Delitas(n., Spanish) crimes.

Escuela Superior Mecánica de la Armada,
Buenos Aires, August 8, 2018.


i.

Hard to resist the word’s resemblance
to “delights,” but knowing it can’t be,
I look it up after reading it over
and over on plaques stationed here
and there in this naval base turned
detention center. Bare except for the faces
stenciled across walls, blurbs about
terror, death flights, bodies
washing up in the Rio de la Plata.

Now playing on Otherppla conversation with Wayne Koestenbaum. His new essay collection, Figure It Out, is available from Soft Skull Press.

 

 

Koestenbaum has published nineteen books, including Camp Marmalade, Notes on Glaze, The Pink Trance Notebooks, My 1980s & Other Essays, Hotel Theory, Best-Selling Jewish Porn Films, Andy Warhol, Humiliation,and Jackie Under My Skin. His essays and poems have been widely published in periodicals and anthologies, including The Best American Poetry, The Best American Essays, The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Paris Review, London Review of Books, The Believer, The Iowa Review, Cabinet, and Artforum. Formerly an Associate Professor of English at Yale and a Visiting Professor in the Yale School of Art’s painting department, he is a Distinguished Professor of English, French, and Comparative Literature at the CUNY Graduate Center in New York City.

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On its surface, Teddy Wayne’s latest might seem like an obvious rebuttal to today’s literary culture. Set a quarter-century ago, Apartment is a book about young, white men narrated, not surprisingly, by a young, white man. A brief, breezy read, chock full of winning twists of prose, Apartment is a semi-satirical take on class, masculinity, and the Academy; Columbia’s MFA program, to be precise, where dubiously constructive workshops teem with “types” recognizable to anyone who’s been within screaming distance of an MFA.

Now playing on Otherppla conversation with Joseph Di Prisco. His new novel, The Good Family Fitzgerald, is available from Rare Bird Books. It was the official May pick of The Nervous Breakdown Book Club.

 

Di Prisco has published four other novels (Confessions of Brother Eli, Sun City, All for Now, and The Alzhammer), three books of poetry (Wit’s End, Poems in Which, and Sightlines from the Cheap Seats), two books on childhood and adolescence co-written with psychologist and educator Michael Riera (Field Guide to the American Teenager and Right from Wrong), and two memoirs (Subway to California and The Pope of Brooklyn). His book reviews, essays, and poems have appeared in numerous journals and newspapers, and his poetry has been awarded prizes from Poetry Northwest, Bear Star Press, and Bread Loaf.

He lives with his wife, photographer Patti James, and their two whippets (Raylan and Ava—yes, their names straight out of Elmore Leonard) in Lafayette, California.

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Now playing on Otherppl, a conversation with Meredith Talusan. Her new memoir, Fairest, is available from Viking.

Talusan is an award-winning journalist and author. She has written features, essays, and opinion pieces for many publications, including the New York Times, The Guardian, The Atlantic, VICE, Matter, Backchannel, The Nation, and the American Prospect. She has contributed to several books including the New York Times Bestselling Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture, edited by Roxane Gay. She lives in New York.

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Rita Banerjee interviews author David Shields about his book, Nobody Hates Trump More Than Trump: An Intervention. Listen below:

 

Below is an excerpt from the transcript:

 

Rita Banerjee:    David, thank you so much for talking to me about Nobody Hates Trump More Than Trump. I really enjoyed reading the book; I thought it was compelling and a really fast read. I just wanted to start off by asking you a question about the form of the book and its composition. You often call this  a curated diary or a thematized journal, and it seems like there are six major acts to this book, everything ranging from “A rage to injure what has injured us” to “Apocalypse always.” How do these major themes tie into one another and build up to the book’s final epiphany?

