“There is something unnerving in these poems’ ambiguity of intent and meaning. Nothing is resolved, nothing is simply a joke or simply not, nothing is ‘honest’ or means one stable thing. Rogers said, in the same 2013 Burke interview, that she doesn’t think she is or can be ‘honest,’ only ‘accurate.’”—i reviewed Cunny Poem Vol. 1, the new book by Bunny Rogers (via stephentullydierks)
@racheltacobell, Rachel Pattycake Bell’s Twitter, makes me want to cry it’s so good. Rachel’s Facebook is such a good Facebook, too, because she tells these short stories about her life with poetry, humor, and grace. A favorite of those was a status about how her boyfriend says his ex-girlfriend didn’t eat the fruit at the bottom of yogurt, and she thinks that she can’t see how anyone would do that, or how anyone would be his ex-girlfriend. She’s written about college parties and childhood memories and birds.
Her Twitter is a little different, obviously, because things are shorter there. Her tweets are funny, usually, but sometimes ache with a serious tendency toward the sublime. Is that too much to say about a Twitter account? I don’t think it is. I think it’s plenty accurate.
Here are just a few of her tweets. Some are screenshotted from Twitter, others from favstar.fm, a site that collects top tweets that she told me about.
"In many ways, the last twelve years were not really about, hey let’s talk about some books I’ve been reading. It was more about, how does one think through how one lives on the planet. How do you synthesize ideas, how do you follow a thought through centuries of other people’s thoughts. And look: I loved it." - Jessa Crispin
Osamu Dazai (1909 - 1948) is one of Japan’s most well-known writers. His masterpiece was probably his final book, No Longer Human, which is also, somehow, “Japan’s second best-selling novel.” Dazai lived as a self-destructive outcast in a conformist society and frequently used elements from his life and family background as material for his stories and novels.
"Angst Journal" is a short diary that looks kind of like an introverted Twitter feed. None of the entries are dated, but Dazai mentions The Final Years, so this is probably around 1936. During this period, he was, I think, in debt and addicted to morphine.
Someone put a live snake into the mailbox. Anger. Whoever it was must enjoy laughing at unsuccessful writers who go out to check mailbox twenty times a day. Start to feel bad and stay in bed all day.
"Don’t sell your suffering" — letter from a friend.
Condition terrible. Bloody phlegm. Sent word home, but they don’t seem to believe me.
Peach tree is blossoming in corner of garden.
Inheritance from father was apparently 1.5 million yen. No idea how much is left. Was disinherited eight years ago anyway. Have only managed to live this long thanks to kindness of elder brother. But what about from now on? Have never even dreamed of earning own keep. Won’t have any option but to die if this keeps up. On this day, man of corruption, that’ll teach you, bad writer of terrible books.
Dan Kazuo came to visit. Borrowed forty yen from him.
Correct proofs of short story collection The Final Years. Suddenly wonder if this might end up being my final work. No doubt it will.
Number of people who haven’t bad-mouthed me this year: three? Less? Surely not.
Letter from my elder sister.
"I just sent twenty yen, so please go and collect it. You put me in a very difficult position by always asking for money. I can’t tell mother, so it always comes from me, and it makes things most difficult. Mother doesn’t have that much money either… You must be more frugal and stop spending so much. The magazine companies are paying you at least a little, aren’t they? Stop borrowing from others and tighten your belt. Take better care of yourself. Look after your health, and stop going out so much with your friends. We are tired of worrying about you so much…"
Drowsy all day. Have begun to suffer from insomnia. Two nights so far. If I don’t sleep tonight, three nights.
Visit to doctor at dawn. Remember Tanaka’s poem:
If I forget my journey, weeping, down this road who will ever know?
Coerce doctor into giving me morphine.
Wake in early afternoon. Feel anxious and sad at light in young leaves. Decide that I need to get healthy.
Most livid, burning shame brought up with no hesitations by family. Leapt to feet. Put on geta clogs. Home! Froze for a moment, looking like Deva King. Kicked brazier. Kicked coal bucket into the air. Went into four-and-a-half tatami room and kicked kettle into sliding door. Door’s glass rattled. Kicked tea table over. Soy sauce on wall. Cups and saucers. Scapegoats. Couldn’t have gone on living without breaking all these things. No regrets.
"Five feet eight and shaggy." "Die of shame." Think back on phrases I wrote earlier, chuckle to self.
Yamagishi Gaishi comes to visit. Enemies on every side, I say. Oh, no, only on two sides, really, he replies. Laughs handsomely.
When you aren’t talking, you look fine. I just want you to listen to this. No, I’ve heard plenty. But— … Argued over one and a half yen with family for three hours last night. Absolutely mortifying.
Can’t go to the toilet alone at night. Small-headed boy of fifteen or sixteen in a white yukata stands behind me. Looking back over own shoulder is taking life in hands these days. Definitely a small-headed boy there. Yamagishi Gaishi says it’s because of “somethin’ unspeakably cruel” one of my ancestors did five or six generations ago. Maybe so.
