I think everyone has an Internet feud they will never forget. Here’s mine: in January 2010, Jimmy Chen wrote a post for your site (that has since been removed) in which he showed a photograph of Zelda Fitzgerald and “complimented” her cute rolls of back fat. In the comments section, I called out the sexist move of reducing a female writer to the shape of her body, and was immediately dismissed with a “fuck you” and someone asking why I had a sexy picture of myself on my own blog.
And on my blog, Chen told me my life would be easier because my face looks like this.
In an open letter apology (that has also since been taken down), he wrote, in his defense:
“Leah [sic] Stein has a ‘right’ to post a sexy picture of her, and I have a ‘right’ to think her life will be easier because of her beauty than an ugly woman’s which is why she [sub]consciously posted it.”
There is nothing easy about the life of a writer with the face of a woman, especially when men get to tell you what you’re allowed to do with your face. Which brings me to yesterday’s post by Garett Strickland, about how Kate Zambreno humiliated him when she unfriended him on Facebook, taking away his ability “to participate in a conversation I’ve got as much right to as any other human being, regardless of the seemingness of my being white or male.”
Note that both Chen and Strickland are eager to point out their “right” to write whatever hateful, sexist, ignorant thoughts cross their minds, even in the personal spheres that female writers are often forced to create out of necessity for their own safety (Chen was commenting on my blog; Strickland was writing on Kate’s own Facebook page).
In retaliation for his hurt feelings, Strickland goes on to unleash what I can most accurately call a sloppy prose poem about sexual inadequacy, which ultimately turns Zambreno into a doll, “Made by Men,” who arrives in a box. When he pulls the string, she delivers “reactionary polemic” that Strickland can’t understand due to “personal deficiencies.”
Here’s the most significant thing Strickland doesn’t understand, the worst of his personal deficiencies: he doesn’t realize that by objectifying Zambreno and turning her into a doll, he is being aggressively chauvinist. He isn’t participating in a conversation he has a “right” to. Notably, in order to have a conversation, he has had to create a doll who can only spew pre-recorded messages, who can’t actually talk back.
To Chen and Strickland, I would ask: have you ever been reduced to a body and a face? Have you ever felt afraid for your safety because of your body? Has anyone ever trivialized your work because of your gender?
In the summer of 2011, I met with a team of Random House sales reps who would be responsible for bringing my novel and poetry collection to bookstores and libraries around the country. One asked me what kind of cover image I wanted for my novel.
“I only know I don’t want a headless woman on the cover,” I said. “I don’t want my book cover to exclude men from picking it up.”
“Do you really think a man would read your work?”
“Well, a lot of men like my poetry,” I said.
“Only because you’re cute,” I was told. By my editor.
I didn’t know what to say. I like to think that out of the 37 people in the world who read poetry, the men who read mine are finding some merit there, and not just jacking off to my author photo.
Chen has described Zambreno as “a feminist who hosts an irrational hatred of me due to not being able to perceive my misogyny ironically,” but what’s truly ironic in all this is that Zambreno has written an entire book about women who were written off, robbed, and institutionalized for/because of their creative talent, while their husbands and lovers were celebrated. I read Heroines with my jaw hanging open in recognition, especially when I got to page 140. She describes Chen’s Zelda post and the feuding in the comments section:
The snarky dismissal. I answer back with vitriol. It becomes heated, ugly. Personal. Slurs of a sexual nature slung in the comments section, mostly by a chauvinistic supporter of Chen’s. A way to bully, which is to humiliate, to silence, to make a woman smaller whose behavior is seen as outsized. (Won’t she fucking shut up?)
As writers, we know words carry power. I challenge HTMLGIANT contributors to use their power to make this site the weird-ass literary carnival it is at its best, without using discriminatory, sexist, hate speech that objectifies, humiliates, and infuriates their female readership. To quote the Urban Dictionary, please check yourself before you wreck yourself:
Take a step back and examine your actions, because you are in a potentially dangerous or sticky situation that could get bad very easily.
This tribute to anti-office poet-burnout Slash Lovering–who died on this day in 2004–continues indefinitely.
