As 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. READ MORE >
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 #9: “Help and Hope in Sampson Starkweather’s Self Help Poems” — Amy Lawless on the last book of TFFBOSS
Sniffingly we are nearing the end of STARK WEEK, as we round the corner into the last book, Self Help Poems, with the fantastic Amy Lawless onboard to epically investigate. Don’t put your boots away yet because there is more to come, including prophecy, art talk, videos, and contests!
I have asked myself many times why actor Mickey Rourke is so appealing and attractive to me. Over time he has aged, yet he still manages to allow us, the consumers, access to another human place and plane. Sampson Starkweather doesn’t use the words “appealing” or “attractive,” but he writes on how Rourke’s “therapist told him he was in a hopeless situation, but he still had hope. All humans aspire to the condition of Mickey Rourke” (255). Here on the ninth page of Self Help Poems in The First Four Books of Sampson Starkweather, hope emerges, which makes sense because man is a social animal—we are each other’s only chance of salvation.
Mickey Rourke is not tricky; he is wise—body-wise. In the film The Wrestler, viewers followed him into an oblivion, a place we all go (some of us more quickly than others). Some of us are tiptoeing as slowly as possible toward death with our many fish oil supplements, mountain poses, punitive juice cleanses, hand sanitizers, Deepak Chopra books, or prayers. Some of us are in a speeding car wearing no sunscreen, driving as far away from prostate checks as possible, pumping the speedometer far right with a recklessness our mothers should never know exists. We are each Mickey Rourke jumping off the rope toward our own single finality. READ MORE >
July 19th, 2013 / 4:06 pm
STARK WEEK EPISODE #8: “SAM FLIES TO MIDDLE EARTH AND MATES WITH A SPHNIX” — Jonathan Marshall on the cover of THE WATERS
For Episode Great Eight of STAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHK WEEK, we welcome artist and witty flowchartist extraordinaire Jonathan Marhsall to map the process of developing the cover of The Waters, book 3 of The First Four Books of Sampson Starkweather. More multimedia and interaction coming soon! Including contests to win a copy of this bad boy for yourself!
CLICK THE IMAGE TO SEE IT FULL SIZED
Jonathan Marshall is a visual artist living in New York City, originally from Austin, TX.
He is currently holed up in his studio, preparing for a solo exhibition at Grimm Gallery in Amsterdam, NL, which will open in October of 2013. http://www.jonathanmarshall.
STARK WEEK EPISODE #7: “Reveling in the evocative power … of personalized Jabberwocky” — Elisa Gabbert on THE WATERS
For Episode Lucky Seven of STARVING WEEK IT’S STARK STARVED OUT THERE WEAKLINGS, we feature poet mover and shaker Elisa Gabbert on The Waters, book three of The First Four Books of Sampson Starkweather. Read on as EG takes a delightful comb to Starkweather’s transcontemporatory faithfulness.
If you don’t speak Spanish, here’s what you need to know about Cesar Vallejo’s Trilce: Clayton Eshleman does the best translations, and Sampson Starkweather does the best transcomtemporations. That’s what he calls them in “The Waters,” Book III of The First 4 Books of Sampson Starkweather – English-to-English translations that update the vocab and bric-a-brac of Vallejo’s originals for the life of an American man straddling the 20th and 21st centuries. In other words, “A transcontemporation is to a poem what RoboCop is to a normal police officer.”
You don’t have to read “The Waters” side by side with Trilce to enjoy it, but doing so makes Starkweather’s tricky, allusive, funny-sad poems extra-magical. Let’s take a look at “XIII” from Trilce, first in Vallejo’s original Spanish:
Pienso en tu sexo.
Simplificado el Corazon, pienso en tu sexo,
ante el hijar maduro del dia.
Palpo el boton de dicha, esta en sazon.
Y muere un sentimiento antiguo
degenerado en seso.
Pienso en tu sexo, surco mas prolific
y armonioso que el vientre de la Sombra,
aunque la Muerte concibe y pare
de Dios mismo.
pienso, si, en el broto libre
que goza donde quierre, donde puede.
Oh, escandalo de miel de los crepusculos.
Oh estruendo mudo.
