i'm a poet

I formerly labored under the flawed premise that people should pay money to receive my poetry in zine form. I don't know why. I apologize.

I have been rehabilitated and now would like to give my poetry away forever for free. You can take it.

You can go jump directly to the poetry; or you can read on to see my reflections on poetry.

the reflections on poetry

I remember neither the first poem I read nor the first poem I wrote but I can remember the first poem that I was embarrassed of having written.

I was 11 and it was the year 2000 and I was freshly online. A lot of my stories, not just ones about poetry, start like that. I was sad and mad and often felt bad but I was unable to articulate why in any concrete way. Looking back I can tell you that these feelings of bad, sad, and mad were likely the result of:

these aspects combined with some environmental factors:

to produce a melancholic mind, an overactive imagination, and an inability to focus very long on anything. I suspect these conditions are responsible for many a (post-)modernist poet.

I have no idea what poetry meant to me at that age, but it felt like the correct media to vent frustrations that were as vague as they were intense. This first poem that I was embarrassed by is lost. I wrote my poetry in plain text files using notepad.exe in Windows 98. An internet friend (likely one found via AIM) had offered to take my poetry and combine it with art from manga. The first poem I remember being embarrassed by was layered, probably in papyrus font, in white over black next to a brooding angel man from a CLAMP manga (X, perhaps). The poem was about feeling bad about nothing in particular. I recall imagery of shards of glass in my soul. I better remember the image I tried to express: stained glass, colorful and beautiful, all smashed up and covering me.

At the time of authorship this poem made me feel cool, edgy, mysterious, and other positive feelings which were essential to shoring up defenses against relentless self criticism and despair (a few years earlier in a journal I had to keep for the first grade I wrote: "I liked the story of the ugly duckling because I am also ugly"). Once my peers at school began to find out what poetry was they realized they hated it, so I learned to be cautious about discussing or writing poetry.

Into high school I read poetry. I only distinctly remember one collection by Vietnam veterans that my dad gave me. I printed one of them out and used it as the cover of my binder in 11th or 12th grade. Once again I felt edgy. I can't find this poem now on the internet, but it had the phrase "I fail to be mesmerized." I had become a cynical anti-nationalist in the Bush years and it resonated with me. In this time period I kept writing poetry and do have those, but you can't see them. If you work very hard you might find my teenage Deviant Art account where I posted poetry.

My impetus, as a child and as slightly less of a child and now, a nominal adult, has always been to try and transmute a feeling into words. I was not very interested in formal poetry or actually letting anyone teach it to me. I just had feelings and wanted to imbue some artifact with them in the hopes that someone might feel those feelings too or at least acknowledge that I had them. I tried to slow down and learn formal creative skills: acting, creative writing, music, drawing. I could never quiet the part of my brain that seethed with emotion long enough to actually commit to any of these things. I wanted to create things in the way that a volcano created land or in the way that a wrecking ball created piles of rubble: paroxysmally. I had to outrun the part of my brain that made me feel afraid and small. A formal system, for me, is just opportunity for the melacholic monologuing to catch up to me and drag me back down into the mud of self pity.

I started college and proclaimed that I was quiting poetry. I focused instead on programming, noise music, and philsophy. I kept trying to outrun my own brain in all of this. Poetry didn't come back until my senior year when I had the opportunity to do a thesis. It was open ended and naturally my inability to deeply engage with anything formal meant I was a terrible computer scientist. I decided it would be an art project and, inspired as I was by the cut-up work of WS Burroughs, decided to make software for doing that with large quantities of text.

This project lead to a second era of poetry for me. All of the cut-up I was doing re-inspired me to write fully original poetry. This second era culminated in taking a certificate course at the IPRC in Portland, Oregon. By this point I had become embarrassed by my cut-up poetry and muddled through the course trying and failing to produce anything I could be proud of. I finally gave up and went back to cut-up for my final project. These cut-up poems got the first ever praise from my classmates. Still, the course filled me with discomfort and proud as I was of my new cut-up collection I "quit" poetry again.

I'm in my third era now despite not producing any artifacts resembling poems. I'm still not great at mastering formal systems. I'm still fighting to stay ahead of the melancholic howling. I'm not much better at stringing words together. My understanding of poetry has changed, though. My goal was never to put words on a page but instead to get feelings out into the world. Feelings can't exist in the world; not in and of themselves. The contours of an art object can only ever suggest the feelings that inspired it. This eternal impressionism is what I am forever after. This eternal impressionism is poetry (for me). Whatever it is I make--noise, websites, programs--is poetry, as I have come to understand it.

I could say I'm an "artist" but it raises too many reasonable questions to which I have only unreasonable answers. It's better to be a poet since that's usually a conversation ender. Few want to talk to a melancholic dreamer, a hopeful monster, a quixotic romantic. If you do, though, please check out my poetry. Or send me an email.

the poetry

save scum (2016)

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being cut-up video game walkthroughs. This collection only came into existence as a desperate rush after becoming angrily frustrated with an attempt to write a "real" collection of poetry as the final project of my certificate course at the IPRC. The book that this isn't is a collection of millenial reflections on the despair of social media. This collection is not called THE HELL THAT'S IN YOUR MIND. This collection is instead called Save Scum and unlike the collection that it isn't I am not embarrassed by it. Game walkthroughs have a particular kind of diction that I find very lovely and creating a series of surrealistic instructional poems was very rewarding.

cyberpunk prophecies (2015)

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being cut-up from 30ish cyberpunk novels. I don't like this title and should have called it either THROUGH THE WIRES SHALL COURSE BLOOD or IN THE FLOW OF THE GLOBAL NET DEATH COMES TO US ALL but I didn't. I started this project while living in Atlanta but did not actually compile it all together until I had uprooted my life and moved to Portland. I directly attribute my willingness to finally get this out to being inspired by my at the time new girlfriend / now wife spinecone who was working on a real life published comic book when I met her.

through the wires shall course blood (2015)

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being mostly original poetry and some cut-up This collection has the title that Cyberpunk Prophecies ought to have. Instead this collection has it. It's mostly original poetry but has some cut-up in there, too.

The Grist Meld (2012-2015)

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being hitherto unreleased stuff sourced from my old blog, the IPRC, and wherever else I found it. A number of these were written while I felt stuck in an abusive relationship and are sort of love letters to a hypothetical future partner. Others are explorations of social media's soul drain. Others are ancient cut-up works both manual and automated.

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