On May 9th, 2013 I started doing this thing where I’d force myself to write one thought for every hour that I was awake. I did this regularly for 22 days. The end came not from a lack of thoughts but, conversely, because I found myself totally overstimulated during a trip to New Orleans (referenced in the final entries) and it didn’t make sense to pick it up again after that.
I wasn’t sure what I could or would do with this project while I was doing it, but reading back over it now, I’m intrigued by the weird, oblique narrative it creates. You get NBA playoff scores, observations from an 8-part Beatles documentary I was watching at the time, a legal “brouhaha” my roommate involved me in, and updates on the dogs I walk and cats I sit (my job). It’s sort of feels like a liveblog/livetweet but different because the constraints and medium are different. It was really fun to do, I hope it’s fun to read.
Need a finer knowledge of building materials. Clapboard, vinyl, sheetrock – what are these things?
Fishkind’s party. Am I gonna go? Feel fat and stupid, but also like drinking.
George Harrison was from an Irish family with the last name “French.”
I can’t tell if it’s foggy or if I’m just tired.
HEY I’M DEPTHS. Welcome to rafters.
Hordes & choirs people my nimbus.
I’m the mouth of the Book & the Madness I make does it like this:
I fold your face
I fold your face
I fold your face
end history. WORLD FAIL.
I raise this tundra’s plateau
with just a wave of your femur.
It’s time to bury the sky.
: : : : :
My words an engine prism-breaking
to circumscribe the ring-thing slain
Michael Marduk St. George
Michael Marduk St. George
Michael Marduk St. George
crushed the head of your wyrm & one of fire climbs my staff unto the light fissured out from the hidden room above behind insiding.
I reach into you with all my special arms.
My fingers burgle your nerves of their fortresses.
NO CARAPACE, SARCOPHAGUS
Now comes the Age of the Oprah Nintendo,
we amoeba’d in the House Improvisionary.
: : : : :
You’ll not see my tongue except to feel it seguing thru you to cancel your day of its dust, each speck worried between buds and in only a moment arriving at the diamond. I was doing this before anything was born.
In the Night-Desert, sentinel & shepherd.
THAT YOU ARE
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THE ORAL MODE of composition — underused, perhaps kept hidden — where was it we found it first?
I myself am Native Appalachian, and so you figure there’s that: the whole history of telling & singing murder ballad news carried over from wherever the fuck the muddy blood sprang over from from Europe, the campfire & the kitchen table, raconteur tall tales, et cetera.
I have, I’m told, a gift as an orator, as a storyteller. People sometimes say to me they say, Garett you should write how you talk. I say, No thanks. Those things are different.
There’s a load they tell you in the stone age classes about show-don’t-tell, tho telling stories is always the most important aspect stressed by those classes as such, no matter how much the general public appreciates an image.
A story paraphrased or
condensed unwritten divorced
from the page becomes a kind of fable.
Speech, however, has properties wholly apart from poem- or storycraft. Speech possesses aspects of musicality that cannot exist on the page. The musicality of written or typed text is closer to a form of notation toward that musicality, and in its own right holds potential for a variety of readings and tones.
Speech is sound and so primal. We understand vocal detonation, whether it’s linguistic or otherwise.
and how to eclipse the object
like the spatial configuration of what it means to be in love
do you want to learn how to float
[Samuel Beckett // Ill Seen Ill Said // Nohow On]
I AM THE OCEAN.
I am the tide. I am the rise and fall of a wave on a shrub laid in the earth. There are limits to my destruction, but not many. People, they say, “Where have you been? Ain’t seen you in a while?” I am always gone and leaving all the time. This is a mode. I forget what I learned to learn it again, to learn it better than it can.
Do you know what it is to wake from a dream unknowing? You were there and now you are here where do we begin from there. When last you left, it was unexpected and it remains still. I cannot remain still.
