April, because of National Poetry Month, is a traumatic ordeal of a time for me.
A prevailing, I guess, part of me thinks “What a total bunch of fucking bullshit”– and for the past few years all April long I’m in a grouchy stupor-rage making snide and mean remarks, pissing on anything even remotely “poetry,” and relentlessly posting up pictures of beached whale carcasses.
And yet–a part of me identifies with this impressive cadre and camaraderie of poetry munchkins gathered squawking and encouraging and reassuring each other on the cliffs of poetry each April because, well, it must be a good thing. It must be, right?
And so this year I’ve decided to face the disturbing contraries of my soul and the way they bristle and soft-feather up at National Poetry Month by setting up, as any good Caesar of the soul, some death matches. And in each case the death match will consist of a “for” and “against” stance fought out between two of my friend surrogates. And in each case I’ll stand up above the fray with thumb at the ready.
And, the first death match is between Reb Livingston and Jereme Dean.
by Reb Livingston
What’s ruining/killing poetry this month? Well, it’s April so that must mean the culprit is National Poetry Month. Or so claims my anti-NaPoMo poet pals on social media.
April 21st, 2014 / 3:10 pm
WHAT IF WE LIVED IN A BACKWARDS UNIVERSE WHERE JEREME DEAN LOVED STEVE ROGGENBUCK AND TOES GREW FROM YOUR HEAD INSTEAD OF YOUR FEET?? (by Chris Dankland)
Rauan Klassnik “Backwards”: I’ve seen you say many positive things about ‘Alt Lit’ and, specifically, i think, Steve Roggenbuck. But do you really support these yung, dum YOLO youngsters? (& plz elaborate)
Jereme Dean “Backwards”: (Before I begin, I’d just like to congratulate the Houston Texans on another incredible winning season. The Texans are truly the best team in the NFL today.)
Yeah I love Alt Lit and Steve Roggenbuck so much, thanks for asking! Alt Lit is the latest iteration of writers who are using the internet as a tool to create and promote writing—their own, and others. They’re just building on what other internet writers have created before them. Blake Butler, Sam Pink, Tao Lin, Daniel Bailey, Mike Young, Jimmy Chen, Brandon Scott Gorrell, etc: these are the types of trailblazing writers that helped to create Alt Lit in the first place. If you have a broad definition of Alt Lit as writer + internet, as I do, I would say that all those writers I mentioned are as much a part of Alt Lit as Roggenbuck or anybody else.
Alt Lit is to writing what a cafeteria is to school education, and I don’t just mean a place where you can find the nutritious and delicious. :D Alt Lit is a place where you can sit with your friends and take a break from the constant academic manifestos, lifeless conceptualism, and intellectual dick measuring contests of the academic literary world. Too much of that kind of stuff can easily burn you out.
Now, let’s just move onto the subject of Steve’s positivity.
I luv it!! In particular I love how Steve’s message to embrace life, boost others, and ‘make something beautiful before you are dead’ are responses to a very dark truth that we all must face: that one day you will die, you never know when—and once you are gone, you will be gone forever. Roggenbuck reminds his audience of this constantly. There have been many times that I’ve clicked on something of Steve’s and felt as if I were being shaken awake from a deep sleep, simply by being reminded of the bitter truth that my time on earth is constantly disappearing, second by second. It is a reminder to me that my life is going on RIGHT NOW and I better pay attention to it. For me and for many others, this idea isn’t superficial or vapid.
One of my favorite examples of this type of positive message is ‘STOP PRETENDING IT’S BORING TO BE ALIVE’
I think a video like that is incredible and genuinely inspires me, but some people might have a different reaction. That’s fine with me. I certainly wouldn’t dismiss how other people READ MORE >
….Why Do You Treat Alt Lit (Steve Roggenbuck in particular) with such scorn?…(Ask The Oracle – Part I)….
I tend to get lost in the trees so I like to check in with Jereme Dean because well I think of Jereme as a wise man, an oracle, a modern day version of Ikkyū the 15th century Zen Master:
they used sticks and yells and other tricks those fakes
Ikkyū reaches high low like sunlight
Jereme, furthermore, sits outside of writing movements, fashion, allegiances, etc, and there is an authority and a confidence to Jereme that I really respond to:
I live in a shack on the edge of whorehouse row
me autumn a single candle
And because Jereme will tell it you straight, a true oracle, I’ve decided to start up this new feature, “Ask the Oracle,” where, periodically, I’m going to put crucial questions to our modern-day Ikkyū.
and so, here then, now, is the first installment of “Ask the Oracle”:
Rauan: I’ve seen you poke fun at (or be scornful of, i guess) “Alt Lit” and, specifically, i think, Steve Roggenbuck. But are you really against these positive, energetic DIY youngsters? (& plz elaborate)
Jereme: Alt Lit has nothing to do with online writing, really. It’s a clique. Some have tried desperately to associate writing with the term, like people who feel their worthwhileness is minor and desire to be part of a movement–something remarkable!–or publishers looking to categorize their books for sale. But, don’t be fooled, alt lit is to writing like a cafeteria is to school education.
Internet literature isn’t new. There are plenty of people who’ve been around before the term was coined, and still are around, writing: Blake Butler, Sam Pink, Tao Lin, Daniel Bailey, Mike Young, Jimmy Chen, Brandon Scott Gorrell, etc.
True positivity is anchored and unafraid of negativity, it actually welcomes it. While asserting yourself as a Haitian mongoose, regardless of emphaticism, doesn’t negate being a human being who hates himself/herself.
Unsure where the idea of ‘positivity’ comes from though. I don’t see it. Feel like most people online make great efforts creating a fictitious identity, one which counters their insecurities, and the only way to actually believe the fantasy is to be chill/stay positive/chant affirmations. Because of this, the dissenting voice seems to be enemy number one to alt lit. They react ferociously READ MORE >
December 3rd, 2013 / 8:45 pm
The day of trolling tables and tables in a convention center is over. It was fun, but now the real fun begins. We started drinking at dinner. Now, it is late. Like, two in the morning. We are all in a suite, in Blake Butler’s suite. Blake has a suite because he is famous. The light is dim and yellowish. Sounds of delicate laughter and glasses tinkling with booze abound. I am sitting on a couch, the windows behind me, but I can feel Chicago glittering below. Jereme is next to me. Sitting there on the couch, next to each other, it no longer matters that I have an Amazonian, East German discus thrower vibe to me, because when I am sitting, it hides that aspect of me (as opposed to standing). Being next to Jereme is like being next to warmth. Being next to Jereme is like wanting to hold a baby bird in my hands and I’m afraid I won’t do it right, because it is so delicate. But I want to, I want to do it right, I feel I’ve never wanted anything so badly in all my life. I also am afraid he might get angry at me and that would crush me. But everything is good. He is not angry. He has beautiful eyes. We are nicely drunk, not yet shit-faced and I haven’t blacked out yet. My right shoulder is touching Jereme’s left shoulder. I can smell him. He smells like cigars and whiskey and a man’s warmed skin. I have all this love flowing from me, from my chest, from where my heart is, toward Jereme. He lets me touch his beard. It is soft, the way longish beards are, not scratchy. It is thick and comforting. I stroke it with my hand. Then I lean in, and rub my cheek on his beard. This is what I am doing when Barry walks up to us, towering above us, interrupting our soft, kind moment.