“Kate Durbin is pop culture’s stenographer. E! Entertainment ingeniously peers inside the television static, revealing the many fictions that make up our reality, and the many realities which make up our fictions. It’s also a lot of fun to read. I love it.”

—Heidi Montag, star of MTV’s The Hills


E! Entertainment is forthcoming from Wonder (May 2014)

My adventurous friend Karter (aka Sol Persona) is currently in the works of recording his first EP. His debut music video, "Leaving is a Metaphor for Everything" was just released today. (Directed by Angelo Re)

The experimentally minded Sol Persona project seems interested in reinvigorating music by foregrounding various constructions of subjecthood and the various rigors of the human condition. Sol Persona’s compositions are magnetic and ethereal; they’re often elaborate, mosaic-like compositions seemingly concerned with reconstructing love, beauty, and identity. I think his fusion of chaotic tenderness and green refuge will prove to be a daring game changer. I think he has the necessary vocals when it comes to prosecuting any king-side attacks.

(He also has great hair.)

Looking forward to the EP.

"… this collection could be labeled ‘experimental’, but only insofar as trans* bodies are consistently maligned as ‘experimental’. If the work herein tends to move outside of convention, it is less due to a pretense of ‘challenging our audience’ than of challenging normative meanings mobilized against other ways of making sense. What follows is less an ‘experiment’ in form as a documentation of bodies, interrogating the different ways we come to understand, desire and survive” -Jos CharlesTHEM Is. 1 features work from:
Boston Davis Bostian, Brody Wood, Calvin Gimpelevich, Cassady Bee, Codi Suzanne Oliver  &  Willow Healey, Gr Keer, Grey Vild, H. Melt, Janani Balasubramanian, j/j hastain, Joy Ladin, Levi Sable, Lucas Scheelk, Mx Glass      reba overkill, Rex Leonowicz, Stephen Ira, Van Binfa

"… this collection could be labeled ‘experimental’, but only insofar as trans* bodies are consistently maligned as ‘experimental’. If the work herein tends to move outside of convention, it is less due to a pretense of ‘challenging our audience’ than of challenging normative meanings mobilized against other ways of making sense. What follows is less an ‘experiment’ in form as a documentation of bodies, interrogating the different ways we come to understand, desire and survive” -Jos Charles

THEM Is. 1 features work from:

Boston Davis Bostian, Brody Wood, Calvin Gimpelevich, Cassady Bee, Codi Suzanne Oliver  &  Willow Healey, Gr Keer, Grey Vild, H. Melt, Janani Balasubramanian, j/j hastain, Joy Ladin, Levi Sable, Lucas Scheelk, Mx Glass      reba overkill, Rex Leonowicz, Stephen Ira, Van Binfa

Wifredo Lam’s The Jungle, 1943. Gouache on paper mounted on canvas, 94 1/4 x 90 1/2 in. Inter-American Fund, The Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Wifredo Lam’s The Jungle, 1943. Gouache on paper mounted on canvas, 94 1/4 x 90 1/2 in. Inter-American Fund, The Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Wifredo Lam’s Birth (Nativity), 1947. Oil on canvas, 86 x 39 3/4 in.Private Collection, San Juan, Puerto Rico

Wifredo Lam’s Birth (Nativity), 1947. Oil on canvas, 86 x 39 3/4 in.
Private Collection, San Juan, Puerto Rico

Stumbled across some pretty discomforting poems from a poet named Ronnie Peltier over at Gobbet.don’t force my hands onto thatface and around these chest hair mouthsoh you say mousta-chewell check this creakinggap in my teeth for any detritusfrom that neighborhood kid

Stumbled across some pretty discomforting poems from a poet named Ronnie Peltier over at Gobbet.

don’t force my hands onto that
face and around these chest hair mouths
oh you say mousta-che
well check this creaking
gap in my teeth for any detritus
from that neighborhood kid

Now, I’d just like to make a few points:

1) we all know that Terry Richardson is absolute slime. His camera is, essentially, a murder weapon. Possibly one of the worst human beings currently living. If there’s any guy out there making sure that rape culture stays healthy and well-fertilized, it’s that fucker.

