Author Archive

“All duty is dream all you are is wildfires”

Monday, August 26th, 2013

skinteam_mediumwebHi, y’all. In June, I and my helicopter friends in our helicopter hats released a lovely weird novel called The Skin Team by a Canadian gentleman named Jordaan Mason. I haven’t told you about it yet, but now I am telling you about it. There’s a way you can get it for free at the end of this post. First read the post to see if you’d like it, right?

The novel is about three people, two boys and a girl, turning into each other and out of each other. Also touching. There are sick horses and a Power Company on fire. Sad dads and gone moms. Also some rivers and games of tag and lightbulb vomit.

What I’ve been telling people is that it’s like if Dennis Cooper re-wrote The Virgin Suicides, and Dennis himself was all “Reading The Skin Team, you would never suspect how difficult it is to write even fairly about such things, much less with Jordaan Mason’s radiant emotional grace and super-deft detailing and flawless style.”

So far it’s been called “a psychedelic, haunting, genuinely queer experience of adolescence” (Xtra!and an “incendiary novel, impressive in both style and its poetic language” (Largehearted Boy) and that it’s “carried in sentences that together feel close to the same long slow gravity you might have felt exploring a strange relative’s house as a child” (our own Ryan Gosling at VICE). My favorite new lit blog Actuary Lit says “The Skin Team brims with flesh made electricity, of sick bodies warped by technology into health.” And Vol. 1 Brooklyn says that it reminds them of a guy the FBI thought was the Unabomber: “Like William T. Vollmann, Mason tears apart familiar relationships and conflicts to illuminate them in some newfound fashion.”

And you know it’s real, because some people have said negative things too! They think it has too many metaphors or the prose purples or it gets too confusing (“when every sentence strives for preciousness, they risk monotony” from the Heavy Feather Review), which could also be true, who knows! Let it not be said that our helicopter isn’t into dodging rockets. Evasive maneuvers are fun! Criticism is good. Hype is soda.

I tried to explain in a sincere and full disclosure way about why I love this book over at The Lit Pub in an interview with Jordaan. During his answers, he gives a great primer about the three characters, talks about bipolar disorder, destroying the logic of science through unnaming, and “trying to describe this complete separation of my body from everything around it and from itself. ”

The reason I’m telling you about The Skin Team now is because you can get it for free if you want to play a little game where you get a map in the mail and you draw on it. Otherwise, you can get it the normal way, which would also be awesome. If you feel like it’s weird we have bodies, especially when they’re in the woods and inside other bodies, and you want to read about bodies in a book that makes their weirdness feel like it kind of works (like how a singing saw sounds), I’m guessing you’ll like The Skin Team. Thanks!

“We’re not sorry, our first victim was the ghost of Regina’s potato-faced ex.”

Monday, August 19th, 2013

“I’m not sorry, it was the kind of year I would have raised all of hell to keep him around.” — raging hard as a hungry stomach noise on “How We Killed Whitney Houston” by Eric Tran at Hobart

“She has more content than she knows what to do with.”

Thursday, August 15th, 2013

“Besides: to learn to use her mind’s energy against itself, she would have to add new content. Even if it was content that might eventually ease the burden of having content, at this point, she is so overwhelmed with the content she already has, she thinks she cannot take on any new content even if it’s promised that the new content will help her.” — from Evelyn Hampton’s “The End of Content” over at The Collagist; no one does clever and sad at the same time like Evelyn Hampton

“There is a person doing all of this shit”

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

“I started a micropress, published my own chapbook, and got in a car to drive around the country promoting it at any place that will return my e-mails and phone calls not because I think the system is broken. I just think the system is bigger than it appears to be.” — from a really entertaining and no-lavender-aerosol take on DIY micropublishing and touring by Ryan Werner at Passages North 

I wish fire were a square, you original SimCity you, I wish I wish

Monday, August 5th, 2013

Once again—wait, I mean, fifth again—The Claudias App is smarter, cooler, and more densely and cleverly and surprisingly designed than most all of the other online poetry magazines I make ice cubes out of to cool the coffee in my MarxMauss-colored thermos.

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“However, some tone color from the processing in the nonspeech mode faintly enters consciousness”

Monday, July 29th, 2013

“Is your sense of ‘cat-ness’ or your experience of your own body somehow enlarged by your momentary departure?” — Eric Baus on granular vocabularies for the Naropa Summer Writing Program

“Smursh atrocity money .. Verda go .. Sail a moon … Acka doosh a kimosaba .. Comono smonogo .. HAHAHA .. Propah .. Donka doory .. Oh ma nakka nasha doory .. Wowowow *clapping*”

Friday, July 26th, 2013

Related: the winners of the STARK WEEK CRAZY LIVING contest are bemightee, Mark Walters, and Aimee Thorne! Winners, email me at mikeayoung at gmail dot com to claim your prize.

STARK WEEK GOODBYE: A Partial Index of First Lines

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013

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brain eatersAs you can see from the painstaking Filter > Stylize > Wind applied above to our beautiful Stark Week banner, it is time to bid goodbye to the surfer Zen North Carolina clay tennis court poetics of The First Four Books of Sampson Starkweather. Thank you all for reading. Stark Week has been good to me because of all the wonderful people who have written such smart things about these poems of Sam’s, and all the right-brainy artists who have waxed/flowcharted stirringly about trying to contain these poems between arty art. Thank you all for writing. Also during Stark Week was the first time I ever watched Point Break.

