Cover_TheNextScottNadelsonMy fiancée left me for a drag king named Donny Manicotti.

That sounds like the start of a joke, but it’s not. It’s my life.

I do find it funny now – from a distance of some years and happily married – and even at the time I recognized how ridiculous the situation was, though mostly I was bewildered and devastated. I’d always prided myself on being someone who appreciated the absurdity of life, who didn’t take it too seriously, but there’s an enormous difference, I discovered, between reading a Kafka novel or watching a Woody Allen movie and living inside of one.

Spit_and_Passion_excerpt 1So, why did you write a book about Green Day? Didn’t you already write a zine about Green Day when you were 15? 

Well, for most of my life I’ve been living in the shadow of this public and profound obsession with Green Day, which started around 1994/1995 (when I discovered their music and my self esteem suddenly transformed from being in a constant state of embarassment over my list of insecurities, to not really giving a shit). So I wrote this zine, Greenzine, around 1997, which started as real deal Green Day fanzine. It included fan contributions, lengthy descriptions on why their specific songs are so important and perfect, mini novellas about getting persecuted by fellow school mates over my love for Green Day, fan drawings, fan experiences (no fan fiction, that just wasn’t my bag, I’m a memoirist) <—(Thats a joke/L-word reference). But it is true, I did not participate in GD fan fiction. Anyway, the zine grew up, as I did, and being obsessed with Green Day suddenly wasn’t as interesting as flunking math, getting into awkward verbal debates about masturbation, questioning the government, falling in love with people, and other punk bands (It mostly became heavy on the pop-punk bands, the zine became full of interviews and record reviews).

“From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.”
—Karl Marx

One of the first books released by Red Lemonade, the visionary new press brought to life by ex-Soft Skull patriarch Richard Nash, Zazen by Vanessa Veselka is a powerful, political, sometimes humorous, often frightening portrait of a parallel world that lurks in the near future in all of its dystopian glory. Della is caught in an emotional battle, deciding whether or not she should leave the country that is dissolving around her, or help to bring it down faster. Bombs are going off, but capitalism continues unabated. Unsure of what to do, Della starts calling in bomb threats of her own, targeting the companies and locations that offend her the most. When the threats start turning into actual destruction, she questions the her role in these events, the universe wrapping around her, burning martyrs and rat queens shimmering at the edge of her vision.

 

New Narratives

When we think of experimental fiction and what it means to write in a way that challenges form and style, we often think of writers like Kathy Acker, Ander Monson, Joshua Marie Wilkinson, Danielle Dutton, Selah Saterstrom, Mark Danielewski, Laird Hunt, to name a few. As this form has emerged, it’s slowly become a viable medium in which narratives are compiled of frayed edges, blurry lines and unique style. This type of writing began to focus on fragmented stories, utilizing techniques and styles that echo modern poets and experimental texts. A movement called the New Narrative began in the 80s that gave voice to writers looking to give voice to narratives in a more experimental fashion. Initially, these writers focused on eliminating the boundaries between the author and reader as to identify with the physical side of the author. While some of these New Narrative authors were gay and lesbian writers, all who became part of this movement did focus on “new narrative” forms of communicating with its readers. Incorporating meta-text and sexually unambiguous descriptions of the everyday were par for the course in works that emerged as a result of this movement in writing. Authors like Eileen Myles, Kevin Killian, Dodie Bellamy and Robert Gluck were among those who pushed boundaries with style and form and who are associated with such a progressive movement where writing’s concerned.Ugly Duckling Presse published Dodie Bellamy’s Barf Manifesto in the fall of 2009, which is a combination of two essays that Bellamy wrote for panel discussions about the liberation of form in regard to writing. Eileen Myles had written an essay entitled, “Everyday Barf” and Barf Manifesto is Bellamy’s response to that essay. Divided into two essays, Bellamy addresses some of the issues and talking points that emerged as a result of Myles’s multifaceted piece on “Everyday Barf.”

A Closer Look at What You Should Be Reading

UNSOUND by Jennifer Martenson

Burning Deck/Poetry

63pp.

 

Reading Jennifer Martenson’s poems are like ingesting the tastiest word soup imaginable. Unsound, Martenson’s first full-length book overflows with numerous concepts and thinking bits of poetic logic. It’s these logical phrases, words and thoughts that morph into actions and bigger words resulting in a specific kind of full-blown cohesiveness in this lyrical book of poems. In Preface, she begins to delve into inner thoughts and feelings about such things, “in my attempt to explicate by touch, I struck my forehead violently against the corner of an ambiguity. Was I holding your hand or merely an opinion? Here again were twisted paths, this time covered with damp, matted layers of perspective. Fate has a margin of error equal in width to the desire of one woman for another.”

Er, haven’t you been dead a few thousand years?

You can’t keep a good old girl down.

Let’s get it out of the way, because what everyone is probably dying to ask you is: do you prefer men or women?

Oh unequivocally women.

And why is that?

Well women are, after all, the superior sex;  their rarified, inherent intelligence, their instinctual sensitivity, finer in senses than a rabbit; their high degree of conscientiousness in hygiene, their bathing in milk; their incredible acumen in regards to spice and fruit, their faun-like grace in movement; and, well, they just smell better, and they wiggle.

