In the Los Angeles Review of Books’ online Marginalia Christopher Kempf breaks, I guess, some new ground on the Abramson Debacle (ie, about Seth Abramson’s 14-hour poem, Last Words for Elliot Rodger):
1) The main thrust of Kempf’s essay (borne out of looking at and discussing Abramson’s poem “as poetry, as an aesthetic work demanding, as all serious art does, the careful critical attention that lies at the heart of the literary discipline”) is that poems should be written in response to tragedy but “they need to be written well.”
2) Kempf completely dismisses Diamond’s Flavorwire post because it “ultimately prohibits any aesthetic response at all to tragedy.” He is, on the other hand, more sympathetic to Laura Sims’ VIDA article because she “explore(s) in necessary ways the relationship between art and violence, helping advance the conversation about how writers can ethically and effectively engage with tragedy” but is concerned hers is “a rather conservative position with respect to art and culture” and that “(her) remarks perhaps too closely police, at least for (his) taste, who can and cannot write about violence and how.”
How do you ethically navigate your media?
When I heard today about the shootings in southern California, my first thought was, “oh, again?”, and my second thought was, “Rachel is in southern California.” After running to the computer to confirm that the shootings took place far enough away from where my wife is, and after feeling huge relief none of the victims were my loved ones, and after feeling momentary guilt for that relief in the face of others’ grief, I felt the now-usual feelings of sadness for the victims and their loved ones, frustration at the cultural attitudes that enable and produce this now-usual violence, and renewed knowledge of my helplessness to protect those I love from “random” tragedy.
I then did my usual thing of scanning the web for information about what went on and what lead to it. I read a good deal of the killer’s memoir/manifesto. I noted his childhood joy of opening a Pokémon booster pack to find a Charizard, his journey of dyeing his hair partly and then full-blond, his use of the term “playdate” to talk about hanging out with people when he was 17, his emotional connection to his N64, and his reverence for brand names. I realized he had probably killed his roommates before I saw any media mention that he had killed his roommates. I read that he had planned to kill his younger brother and his stepmother. I saw an excruciatingly self-involved man who in many ways still thought as a boy, and who had never been able to understand other people are human, like him.
After thinking a lot today about empathy—the visceral recognition of yourself in other people, of other people in yourself—and reminiscing some about feeling unloved, unattractive, outcast, and misunderstood, I scrolled past a Facebook post about Seth Abramson’s remix of the killer’s YouTube confession. I thought, “too soon!” and scrolled on. And then later scrolled past it, and then, on seeing it for the third time, read it. In the piece, Abramson reorganizes the killer’s words into something life-affirming. Rather than railing against the dumb beast blond women and the thugs their animal minds force them to couple with, Abramson’s piece intends itself as a message of comfort, understanding, and love for “Every single girl. Every single man. (Even obnoxious men!)” Even Elliot, the killer.
I then read the comments on the Facebook post.
April is winding down and I’m not really sure how much was settled with the first National Poetry Death Match (ie, my soul is still soooooo confused) so in order to settle things I’ve decided to bring out two more big, passionate and extremely eloquent mercenary lovers for a second “Death Match” where I hope the “disturbing contraries of my soul” can be brought into line, can be made to heal, can be brought into a beautiful, “poetic” harmony.
And, so, the second National Poetry Month death match is between Russell Jaffe and Seth(x) AbraHaM$on. And, no, this is not Seth Abramson, it is, instead, a well known writer who has chosen, here for the ring of this Death Match, to be know as Seth(x) AbraHam$on.
National Poetry Month: More poems for more people sounds good to me
by Russell Jaffe
Look: Poetry can be a real distance READ MORE >
April 29th, 2014 / 9:00 am
by Seth Abramson
This is a world where there are poets
There are poets everywhere, neo-formalists and conceptualists
There are poets on Twitter, there are poets in my bed.
There is one poet. She is my little one.
I talk to my little poet.
I give my little poet some Stevia but that does not satisfy her.
I tell her, ssh ssh, don’t growl little poet!
And she growls, oh boy does she growl!
And she wants something from me,
She wants my soul.
And finally giving in, I give her my gleaming soul
And as she eats my gleaming soul, I am one with her
And stare out her eyepits [sic] and I see nothing but white
And then I see nothing but fog and the white I had seen before was nothing
And there is nothing but fog out the eyes of poets
When I was six or seven, I skinned my knee. It’s an experience that’s never really left me. This is a poem about that. And the magic of poetry. It’s called “Ars Poetica,” which means “small gift” in Latin. This poem owes a significant debt to Dottie Lasky and also to the magic of poetry.
note: I’ve started this feature up as a kind of homage and alternative (a companion series, if you will) to the incredible work Alex Dimitrov and the rest of the team at the The Academy of American Poets are doing. I mean it’s astonishing how they are able to get masterpieces of such stature out to the masses on an almost daily basis. But, some poems, though formidable in their own right, aren’t quite right for that pantheon. And, so I’m planning on bridging the gap. A kind of complementary series. Enjoy!
November 4th, 2013 / 12:01 am
I wasn’t surprised that my Monday post, which was ultimately about reading & applying some ideas from Viktor Shklovsky’s Theory of Prose, mostly generated conversation about Tao Lin and the New Sincerity. I knew that would happen even as I wrote it. So I thought I should take a post to clarify my thoughts on “the whole NS thing.” What follows will be a mix of fact and personal reflection.
Get out your diapers, sluts! PW weighs in with the top 50 MFA programs. My dad says this is totally out of whack with the actual parameters of what young thugs want in language learning these days. What are you to think? (click img for larger versions)