2) we can get mad at pop music all we want. we can complain about Miley Cyrus—call her a whiny, spoiled little idiot all we want. but without pop music, how else would these numerous complications arise? Why are people so afraid of talking through things? Miley has been victimized by an incredibly masculine, incredibly white and privileged heteronormative machine of hypersexuality. Her victimization is seen as “cool” and “trendy” or just something “to talk or laugh about.” Both men and women don’t see this pop celebrity as a victim. This person “deserves what she gets.” This person who told Jimmy Kimmel that the only thing she knows how to do—in life—is perform. How are people not distressed by this? That goes for countless other celebrities too. Why is Anna Nicole Smith an ‘idiot?’ Why is Amanda Bynes an ‘idiot?’ Why is Rihanna an ‘idiot?’ Why is Lady Gaga an ‘idiot?’ Why is Lindsay Lohan an ‘idiot?’ Why do we view these human beings as idiots? Why don’t we see these human beings as victims of elaborate, piggish testosterone? As victims of a boardroom butcher? Instead, both men and women—on Facebook, on twitter, etc. continue to devour their skin and skin color as nothing more than gossip rags…

we exist in a time and a culture in which the only thing ‘in vogue’ is “damage”

3) finally, think about the ‘Wrecking Ball’ music video. if that was a naked ‘guy’ swinging back and forth on a wrecking ball—or if that was a ‘guy’ in his underwear licking a sledgehammer, would it be “slutty” … or would it be “funny” or “hilarious” or just “sexy” or just “stupid?”

if you’re going to shit-talk anyone on facebook—shit-talk Billy Ray. just shit-talk all the Billy Rays out there

"I have a longing to recount to you, the pleasure that I find in watching, without stirring from my table, a boy who each day at the same hour comes to lean out a window on the rue d’Alleray. At nine o’clock he opens the window, he wears a small blue bathtowel, or similarly blue underwear; he leans his head on his arms, burying his face in his elbow … hunting for dreams extremely strong, intense, exhausting, leaving him in a great (flute, more blue paper) despondency … And then briskly, he stands up, he sits down at a table where he must read? Write? Type? I do not know; I only see the naked elbow and shoulder; and I ask myself what dreams his eyes have drawn from the fold of his arms, what words or drawings can burst forth; but I tell myself that I am the only one to have seen, from the outside, taking shape and losing shape, the graceful chrysalis where they were born. This morning the window remained closed; in place of which I am writing to you."

-from a letter Michel Foucault wrote to Hervé Guibert on July 28, 1983

I have a (long) poem in the latest issue of A capella Zoo. It’s called “Into Magma Town.”Issue 9 features new poetry by Benjamin Clark, Jeanine Deibel, Meaghan Hope, Vanessa Lessel, Jeff Pearson, Dylan Platz, Colin Winnette, and Changming Yuan. There’s also new fiction by Rachel Adams, Brenda Anderson, Anton Baer, Redfern Barrett, Matthew Blasi, Victorya Chase, Julie Day, M. W. Fowler, Faith Gardner, Collin Blair Grabarek, Sam Grieve, Katherine Marzinsky, Faith Schantz, and Shellie Zacharia.I love the cover art too!—it’s by Devin Meldrum.

I have a (long) poem in the latest issue of A capella Zoo. It’s called “Into Magma Town.”

Issue 9 features new poetry by Benjamin Clark, Jeanine Deibel, Meaghan Hope, Vanessa Lessel, Jeff Pearson, Dylan Platz, Colin Winnette, and Changming Yuan.

There’s also new fiction by Rachel Adams, Brenda Anderson, Anton Baer, Redfern Barrett, Matthew Blasi, Victorya Chase, Julie Day, M. W. Fowler, Faith Gardner, Collin Blair Grabarek, Sam Grieve, Katherine Marzinsky, Faith Schantz, and Shellie Zacharia.

I love the cover art too!—it’s by Devin Meldrum.

