Blake and Gene.
I don’t know if you would be willing to put this up, but I figured I’d send it and see. On August 3, underground writer Gene Gregorits was arrested for sexual assault on a 17 year old girl. You can read an article about his arrest here.
He’d posted about the young woman he was arrested for assaulting that night on his Facebook page. He put up a picture of her, under a Facebook status update that said, “The teenage porn star tourist cunt has arrived appx. 8 mins late. And I still fucking hate her. I am going to do things to this woman that Cletus from Moose Snout would not do to the family cow in the depths of a meth binge.” The picture and status update were removed from his page the next day, one assumes, by the Florida police, but many people took screen shots of it when he posted it.
I have promoted Gene’s work for years, always under the auspices that there is something very important about pushing boundaries when it comes to art. I wrote the attached essay about my feelings about his arrest, and the disillusionment I’d been feeling as someone who was such a big proponent of his work beforehand. The essay delves into persona, and the leeway we often give our favorite artists when it comes to their behavior.
Sick of being decent, he craves another
crash. What reaches him except disaster? –Frank Bidart
Author Gene Gregorits recently did a small tour of New England with Lisa Carver, where he was promoting his newest book, Do You Love Me: The Gene Gregorits File. The first night of the tour, a naked Gregorits accidentally- on- purpose slashed open his forearm with a knife, the resulting wound requiring close to 50 stitches. Anybody who is friends with Gregorits on Facebook has seen pictures of the festering wound, above or below photos of his injured cat, posts pleading and bleating his friends for rent money, and a relentless barrage of diatribes against:
- Those who haven’t bought his books
- Those who have, but haven’t written reviews about them
- Other writers and artists who have taken a more conventional path to success, and been rewarded for it.
I haven’t seen the video of the show, as YouTube keeps flagging it, but from what I’ve been told, most of the attendees either ran off, horrified, or dipped their just-purchased copies of his books in his blood as a souvenir as Gene was taken to the hospital. On his Facebook page a few days later, a somberly reflective Gregorits seemed saddened by the audience’s reaction, which I found surprising. Connecting the dots on the Gregorits persona, one would have thought he’d be proud. People always take souvenirs of that which thrills them, and what else could Gregorits have been seeking when he’d disrobed and grabbed the knife? Police had to stop souvenir hunters from removing Clyde Barrows’ fingers after he’d been shot. There have always been rumors that a plaster cast was made of John Dillinger’s dick at the morgue. Surely in someone’s curio cabinet, there is a piece of 1990′s toilet paper with GG Allin’s fecal matter on it.
Today is a few days after our sixth anniversary. Blake Butler and I started this place because we wanted a hub for all of the writing we love, all of the people we enjoy reading, and to do it with a certain openness that we both appreciate. Along with everyone else that came along with us, we succeeded (and occasionally failed) at that for many years.
October 24th, 2014 will be the last day of operation for Htmlgiant. I’m going to step aside as managing editor effective immediately, and in the next few days I’ll open posting up for nearly everyone that has ever been a part of this site. On October 24th I will disable posting privileges for everyone and leave the site up for as long as we can afford it.
The next few weeks will hopefully be interesting, because if there’s anything this website deserves it’s an uncontrolled flameout.
The amount of respect and admiration I have for so many of the writers and editors that we’ve worked with over the years cannot be overstated. There are so many special people I want to hug and thank, and I have a feeling I’ll be doing it in person for years to come.
See you soon.
Earlier this week, Sophia Katz posted a piece on Medium detailing her experience of being repeatedly sexually assaulted by an alt-lit editor and writer, identified as ‘Stan.’ Her writing was honest and deeply affecting – explaining in excruciating detail that rape doesn’t have to be spectacular to be very real, very violent, and very devastating.
Sarah Jean Alexander then came forward on the Facebook group, Alt Lit Gossip (Spread) to support Sophia, detail her own experience with the perpetrator as a former roommate, and to identify him with Sophia’s permission, as Stephen Tully Dierks.
Soon after, a woman named Tiffany posted on Tumblr about her own experience with Dierks last April. She identified Dierks by name and explained how he pressured her into intercourse multiple times while she was intoxicated and after she explicitly told him she wasn’t interested in being physical with him.
In response to Sarah Jean’s growing thread in the Facebook group, Dierks posted a short apology, tying his actions to ‘our society’s patriarchal structure’, and resigning from his public writing career.
The story was picked up by Gawker. They published a piece titled, “Hip Alt-Lit Editor Quits Public Writing Career After Rape Accusations,” which seems more concerned with writing off the entire alt lit community than with addressing these specific instances of sexual assault. This is not only a misrepresentation of the community, but also a way to implicitly excuse Dierks’ actions by identifying them as part of a mentality held by the group at large.
