Poetry for Southern California
Pablo Capra Guest Editorial
by Pablo Capra
The defining characteristic of poetry these days seems to be that it's crap.
The word choice is provocative, but coldly accurate if taken to refer to poetry's worthlessness, not only in society but even among poets themselves. Most poetry has become so obscure, narcissistic, or banal that it has lost the power to really the grab reader.
In fact, I don't think you can write real poetry anymore without acknowledging how worthless it is. Or, at least, I'm very wary of poetry that doesn't address this concern.
Poetry has truly become "the last nowhere," as Log and Toylit put it in their book of the same title, kicking off a small literary movement of authors with funny pseudonyms called Crap Poetry (see the "Manifesto" below).
The point of their book is that because poetry isn't sexy, lucrative, or entertaining, it's the last place where an artist courageous enough to renounce these things can work with complete integrity and freedom.
As the publisher (Brass Tacks Press) of Log and Toylit's book, I immediately became a promoter and participant in the Crap Poetry Movement, helping them to republish their work in French (to make it more obscure) as well as on rolls of actual toilet paper.
The first thrill that writing Crap Poetry offers is the freedom to be playful, to not take anything seriously, and to rub it in the reader's face. When was the last time you had this much fun writing a poem?
Failure is not Random
The Drool of the Sputtering
Nympho Retard Lubricates
The Barf of the Beaten
The Endless Processing
PLART PLART SPLURT
of the Insatiate Lesbian Interrogates
and so Love and Poetics
Can Only be Measured in Loss.
Dental Floss. I’m the Boss
of Gently Laying my Scrotum
on Your Eye Socket
—Log & Toylit, The Last Nowhere (2005)
Writing Crap Poetry also allows for more feral expression and darker soul-searching than your wonted comfort level might desire. It takes its appreciation of ugliness from punk rock. Dig these monstrous metaphors:
Broken, I have Found
Almost all of my Extremities
But lost most of my Identity
On the Blood-Wet Chopping Block
Of your sacrificial Anus.
Assassin, Assassin, go find your
Next Mark suck shit
In the Dark
Find a Warm Place to Park
The Liquid Chainsaw
Of your Unwholesome Affections.
—Toylit, Obliterature (2008, forthcoming)
Writing Crap Poetry helped me—and the Crap poet known as Tushy—discover a state of Zen perfection in effortlessly composing lines of utter uselessness:
I'd rather just write
this poem than stop
to think about what
I'm going to say.
The pen is moving and
I'm watching it move.
—Two, Nothing Next to Nothing (2006)
If you think about it,
this word is almost
a girl's name spelled
—Tushy, Herzog's Pig (2008)
I also find Crap Poetry liberating because it allows me to write without having to wait for inspiration to strike. It helped me realize that there are substitutes for inspiration. Here is part of an email exchange I had with Michael Lynch, author of Omelet Shark (2005), where he nicely elaborates on this subject:
"I don't have much confidence in inspiration. That shit is for suckers. The sorts of people that are content writing paragraphs about a tree or how sad the death of their dog made them. Plus, I don't have any time to wait around for inspiration. Sometimes I think I write because I just love the way it sounds when the keys on the keyboard go CLACK, CLACK, CLACK. I'm very glad that you brought up stupid inspiration, however, because I think it is a very legitimate concept. It's very anti-serious. Like, “Fuck you—they're my words. I'll do whatever the fuck I want to with them. It's my story, and I like bears, so there's gonna be fucking bears in the fucking story. And magnets. And pizza. Etc., etc…."
Finally, writing Crap Poetry helps to get over the frustration of comparing yourself to history's literary giants, and to exorcize your own self-critical inertia.”
Shakespeare was a Catholic
Rimbaud was a fag
Homer blind and
Sappho on the rag.
Hemingway a redneck
Proust was really sick
and Henry Miller couldn't write
enough about his dick.
Whenever we try to write a line
They make us look like crap.
The 21st century is eight years old
and sitting on your lap.
—Mao Thing Awf, The Crapture (2008)
selfish shellfish swim
cocks are dicks
hicks lick balls
in the hall of fame
have a knack for my nuts.
I write every day
I don't fight
—Andy Comess, Dry Jerk Heartbreak (2008, forthcoming)
Visit the Brass Tacks Press website at www.lifeaspoet.com.