Yesterday, after my lunch but before theirs, I interviewed Droqen (i.e., Alexander Martin) and Ryan Roth, the developer and sound designer of Starseed Pilgrim, a beautiful, mysterious game about “tending a symphonic garden, exploring space, and embracing fate.” It’s six dollars and I am extremely confident your computer can run it. I was kind of awkward and shy, predictably, but the two of them did great. We did it as a video because that was expedient, but if I were you I would treat it like a podcast — listen to the audio; don’t feel like you’ve got to watch. We talked mostly about video games – Starseed Pilgrim, Droqen’s other games, stuff we had all played and enjoyed, and things we didn’t like so much. But I don’t think you have to like video games very much to find a lot of what they said interesting. I made some annotations (indexed by time code) to provide context and further information for the things we discussed; click past the fold to see them. READ MORE >
Girls are very estimable presently. Most of their comportments are catty, cute, and violent. For instance, Baby Marie-Antoinette composed a letter to the Boston Police asking them to kill her. Then there’s Marie Calloway, who holds on to dear dead roses. Also, Baby Stephanie — she twirls her trademark braid basically all the time, even when she bruises.
Here are some other things that some other girls are up to:
Baby Carina, a girl who converses with rainbows and tumbles about the East Village in sashes, is about to publish her first book, Lemonworld. She made a trailer for it that features, among other things, my Portable John Milton and her harp version of Fleetwood Mac’s “Never Go Back Again.”
Mattie Barringer, who dresses like a warrior pixie, reads Anne Sexton and discusses her body image plights with awe-inspiring composure. She was recently interviewed by the constantly cutting StyleLikeU.
Lara Glenum’s third book of poems, Pop Corpse!, concerns a Virgina Woolf-cum-Sasha Grey mermaid who can only caca out of her mouth: One of the loveliest lines from the book is: “Oops, I dropped my eyes inside yr boi panties.”
Lastly, is Baby Ji Yoon colluding with North Korea?
This is the first time I’ve ever donated to a Kickstarter project, because this is the first one that really compelled me to participate. Check out their project page to see a video of kids reading poems from the anthology and talking about the avant-garde, and then consider joining me in donating to this worthwhile project:
Black Radish Books is proud to present KINDERGARDE: Avant-garde Poems, Plays, Stories, and Songs for Children, an award-winning anthology that features 85 experimental writers from across the country, including: Anne Waldman, Beverly Dahlen, CA Conrad, Christian Bök, Douglas Kearney, Eileen Myles, Etel Adnan, giovanni singleton, Harryette Mullen, Joan Retallack, Johanna Drucker, Juan Felipe Herrera, Julie Patton, Kenny Goldsmith, Kevin Killian, Leslie Scalapino, Lyn Hejinian, M. NourbeSe Philip, Noelle Kocot, Robin Blaser, Rosmarie Waldrop, Sawako Nakayasu, Vanessa Place, Wanda Coleman, and many others!
Our goal is to make the book as widely accessible to kids as possible. And since we are an independent, collective press, we need additional support to fund this project thoroughly. We’re hoping that 100 people will purchase books through this Kickstarter campaign so we can fully fund a large print run of the KINDERGARDE anthology.
The KINDERGARDE project helps kids know that there are many ways to think and be in the world and that their ideas are important — no matter how different or “strange” they may seem. By supporting this project, you are expanding kids’ ideas about what literature can be and do. And you are also supporting creative risk-taking and open-mindedness. Join us!
There was a rather large period in which I basically refused to utter Maya Angelou’s name, let alone read her books. For quite a bit, I associated Maya with Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, and other guardians of the white race. In one of my classroom’s Maya’s poster was hung right next to Clinton’s. Why would I wander around in the text of someone that’s in such close proximity (even if it’s just in poster form) to William Jefferson Clinton? He, like white race icon Allen Ginsberg, was a pervert, and perverts are preponderantly narrow-minded since all they really care about is the human body.
But then, a couple of months ago, while I was sipping a berry Juicy Juice box and surfing the web I ran into a video of Fiona Apple’s 1997 VMA acceptance speech. Fiona is not a follower of middle class principles. “I’ve been a bad bad girl,” sings Fiona, in her hit single “Criminal.” “I’ve been careless with a delicate man.” Unlike Betty F, Sheryl Sandberg, Andrea Dworkin, &c, Fiona doesn’t believe that girls behaving like Capitalists is beneficial. What’s wonderful to her is mistreating men, not striving to emulate their trajectory. Rather than devote her earth time to working 9-5, saying things that no one needs to hear while touching commodities that are as cute as Ginsberg’s beard (not cute in any way whatsoever), Fiona hides in closets and rolls on the floor in sassy outfits. Hope is trivial to Fiona — what she sports is massively more marvelous: prettiness and pugnacity.
