On February 4th Kevin Sampsell made the following announcement on Future Tense’s Facebook page:
In light of recent of recent allegations of abuse, we’ve decided to remove Gregory Sherl’s book, Monogamy Songs, from our catalog. We hope that all people involved can heal and find peace.
Future Tense was not, though, the first press to remove a Gregory Sherl title from its catalog. The day before KMA Sullivan had announced on YesYes Books’ Facebook page:
In light of the allegations of abuse that have unfolded over the last few days and my beliefs surrounding these allegations, I have decided to pull Gregory Sherl’s book Heavy Petting from the YesYes Books catalog. I commend the women who have come forward. My sincerest hope is that everyone involved receive the support they need.
I’ve thought about this quite a bit in the last week (and discussed it with a few people I met with during my recent trip to Oakland and San Francisco) and while I agree with and would like to echo the last part of each of these announcements (“We hope that all people involved can heal and find peace” and “My sincerest hope is that everyone involved receive the support they need”) I’d like to think that If I was in a similar position I would NOT remove the book from my catalog.
This is to say that regardless of the allegations, or my beliefs surrounding them, I think the right thing would be to continue to make the book available to those who might want to purchase it. I feel where Future Tense and YesYes are coming from in this difficult, emotionally-charged situation– but for me the book is the book and If I thought it was good enough to publish then I’d like to think I would stand by it still (even if doing so made me wince).
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Niceties debuts today and pokes a hole in the coma of language. The tired factions, lyric versus experience, this tribal cliché, mellifluous pretension, or language generating language, assaulted usually converse by the plain and sneering, story time, popped out of their tepid beers now by a handier relic, just got outmoded – combined to hurt itself inside a voice both beyond and including narration, the personal event broken to the heart’s proper arrhythmia. A flaying can still be vulnerable even if it takes you with it. The sobriety of our times cannot support this book because the general crusade has been swatted operatic. Anything without khakis is giggled about in these great plots for safety so-called artists use to call themselves important. How much precedence might ones pellet-sized message keep in the face of such wrought mystic twirling up the bowel meant for silence? Don’t fret. Mikesch is here to kick you out of your crib and flout the world that hasn’t started. Think those loops Markus swerves us through tied up in a Finnish peninsular whelp, with an elbow caught between each breath, the chorus tapping out a feel good suicide. I don’t want beauty unless it’s clawing me permanent.
There is a fundraiser to help Gregory Sherl fight his OCD by contributing towards the costs of an inpatient treatment program.
There is also a statement from Kat Dixon in which she accuses Sherl of “constant physical, emotional, and sexual abuse.”
Andrew Keating, publisher of Cobalt Press, wrote the following on Facebook a little earlier this evening:
When I first saw Gregory Sherl’s bullshit fundraiser, I was conflicted. I want the dude to get help, but I also think that he should be forced into hardship for the terrible things he’s done to people. Recovery from the type of behavior that Sherl has been accustomed to getting away with should not be easy, and he should not be permitted to exploit our good nature, especially when it is good-natured people that he has so terribly exploited and abused in the past.
Yes, I am aware that this fundraiser is tied to an affliction that he is categorizing as OCD; however, I’m not about to assume that a man beating on his wife because she couldn’t get a stain out of his shirt is a simple matter of an obsessive need for cleanliness.
Thanks to Kat Dixon for so plainly reminding us that we should not be supporting those who abuse or take advantage of women.
On 16 January 2014, a writer boy named Paul Auster conversed with someone named Dr. Isaac Gewirtz (this boy likely had friends & relations who were a part of the Holocaust) at the Morgan Library (which seems quite splendid, though it may not be if Mayor Bloomberg was able to blow his matzoh-ball-soup breath on it).
According to girl writer & Huffington Post blogger Anne Margaret Daniel, Paul put forth the category of a “boy writer,” which means:
someone who is so excited, takes such a sense of glee and delight in being clever, in puzzles, in games, in… and you can feel these boys cackling in their rooms when they write a good sentence, just enjoying the whole adventure of it. And the boy writers are the ones you read, and you understand why you love literature so much.
I concur with Paul — because of “boy writers,” literature is the best thing ever (except Christianity).
Arthur Rimbaud is a boy writer, which is why he stabbed people at poetry readings and yelled “shit” after the insipid readers declaimed their dull verse.
Edgar Allan Poe, as Paul points out, is a boy writer, as he composed stories on murder and poems on special girls, like the “beautiful Annabel Lee.”
