Robert Stikmanz is the creative identity responsible for a growing body of magic and surreality gathering 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 various 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 Texas small press, contributing poems, short essays, illustrations, design and production assistance to publications including the Sleepy Tree anthologies, Window Magazine, The Argonaut, Aileron, VíAtzlan, Lone Star Socialist, SA, Austin Duckweed and Vowel Movement. 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).
In December 1988 he moved to Iowa City, Iowa, where he contributed essays and illustrations to The Iowa Idea, publication of the Iowa Socialist Party, and became a volunteer producer of video art for Iowa City Public Access Television.
Audio & Video artist
Robert began creating occasional sound art recordings in November and December 1978. He continued this activity solo at first, and from 1984-1988 as part of an improv/overdub collective, Jam Cadre. From 1988 to 1997, he experimented alone or, infrequently, with his brother, Mark.
Spring 1998 Robert began collaborating with Jam Cadre alumni John Witham and Karen Pittman as neverthesameriver. In 1999 Pittman departed the formation, and Witham and Stikmanz set aside an unfinished audio album to develop abstract, improvisational, ambient video performance. Rich, allusive projections by neverthesameriver graced 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 Habdvarsha in 1983. In 1984 he completed a first draft of Sleeper Awakes, now third in the cycle’s chronology. 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 ancient oracle book of the dvarsh, 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. In 2004, Robert adopted his nom de video as a pseudonym for all creative activities going forward.
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 Awake reached the shelves in June 2009. Shortly after, Robert terminated the contractual relationship with that publisher and deprecated their releases.
Blue Moose Press published a somewhat 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, keeping them in print through December 2014.
In 2018, Stikmantica released Prelude to a Change of Mind, the Author’s Edition, a thoroughly reworked version of the novel. This is the first release in his relaunched cycle, now collectively titled Habdvarsha.
Since the release of Rose Moon & Death on the Toilet in September 2015, all book length works by Robert Stikmanz have been release exclusively through his own imprint, Stikmantica. He is currently occupied full time preparing the Habdvarsha cycle and related materials for new release.
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