So… In Fiona’s 97 VMA acceptance speech, in addition to issuing the true declaration (“this world is bullshit”), she quotes Maya Angelou — “We, at our best, can only create opportunities.” While I’m not certain that I concur with this quote, Fiona’s embrace of Maya still caused me to reevaluate her. Maybe Maya did deviate from the morals of Community Organizer B.O., Clinton, Marc Rubio, Rob Portman, &c. Maybe Maya was concerned with more than allowing everyone to take part in the white race system of consumption, copulation, and contentment.
To find out, I read Maya’s I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings and concluded that Maya was commendable. Instead of spending her Sundays scrolling an iPad, Maya attends church, where some members (Sister Monroe) get so much spirit that they chase the preacher around and around the chapel. Does Maya mingle with humans holding plain white race names like John Kerry, Jon Tester, John Thune, John McCain? No. When she moves to St. Louis to live with her mother, Maya’s surrounded by action-packed appellations — Wild West Brooks, Hard-hitting Jimmy, Two Gun. Then my eyeballs feasted (thought not actually; my eyeballs aren’t my mouth, so they can’t do that) on this passage:
There is this all-consuming article in the New Yorker about the frequently confusing, possibly acceptable hipster-media-capitalism of Vice Magazine (the TV show), in the current cultural context. The talk of the town seems to be that Vice has sold out better than anyone else, that not selling out is failing, and that authenticity is for the poor or the soon-to-be-rich. Progressive political will, funded by corporations, and fueled by boring white-guy-Brooklyn hedonism, is the only mindgame in town.
Enter Edward Bernays: the man behind the men behind the reason you feel something when you buy something. The guy who sold soft Freud to hard markets.
Anne Frank is one of the most fortunate creatures to ever be compelled to live on earth. If I wasn’t a boy – that is to say, if I was a girl — she’d most likely be included in the Top 5 Girls Who I’d Want to Be. And it’s just not me who admires Anne so. Angela Chase, the moody heroine of My So-Called Life, envies her too. When Angela’s high-school English teacher asks her to describe Anne’s predicament, Angela answers, “Lucky.” Maggie Nelson – a one-percent poet – is fascinated by Anne as well. “But who can guess / what Anne would have said / about the last place she went,” Maggie speculates, with fantastic suspense. There’s plenty more examples – including a significant sample of sexualized feminists who harp on Anne’s clitoris – but that’ll do presently.
What’s of primary importance is that Anne’s life was preponderantly sensational and romantic. Her setting was one of a studio movie (the Holocaust), but, being confined to a secret annex, it was also one of a stormy Victorian romance novel. She kind of resembles Bertha Mason. Both were concealed from external society due to dark, devastatingly charming forces: Hitler and Lord Rochester. Then Anne’s also sort of like Harriet the Spy (Paramount Pictures). Both Anne and Harriet meticulously record their thoughts, especially their mean ones: Harriet is contemptuous of Sport’s (one of her BFFs) lack of money; Anne. meanwhile, puts down her future one true love, Peter, by declaring: “Can’t expect much from his company.” Yes, Anne’s disposition is commendably catty and literary. But a famous literary boy, Harold Bloom, says:
A child’s diary, even when she was so natural a writer, rarely could sustain literary criticism. Since this diary is emblematic of hundreds of thousands of murdered children, criticism is irrelevant. I myself have no qualifications except as a literary critic. One cannot write about Anne Frank’s Diary as if Shakespeare, or Philip Roth, is the subject.
Uh-uh, Shakespeare was probably bisexual, or, according to rumors, an average person whose name was usurped by a member of Queen Elizabeth’s court (or the Queen herself) for a pseudonym. There’s nothing special about liking boys and girls, nor is there anything worth noticing about the middle class. As for Philip Roth… well, we know what Baby Adolf would say about him.
A more marvelous evaluation comes from Girl Land author, Caitlin Flanagan: “Anne Frank is an imp, a brat, a narcissist, a sulker, a manipulator, a manic talker, a flirt, and a person who insisted on the rapt attention of everyone around her at one moment, and on the pure privacy that all misunderstood people demand at the next.” Anne is moody and mysterious. She might possess some relationship to Fiona Apple or Lana Del Ray. These girls contain conflicting traits too. Conflict is quite entertaining, and entertainment should look lovely, and Anne Frank shall be just that since I shall dress her up.