There’s not a lot of boy writers who are un-dead. Most, nowadays, correspond to what Paul terms a “grown-up writer.” Stephen Burt, Carl Phillips, Dobby Gibson, Geoffrey G. O’Brien, Bob Hicok are examples of a “grown-up writer.” They don’t spotlight the “puzzles” and the “games” of the violence, theatricality, exploitation, and upsetness in the postlapsarian world. They document liberal middle class averageness. “It’s about settling down and settling in,” says Burt.
But some boy writers are un-dead.
Johannes Goransson likes makeup and violence. “mascara is infected / belongs to assaults,” the Action Books editor and boy writer elucidates in Pilot (Johann the Carousel Horse).
HTML Giant’s own Blake Butler is a boy writer. In Sky Saw, his characters aren’t given names but numbers (just like in the Holocaust and in the War on Terror). Reading his books are sort of close to witnessing a disembowelment.
Paul Legault (because he likes Emily Dickinson like someone would like an American Girl doll), Walter Mackey (because he likes Barbie), and Julian Brolaski (because his language reads like sticky, sweet, chewy watermelon bubblegum), are all un-dead boy writers.
But the best boy writers (maybe ever) are dead, and they’re Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. Glee? Delight? Cackling in their rooms? Enjoying the whole adventure? All the attribute’s of Paul’s boy writer align with Eric and Dylan. They kept journals, websites, and videos so everyone in the whole wide world could be cognizant of the glee-enjoying-cackling-delight-adventure that they had in planning their massacre. As Eric stated, “I could convince them that I’m going to climb Mount Everest, or that I have a twin brother growing out of my back. I can make you believe anything.”
I’m pleased to announce that the tenth issue of Requited is now online and contains:
- Fiction by Rich Ives and Lauren Wallach;
- Poetry by Janelle Adsit, Naomi Buck Palagi, Lance Garland, Matt Trease, Lina ramona Vitkauskas, and Caroline Crew & Chris Emslie;
- Nonfiction by Virginia Konchan and Jarrett Neal;
- Visual art by Jenny Magnus, Nicole Matos, and Zoe Nelson.
Furthermore, in the journal’s rapidly-growing archives, you’ll find poetry by Molly Gaudry and Nate Pritts; fiction by James Tadd Adcox, Jimmy Chen, Jac Jemc, Tim Jones-Yelvington, and Suzanne Scanlon; nonfiction by William Bowers, Jeremy M. Davies, Julianne Hill, Steve Katz, Mark Rappaport, Keiler Roberts, Viktor Shklovsky, and Curtis White; interviews with Robert Ashley and Vanessa Place—and other wonderful things.
“Swarming, in other words, maximizes the advantages of formlessness over form…Because such action is self-organizing and self-producing…it is liable to occur spontaneously at all levels of social organization…Not only does Swarm threaten Empire’s monuments and armies…At the level of language, swarming is a sign of poetic activity.”
–Andrew Joron, “Terror Conduction,” The Cry at Zero
Over at Big Lucks, there is a Mike Young poem flapping open with some blankspaces that need filling. The poem is from a chapbook SOON TO COME called Who Can Make It. Maybe it’s a title about survival. Maybe it’s a title about creation. Either way, Big Lucks and Mike Young want you to go visit those blankspaces in Mike Young’s poem with your stormwords, with your birdclouds. Go to the website and fill in the blankspaces and maybe you get a glow shout in the acknowledgments / a chance to be in the newest issue of Big Lucks. Yeah? I think it seems like the kill rhythm. I think it seems like the way to get some colored fumes around here. Winners will be announced on the Big Lucks FB page in January.
Many of these footprints were in large numbers close together and, just by looking quietly at them, men, who themselves originally lived in small hordes, were made aware of the contrast between their own number and the enormous numbers of some animal herds. They were always hungry and on the watch for game; and the more there was of it the better for them. But they also wanted to be more than themselves. Man’s feeling for his own increase was always strong and is certainly not to be understood only as his urge for self-propagation. Men wanted to be more, then and there; the large numbers of the herd which they hunted blended, in their feeling with their own numbers which they wished to be large, and they expressed this in a specific state of communal excitement which I shall call the rhythmic or throbbing crowd.