Blake Butler actually interviewed David Byrne. YES!!

Blake Butler actually interviewed David Byrne. YES!!

Adophe Bouguereau’s Dante and Virgil in Hell (1850)

Adophe Bouguereau’s Dante and Virgil in Hell (1850)

Damn. Very excited to have new poetry in the “Form” issue of Aesthetix.Includes great new work from Louise Mathias, Bianca Stone, Nick DePascal, Dennis Cooper, Adam Robinson, Lily Brown, Laura Carter, Rob MacDonald, Sean Kilpatrick, Rachel B. Glaser, Janey Smith, Jennifer Tamayo, Joshua Ware, and Peter Davis.Many thanks again to Molly Brodak!

Damn. Very excited to have new poetry in the “Form” issue of Aesthetix.

Includes great new work from Louise Mathias, Bianca Stone, Nick DePascal, Dennis Cooper, Adam Robinson, Lily Brown, Laura Carter, Rob MacDonald, Sean Kilpatrick, Rachel B. Glaser, Janey Smith, Jennifer Tamayo, Joshua Ware, and Peter Davis.

Many thanks again to Molly Brodak!


Boring poetry? Is that a thing? What constitutes boring poetry? What if there is no boring poetry but only a great number of boring human artists? Yes, I think boring human is boring poetry’s antecedent. Yes. Ariana Reines wrote “Oh person / What a bore” and I think that really says it all. I do. Art is dependent on human and not the other way around. Though, the other way around is possible—I just like to refer to the other way around as “voluntary submission” or “giving up.” Boredom, I believe, stems from a possible sense of defeat or intimidation. One should be sure to note that the word “defeat” itself is certainly militant and a ‘militant art’ can be troubling for many artists. However, for the artist opting for a rebellion against a dominant art form (any art form widely accepted/defended as divine or essential) that is later realized as a constraint, a word like “defeat” may seem appealing. An artist who feels defeated may feel more compelled to plagiarize or emulate a ‘successful’ or ‘talented’ or ‘challenging’ writer in an often-exaggerated way. Rather than the influenced citing their influence, the influenced becomes a parasite-art—a hyper-mimicry. Carl Jung once wrote of art, “One might almost describe it as a living being that uses man only as a nutrient medium, employing his capacities according to its own laws and shaping itself to the fulfillment of its own creative purpose.” I like the idea of ‘creative product’ being acknowledged as something beyond a bookstore transaction. I like believing that personal creativity is not stagnant—that it’s something that can distend my reach as an artist. I like that I feel like I can simultaneously fear and embody whatever I create. Blake Butler once told me that he didn’t understand the usefulness of a statement like, “I am selling my novel.” He told me that a novel is pieces of a person. People believe that they need to “write novels” and that they need to “buy novels.” For me, Blake peels away physicality and leaves me with something less understood and less tangible. In leaving readers with less, Blake actually leaves readers with more. (Take a couple minutes and just revisit Butler’s promotion for Scorch Atlas for just a quick example of what I’m talking about). If I simply accept Jung’s idea that I am a “nutrient medium” to be absorbed by art, I still in many ways feel as though I am—maybe not submitting to—but confirming that my own opinions and viewpoints regarding art are the ‘best’ opinions and viewpoints available to myself and others. I think that believing that my opinions and viewpoints regarding art are the ‘best’ opinions and viewpoints is incredibly dangerous. This is why I like to think of myself as an artist existing in a constant state of revision. I think it is most important to be careful. I’m not saying Jung is ‘right’ about art, but I am attracted to Jung’s carefulness. For me, progression as an artist means perpetual self-revision and carefulness. Not writing the new Critique of Judgment or self-labeling. (I mean, devour the latest subcultural honey if you want to, but don’t drown yourself in it.) It’s just very difficult to apply something like ideas of certainty to perpetual self-revision, I think. 
 
Certainty is doom.
 