Unlike some other stuffed animals, I had a very good time in Boston. Admittedly, that’s probably because I didn’t get there until Friday. I also tried to avoid any and all conversations that had to do with books. The only time I talked about writing was when my buddy Mike and I drunkenly explained “epistemology ” to our non-MFA friends. Gross.
The two coolest stuffed animals I met there were Tyler Gobble and Layne Ransom. We probably hung out for a total of 25 minutes, but it was a real dope 25 minutes: we played dice and Tweeted from each other’s phones and hopped around on a dance floor that was pulsating. I always leave AWP with a swollen, stupid heart because of all those instances where internet user names morph into actual people. Meeting these two actual people was definitely one of my most swollen moments (ew).
But all that said, I have to apologize to Layne. Because I did something stupid.
The week before AWP, I had bookmarked about ten new online lit journals and chapbooks, because AWP was coming up and OMGWTF I had so many travel-sized tubes of toothpaste to buy. The last thing I wanted to do was virtually thumb through lit shit, but then someone posted a link to You Are The Meat (Layne’s new jumpoff from H_NG_MAN Books) right when I was about to eat some Chinese food. The Chinese food was disgusting; You Are The Meat was anything but. I was completely captivated by each of the fourteen poems in this digital chapbook (which you can download for free, BTW). Layne’s writing is like the dude you always want to invite to your dance party—these poems are going to hug you for twenty seconds too long, drink all the empties in your recycling bin, and pick a drunken fight with the choad who accidentally says something sexist. Then, in the morning—when you’re really hung over and want to do nothing but eat some eggs—they’re going to say something silly and beautiful that will remind you of how nice it is to be around good, good people. READ MORE >
As many are already absolutely aware, beginning on March 6 and ending on March 9 there was a literary conference — sponsored by Bambi Muse and Fox News — of sparkly specialness. That literary conference — the Kmart Belles Lettres Conference — was clamorous, and clamor commands a summary. So here is a summary!
March 6 (Day 1):
Most of the attendees were in a foul mood for the first day. Edie Sedgwick, for one, lost her fur in a cab on the night before and refused to mingle with anyone, even the sharp society poet Edith Sitwell. Sitwell tried to offer Edie a coup of tea, but Edie insisted that no one speak to her about anything unless it was directly related to the recovery of her fur coat.
So, instead Sitwell started a conversation with none other than Baby Adolf, the first Bambi Muse baby. Here’s a snippet of their chat:
Hey gang, just wanted to spread the word that Heiko Julién‘s 3rd ebook, There Is No Reason for Tigers to Be Beautiful, They Just Are is now online. It’s the first thing from Pop Serial 4 (which is available in print) to be put online. The rest is coming soon, thanks to Chad Redden. Heiko is one of the rare contemporary writers I’m consistently excited about. I vibe with him real hard and maybe you’ll dig him too. An excerpt:
The secret to my Decent Quality of Life?
I spend every moment I’m not eating thinking about the next time I will eat. Creates and maintains tension. This is how I have cultivated bliss within, and yet my greatest strengths are alternately my biggest weaknesses. For instance, I died in a house fire in 2004. Tried to make four toasts in a two-toast toaster.
You need to know: You are in the fight of your life. If you don’t Grow, this fucked up hellscape of a reality we inhabit will ravage your mind/body/soul.
It is no wonder I’ve been a Bad Person and so have you. We’d like to think that’s all in the past now. We are getting older and wiser and less terrified but the stimulus that scares us is getting stronger.
So let’s talk about Bad People: Bad People betray their friends and themselves for no good reason because they have too much fear they’ve chosen to ignore rather than confront. On a seemingly related but unrelated note, this world has betrayed me, so I am commenting on youtube vids, lamenting the death of Good Music. Forsaken by a world that has abandoned me, I wander into my bathtub and drown. It was already filled from a previous bath. (Cold and gross.)
The fact remains that the majority of my youth is gone and I spent a lot of it being upset. Considering suicide as a means of avoiding future work and general discomfort, yet I look at you in your cargo shorts and think, “you are not going to make it, probably.” I think this because I am a survivor and am also into men’s fashion.
Animals are doing all kinds of crazy things to survive and so are you. You bought your daughter a Justin Biebre CD and listened to it to try to feel Good. Incidentally, I still cannot get over the fact that there are animals that live underwater.