-Elias Canetti, “Rhythm,” Crowds and Power
Seattle’s Cheese & Wine Poetry Community / The Cult of Henry Darger / etc / etc / (talking with Rebecca Loudon)
Rauan: Seattle’s a polite town. Everyone’s super polite, cordial, in a way, cool in their dealings. But not so warm all the time. Seldom even maybe. What do you think of this? And do you think Seattle’s writing (poetry, etc, whatnot) suffers and/or benefits from a similar sort of politeness? Coolness?
Rebecca: Seattle used to be considered a “friendly” town but Seattle grew up and is now a Big City. Seattle suffers from a kind of passive/aggression. I’ve seen people at six way stops get out of their cars and start fighting over who goes first. We also have a lot of homeless displaced people here but they are mostly ignored or hidden so the city will look prettier. Seattle is famous for leading the way in cutting down its carbon footprint but the city’s largest private employer makes airplanes. No one (at least publicly) acknowledges how jet fuel which emits carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere at an alarming rate contributes to the acceleration of global warming. And yet you can no longer get paper or plastic bags at Seattle stores because it’s bad for the environment.
Seattle writers are friendly among themselves those writers who write similar poems those writers who are polite whose poems are polite whose work doesn’t take risks whose poems are widely published in polite poetry journals. It’s an easy place to be a poet. You can’t swing a contrabassoon without hitting a poetry reading in Seattle. This city has supported poetry on buses poetry readings for the city council poetry readings in museums and offers all kinds of grants and opportunities to poets who write polite non-threatening poetry. Sometimes Seattle gets lucky and brings in outside poets to read but mostly it’s the same circle of poets making the rounds being passive aggressively nice with their nice natural fiber clothes their hybrid cars their little hemp bags in which to put their shopping and their polite nice poetry.
Okay, so that was the first part of my latest Seattle Author Spotlight, the 11th, featuring Rebecca Loudon. Several years I did an interview with Rebecca regarding her excellent book Cadaver Dogs (which you can read here, it contains info about her being a violinist as well as some of the very personal elements of that book) but this time I had the pleasure of meeting Rebecca in person. Rebecca claims to be a sort of hermit, but we got along great, intensities coming and going. And Rebecca’s work as I’m finding out is getting stranger and stronger READ MORE >
November 5th, 2013 / 10:52 am
Here are a couple of excerpts:
The station is full of copies, thought-structures all breathing the same boxed air as him, screwed down into new estates, their borrowed movements vapour trails of the imperceptible multitudes that precede them, his forced embodiment a shriek he cannot hear, its explicit exclusion of human context conveyed in a series of smirks and titters causing him to wake repeatedly inside glimpses of himself, a reluctant conduit to spasms outside the insulation of a body, some dead agent without a face and him mad yellow escaping his dismembered endurance, expanding into nothing in the artificial disfigurement of their smiles until he finds an unsecured staircase, and unaware of any alien intent they carry it up after him, hands formed like mouths barking, their dreams of souls all shrunken cages in its swarm of dead beginnings, their every defect growing into holes, and up into the street and they disperse around him their brains once again made of the digitalised ooze of money and fucking and blood, his own voice coming back removed as if from a TV in another room, his limbs appendixes to an earthquake camouflaged by some Sadean baptism of puke and shit, and nothing and no sound, its hold fixed on the ends of unpronounced words, agitating images of string, an animated ossuary squeezed with rainless faces shining like simulated sick…
For a second or two there is the man, on his feet reaching for the back of his chair with his right hand, and then the dance of the vanishing begins: the flailing honeycombed limbs, naked bone READ MORE >
Now available for preorder from Future Tense (and for a limited time in hardcover) is freaky Jamie Iredell’s newest, an essay collection with the uncanny title, I was A Fat Drunk Catholic School Insomniac, funded by its even more uncanny cover:
Iredell’s essays never shy from getting up in the face of the nasty phases of one’s life, and how those phases make you into someone wiser, grateful to have survived. This book goes hard.
For a taste, check out his body-image-catalogying essay “Fat” at the Rumpus.
Last nighttime I was in Lena Dunham Land, which I don’t like in the least, as 99 percent of the people who reside there claim to make poems, and these people who claim to make poems are nice, sociable, and happy. They would never use chemical weapons, nor would they ever vote to shut down the United States government, and all of that, to me, is utterly unacceptable.
But what’s very acceptable is Monica McClure. The poetess beauty (who, one day, will make a marvelous malicious housewife in Connecticut) hosted a party for her chapbook Mood Swing. In black tights and a Mandate of Heaven play suit, Monica read mean poems, harmful poems, and, since she’s a girl, poems about Diet Coke and makeup.