Again, I believe boredom stems from a sense of defeat or intimidation, but I also believe it can begin with something that I’ve recently termed “freight-aesthetics.” Earlier this year in a Thought Catalog post I composed a list of questions addressed to young writers and one of the questions included: Are we living our “lief” or adhering to freight-aesthetics? The Steve Roggenbuck reference is obvious, but a lot of people wanted to know what I meant by freight-aesthetics. When I finally replied, I wrote: “All I meant by ‘freight-aesthetics’ is when a particular artistic standard is passed around from person to person—toting standards via the popularity and mobility of opinions. Treating an aesthetic standard like goods to sell.” First, I think it’s odd that I initially wrote “artistic standard” and then concluded with “aesthetic standard.” The interchangeability of those two words is worth mentioning because our modern-day use of the term “aesthetic” is very much a constraint we often take for granted. My “freight-aesthetics” neologism is quite obviously attempting to insult or, rather, assault “aesthetic”—a word derived from the Greek word “aistehesis” which means “of the senses.” Merriam-Webster definitions for “freight” read “the compensation paid for the transportation of goods” as well as “goods to be shipped.” When an artist says, “I really like your aesthetic,” they are essentially telling me that they appreciated the sensory experience evoked by my creative product. They are basically saying, “I enjoyed your art.” Writers and educators also tend to think of aesthetics as specific artistic standards or traditions—decrees to be upheld or passed down. Every educator teaches an aesthetic standard or a small variety of aesthetic standards that are absorbed by creative writing students and usually perceived as ‘right’ or ‘best.’ If ‘ideal’ aesthetic standards exist then ‘ideal’ creative writing programs exist. This is highly detrimental thinking. These ideals are what make poetry “boring.” Freight-aesthetics are responsible for boring poetry. Business transactions are boring. Teaching your students to be just like you is boring. I’ve been following the work of Johannes Göransson for a number of years and it was this comment of his that I read online one day and wrote down and tucked away for my future:  “I would be crazy to only teach my aesthetic in the limited sense because it would be bad for the class. In fact I pride myself on trying to give a lot of different looks of poetry to my students, especially my undergrads. I would have had a heart attack by now if I were to try to force all my students to write like I do. Or at least no students would take my class, something that has never been a problem for me.” Exposing a student to many forms seems way better than a mandate.
 
In “Poetries of Resistance,” Drew Krewer writes, “We’ve all heard the cry about MFA programs producing the ‘McPoem,’ but Perloff’s description doesn’t just point fingers, it locates the source of the problem––that uniformity in poetry is produced by a system filled with people who long to become one of the initiated, in hopes of securing these ‘good jobs,’ or at least to be praised by people in such positions. In short, the ‘well-crafted’ poem has achieved a certain exchange rate in the creative economy. Contemporary American poetry has, in a sense, become infected by the drive of capitalism. Higher education, after all, is a business.” Business becomes far more lucrative when young writers believe they will be learning the best from the best—when they believe that there is a best. 
 
A beast. A beast that writes nothing every day.
 
It seems outrageous to even want to believe in a best. Especially in a country so unfriendly to translations. I wrote a poem that repeats a line: 
 
SO MANY PEOPLE WILL NEVER READ THIS WORLD OF PEOPLE.
 
And I believe that. And that is sad.
 
Aase Berg is one of the greatest things that ever happened to me.
 
Writers often see themselves as books that will be sold—they reduce themselves to the “exchange rate” that Krewer entertains. Freight-aesthetics cultivates writers who function as laborers for dollars—selling creative product becomes the sad and sole ambition of the American writer.
 
I believe no writer should be driven merely by an exchange rate.
 
The MFA program does not have to be seen as a useless concept, but I understand why that belief is common. It itself is certainly a business (like any level of education), but depending on one’s research and interests, a MFA program could be a beneficial and challenging venture. This is why the faculty aspect of a MFA program is a good way to avoid succumbing to freight-aesthetics. A creative writing program has been reduced to a number—to something that has been ‘ranked,’ but a faculty is a diversity not to be distorted as something uniform. What it really comes down to is: are you applying to a program because you’ve heard it will make you ‘successful’ or are you applying to a program because it offers faculty members that share your concerns and interests? 
 