David Shields:    Thanks, Rita. The book is indeed broken into six chapters. What is it, this culture that we are living in, which seems qualitatively different from previous political cataclysms? As a citizen of the republic, what could I do to address it? There is or was something riveting about the Performer-In-Chief. There’s something in him – we can all pretend that we’ve turned it off, and maybe some of us have. I wanted to explore this mixture of revulsion and attraction. Not to any political stance of his, but to his performative chops. I’m a big fan of the idea that great art is clear thinking about mixed feelings. On the one hand, my intellectual self is actively opposed to him; I’m doing all kinds of things to contribute to his defeat.. But there’s this other quite primitive part of me that is fascinated by the fact that he is still President. So I just kept a journal. Every day I’d walk around the house with my headphones on. I’d be flying back and forth from CNN to MSNBC to Fox News, from Christian talk radio to NPR to local news. I read every book about and putatively by him. I listened to every episode of the Howard Stern Show with Trump and I watched every episode of The Apprentice. With this onslaught of media coming in, it almost felt as if I were in a war zone. That was important to me, to just gather all of this stuff. I had hundreds upon hundreds of pages of this stuff, but I wanted to organize it into a very carefully structured pattern. =This book is organized within an inch of its life. Among the many things I find exciting about collage, is that it can boundary jump. One of the pleasures of writing this book for me, and I hope for a reader, is you never know what’s going to come next. I can cut to anywhere I want to go as long as I am getting a deeper purchase on Trump. The whole excitement of this form is that you’re not just making a fictional gesture or essayistic gesture or a stand-up comedy gesture. You can pull from any possible pot of clay, so long as you are deepening your investigation. I also hope that it almost feels for reader that you are spying on the writer as he is going on this existential adventure. And the reader kind of feels like, “this is actually adding up to something.” One of the chapters, “A rage to injure what’s injured us,” is really about Trump’s childhood. There is a wonderful line by Robert Hass from his great poem“Bush’s War.” He says that there is a rage to injure what’s injured us. Without turning Trump into simply a psychoanalytic category, he was demolished by his father. He’s hugely projecting that anger elsewhere. Then there’s the chapter “The frenzy of the visible” in which he’s trying to experience love through the media. There’s this amazingly interesting feedback loop in which he’s watching TV watch him watch TV watch him. It’s like Being There  times one hundred, in which he’s trying to experience love through media forms. Out of his broken childhood, he became incapable of human love. Out of that incapacity, he attempted to live within a sort of “mediaverse,”hoping and believing that somehow the big TV in the sky would love him back. The big message of the book is that he may destroy the planet out of the rage that has injured him. The final revelation of the book is that the thing that will save us is Trump’s self-destruction. There’s such profound self-loathing that animates his hatred. I argue that before Trump destroys the planet, he’ll destroy himself. The book is making a very clear argument about how brokenness leads to lovelessness, how that lovelessness leads to an over investment in media culture, how that media culture can in no way can yield a love that he wants, how out of that emptiness creates a huge drive of destruction, and how the possible saving grace is that he finally will self-destruct. It’s a beautiful and terrifying circle.Hidden within these 400 paragraphs is this relatively tight psychosocial argument of the book. It’s really a very specific investigation – how destruction comes from in its own woundedness, how it projects itself outward, how it often defeats itself through self-loathing.

trying to fit my feelings
into these words
is like I’m stuffing
twenty-eight green balloons
into a picture frame
first I would hold one down
and release
with a flick of my pen
its pop and hiss

✥✥✥

Mueller Report: long wait, no orgasm.

Barr says Biden probe unlikely.  Liar.

Supreme Court takes case.  Uh oh.

Tell me again how Bernie won.

Florida man sees opening.  Dick stuck.

Faye’s inner battle: which Cheez-Its.  Buffalo.

My face in your mirror: handsome.

I am your lover.  I think.

Deuteragonist means second.  Is that me?

Poem bursts out of rock: pleasure.

Vur-awn-ick-ugh.

The sounds felt clunky on my tongue but still I said them.

After all,
that’s how my mother said it to the new teacher
on the way to
my new classroom
in my new school
in my new neighborhood
in this new world.

At home,
it sounded different.

This was written in response to the people of Hong Kong’s demand for universal suffrage and other democratic reforms.  Protests have been ongoing in the island territory for a while now; things abated with COVID-19, but have roared back.

The Hong Kong people are protesting the Mainland Chinese government’s shameless attempt to ram unconstitutional national security laws through its rubber-stamp legislature, bypassing the territory’s own legislature and Basic Law (the island’s mini-constitution). The  Chinese government has dropped all pretense that Hong Kong is a quasi-independent territory, and its tactics are increasingly alarming and inhumane.  The government has turned Hong Kong’s common law legal system, widely regarded as one of Asia’s finest, into a mockery, jailing dissidents and retaliating against those engaging in civil disobedience.

Further, and laughably, the Mainland Chinese government has asserted that Hong Kong’s colonial-era policing laws are insufficient to quell the protests.  This, of course, is ridiculous as British Hong Kong was in fact used as a testing ground for the Crown’s most brutal riot-policing tactics.  Suppression is as heavy-handed and relentless as it was decades ago.  Only the master has changed.

This poem is fundamentally in response to the Chinese government’s callous disregard for the people of Hong Kong.  The nature and character of the territory’s democratic system, with rights hard-earned in the post-colonial era, will be irreparably damaged by the government’s actions.  The poem is a fictional account of a protestor and their establishment/government partner; it can be read as a queer poem because some of the most-visible leaders of the protests are queer people.  This is all the more controversial in the conservative territory where many people do not even come out to their friends and loved ones.