The door swings open white cube. There are bodies and objects, differences. Spaces exist between the bodies and objects. Some you can drink and some you can eat. Inside the white cube the cube does a noise. The noise is the bodies and objects coming out of the noise, like cartoons come out of the dark. It’s white in this cube. The noise isn’t white. The noise has no color but the colors come out of it. Noise makes objects emerge to ear, choppings from the body-objects. The nails that hold the room together turn in their sleep and loosen from the wood of walls’ embrace. [ . . . ]
: : : : :
I’m making a report of sorts (explosive sound). Tho certain oaths as it were undone to do so. In an age of new popes certain truths untethered can only be the way, need of the idea of the new. There is no secret no spark that will not in the very eye of night of time not rise as a shifting color from its source to know thru to us as each other. I release an animal day after day recoaxed to form from the wrecked hide & bone rended dissembled by dogs and gathered in a garbage bag, released at our wide edge of woods. Songs unheard unspoken in the sound-film.
The ECCLESIA at the circumference-is-nowhere, we’re a bridge. We’re chaotic, indigenous to blood, and refracting in every direction. The sublime, the grotesque, the liminal and the devotional are constantly excavated, birthing new edges and boundaries to be explored. It’s in this that we, in our research and efforts, render all (other) expression possible.
In armchairs we here in the zenithal crux of the Azonic Lodge map and sigilize with thought the hidden canon, burn up or birth to throw the shapes that find their purchase.
TALL IS MAN
a PALE LIMP CYST
to speak a
TETRIS GRAMMAR TONGUE
AI EIS AI OU PHAR DOU IS EI OU
[ [ [ I have come in great rest in order
that we may give rest to our light in the root ] ] ]
We go down to Chaos to save the whole Light from it,
lighthouses slow rising from the blowholes of great whales
as their mouths no longer sucking lemon open
and the rotating beams as they meet they touch
describe the teeth of the crystalline cogwheels archoniked.
: : : : :
The first exoteric face of the ECCLESIA effloresced in Portland, OR about six years ago. This the only assembly as such going back epochs previous, tho still retaining past methods and likewise those existing on the mirrored fold of our future. In this way members are always emerging, realization actualized in the mystery school,
out of focus / triple-exposed
green room monitored and radioed,
shrinking and expanding of the unground
supporting the Fire in Thought.
Here you sense some other metaphysical machines. These constructed in long-standing cloistral projection, beam hatched of past sun-crust wombing swarm to burst forth each fully formed. In the rafters of what was called sky we take up with the echelons.
Hail fellow. Hello sister.
If you’re with it you’ll know, ya know ya know.
Whoa now you get it you feelin’ me.
Ha ha yeah you got it.
Here is your staff and your tablet.
THE TABLET GIVES RISE TO ITS OWN EFFACEMENT
: brilliance is worthy only in the dark :
: : : : :
So I mean yeah come in have a seat. You want anything to eat or drink? It’s only as hard to get comfortable as you make it so they say. But bitterness embarrassment futility doubt regret disappointment is some of the best fuel never talked about. As you can tell we’re talking hear but the words seam funny in this great degree of silence we’ve soared like a box-kite outside.
Anyways I wanna play you this song. Listen to this song. You’re gonna love it.
: : : : :
TIME OUT RUNG ROUND CAGES ORBIT TONSURE SHATTER CUNT FOLDS BLOOMING CREST OF CROWN BOWL PASS IN WELCOME WEB SILK FLAME POUR IN THRU NOSTRIL FACING OWL FACED UPWARD CATCHING DIVING HEART BARB UNDONE ORB EXPANDING US TO THIS THIS THIS THIS THIS THIS MOMENT
The following post consists of two things:
- Collages I’ve made on 5×8″ index cards over the past year and a half
- Paper towels and tissues I’ve used to stop myself from bleeding, the result of pulling off hangnails while sitting in front of a computer
I view this as an example of literary criticism (feel free to do otherwise).
From the soon-to-be-updated website of my current employer (modified):
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For a while now I’ve thought that there should be a name for the following phenomenon. You think of something. And then you immediately realize that someone else has to have already thought of that very thing.
For example. A friend asked me what my Halloween costume is going to be. And I jokingly said that I was going to go as the octopus that was deleted from The Goonies. And that alone might be an example of this phenomenon, although it’s not the best example. But my next thought was: I said, “No, I’ll dress up as a businessperson, but I’ll have eight arms, and I’ll wear a pin that says, ‘OCTOPI WALL STREET.’”