Boring poetry is a product of freight-aesthetics and freight-aesthetics are a product of a system of “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine.”
 
Boring writer will paste its “Pushcart Prize nominee in (insert year)” into email after email until someone finally responds, OH, I AM INTIMIDATED BY YOU, PUSHCART NOMINEE. I MUST HAVE YOU. I MUST. I WILL PUBLISH YOU, PUSHCART NOMINEE. I WILL PUBLISH YOUR POEM ABOUT CATS AND ARTHRITIS.
 
And I will be swimming elsewhere.

Boring poetry? Is that a thing? What constitutes boring poetry? What if there is no boring poetry but only a great number of boring human artists? Yes, I think boring human is boring poetry’s antecedent. Yes. Ariana Reines wrote “Oh person / What a bore” and I think that really says it all. I do. Art is dependent on human and not the other way around. Though, the other way around is possible—I just like to refer to the other way around as “voluntary submission” or “giving up.” Boredom, I believe, stems from a possible sense of defeat or intimidation. One should be sure to note that the word “defeat” itself is certainly militant and a ‘militant art’ can be troubling for many artists. However, for the artist opting for a rebellion against a dominant art form (any art form widely accepted/defended as divine or essential) that is later realized as a constraint, a word like “defeat” may seem appealing. An artist who feels defeated may feel more compelled to plagiarize or emulate a ‘successful’ or ‘talented’ or ‘challenging’ writer in an often-exaggerated way. Rather than the influenced citing their influence, the influenced becomes a parasite-art—a hyper-mimicry. Carl Jung once wrote of art, “One might almost describe it as a living being that uses man only as a nutrient medium, employing his capacities according to its own laws and shaping itself to the fulfillment of its own creative purpose.” I like the idea of ‘creative product’ being acknowledged as something beyond a bookstore transaction. I like believing that personal creativity is not stagnant—that it’s something that can distend my reach as an artist. I like that I feel like I can simultaneously fear and embody whatever I create. Blake Butler once told me that he didn’t understand the usefulness of a statement like, “I am selling my novel.” He told me that a novel is pieces of a person. People believe that they need to “write novels” and that they need to “buy novels.” For me, Blake peels away physicality and leaves me with something less understood and less tangible. In leaving readers with less, Blake actually leaves readers with more. (Take a couple minutes and just revisit Butler’s promotion for Scorch Atlas for just a quick example of what I’m talking about). If I simply accept Jung’s idea that I am a “nutrient medium” to be absorbed by art, I still in many ways feel as though I am—maybe not submitting to—but confirming that my own opinions and viewpoints regarding art are the ‘best’ opinions and viewpoints available to myself and others. I think that believing that my opinions and viewpoints regarding art are the ‘best’ opinions and viewpoints is incredibly dangerous. This is why I like to think of myself as an artist existing in a constant state of revision. I think it is most important to be careful. I’m not saying Jung is ‘right’ about art, but I am attracted to Jung’s carefulness. For me, progression as an artist means perpetual self-revision and carefulness. Not writing the new Critique of Judgment or self-labeling. (I mean, devour the latest subcultural honey if you want to, but don’t drown yourself in it.) It’s just very difficult to apply something like ideas of certainty to perpetual self-revision, I think.

 

Certainty is doom.

 

