Thursday, June 28, 2012

Bullet Blog: New Intimate Monsters featuring Aase Berg & Daphne Gottlieb


As you may know (or not), I write a column for Small Doggies Magazine on horror poetry, Intimate Monsters. I haven't written the column in a few months due to some blah blah blah emotions blah blah whatever anyway. Now, I hope, I'm back on track.

The new column features the poetry of Daphne Gottlieb and Aase Berg. It's titled "Patty Hearst Vs. the Fever Scrotum." You KNOW you want to read that.

Stay lovely,

PS: I have a book coming out in September. Tease! More on that soon enough.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Cece McDonald and Kahlil Gibran


I have something very serious to discuss with you. Have you heard about Cece McDonald? I encourage you to read several articles and cross-reference for more complete details. I'm deeply disturbed by what has happened to her. The short version: Cece, a black transgender woman, was walking with a group of friends when she was called "nigger," "faggot," and "chick with a dick" by some people outside of a bar. Words were then exchanged, and one of the female bar patrons broke a glass across Cece's face, cutting through her cheek.

Cece, scared for her life, ran away, but one of the taunting patrons (not the one who assaulted her with the glass) ran her down and grabbed her, pulling her towards him. Cece had produced a pair of scissors for self defense, and when the man pulled her, the scissors went into his chest, killing him. What was he trying to do in running after Cece and grabbing her? We may never know. He could've severely wounded and possibly killed Cece if she hadn't been armed and desperate. Trans people get murdered all the time, not to mention that this was racially motivated as well.

This is clearly a case of self defense. However, Cece was incarcerated, put on trial, and eventually plead guilty to second-degree manslaughter when the pressure from our legal system finally overpowered her. The judge and prosecutor have been notoriously tough on her. She is being sent to a male prison, where she will likely (almost definitely) be raped, possibly murdered by white supremacists seeking atonement. She was sentenced to prison time when house arrest was an option (and the most humane thing to do, considering that she will be bullied relentlessly victimized for being trans in a male prison). She did make the mistake(?) of saying in court that she had built-up rage over the prejudice she experienced in her life. Did her lawyer suggest she say that? God help us.

So, rather than shaking our heads and lamenting her (and our own) perceived powerlessness, I'm asking you to write some letters--to the Minnesota elected officials, to the NAACP, to the ACLU, to anyone who has some power to intervene. Maybe not Obama, but try Hillary Clinton. Seriously. Write to them. And, while you're at it, write a letter to Cece. Send her a book, etc. There are so many injustices happening at once in this case, not the least of which is that she's being sent to prison for defending herself from a hate crime.

Cece, if you have access to this and are reading it, I'd like to share with some poetry by Kahlil Gibran. I'd like to send his book to you, to give you some modicum of comfort. You're in my prayers, and if you don't believe in prayer, no worries. You'll also be in my letters to elected officials.

With love,
Evan J. Peterson

excerpt from "On Crime & Punishment" from The Prophet:

Oftentimes have I heard you speak of one who commits a wrong as though [s]he were not one of you, but a stranger unto you and an intruder upon your world. 
      But I say that even as the holy and the righteous cannot rise beyond the highest which is in each one of you, 
      So the wicked and the weak cannot fall lower than the lowest which is in you also. 
      And as a single leaf turns not yellow but with the silent knowledge of the whole tree, 
      So the wrong-doer cannot do wrong without the hidden will of you all. 
      Like a procession you walk together towards your god-self. 
      You are the way and the wayfarers. 
      And when one of you falls down he falls for those behind him, a caution against the stumbling stone. 
      Ay, and he falls for those ahead of him, who though faster and surer of foot, yet removed not the stumbling stone. 
      And this also, though the word lie heavy upon your hearts: 
      The murdered is not unaccountable for his own murder, 
      And the robbed is not blameless in being robbed. 
      The righteous is not innocent of the deeds of the wicked, 
      And the [clean]-handed is not clean in the doings of the felon. 
      Yea, the guilty is oftentimes the victim of the injured, 
      And still more often the condemned is the burden-bearer for the guiltless and unblamed. 
      You cannot separate the just from the unjust and the good from the wicked; 
      For they stand together before the face of the sun even as the black thread and the white are woven together. 
      And when the black thread breaks, the weaver shall look into the whole cloth, and he shall examine the loom also. 
      If any of you would bring judgment the unfaithful wife, 
      Let him also weight the heart of her husband in scales, and measure his soul with measurements. 
      And let him who would lash the offender look unto the spirit of the offended. 
      And if any of you would punish in the name of righteousness and lay the ax unto the evil tree, let him see to its roots; 
      And verily he will find the roots of the good and the bad, the fruitful and the fruitless, all entwined together in the silent heart of the earth. 
      And you judges who would be just, 
      What judgment pronounce you upon him who though honest in the flesh yet is a thief in spirit? 
      What penalty lay you upon him who slays in the flesh yet is himself slain in the spirit? 
      And how prosecute you him who in action is a deceiver and an oppressor, 
      Yet who also is aggrieved and outraged? 
      And how shall you punish those whose remorse is already greater than their misdeeds? 
      Is not remorse the justice which is administered by that very law which you would fain serve? 
      Yet you cannot lay remorse upon the innocent nor lift it from the heart of the guilty. 
      Unbidden shall it call in the night, that men may wake and gaze upon themselves. 
      And you who would understand justice, how shall you unless you look upon all deeds in the fullness of light? 
      Only then shall you know that the erect and the fallen are but one man standing in twilight between the night of his pigmy-self and the day of his god-self, 
      And that the corner-stone of the temple is not higher than the lowest stone in its foundation. 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