The edibles served at the reading included Skittles, which are yummy.
The reading was held at Berl’s Poetry Shop.
Rauan: why is most Memoir so bad, so boring (and in so many instances just a kind of “grief porn”)??
Elissa: Memoir is the genre most often entered by celebrities. It’s also full of books by people whose lives have been stricken by remarkable tragedies or circumstances that are marketable to readers hungry to know about other people’s lives. If we want to know about that secret wig that Andre Agassi wore for years during his tennis career, he’ll gladly sell us a copy of his memoir, Open. If we want to know how Dustin Diamond felt about playing Screech, he’ll give us an earful in Behind the Bell. Politicians use memoir to push their agendas; the infamous use it to set the record straight. Many celebrity memoirs are ghostwritten, and I get the feeling that the people on the covers don’t think much about craft.
Memoir isn’t working, I think, when the author has no ear for language, no eye for image, a limp voice, and an insistence upon a narrative arc that delivers an easy revelatory triumph at the end. In mediocre-at-best memoirs, the narrators balk when faced with the opportunity to tease out the most complicated tangles of their experience–sometimes, the revelation of their own complicity in what’s gnawing at them. That’s narrative gold in memoir: reading about a character with agency is much more compelling than reading about a helpless victim. I certainly do not wish to judge or take away from the lived experiences of the people who wrote the memoirs that I’ve found the most to critique in (including Prozac Nation by Elizabeth Wurtzel and Lucky by Alice Sebold), but in memoir, there’s a problematic tendency to close the gap between art and life that allows the most exciting work to take place.
I read and listen to (audiobooks of) lots of memoirs. I’ll listen to any memoir that Seattle Public Library has available. While I do think the memoir genre is full of duds, I’ve read so many thrilling, vibrant, well-written memoirs in the past few years, including Rat Girl by Kristen Hersh, The Guardians by Sarah Manguso, Confessions of a Latter-Day Virgin by Nicole Hardy, READ MORE >
The writer Ted Rees takes real issue with Alex Dimitrov’s decision to use a photograph from David Wojnarowicz’s Rimbaud in New York series as the cover of his book. Rees is clearly disturbed by this and over on his Tumblr (HARM MASSAGE) he fleshes out what he considers to be “a multitude of problems” in the form of a letter (DEAR ALEX DIMITROV) that you can read in full here .
Here, now though, is an extract from Rees’ letter:
…your use of Wojnarowicz’s photograph is, to quote a friend, “one of the most unconscionable appropriations” of another’s artwork that I’ve seen in years. It speaks to a self-importance wrapped in ignorance at best, and a type of colonialism at its worst. Through social and perhaps physical capital, you have acquired an image, totally denuded it of its creator’s political and social intentions, and made it into what you imagine is a reflection, and thereby a representation, of yourself and your work. The act debases Wojnarowicz, whose life was punctuated by poverty, hardship, confusion, and resistance, and whose work attempted to bring attention to how these elements worked on his own life as well as the lives of those around him.
And, to follow, now, is the transcript of a little Q & A that I did with Alex:
Rauan: You don’t seem too bothered by Rees’ criticisms. But could you tell us why you chose the Rimbaud Wojnarowicz piece for your cover?
Alex: Wojnarowicz’s work is important to me—the anger and passion READ MORE >
Scott McClanahan’s Hill William book trailer is here, lit world.
YOUR MOVE, JOYCE CAROL OATES.
[ This is the 7th Seattle Author Spotlight (links to previous ones available at the end of this one where you will also find Jeremy Halinen's bio) and there are plenty more still to come because AWP's coming and you should know a bit more about some of Seattle's talented and interesting writers. ]
—–Jeremy Halinen — Seattle Author Spotlight—–
Jeremy and his work first came to my attention a few years ago when I saw him (and his first book What Other Choice) featured in Keith Montesano’s excellent First Book Interviews series (Jeremy’s interview is number 48) and was immediately taken by his careful and confident voice. It was a pleasure to meet and chat with Jeremy. And it was also a pleasure to read What Other Choice and find in it such elegant and sure-footed movement of language. A book, all in all, moving effortlessly between tender and violent (light and dark) extremes. A wise, gentle, tough and defiant book.
