Friday, January 21, 2011

poetry heckling

i love this snippet of alice notley talking about bill brown heckling her at some poetry reading.

"Bill Brown. He's in Phil's poems. Ted told Bob Creeley that since he was an elder of the town he should do something about this because people should not be allowed just to heckle. And so Bob found Bill Brown and they took acid together, and they went down to the water and picked up these ducks and petted the ducks and talked to the ducks and then Bob said to Bill, 'You know, I think you should apologize to Alice for heckling her at the reading.' So then I met him at the bar, one of the two bars. Smiley's or Scowley's, and we had this kind of John Wayne moment when he said, 'Well, I'm really sorry that I heckled you.' And I said 'It's okay.' We shook hands. And that's the story."

sexy poetry? or the sexiest poetry?

[nsfw] here's a bit of, well, let's say, "writing". oh, and don't read this if you're easily offended by sex, or more importantly by bad descriptions of sex.

however, if such writing interests you, head on over to the petals fall twice subreddit where the reddit community is hard at work composing this passably eye-catching bit of absurdist erotica.

hurry now, because no one will find this interesting tomorrow.


ok, so i do find this sort of writing interesting. i like community writing projects, i like their awkward stupidity. but, that's not it's only charm for me.

it's the sort of writing that seems to come from a young writer's mind (i don't mean that as an insult). it reads as amateur, yes, but it also reads as conscious of it's own amateur style. the characters in the piece often reacting to the awful wording that the author puts in their mouths and minds.

its angsty obsession with words and wordings are more its subject than the bizarre sexual encounter being described. its use of certain idioms ("of old", "all-too familiar", "only too eager") aren't wrong really, but an early writer's awkward attempt to sound overly "writerly". this angst becomes carried on, and parodied with infantile words like "peeny" and "hooha": the self-conscious awkwardness of the writing mirroring the awkwardness of the "sex".

but all that just comes off as charming to me. the writer is willing to expose him/herself in a way that's rare in poetry. i don't mean "expose" in a confessional sense (which isn't rare in poetry), but in the sense that the writer is able to lay bare (and even utilize) their own writing weaknesses.

and yes, this is "just" a piece of anonymous amateur comedy, produced for the passing entertainment of an audience of bored forum lurkers. but i've been interested lately in how writing that's outside of poetry, writing that is written as "mere" ephemera, as easily forgotten pabulum, often resembles what i want from poetry more than "poetry" does. i'm not interested in stuff like this because it's publishable as poetry, i'm interested in it because it isn't.

anyway, the moral of the story is: don't learn to write better, just learn to compensate for your terrible ability to write.

[EDIT: the piece was written by illustrator Chip Zarsky as a part of his "one page series" where he posts a single page of a "work-not-in-progress".]

Thursday, January 20, 2011

bullshitting: part 2

this is a great interview between new york school greats, kenneth koch, and john ashbery. the nature of their back and forth feels very personal, and so, a little hard to penetrate what, if anything, is genuine. another good example of how the way a poet talks about their work is more interesting than their "real answers".

as john ashbery says in the interview: "the worse your art is, the easier it is to talk about. or at least, i'd like to think so."


i love how bernstein takes on these mundane questions. he reveals more in his bullshitting them than whatever his real, boring answers are.