Ander Monson edits the online journal DIAGRAM and the related printing house New Michigan Press. He’s an essayist and poet whose work has appeared in The Believer and The Best American Essays 2008. 12th Street: In […]
There’s been talk about writer’s block. I don’t really have a cure, but I know that every time I visit a museum, I leave with a poem. On Sunday, it was the MoMA. I went […]
Interesting post a couple of days ago at the Ploughshares blog about benefactors. I have mixed feelings about the idea of patronage, especially the support of a single artist by a single wealthy benefactor. Sure, […]
Ambulatory sisters— sister somnambulists— sorority of sleep-hikers— we are crossing a bridge. We’ve crossed our uncle & our fiancés will be cross, but we’ve got a long list, a lot of items to cross off. […]
Four years ago, I was old enough to vote in my first presidential election. I was living with my parents. I had to brave the terrors of going back to my old high school to cast my ballot. I wore my “I VOTED” sticker all day and into the night, waiting for the results that would validate my efforts and prove that I had made a difference. And then I was crushed.
Kristy Bowen is a talented poet, visual artist, and editor, and is dedicated to supporting the work of other women poets and artists. 12th Street: What was your inspiration for dancing girl press? Kristy Bowen: […]
Tao Lin is a prolific author, editor, and sometime Gawker rabble rouser. The Stranger calls him “a revolutionary.” 12th Street: You have two collections of poetry out, one novel, a collection of short stories, and […]
Elisa Gabbert is a poet, editor, and collaborator extraordinaire. From “Smoking Villanelle,” written with Kathleen Rooney: The situation was not without charm but I’d never, ever do it again. There must be a better way […]
Mike Young lives up to his last name, and is more prolific than most. He often wears cowboy shirts.
12th Street: You told me something this summer that has stuck out in my mind: Some people write poetry when they should be writing country songs. Can you talk more about this?
Mike Young: The country song is a terrific format for a certain kind of emotional distillation. Like if you want to write about dead people, failed dreams, steel wool, alcohol, ghosts. If you want shifting narratives and wordplay. Self-deprecation, even. Country music has all that in spades. And I’m not even talking about good country here. Just mainstream country like you’d see on GAC. Go listen to “Honky-Tonk Badonkadonk” if you think L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poetry doesn’t exist on the tobacco farm. Tony Tost can speak much better about this (and less glibly, probably), but I am totally not kidding.
What I really meant when I talked to you, though, was probably that there is an undercurrent of honky-tonk emotional angst sort of tucked away, embarrassed, beneath the flashy crust of today’s popular, cutesy, post-avant, soft surrealist poetry. What if these poets just sat down and wrote a dumb country song about how much they miss high school? Or, like, how much they love beer in the afternoon? Eighty percent of the poets I know love beer in the afternoon. So do country stars. What I’m asking for, I think, is more unabashed sentimentality, in both poetry and the afternoon. DFW is right: irony has pervaded/perverted culture. Let Dr. Pepper make their sly, ironic commercials; if you really want to be subversive and shit, acknowledge sentimentality and “take it back.”