Rauan: Can you plz tell us how and why fisting plays such a prominent role in your book? as rite of passage? as emblem of a difficult consummation? of achieving a kind of blissful, wrecked oblivion?
Jeremy: I don’t think fisting plays such a prominent role in What Other Choice—it only appears in two poems in the book, “Sugar” and “Where There’s a Fist There’s a Way”—but I realize that fisting is such a taboo subject in America that mentioning it at all can draw great attention and thus give more weight or prominence than otherwise.(In the same way, I don’t think your dynamic book The Moon’s Jaw is defined by the fisting in its marvelous untitled prose poem that begins with the line, “In Vegas—Lilacs, boiling, cool, & Dark—You begin to eat my ass…,” even though that poem certainly commanded my attention.) I actually don’t want to speculate on what particular role fisting plays in the book. I think it’s the critic’s job, not the poet’s job, to make such analytic pronouncements.
That said, I have never thought of fisting as a rite of passage. I think of rites of passage as something that everyone in a population (or, perhaps, everyone in a certain subgroup of a population) goes through, such first menstruation or first ejaculation or, more obviously, birth or death. I think fisting is far too specialized and removed from the general population, at least among men (who tend to be the sole practitioners of fisting in my poems—I do have other poems not in What Other Choice that include fisting as a subject), to be considered a rite of passage, although I certainly believe that it should be a right for a consenting adult to pass their hand (with care, I hope!) into the body of another consenting adult. (That said, I imagine that fisting practitioners in the no-doubt diverse and probably dispersed fisting “community” consider their first experience with fisting a rite of passage.) READ MORE >
Adam Humphreys and Zachary German have produced a short film called Baseball, which was available to stream right here on HTMLGiant for 3 hours Aug. 7, 2013.
Zachary German, who co-wrote the film, stars as a cheating lover who must recall the opening of The Great Gatsby from memory to placate his suspicious girlfriend.
The link below is now dead, contact Adam Humphreys (email@example.com) for more information.
Baseball is America’s pastime. Everybody loves baseball. This film has nothing to do with Baseball. They’re playing with you.
Two apartments and one hotel room. A young couple in different time zones. A young guy (Brad) drinking a bottle of Fiji water. A phone call comes through. It is from his girlfriend. A brief exchange establishes they live together. He’s lying to her. She asks him if she left a book on the side table, “The Great Gatsby,” which results in a genuine and convincing look of concern on the part of Brad. It goes from there.
Everything you see and hear in this film is important. The background is important. A cat is important. Brad’s pompousness, in their interaction with another couple, when he quotes from The Great Gatsby in flashback, is important. In very few scenes, the film manages to flesh out the characters pretty well. These are real, believable people in a somewhat wrenching but not unfunny scenario.
I feel a similar cosmic humor in Humphreys’ other two films. And a similar uncanny and profound feeling of disconnection as in German’s earlier literary efforts. Little details, like the cat, the cat’s water, and the couple’s conversations lead inexorably to a muted emotional breakdown. The opening passage of The Great Gatsby, quoted by Brad three times in the film, proves meaningful on multiple levels.
The first time through, it’s funny. The second time it’s not so much. Pain is a big part of comedy. Baseball is a tight little film that will reward multiple viewings.
Choire Sicha’s first book is out. I haven’t read it yet, but it is called Very Recent History: An Entirely Factual Account of a Year (c. AD 2009) in a Large City. The book party was at the East Village gay bar “The Cock,” and I have to say I have never seen it as packed as last night, at least as a pedestrian who quickly walked past it from the outside. There will be a lot of talk about the book, because almost everyone who reads (a lot?) online knows of Sicha. The book follows a group of gay men and chronicles their lives, but for some reason I trust it to not be regressive, even before I read it. I choose to believe Salon, that it will be “among a next wave of books about gay folks as full American citizens that doesn’t bother walking them through schematic journeys meant to stand in for the American Gay Experience.”
The active endeavor to ensure the meaningful participation of diverse individuals in media is integral. It helps reach a realistic and more informed view on the specifics of a broader range of identities. However, the constant overanalyzing of public figures’ gender, race and ethnicity identification choices may end up harming the very purpose they were intended to serve: letting individuals receive merit-based recognition for their objectively high-quality work.