And I knew at once that somebody else has already thought of that (the pun, if not the precise realization). That had to. And…voila!
“We do not like work that says, “Like me; I’m human and unassuming just like you. I ask only a little of your time, a bit of appreciation for my hip intelligence, my sentiments, my (you may be pleased to discover) clever way with words and sounds. I ask for passive acceptance.”" — Cal Bedient
It’s been said and said, but David Lau and Cal Bedient say it all strikingly in this interview with Sandra Simonds about Lana Turner, one of the best lit spaces going for telling the moment where to go mow itself.
Julie Sokolow on the drug-addled origins of “The Lobster Kaleidoscope” and Chômu Press’ Dadaoism anthology.
A year ago, I dispatched my idiosyncrasies overseas. I had been reading the work of a UK-based publishing house called Chômu Press and felt a kinship with their unabashed promise: “If you are tired of tepid, humanistic realism on the one hand, and the narrow fixations of genre on the other, Chômu Press may be what you have been waiting for.” There was something devilishly discourteous about it, but I was intrigued by the Steppenwolf-style invitation to Chomu’s own Magic Theatre. Now, seven years since I originally penned the drug-addled artifact that is “The Lobster Kaleidoscope”, I find it “trippy” to experience it anew within the context of Chômu’s impressive Dadaoism anthology.
Dos Dazzling Deets re Dadaoism (An Anthology):
1) Metaphysical Portals: As a devotee of Borges, Kafka, and Beckett, I get kicks out of masterful meta-ness, psychological terror, and gallows humor, all of which Dadaoism’s opening piece, “Portrait of a Chair”, possesses in levels of toxicity. In Reggie Oliver’s story, a retired antiques dealer, keenly aware of his mortality, attends an auction where he purchases a captivatingly simple portrait of a chair. The portrait is not just some symmetrical schlock to mount over a mantel, but rather, a metaphysical portal to a dimension in which inanimate objects are paradoxically conscious, and the narrator, having undergone a paralyzing transformation, must fight through telepathic intellect alone to survive. READ MORE >
The body count climbs through a series of globewars. Emergent Planetary Commercium trashes the Holy Roman Empire, the Napoleonic Continental System, the Second and Third Reich, and the Soviet International, cranking-up world disorder through compressing phases. Deregulation and the state arms-race each other into cyberspace.By the time soft-engineering slithers out of its box into yours, human security is lurching into crisis. Cloning, lateral genodata transfer, transversal replication, and cyberotics, flood in amongst a relapse onto bacterial sex.Neo-China arrives from the future.
Hypersynthetic drugs click into digital voodoo.
These are the generations of America.
Sirhan Sirhan shot Robert F. Kennedy. And Ethel M. Kennedy shot Judith Birnbaum. And Judith Birnbaum shot Elizabeth Bochnak. And Elizabeth Bochnak shot Andrew Witwer. And Andrew Witwer shot John Burlingham. And John Burlingham shot Edward R. Darlington. And Edward R. Darlington shot Valerie Gerry. And Valerie Gerry shot Olga Giddy. And Olga Giddy shot Rita Goldstein. And Rita Goldstein shot Bob Monterola. And Bob Monterola shot Barbara H. Nicolosi. And Barbara H. Nicolosi shot Geraldine Carro. And Geraldine Carro shot Jeanne Voltz. And Jeanne Voltz shot Joseph P. Steiner. And Joseph P. Steiner shot Donald Van Dyke. And Donald Van Dyke shot Anne M. Schumacher. And Anne M. Schumacher shot Ralph K. Smith. And Ralph K. Smith shot Laurence J. Whitmore. And Laurence J. Whitmore shot Virginia B. Adams. And Virginia B. Adams shot Lynn Young. And Lynn Young shot Lucille Beachy. And Lucille Beachy shot John J. Concannon. And John J. Concannon shot Ainslie Dinwiddie. And Ainslie Dinwiddie shot Dianne Zimmerman. And Dianne Zimmerman shot Gerson Zelman. And Gerson Zelman shot Paula C. Dubroff. And Paula C. Dubroff shot Ebbe Ebbeson. And Ebbe Ebbeson shot Constance Wiley. And