Were you a Lesbian in life?

I was of the great island of Lesbos, yes.

Oh you know what I mean, nudge, nudge, wink, wink.

Well there are some things I can’t reveal from the afterlife.  I’m free to offer you any impressions that do not reveal any worldly mysteries, but no more.

No worldly mysteries at all?

Well, of course not, otherwise I would have seen fit to protect my legacy by waking up some Constantinople printer of the 16th century or so, and reciting him my verses for preservation.

You said “Constantinople.”  So not “Istanbul” but “Constantinople?”

I said “Constantinople” because that’s what it was around the time I mentioned.  I try to stay above any quarrel with modern Istanbul, even though so many of classic Ionian stock were driven from the city due to ethnic riots in your last century.

And by the way, I do like the song.  It has an incantatory quality.

So no mysteries? Damn! We may never know whether you got it on with Dika? And Attis? and Anactoria? and Eirana? And maybe Abanthis and Gongyla in a threesome?

Very cheeky.  You know from what you have of my poems that I admired those sweet young girls, but even if I were inclined to kiss and tell, I’m bound to say no more.

So which contemporary woman best embodies the idea of love, and why?

Ooh, that’s a clever question.  Of course my mind flew immediately to Frida Kahlo, who is, alas no longer contemporary.  And I thought a bit of Drew Barrymore, and of Thandie Newton, but that might have been more like a rustling laugh after being tickled.  If you press me on the point, I would have to say Aung San Suu Kyi, because there is so much to love that its paragon must be a woman with so much to her.

Interesting that your choice is charged with some politics.  Why is it that your surviving poetry has so few references to the political conditions of your times? If you were to write a poem about the current state of political affairs what would it be entitled, and what would be the first line?

Ah, I must gently point out that the last request would be the equivalent of my unearthing a new fragment of my work, which I must remind you I am not free to do.

I can say what you already know, from commentators who had read my work before so much of it was lost, that there was some political content to my poetry.  That is inevitable considering my prominent family, and the times in which I lived.  I think you’ll find from those same sources that my poetry was extremely wide-ranging, covering heroic tales, love lyrics, odes, elegies, songs for prayer, songs for ritual dance, and much more.  Aristophanes of Byzantium collected 1,320 of my verses.  You may be surprised that no one theme dominated this number.  The politics of my times, as in all times, lay in all things, in love, in life, in story and song.  The politics of today, with so much more mingling of blood, and with so much intimate rubbing of far-flung nations, is more complicated.  It is not in my nature to take a narrow view through such complexity, so I enjoy as much as I can of the loves and lives, and stories and songs of your time.

There was once a United States Navy ship, commissioned from 1945 to 1946, named the USS Sappho. Do you approve of this? Why? Why not?

There was also a Navy ship USS Sappho from 1918 to 1919.  The 1945 edition was an Artemis-class ship, which also brings into the story my dear Goddess who regards the rose-fingered moon as I do.  The ship was named after a small planet, which was in turn named after me by Norman Pogson, who wrote his love for classical times into the skies.  Perhaps it is a little uncharacteristic for a warship to cry my name, but don’t forget my verses extolling the great ships of the Lesbian fleet.  I am content to be remembered, and I am specially content to be remembered in diverse circumstances.

Speaking of complex politics, what do you think about all the furore over gay marriage?

Surely you’ve read my marriage poems?  I wrote Epithalamia.  I wrote rude bits to be sung drunkenly around a wedding cash bar. Marriage is high and low, and it’s perfect and imperfect.  Young girls will find young men, and sometimes they will find fine women, and every union of lovers will take its place around a different arrangement of flowers.  The Gods will will pick their favorite households and crowd in with blessings and curses, so you might find one woman’s bed wrapped in the rose light of the moon as Artemis remembers her own night with Daphne, while the next year Hymen dances around that same woman’s bed as she lies with her new husband.  If the Gods have woven their verdicts directly into such lives, who am I to make an empty noise with my own judgments?

Whoa!  That was heavy.  Let’s lighten it up. What’s your favorite movie?

My Big Fat Greek Wedding, of course!  Well, besides the Athenian decor of Toula’s house, which was clumsy because so much else about the move was unmistakably Lesbian, even now.

And I’ll tell you my least favorite.  Mamma Mia.  A cackle of barbarians invading a gorgeous Greek island (they call it Calicos, but obviously they were thinking of Lesbos) to sing some intolerable songs by other barbarians?  Too much to take, let me tell you, even if the Sophie character made me think briefly of my beloved daughter, my Kleis.  It’s worth mentioning that the three potential fathers are all good examples of what the Suda calls Dick of Man as those comedians think of my—how is it again?—Baby Daddy.

For you, what differentiates lyric from poetry?

The music that accompanies it or does not.  Just kidding.  Lyric to my classical sense is a compact form which, given voice, can be stretched over notes in accordance with musical phrase, whereas poetry is more general, independent of external music, because it works its own song.

So do you consider yourself a poet or a lyricist?

A lyrical poet.


Recorded by the medium Uche Ogbuji, with reception assistance by Milo Martin and Rich Ferguson.