Fire alarm, 3 a.m.
Feet shuffling
Soldiers marching
Ball and chain
Innocent eyes
Central Park Five
Hey, he said, voice thick with sleep
Don’t go out, Blue Shirt warned
He obeyed, he hid
Firefighters and police came and went
Ruse to flush him out

Anyone’s Son is the title of your debut poetry collection. Tell us about this title. Why did you choose it? What does it mean to you?

Titles are important to me. When I have finished a poem or short story—or in this case, an entire collection—one of my favorite approaches to choosing a title is to read what I’ve written very closely, looking for a word or phrase that resonates, that feels evocative. One of the poems in my opening chapter references a Time magazine cover story of October 21, 1969—“The Homosexual in America.” The cover itself features a photograph in closeup, of an ordinary young man, though the colors have been manipulated—harsh green, baby pink, bruised purple. As I wrote the poem, I studied the cover image, and suddenly it occurred to me: “this was a face that might have been anyone’s son.” Often, growing up gay, finding a place for myself as a gay man, I have felt estranged from my straight peers. But the truth is that I might have been anyone’s son, that any parent might have a gay son or daughter, that any of us might have been the “other” that we thoughtlessly fall into judging.

He loved the night sky over Loraine, accent
on both syllables—low rain—loved the taste
of the name in his mouth, the sound of his town-
folk talking. He loved lying flat on his back
that summer, dusk pulsing with crickets, dreaming
the Great Hunter. He knew the story, the bright
stars, Betelgeuse his favorite—shoulder of the giant
he dreamed roping, star of a rodeo that glittered
like Rex Allen’s spangled shirt under banked lights,
his unleashed smile. The boy carried that brightness

Now playing on Otherppla conversation with Brian Allen Carr. His new novel, Opioid, Indiana, is available from Soho Press.


 

This is Carr’s second time on the program. He first appeared in Episode 135 on December 30, 2012.

Carr is the author of Sip (Soho Press) and other novellas and story collections, and he has been published in McSweeney’s, Hobart, and The Rumpus. He was the inaugural winner of the Texas Observer short story prize as judged by Larry McMurtry, and the recipient of a Wonderland Book Award. He splits his time between Texas and Indiana, where he writes about engineers and inventors at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology.

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This isn’t a history textbook but history is happening. It was convenient weaving COVID-19 into the narrative of my day-to-day as a universally relatable backdrop but this isn’t like that. The pandemic was and remains tragic but it’s the result of microscopic pathogens that cannot make logical decisions for themselves; what’s happening now in America is the result of millennia of horrors by way of the brains and hearts and hands of humans who have had millennia to witness the harm wrought and vow not to pass the hateful torch on to their offspring. But no such thing happened, the horrors so ingrained they remained fabric, breaking point after breaking point. I was raised in an overwhelmingly white part of a suburb, where parents accused Black kids of infiltrating from an abutting neighborhood to parasitically suckle from the teat of our top notch public school system paid for with our hard-earned tax dollars. I can only recall a single African-American student from elementary school; his house burned down from some appliance gone awry in the garage and everyone knew, even the librarian, who in front of our whole class, treated him with disproportionate cruelty over unreturned Goosebumps. All four elementary schools streamlined into a single middle school and I became friends with Marlon, the funniest kid I’d ever met, so capable of making my gut bust our Geography teacher had to alter the seating arrangement so we’d be as far away from each other as possible, but that was useless, all it took was a single backwards glance, him pulling down his eyelids with his fingers and puffing his cheeks, and I’d once again disrupt the lesson; toward the end of sixth grade, we signed ourselves up to perform improv in the talent show; per audience suggestion, we got on our hands and knees and became cows, we pantomimed chewing some cud, then I made the low-hanging joke that he produced chocolate milk; our peers laughed, shouted more suggestions, and we went on with our act–I’m not sure whether I felt off about it then, or if its offness only comes now, over a decade later, superimposing itself over the memory, but the joke had no basis other than me viewing my friend as my “Black friend.”

In solidarity with Black Lives Matter, TNB Poetry has created this space for BIPOC voices to shine. We will be publishing work by Black poets daily.  Black Lives Matter.


Is it a sin I get drunk with home?
That I fall in love so much?
I take dearly shots from the ardor
brewed in the states. I pledge to
serve my nation and bring glory home.

When I was born, no one reminded me
that I’m a helpless bastard; no one
reminded me of the day my stay starts
to due. Not for once has it crossed
my mind to think I’m too convenient
to stay, that I’m but a black-headed
threat to the place I call my home.