You aren’t allowed to commit suicide until your mom has died. These are the rules. I don’t make them. Living is better than not living, even though it’s painful a lot of the time. Just make plans for the future. You don’t even have to do them.
When you are having a serious problem and there’s no one you can talk to about it because they wouldn’t understand, that’s when you’re You.
My teddy bear, Kmart, is named after the place where I purchased him: Kmart (specifically, the one on Broadway).
Well, as it so happened, on Friday night, while Kmart and I were eating vanilla cupcakes, reading books about etiquette, and starting our collaborative biography on the Little Mermaid, Kmart turned to me and said (somewhat grouchily, as Kmart is somewhat grouchy): “I want to hold a literary conference!”
“Oh?” I replied.
“Yes,” confirmed Kmart, “and I want it to be right here in New York City. It can be held at Bergdorf’s. It can also be held at McDonald’s. But we won’t need to inform anybody where it’ll be at any given time because only special creatures will be permitted to attend and special creatures are always aware of where special things are.”
“Well,” I said, as I bit into my 27th cupcake, “will there be panels? will there be guests? will there be food? will there be hotel accommodations?”
“Maybe there will be panels, like one panel could be called, ‘Why The Little Mermaid Is More Marvelous Than Everyone.’ But, then again, if I’m feeling grouchy, then there won’t be any panels. And, of course, there will be special guests. Pretty Edna St. Vincent Millay, whom I text with regularly, will come. So will William Carlos Williams, Maya Angelou, Edie Sedgwick, and much more.”
“What about hotel accommodations?”
“The Plaza,” sassed Kmart, “obviously.”
[NB: For complete, comprehensive coverage of the first ever Kmart Belle Lettres Conference read this site - HTML Giant.]
Nowadays, I feel like half the turdburgers calling themselves editors are convinced that having a couple hundred Facebook likes equates to having a “successful” lit journal (whatever the fuck “success” means is beyond me, because really, who gives a shit about lit journals nowadays). I wonder if those lames realize how easy it is for me to hide their notifications so I can see the important things, like which one of my hoodrat friends is listening to 2 Chainz on Spotify.
Well, anyway, props to Grace Littlefield and Katharine Hargreaves of Whole Beast Rag, which is not a lame lit journal. I met these DABs in Chicago last year, where Katharine gave me her business card (boss alert!) so I could stalk her on Facebook. Back then, they were two doughy-eyed kids from Minneapolis with some big ideas; now they’re on the West Coast, making moves like Suge Knight. They’ve integrated themselves into the LA art scene, and have put together two incredible, beautifully-designed issues for both web and print.
A lot of little excerpts from and a little critical review of Tomaž Šalamun’s excellent ‘On the Tracks of Wild Game’
On the Tracks of Wild Game
Tomaž Šalamun (Translated by Sonja Kravanja)
Ugly Duckling Presse, 1979/2012
108 pages / $14.00 buy from Ugly Duckling
It’s fairly disarming to think of the poetry in Tomaž Šalamun’s On the Tracks of Wild Game as over thirty years old. The poet’s approach to and manipulation of language is frequently unexpected, exciting. Fresh. He sets the bar, here, not only as we look back retrospectively on what the poetry world was approaching at the end of the twentieth century, but also as we ourselves presently work to create and maintain unique, innovative voices. I can imagine this book would generate about as much enthusiasm and dialogue, if published tomorrow, as it has as a translation. The work marks a pivotal appreciation for the Slovenian writer, but more importantly to literature outside the Western canon in general.
The brevity of the majority of the poems is particularly exciting. Šalamun strikes hard with the saying as much with as little as one is able. To me, the untitled poems, fleeting yet devastatingly moving in their images and volatile turns of language, reminded me of Bashō and other Japanese poetry I’ve read translated by Kenneth Rexroth.
The simplicity drives the purpose behind the works. Šalamun is able to transform the direction and force of these moments usually in one or two words. Notably it is the function of the ending, which takes a good poem and makes it an awesome poem. “When will I be captured / by the breadth of this honey?” (8) and “where did your women hide / as you fled to this tree?” (9) are early examples of how powerful a tiny image, a markedly heretofore unestablished or dramatically appearing image is responsible for the weight and reaction of the poem. Ending, here, on a question, is complex: it operates as a turn from writer to speaker to reader, an introspection on the speaker’s part, and an endowment of agency and participation from the literary context to the reader.
February 13th, 2013 / 2:41 pm