, and a graduate of Austin College (Sherman, Texas), Stikmanz began publishing poems and occasional illustrations in the late seventies. Moving to Austin in 1979 he became active in the Texas literary scene, contributing poetry, short essays, illustrations, design and production assistance to numerous little magazines and small presses. Chapbooks of his poems went in and out of print from Sleepy Tree Publishing (The Green Book, 1981), Aileron Press (6, 1983), and Ambrose & Lewis, (Restless Native, 1988).
Audio & Video artist
Robert began creating sound art recordings in November and December 1978. He pursued this activity first as a solo artist, but from 1984-1988 as part of an improv/overdub collective, Jam Cadre. From 1988 to 1997, he returned to experimenting alone.
Spring 1998 saw Robert collaborating with Jam Cadre alumni John Witham and Karen Pittman as neverthesameriver. In 1999 Pittman departed the formation. Witham and Stikmanz set aside an unfinished audio album to develop abstract, improvisational, ambient video performance. Rich, allusive projections by neverthesameriver graced dance events organized by the Texaliens and by Last Laugh LLC, as well as gallery performances and festival installations. After neverthesameriver ceased activity in 2003, Robert continued as a solo video artist.
Robert began work on the material that underpins Habdvarsha in 1983. In 1984 he completed a first draft of Sleeper Awakes, now third book in the narrative cycle. Upon completing that draft, he set it aside to focus on Prelude to a Change of Mind, originally conceived as a short story. By 1986 he was working on the novels in alternation, as well as setting down and consulting the dvarsh oracle book, Nod’s Way. At some point in the elaboration of backstory, he began developing the Dvarsh writing system and language. The language actually emerged from exploring ideas about Dvarsh design principles and motifs. An early version of Prelude to a Change of Mind saw light in 2000.
A slightly revised edition of Prelude to a Change of Mind was published by a small Austin publishing house in February 2007, followed in October 2007 by a premature version of the dvarsh oracle, Nod’s Way. Entranscing, a sort of loose sequel to Prelude to a Change of Mind written under pressure from the publisher, was released in August 2008. An inadequte version of Sleeper Awakes reached the shelves in June 2009. Shortly after, Robert terminated the contractual relationship with that publisher and deprecated his titles as released by that imprint.
A second small press published a somewhat further revised, third edition of Prelude to a Change of Mind in June 2010, and a revised second edition of Entranscing before the end of that year, keeping them in print through December 2014, when the press folded.
Since publication of Rose Moon & Death on the Toilet in September 2015, all book length works by Robert Stikmanz have been produced exclusively through his own imprint, Stikmantica. He occupies himself full time with text, art and sounds of the Habdvarsha cycle.
In 2017, Stikmantica released Dvarsh, An Introduction, covering the Dvarsh people, their language, its grammar, and bilingual dictionaries. This was followed in early 2018 by Dvarsh Workbook, Beginning Exercises for the Extraordinary Student. Later in 2018 saw release of Prelude to a Change of Mind, the Author’s Edition, a completely reworked version of the novel. This is the first release in his relaunched cycle, now collectively titled Habdvarsha.
Stikmantica published Nod’s Way, the Author’s Edition, a reconceived, redesigned version of the ancient Dvarsh oracle and wisdom book, in October 2019. An extensively rewritten version of Entranscing, the second Habdvarsha novel, is slated for release in late 2020.
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