Constance Wiley shot Milton Unger. And Milton Unger shot Kenneth Sarvis. And Kenneth Sarvis shot Ruth Ross. And Ruth Ross shot August Muggenthaler. And August Muggenthaler shot Phyllis Malamud. And Phyllis Malamud shot Josh Eppinger III. And Josh Eppinger III shot Kermit Lanser. And Kermit Lanser shot Lester Bernstein. And Lester Bernstein shot Frank Trippett. And Frank Trippett shot Wade Greene. And Wade Greene shot Kenneth Auchincloss. And Kenneth Auchincloss shot Bruce Porter. And Bruce Porter shot John Lake. And John Lake shot John Mitchell. And John Mitchell shot Kenneth L. Woodward. And Kenneth L. Woodward shot Lee Smith. And Lee Smith shot Arthur Cooper. READ MORE >
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Peace be upon Allah
Peace be upon two rams gliding the sunset
Peace be upon music and peace
Peace be upon fires, may peace be upon him
Peace be upon brittle dark antelopes
Peace be upon the ranging palisade
Peace be upon calibration
Peace be upon whirring, and soft mantles
Let peace happen as a slander
Peace be upon cryptic vibrations, peace undulate through chunked hearts of mazes and flow through
Peace be upon hemorrhages and racked tall lands
Peace be upon fostering and the mental
Peace be upon stone harvest
Peace be upon magazine
Peace be upon mutation assiduity
Peace be upon fostering, and the stellar ovum climes
Peace be upon sepaled letters gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous Peace be upon clever little hearts and the king’s feast and his many supplicants
standing by like bright shields and the unbearable wilderness
Peace be upon the wooly mammouth, his stead and likeness
Peace be upon methamphetamine, storm and groat nape
Peace be upon the living chalk and the eternal turtle and the joining together of turtles in peace
Peace be upon the waist-high in wheat
Peace be upon sectioned unknown lavish tidings
Peace be upon Hercules, forgotten
Peace be upon the curtain hanging from the arch of the viaduct
Peace be upon the startling desirous buried foot, let peace
rain down upon him in great sludge rivers traveling under morning fresh mists
Peace be upon turtles, large and small
When I was young I kept small turtles,
I watched the turtles set themselves on rocks
I gave the turtles a lamp, and water, and small fragments of food
I cleaned the tank and stirred the water and fostered moisture
I watched over the turtles and by watching over them cared for them
There were two turtles that were sisters
Let peace rope out like a gooey schlong
Let peace be upon time, as it never happened and ineluctable equationing
Peace be upon calmness in the bodies’ dead faces
Peace be upon villages that surface and erode in
the ash hallway
Peace be upon fretted blood geysers
Peace be upon the shoulders menaced by the still and tedious mountains
Peace be upon sharpened up
peace be upon selections and selecting things and deselecting and the good warmth of laundry
The turtles were capable and I was capable
The turtles, free on the lawn humping across slivers of chalk
Thinking of the grass as world
Peace be upon the bell mint and the timeliness of the bell tone
That stupid, opulent selfish tone of the bell the struggle for pearls
READ MORE >
The 2012 Chapbook Festival starts tomorrow. I call it “the good AWP.” In preparation, this year I’ve asked Sampson Starkweather, 1/5th of the Birds, LLC braintrust and chapbook enthusiast, some questions about the form. Go get a blanket–he links up some great stuff that is way worth the read.
Hey Sampson, what’s the deal with chapbooks?
Funny, that’s how I start all my stand-up comedy gigs. It kills of course. So I wanted to start with a quote from James Haug’s Why I Like Chapbooks (Factory Hollow, 2011), who waxes lyrical “Chapbooks are stealth books./ They can slip under a door./ They don’t impose. They suggest./ They’re not one thing or another. They don’t take much time. They’re sly and easy to ignore. They imply, insinuate, inquire./ They don’t expect an answer./ They have a long history; they have no history.” READ MORE >