Finish writing next novel. Did it always make me this happy? Read through it again. Looks good. Send word to two or three friends. Can pay everyone back now. Title is The White Monkey Berserk.
“Even if people know that names aren’t reality,
They don’t see that reality itself has no root.
Name … reality … both are beside the point.
Find joy in the ever-shifting flow.”—Ryōkan (via muumuuhouse)
The latest Pop Serial, curated by Stephen Tully Dierks (with a cover by Tao Lin), is so much fun to read. It’s a really cool collection with something for everyone. Well, maybe not everyone. If you’re into, idk, 19th century French literature, this might not capture your fancy. But if you like poetry, prose, images, or uncategorized material, you should find something to get excited about in here.
Now, here’s the story of how I semi-accidentally wound up in Pop Serial: my boyfriend was asked to do something for the journal (zine? magazine? idk) and decided to publish our text messages. I said I wanted to be credited, because I was upset at the prospect of not being credited for my own texts, so Stephen put me in the table of contents and was super nice about it, too. So, there you go, now I can say I’m in one of the most popular alt lit publications. All because I asked for what I wanted. Always ask for what you want. You’ll be happier that way.
First, I’m going to briefly go through each piece, so buckle up. Then I’ll give some general thoughts and impressions.
Ready? Here we go!
Tao Lin: kind of a cute and funny cover, I like the little creatures and the speech bubbles
Cassandra Gillig: Gillig really understands poetry, and gives us some cool fucking lines
Crispin Best: kind of romantic in a strange way
Marshall Mallicoat: he chose some really unusual words and I like that
Dave Shaw: love the starfish!
Steve Roggenbuck: starts out like “oh god this is obviously Steve Roggenbuck” but winds up simply delightful
Brad Troemel: I’m kind of obsessed with furries. I saw a guy on a bus once with a dolphin tale. It was plush.
“Growing up, I didn’t read novels by women. It’s not that I didn’t want to. It’s almost like I didn’t think that I needed to or, I guess, I didn’t know that I needed to. I was perfectly happy in a world contained by men. I adopted the posture of the brooding male as my own. I was Salinger, I was Kerouac, I was any male protagonist in a novel that one of my boyfriends recommended. I didn’t know that there was a specific female sadness so I was content with relating to a generalized one. And in a way, reading these novels was less of a way to relate and more of a way to learn how to be the type of girl that these male novelists liked. One of my first ambitions wasn’t to be a writer – it was to be a writer’s muse.”—Gabby Bess, in Dazed (via electric-cereal)
Extinguish my eyes, I’ll go on seeing you.
Seal my ears, I’ll go on hearing you.
And without feet I can make my way to you,
without a mouth I can swear your name.
Break off my arms, I’ll take hold of you
with my heart as with a hand.
Stop my heart, and my brain will start to beat.
And if you consume my brain with fire,
I’ll feel you burn in every drop of my blood.
"Sawaki was raised by a gambler. […] He later became a Zen teacher, and is known for his rigorous emphasis on zazen, in particular the practice of shikantaza, or ‘just sitting.’ He often called Zen ‘wonderfully useless.’”
Taisen Deshimaru (1914 - 1982)
“Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, Deshimaru’s master (Kodo Sawaki) predicted that Japan would lose the war. When Deshimaru departed from his Master, Kodo said ‘Our homeland will be destroyed, our people annihilated, and this may be the last time we see one another. Nevertheless, love all mankind regardless of race or creed.’”
"One evening, a thief visited Ryōkan’s hut at the base of the mountain only to discover there was nothing to steal. Ryōkan returned and caught him. ‘You have come a long way to visit me,’ he told the prowler, ‘and you should not return empty-handed. Please take my clothes as a gift.’ The thief was bewildered. He took the clothes and slunk away. Ryōkan sat naked, watching the moon. ‘Poor fellow,’ he mused, ‘I wish I could have given him this beautiful moon.’"
Hakuin Ekaku (1686 - 1768)
"[A beautiful Japanese girl’s] parents discovered that she was pregnant. She would not confess who the father was, but after much harassment named Hakuin. In great anger, the parents went to the master. ‘Is that so?’ was all the master would say. After the child was born, it was brought to Hakuin. He had lost his reputation, which did not trouble him, but he took very good care of the child.
A year later, the girl could stand it no longer. She told her parents the truth: the real father of the child was a young man who worked in the fish market. The mother and father of the girl at once went to Hakuin to ask forgiveness and to get the child back. Hakuin willingly yielded the child, saying only: ‘Is that so?’”