Again, I believe boredom stems from a sense of defeat or intimidation, but I also believe it can begin with something that I’ve recently termed “freight-aesthetics.” Earlier this year in a Thought Catalog post I composed a list of questions addressed to young writers and one of the questions included: Are we living our “lief” or adhering to freight-aesthetics? The Steve Roggenbuck reference is obvious, but a lot of people wanted to know what I meant by freight-aesthetics. When I finally replied, I wrote: “All I meant by ‘freight-aesthetics’ is when a particular artistic standard is passed around from person to person—toting standards via the popularity and mobility of opinions. Treating an aesthetic standard like goods to sell.” First, I think it’s odd that I initially wrote “artistic standard” and then concluded with “aesthetic standard.” The interchangeability of those two words is worth mentioning because our modern-day use of the term “aesthetic” is very much a constraint we often take for granted. My “freight-aesthetics” neologism is quite obviously attempting to insult or, rather, assault “aesthetic”—a word derived from the Greek word “aistehesis” which means “of the senses.” Merriam-Webster definitions for “freight” read “the compensation paid for the transportation of goods” as well as “goods to be shipped.” When an artist says, “I really like your aesthetic,” they are essentially telling me that they appreciated the sensory experience evoked by my creative product. They are basically saying, “I enjoyed your art.” Writers and educators also tend to think of aesthetics as specific artistic standards or traditions—decrees to be upheld or passed down. Every educator teaches an aesthetic standard or a small variety of aesthetic standards that are absorbed by creative writing students and usually perceived as ‘right’ or ‘best.’ If ‘ideal’ aesthetic standards exist then ‘ideal’ creative writing programs exist. This is highly detrimental thinking. These ideals are what make poetry “boring.” Freight-aesthetics are responsible for boring poetry. Business transactions are boring. Teaching your students to be just like you is boring. I’ve been following the work of Johannes Göransson for a number of years and it was this comment of his that I read online one day and wrote down and tucked away for my future:  I would be crazy to only teach my aesthetic in the limited sense because it would be bad for the class. In fact I pride myself on trying to give a lot of different looks of poetry to my students, especially my undergrads. I would have had a heart attack by now if I were to try to force all my students to write like I do. Or at least no students would take my class, something that has never been a problem for me.”

Exposing a student to many forms seems way better than a mandate.

 

In “Poetries of Resistance,” Drew Krewer writes, “We’ve all heard the cry about MFA programs producing the ‘McPoem,’ but Perloff’s description doesn’t just point fingers, it locates the source of the problem––that uniformity in poetry is produced by a system filled with people who long to become one of the initiated, in hopes of securing these ‘good jobs,’ or at least to be praised by people in such positions. In short, the ‘well-crafted’ poem has achieved a certain exchange rate in the creative economy. Contemporary American poetry has, in a sense, become infected by the drive of capitalism. Higher education, after all, is a business.” Business becomes far more lucrative when young writers believe they will be learning the best from the best—when they believe that there is a best.

 

A beast. A beast that writes nothing every day.

 

It seems outrageous to even want to believe in a best. Especially in a country so unfriendly to translations. I wrote a poem that repeats a line:

 

SO MANY PEOPLE WILL NEVER READ THIS WORLD OF PEOPLE.

 

And I believe that. And that is sad.

 

Aase Berg is one of the greatest things that ever happened to me.

 

Writers often see themselves as books that will be sold—they reduce themselves to the “exchange rate” that Krewer entertains. Freight-aesthetics cultivates writers who function as laborers for dollars—selling creative product becomes the sad and sole ambition of the American writer.

 

I believe no writer should be driven merely by an exchange rate.

 

The MFA program does not have to be seen as a useless concept, but I understand why that belief is common. It itself is certainly a business (like any level of education), but depending on one’s research and interests, a MFA program could be a beneficial and challenging venture. This is why the faculty aspect of a MFA program is a good way to avoid succumbing to freight-aesthetics. A creative writing program has been reduced to a number—to something that has been ‘ranked,’ but a faculty is a diversity not to be distorted as something uniform. What it really comes down to is: are you applying to a program because you’ve heard it will make you ‘successful’ or are you applying to a program because it offers faculty members that share your concerns and interests?

 

Boring poetry is a product of freight-aesthetics and freight-aesthetics are a product of a system of “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine.”

 

Boring writer will paste its “Pushcart Prize nominee in (insert year)” into email after email until someone finally responds, OH, I AM INTIMIDATED BY YOU, PUSHCART NOMINEE. I MUST HAVE YOU. I MUST. I WILL PUBLISH YOU, PUSHCART NOMINEE. I WILL PUBLISH YOUR POEM ABOUT CATS AND ARTHRITIS.

 

And I will be swimming elsewhere.