Now here’s Eshleman’s translation:
I think about your sex.
My heart simplified, I think about your sex,
before the ripe daughterloin of day.
I touch the bud of joy, it is in season.
And an ancient sentiment dies
degenerated into brains.
I think about your sex, furrow more prolific
and harmonious than the belly of the Shadow,
though Death conceives and bears
from God himself.
I am thinking, yes, about the free beast
who takes pleasure where he wants, where he can.
Oh, scandal of the honey of twilights.
Oh mute thunder.
Every translation makes choices, but you can probably see, if you know even a little Spanish, that this is a faithful translation. The final line is the weirdest part of the poem—at first it looks like a nonsense word, then you realize “Odumodneurtse” contains the last two words of the penultimate line, backwards and jammed together to form a new word. Unfortunately, something is lost in Eshleman’s translation—his own nonsense word, “Rednuhtetum,” is “mute thunder” backwards, so the move comes across on a literal level. But in Spanish, the final “o” at the end of “mudo,” for “mute,” echoes the vocative/exclamatory “Oh” at the beginning of the previous two lines. Eshleman’s translated nonsense doesn’t have quite the same effect.
Starkweather’s version isn’t so faithful, especially when it comes to the last line:
I think of your sex.
With dumbed-down heart I think of your sex
as ants hijack the day’s blonde daughter.
Even the Pope gets the hiccups.
The cardinal fluttering against the glass:
I think of your sex, wave which knocks
out the breath, holds a body under, no way to say
which way is up. Death keeps feeding coins
into the meter of your mouth.
I am thinking too, about you, free animal
who takes pleasure where she wants, because she can.
O, honey of daughterless dusk.
O, hoarse voice of lightning.
You’ll notice that the “transcontemporation” is derived from both the sound of the original lines as well as the meaning, so line three (“ante el hijar maduro del dia”) is a combination of straight translation (“before the ripe daughterloin of day”) and soundplay: ante becomes ants and hijar becomes hijack, but the day’s daughter comes from the “underpoem,” such as that exists, not the surface sounds. And yet, also, some of the poem is entirely new—“phoenix, arrested” seems to come from nowhere, or rather from Sampson’s degenerate brain entirely.
The last line is where you really see the exuberant beauty of Starkweather’s riffs. “Rudderowstarkweathersampson” isn’t anything spelled backwards – it’s his name rearranged. Rudderow (the poet’s middle name) seems to have been triggered by alliterative association with “Rednuhtetum,” Eshleman’s rendition of “mute thunder.” Though the literal meaning of “Odumodneurtse,” such as there is one, is lost in the Starkweather version, it retains that feeling of reveling in the evocative power of nonsense, of personalized Jabberwocky. (Later, in LXV, we learn that Rudderow is “a nonsense word made up by [his] mom.”) And – the really lovely part – Rudderow contains a syllabic “O.”
Then, of course, there are the metaphors both more subtle (I love “wave which knocks / out the breath, holds a body under, no way to say / which way is up” – though a wave of love is less strange than a prolific furrow) and more absurd (“Death keeps feeding coins / into the meter of your mouth”) than the original. Every poem in “The Waters” is like this, not a puzzle to figure out, but a little game full of meanings, as many as you want: “at the edge / of beauty, it quivers, it sings, it holds / no water.”
Elisa Gabbert is the author of The Self Unstable (forthcoming from Black Ocean in Fall 2013) and The French Exit (Birds LLC, 2010). Her poetry, prose, and collaborations have appeared widely in publications such as Boston Review, Colorado Review, Conduit, Denver Quarterly, Pleaides, and elsewhere. She is a founding member of the Denver Poets’ Theatre and blogs at http://thefrenchexit.blogspot.com/.
STARK WEEK EPISODE #6: “A few days later Sam called to wake me in the middle of the night to tell me about his Galaga high score at a bar and that the game reminded him of the poems in the book.” — Eric Amling on the cover of LA LA LA
For Episode Six of STARKING IT’S STARKING EVERYBODY SPARKING week, poet and collagist and GQ cucumber Eric Amling answers some questions about working on the LA LA LA cover. Eric Amling is one of our favorite cover artists here at HTMLGIANT (or at least one of Mike’s favorites), so we are very pleased to get a peek into his mustachioed brain!