A recent example of excessive analyzing of such nature is that of Hillary Clinton setting up a twitter account. Since the first moment she signed up for the social media website many jokes–some witty, others offensive–have been recurring. An approach that stuck out to me as particularly idiotic was the interpretation of how she chose to order the numerous qualities that define her in her two-line bio. To assert that Hillary Clinton is “anti-feminist” because she starts her twitter bio with “wife” and “mom” before addressing her professional accomplishments, is not only naive and judgmental, it is also self-righteous and flat-out manipulative. Policing the way people choose to present themselves, and telling them they are not to be taken seriously as feminists because they prioritize differently then the average feminist is expected to (?) is childish.
Additionally, who does not know that she also has served as Secretary of State? Pure common sense makes the dialogue surrounding the topic redundant. I think this line of thinking contradicts the true sense of feminism, as in such a system of order the women are provided the agency to identify how to present themselves. What about the people who use humor in their bios? Is that unethical? Are we taking things–such as a public figure’s social media presence–that seriously, and if we are, whose fault is it?
MANIPULATIVE NATURE OF THE DISCOURSE
A piece in The Millions presented a family saga focusing on the case-hardened nature of the way identity is performed by the writer and her grandmother, who seem to fall into the trap of being defined by the social expectations their social identities in how they attain and use power.
“As mixed-race girls, we learned to take what we could from where we could to make a whole. That’s a vulnerable position to be in, susceptible to second-guessing and collapse, but it’s also a crash course in manipulation. Hence the posturing of invulnerability. The multitude of ways that my grandmother and I announced a lack of need, and presented ourselves as in solid control. We don’t need you, we projected, and therefore we may have to ignore what you need as we go about proving that to ourselves once and again. One of the only things I know how to say in Chinese is: Wo zi ze lai. I can help myself.”
After its initial appearance, the ideology of representation has slowly lost a large chunk of its significance. There are times that I feel like I am not supposed to not like non-white writing, even if some of it has to be mundane, dull and entitled. The worst is when the writing is also patronizing and borders delusional. In some ways, if the argument is reduced to powerlessness as its selling point, it cannot easily be powerful when the powerlessness is not real.
I am not Miley Cyrus’ biggest fan, but an open letter addressed to her on The Huffington Post offended me. The writer aggressively requests Miley Curys ought to stop disrespecting “what feels black.” What he means of course, is that she should stop trying to emulate the rap element that currently dominates pop culture: she is white, thus cannot and must not do these things associated with what the author considers parts of the black identity, such as twerking. To claim these as an exclusive element of black culture is silly, and certainly flawed at its core: it leads to a new separation and division among people of different races. It seems like the writer might not be comfortable with a broadly inclusive culture that is not segmented the way he views it, or at least that is what the tone of his letter indicates.
His main issue and the central issue with her is her requesting producers that she was trying to go for a vibe that “feels black.” Her creative endeavor to do that cannot be offensive. It can be successful or not. While it is difficult to decide which is the case, at the end of the video for “We Can’t Stop” she smiles wearing a grill. It is not a mocking grin, rather a smile of awareness. She knows what she is doing, and she is doing it with a sense of humor.
STARK WEEK EPISODE #11: “No myth is written all at once” — Jared White on THE LAST FOUR BOOKS OF SAMPSON STARKWEATHER
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?
Sampson 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?).
His 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.)
Sampson 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 here, here, 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. READ MORE >
Tonight (I guess it’s last night by now), in the basement of The Elliott Bay Book Company here in Seattle, Tao Lin read a section of his new book, Tai Pei, to a crowd of about 70-80 people, most of whom were fans.
I’ve read very little of Tao Lin but being a part of the Indie Lit community I have heard his name quite a bit. And I do know that lots of people really like “Tao Lin” and Tao Lin’s writing. And lots of people really dislike “Tao Lin” and Tao Lin’s writing. And as we walked into the bookstore one of my new Seattle buddies underscored this with the phrase “very polarizing.” My friend was referring to Tao Lin’s writing but I guess he could just easily have been referring to “Tao Lin.”
Tao began by apologizing for being late (the reading had been pushed back from 7 to 8pm) and explained that he’d missed his 9:30 (a.m.) flight and then his new flight was delayed. Tao sounded a bit under the weather. A bit like he had a sore throat. But, the reading seemed to go ok.
The Q & A, though, is where things got interesting. And pretty quick. The 2nd question was about Tao’s use of Gchat and Gmail. This was, evidently, a touchy subject for Tao and from then on the Q & A, for the most part, was Tao bemoaning the negative reviews (and tweet) Tai Pei has received so far. READ MORE >