Gawker paints alt lit as a ‘boys’ club,’ effacing the contributions of the community’s many talented and prolific female writers and editors.
Alt lit has produced an exceptionally large number of extremely influential and visible female writers whose work is informed by feminism and contemporary women’s politics. Mira Gonzalez, Gabby Bess, Sarah Jean Alexander, Stacey Teague, Melissa Broder, Ana Carrete are just a few members of alt lit who have not only come to shape this community, but who have become influential voices within the poetry, fiction, and feminist communities at large.
These writers have in many ways been more important than their male counterparts in putting alt lit on the map, and forging the literary and political values it represents. To paint them as anything else, or to not address their existence at all, is an incredibly violent and disrespectful act.
This “boy’s club” narrative of the alt lit community also distracts from the real problems at hand – that rape, sexual abuse, and destructive understandings of consent and power can and do exist in all communities – even those widely populated and helmed by women and individuals uniquely committed to addressing feminist issues.
This understanding is essentially adopting the same position that Stephen does in identifying himself as a “straight white male who clearly has taken in the toxicity of our society’s patriarchal structure.” While it is essential that we recognize the systemic problems at work here, ultimately Stephen needs to take responsibility for his own actions, and we need to hold him personally accountable.
Passing these assaults off as a product of “society’s patriarchal structure” or an alt-lit “boys’ club” transfers responsibility away from the perpetrator himself. It ultimately excuses the individual, while also erasing all of the incredible women in this community who are not only extremely talented writers, but who have dealt with the situation at hand in a way that is to be applauded.
The story of Stephen Tully Dierks is a chance for both men and women to reflect on what consent means, and how to better identify, prevent, and respond to sexual assault. This is an issue that every single community must grapple with, and that few respond to well. Individuals within alt lit like Sophia, Sarah Jean, and Tiffany have addressed these events with a level of intelligence, sensitivity, and urgency that few communities have matched.
Their writing and responses have been inspiring and humbling to me as I work to be a better ally to those who have been victims of sexual assault. Using this story as merely a way to write a spectacular portrait of an entire community does a disservice not only to those women who have been abused by Dierks, but to these individuals who have worked so hard to create a community I feel proud to be a part of. Especially now.
October 1st, 2014 / 9:49 am
Contrapposto Action Queen
by Connie Scozzaro
Bad Press, 2013
$9 / Buy from Bad Press
Before I’d ordered the book, I listened to Scozzaro read “What Is Parents?” on the Claudius App and fell in love with the poem. I listened to it the way an eight year old listens to Beatles’ songs. I’d drag my partner in to listen to it and tried to dub the poem to a mix tape but it didn’t survive the transfer. “Isn’t this just the best?” I’d say, jumping up and down as Scozzaro read in a brave and insistent voice.
“What Is Parents?” is one of the more elegant ones. Her verses make adept shifts from a naïve diction to classy Rimbaud/Swinburne-esque lyricism. I like the tension between the vague, the true, and the fantastic in “What Is Parents?”
After this good work with something not mine,
I come home to you, we feed each other and laugh. I love you,
especially when we fuck really well, but probably
we fuck really well because I love you so much.
In the heart of the grass, a fountain rushes,
blood in the shape of a rose. For seconds
I understand birth, and the Incredible String Band
play their instruments
well. What is parents?
What are dreams?
These poems, and this poem, consider everyday ritual and material limitation, but also seem to mediate banal domestic desperation through an intensely personal kind of verse. In my reading, I like to think that the poems are able to capture the boundary between boredom and fetishization.
Contrapposto Action Queen is eight longish poems long. These poems are exhausting in the best way. Reading them I’m too full of ideas. The collection is so full of colliding images, unresolvable emotional states, and shifts in diction. Scozzaro is very good at eloquent and cool verse that isn’t afraid to betray itself with urgent brattyness. Her poems are exciting because they seem to constantly shift, from image to image, from the exact to the vague, as they unfold. From “Elena, Whatever: You Are But Dreaming”
Suitors buy her roses, or posies, which upon inspection,
are but mauve, petals trembling pools,
obscuring heaving shoulders on ahead.
Two or three swoon from daily collapse, this way and
that, to be in another world, to know
how to use your hands.
Write what pleases you, what displeases me,
black liver wobbles out the drain,
dragging itself on a few gross legs.
You are the hero of the bathroom mould,
blocked drain, streams of tangled hair,
you squirt, we get deposit back.
July 18th, 2014 / 10:00 am
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