1.) What was your experience working on the cover of LA LA LA?
Witnessing a sandwich of friendship and professionalism produce a satiating item.
2.) What was your process (how did you come up with the idea)?
When Sam and I first started talking about the LA LA LA poems we gravitated towards descriptions with a sensation of falling. So I went home and started some different approaches to the cover. A few days later Sam called to wake me in the middle of the night to tell me about his Galaga high score at a bar and that the game reminded him of the poems in the book. I recalled an image I recently cut from the cover of a Limousine and Chauffeur magazine circa early 80s. I thought it brought the digital aspect and feeling of motion with simplicity. Luckily, Sam agreed.
3.) Any stories/anecdotes?
I’m an adult male that occasionally moonlights in the act of collage.
4.) How did your cover relate to your reading the book (or the books content/poetry)?
I approached the LA LA LA book as a separate entity. I imagined finding an original limited edition in an upstate library of a dead city ex-patriot. An old looking book about the future. Assuming I read the book I think this is accurate.
5.) How did your work for this cover relate to your other work as an artist?
As an artist I’d have to say this cover was a departure for me, or rather, an exercise in restraint. I have a tendency to overthink my collages and my cover designs. And I enjoyed using one element of what later became part of a collage as the sole description of the book. I tend to admire most the artist that can show that restraint. To put it another way; it was different because it didn’t have a bunch of colors and asses in it like my other work.
Sam and I are friends and neighbors. Our relationship began with our mutual interest in poetry and has been maintained through drinking and sports. His work and email ethics are sound but he can be unreliable with the phone at times.
I may have my time and events wrong but I remember bringing a dear friend of mine to a reading Sam was doing in Brooklyn. Someplace nicer. The Montauk Club, maybe. She is a person who had issues with poetry. Mainly, poets and poetry readings, understandably. I remember Sam particularly nailed it that night. She was moved, entertained and charmed by Sam’s work. I was proud of Sam for that and it shows the reach his poetry can have. His passion for poetry is obvious but it takes more than that to affect people and he accomplishes that.
6.) Do you have any rough drafts, or covers you didn’t use?
I have three, maybe four, other drafts. If any diehard fans are really interested I can send them a file. [Editor's note: Eric Amling disappeared shortly after this interview was conducted, but we found him later at unrelated blimp party, where he was patiently explaining to the gentleman "piloting" the blimp that the cigar he was smoking was not, in fact, endangering the flight but was rather supplementing its propulsion. We approached him and enthused that STARK WEEK was only, in fact, for diehard fans, and could he please produce those files? Amling, a real matador's matador, happily obliged. The results are after the jump.]
STARK WEEK EPISODE #5: “the world can’t / hold / what is / the world / built for / exactly” — Melissa Broder on Starkweather’s LA LA LA
For Episode Five of STARK ATTACK A WEEK OF STARK ATTACKS, we move onto the second book of T4B with the firm and jubilant columns and poemreview joy of our own Melissa Broder talking about Sam’s LA LA LA. As an added bonus, we also get the last LA LA LA itself to accompany Melissa’s text!
Joyce Carol Oates
in the review
I wanted to
WHICH I DO
there is no
only the white goddess
and the poet
and a pair of eyes
trying to jump
‘if you love me
unlock your phone
see those two lights
on the sea
you just know
will be ok
his desire map
out of room
mine is more
an ash mouth
the world can’t
‘the more animal
the less pain…
stagger to the edge
of the woods
suck the poison out’
I have had
from the earth
from the ways
what they want
‘blood on the keyboard
spiritual pop ups
I want to
I want to stay
‘past black fields
that feel more
than memory can…
this life is super
when you get
to the sky
there’s a sky
let me float
that I know
Melissa Broder is the author of two collections of poems, most recently MEAT HEART (Publishing Genius, 2012). Poems appear or are forthcoming in The Iowa Review, FENCE, Guernica, The Missouri Review, et al.
LA LA LA EXCERPT BELOW THE JUMP!
July 17th, 2013 / 3:02 pm