Masao Abe (1915 - 2006)
"Abe’s profound quest continued. In December 1951, during a group Zen sitting at the Reiun Temple in Kyoto, Abe personally challenged Hisamatsu, screaming to him, ‘Is that the True Self?’ Hisamatsu replied, ‘That’s the True Self.’ Abe entered an intense phase and struggled with the view that ‘It’s all a lie’ (which he cried out while dousing himself with a bucket of ice water at a subsequent group sitting). Finally, Abe told Hisamatsu, ‘I just cannot find any place where I can stand.’ Hisamatsu told him, ‘Stand right at that place where there is nowhere to stand.’”
DAZED DIGITAL'S EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT FROM FRANK HINTON'S 2nd NOVEL
Frank Hinton's upcoming novel might have the title of some future android's wordy thesis title for the class of 2460, but if this exclusive extract is anything to go by, it's also got a lot of heart – if by heart you mean the way its unflinching portrait of humanity on the brink of collapse wrenches and spits on your own heart from the get-go. As if you didn't already guess, we can't wait for Eternal Freedom from Social and Natural Programming, the upcoming master work from the Action, Figure writer. Luckily for us, Hinton has shared a preview of her futuristic exploration of society on the edge – so you can let her prose burrow its way into your subconscious before the big event later this year.
“The ancient Masters didn’t try to educate the people, but kindly taught them to not-know. When they think that they know the answers, people are difficult to guide. When they know that they don’t know, people can find their own way.”—Lao Tzu (via thecalminside)
“It’s a feat of creativity to compose poems that work as poems, in a book that works as sculpture, in a package that presents as a pipe-bomb wrapped in pink cotton candy.”—Brad Phillips review of Bunny Rogers’s book, Cunny Poem Vol. 1 (via popserial)
Melissa Broder is a poet. In Scarecrone, her latest collection, she writes poems about right now, modern life, not about phones and cars and computers but the way we feel. The things we tell ourselves to survive, the way we frame our experiences so that we may live with them. When you finish reading her poems, it is very likely that lines that you have just read will bounce around your brain, like lil’ ribbons attached at the bottom of a kite (and that’s how you know it’s real). She also has an amazing twitter account that you should follow because we all need little bursts of poetry in our daily lives. We talked over email about life, magick, and teenage girls.
Laia Garcia: Did you always know you want to be a writer or were there other times were you were seduced by other things?
Melissa Broder: I started writing poetry in third grade. My teacher Mrs. Hovey said I had talent. That kind of positive feedback felt good, because I was otherwise a bad student (spacey, always daydreaming, typical poet). So I kept writing. Also, the act of writing just felt good. As an anxious child who never felt comfortable in her own skin, writing poems offered relief—and poetry still functions that way for me. I fantasized that one day I would grow up to be a poet. At that time the only poetry I had read was Shel Silverstein. My first poems were rhyming poems.
Here is one of my first poems:
The Candy Shop
When I walked into a candy shop the first thing I saw was a lollipop I think I’ll have some Lifesavers, or maybe a cookie with five different flavors How about a peppermint stick, or maybe a chocolate Twix? Cherry candy would be dandy A chocolate sweet would really be a treat [something something I don’t remember this part] How about a cake with honey? Oops I forgot I didn’t bring any money
Ah, I love this! There is something about it that seems unmistakably yours, even at a young age. Indulging in this fantasy and then real life hits and you’re just like “oh, oh well,” which is a feeling I get in a lot of your poems I think, and why I relate to them. The feeling of “ugh, the world” but instead of “woe is me,” it’s more of an… “ok it is what it is and move on” kind of reaction. More of a fighting feeling, not so much to belong but to exist in the world the way you are.
Yes, it’s a real struggle for me in reality. I think I’m just wired to want out—not in a suicidal way, necessarily, but in a shift-in-perception way. In a relief from self way. I’m always looking for secret vehicles and passageways out. Sometimes the vehicles are dangerous, or like I get hooked on the vehicle itself. I attribute the feeling of escape or pleasure to a particular vehicle, rather than the destination or something that already exists somewhere within myself, and kind of move into the backseat. I forget that there are other vehicles or life outside it. But poetry is one way of getting out of myself that has never hurt me. It can be slower than the other vehicles, but it is very powerful.
Yes, that makes perfect sense. I think in the end everyone is trying to find that vehicle. Sometimes I just want out of my brain, like how nice would it be to turn your brain off for a little while and exist in this sort of, white-out room bliss with nothing else invading your being? I am still looking for my vehicle though, or maybe I just need to take it for a tune-up. (I don’t drive and therefore I’m bad at car analogies). But anyways, I feel that when I read your poetry and I think it helps me escape also. I’m sure it helps a lot of people escape, I mean, that’s why we all read, right?
I recently moved to LA (Venice) and am deep in the car game. One of my favorite things is to drive around LA with the sunroof down and listen to rap. It gives me white-room bliss (you gotta learn the traffic patterns so you can get the open road, but it’s there). I mostly bike and walk everywhere in Venice, but once or twice a week I get out of my neighborhood and go driving and it’s the best.I’m really glad my work helps you (and maybe others) escape. I am all about escape.