I hope you enjoyed this in-depth look at a very large and very spiffy book of poems. You can go back any time, but you can never get the sand to smell the same way in your hair twice. As a final adieu, below the jump is a partial index of all the first lines from the poems in the book. If you want to take one of these lines and make your own four line poem out of it and post it in the comments, you might just find yourself with a free book in the mail, or a margarita in your lap, or a late night phone call from a dude in a cheap, Target-purchased condor suit explaining that he has a great idea for a snack track in your hometown and he won’t stop over-enunciating the word “shank.” It’s love is what it is.

Finally, don’t forget about the tell-us-about-a-crazy-place-you-lived contest, which is running until the end of the night on Wednesday. Now go out and put your first five books in a book. Grow your hair past your hightops. Dunk the sadness. (more…)

STARK WEEK CONTEST: Win a free book by talking about a crazy place you’ve lived

Sunday, July 21st, 2013

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TIME FOR YOU TO WIN STUFF

For our final two installments of Stark Week, we’re going to turn things over to you guys. Thanks for reading all this stuff about this book, which as I said a long time ago (last Monday) I really do feel is worth checking out and talking about in a big way. I hope you have felt the same and have enjoyed these posts! I asked Sam to do a video where he read a poem and came up with a contest idea. One of the least shy people I know, Sam felt paradoxically shy about making a video (maybe because he is an old ghost man), but I think he did a good, spookily red job.

Here’s how the contest works: check out Sam’s poem from the last book of The First Four Books of Sampson Starkweather, which is about a crazy place he lived, and then talk about the craziest place you lived in the comments. Craziest place—as judged by Sam and maybe his girlfriend or his friends or his pizza delivery guy—will win a free copy of The First Four Books. If you don’t feel like watching Sam’s poem or watching him make fun of me in the beginning of the video (cuz, like, you have really busy Sundays in your life), just leave a comment! Win a book!

Deadline: 11:59 PM Wednesday July 24th

STARK WEEK EPISODE #11: “No myth is written all at once” — Jared White on THE LAST FOUR BOOKS OF SAMPSON STARKWEATHER

Sunday, July 21st, 2013

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For our final textual episode of Stark Week, Jared White takes us a billion years into the future, where creaky American poetballer Sampsonian Starkweathershire has released his final four books, capping over a career of the highest highs and the lowest lows and the crunchiest chicken tenders. Later today we’ll be posting TWO CONTESTS where you’ll have a chance to win your own copy of The First Four Books of Sampson Starkweather. HTMLGIANT fav Unnameable Books in NYC reports that people have been stealing The First Four Books, which you shouldn’t do, but is also kind of cool, right? DON’T STEAL; WIN CONTESTS. STAY TUNED! For now, we turn to Mr. White and the year 2066—or was it 2666?

the photographs_Page_1Sampson Starkweather died for the fifth time in the year 2066— or was it 2666? Either way he had already nicknamed the year to a more personable, abbreviated 2-6-6, like police scanner code: 2-6-6, year of the singularity. But was it death? Or like words, would Sampson Starkweather live on as the ghost in the machine?

Famously, Starkweather’s poetry was entirely written in a blaze during a six-year period before he reached the age of 21, at which point he abandoned writing entirely. Instead he devoted himself to long travels in the southern hemisphere as an incognito adventurer, knight errant, part-time athlete, wrestler, and stone quarry foreman. Whether he died of bodily injuries or illness or returned from his self-imposed exile a much-changed man, he was never seen from again, except in photographs and emails, traveling through the ether more slowly than the news of his death.

Then, during the war, three soldiers are said to have come to the house where Sampson Starkweather was living in the woods alone. Either because of his political beliefs or perhaps in spite of them, he was arrested without charges and executed in a field in front of the Great Fountain on the road between Viznar and Alfacar. But in outer space there are no fountains and no fields; instead there are small space-crafts and plenty of space-junk that must be steered around and so there are also frequent accidents like the one that took place in the tunnel where spaceman Sampson Starkweather was struck in the middle of the night. (What is night in between stars? In outer space is there star weather?).

the photographs_Page_2His injuries at first appeared minor but in the wake of the incident his drinking became more acute. Shortly after his fortieth birthday he was found in a stupor in the stairwell of his apartment and brought to the hospital. Here, Starkweather drifted in and out of consciousness before expiring. His last words were, “My first four books did this to me.” And by some great coincidence, just down the hall on the same floor, a forty-six year old Sampson Starkweather was admitted almost simultaneously. His chief complaint was hiccups, but it was clear that what ailed him was serious and his condition worsened over the days that followed.

“Malaria?” one  intrepid doctor offered, though there was no consensus. Within days, Starkweather was dead and his publishers began the long work of preparing the unfinished text of his First Four Books to be published posthumously.

Overhead, Sampson Starkweather read these books on the screen of his transom-window, writing in steam with his fingers on the glass with its fogged vantage of Mars. No myth is written all at once. And then, of course, the singularity, much delayed, in that year of sixes, when the upload was complete and the mind inside the machine became indistinguishable from the image of the body outside. (The heart in the machine is green too.)

the photographs_Page_3Sampson Starkweather may still be in there, if there can be called an inside, now that time has stopped and the same year continues day after day, a permanent Tron grid of ‘80s video games stretching out into infinity: “Forget futurism… I want to talk to you without skin.”

Sampson Starkweather is Sampson Starkweather’s ghost, dying. But when a ghost dies, what happens then? When a ghost dies does it come back to life?

Jared White’s most recent chapbook, THIS IS WHAT IT IS LIKE TO BE LOVED BY ME, was published by Bloof Books this spring and is now available as an ebook herehere, or here. Another chap, MY FORMER POLITICS, is forthcoming from H-NGM-N. In addition to writing, he is co-owner of Berl’s Brooklyn Poetry Shop, a small press bookstore, and father of Roman Field White, a seven-month-old baby. (more…)