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.
Photos from my reading at Janey Smith’s Live at 851 series in San Francisco last night.
Laia Garcia interviews SCARECRONE author Melissa Broder
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.
Dankland internet vacation
Just wanted to let ya’ll know that I’m taking a little bit of a break from the internet, so I can:
- work on my novel
- recharge my energy
- and plan how I can make ALG better in the future
The break will probably be for two weeks or a month, I’m just feeling things out right now.
ALG will continue as usual (big s/o to Guillaume Morissette)
and if you want to get in touch with me, my email is email@example.com
Thank you for reading, byeeeee
The capacity to be alone is the capacity to love. It may look paradoxical to you, but it is not. It is an existential truth: only those people who are capable of being alone are capable of love, of sharing, of going into the deepest core of the other person—without possessing the other, without becoming dependent on the other, without reducing the other to a thing, and without becoming addicted to the other.
Austin Islam interview on Unlikely Stories:
I like tempo. I think of writing in terms of tempo, or comedic timing, usually. I like stuff that’s fast, has a certain snappy or quippy quality. Every now and then I’ll slow down and read something that treats words more like a gourmet meal, sort of rolling everything in and around your mouth and examining every feeling. Most of the time, though, I need poetry or status update lit or whatever that gets me through a moment. Instead of a sip or smoke or whatever, I need you to tell me why I’m here. What is going to make taking the next breath worth it. What works for you, what might work for me. Give it to me, I need it. Throw it at me. Don’t make it difficult to put in my vein. I don’t wanna have to pull chunks out and set them aside and all of that. Of course I like it when there are layers, I can read something again and catch what I hadn’t before. But most of all I need a hit.