D. A. Powell, Donna Summer, and the Finality of Prose

"It's hard for me to say anything in prose, because it seems so final."

So writes my tender friend, inspiring hero, and supporter D. A. Powell (Doug, among his friends). He's writing that lyric essay / prose poem / who-friggin-cares-what-label, which is offered as a tribute to Donna Summer, but it's not. It's about dancing, sex, and sorrow. It's about living while you get the opportunity, even if it kills you. There's a reason he's celebrated as one of the greatest poets of his generation. You want duende? Read Doug Powell. Now.

Now! I constantly feel a sense of urgency in myself around his work, despite the fact that he is such a gentle, leisurely fellow. His work itself isn't fast paced or struggling, rather it accepts inevitabilities. His latest book, Useless Landscape, or A Guide for Boys, is rife with bittersweet nostalgia, and it lives and breathes in the realm where regrets suck, so why don't we just look back as fondly as possible? This book breaks my heart.

I feel this sense of urgency, no sugar coating, because Doug has HIV. He's had it for quite some time, and man-o-man has he put up a good fight. The sense of disease and dis-ease permeates his work. His previous poetry collection was titled Chronic, for Heaven's sake. I project my fears directly onto him. I have a neurotic fear that I'll turn on my computer one morning (because no one's going to call me) and I'll read on Facebook, the in-flight meal of tasteless single servings, that he's died. Just gone. No more Doug. Ta ta.

And I know that Doug doesn't want to be celebrated as a "dying" genius. How petty and self-serving of his fans. He doesn't even ask for much attention. I don't want to fetishize him or objectify him or "other" him any more than he already has been. But facts are facts. He's a damn genius, an amazing poet, a supportive friend, a kind and gentle soul, and he is ravaged by illness. He's just so damn special, and I don't want him to leave. But that's not my choice to make.

If you've never heard of him, you should do something about that.

Staying as lovely as possible,

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Poetry Swag: Jeff Encke's Most Wanted


Buy this deck yesterday.
Why aren't poets, of all people, more creative? Certainly some of us are using multi-media (to overuse a 90's buzzword) options to do new and exciting things with poetry.

Jeff Encke, brilliant fellow that he is, created a deck of playing cards with individual lines of poetry on them: Most Wanted--A Gamble in Verse. It's a book. It's a deck of cards. It's f###ing genius. Click the link for some gorgeous and provocative work.

This picks up where the Gysin/Burroughs cut-up method left off. Shuffle the deck and make a poem. Themed around the "War on Terror," the deck was originally published in 2004. Since then, all copies of the physical deck have been sold, but it exists in digital form. Now, thanks to things like Kindle and Encke's own generosity, you can download the deck from Amazon for free. Update: through Thursday night, that is.

Jeff Encke. Sexy Mofo.
Encke proves to us that being avant garde is now more and more about materials and methods, less and less about copying what Gertrude Stein and the Dadaists did with language a hundred years ago.

Jay Snodgrass's graphic poems

Stay lovely,

Monday, June 11, 2012

Simplicity & Innocence


A woman in my shamanic writing circle brought up her love of this poem by Shel Silverstein. As a person who writes and reads work that is often quite dark, cerebral, and experimental, I sometimes forget the power of the simple and the innocent. I wish my life were more like this:


I love you, Shel Silverstein. Thank you for all you did for kids and families. By the way, readers--Silverstein is best known for his children's verse, but he wrote plenty of "adult" work as well, such as his work for Playboy magazine and the wickedly delightful Uncle Shelby's ABZ Book. I admire those artists who create magnificent works for children as well as distinctly mature work for other adults.

Stay lovely,




Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Poemocracy Loves Ray Bradbury

Thank you, Ray Bradbury, for all you gave us. Thank you for your imagination, your wit, your healings. May your spirit join the Mystery in a clean, good, true, and beautiful way.

F*ck Me, Ray Bradbury - watch more funny videos      

Loves, did you know Bradbury was a poet? Now you do.

They Have Not Seen the Stars
by Ray Bradbury

They have not seen the stars, 
Not one, not one 
Of all the creatures on this world 
In all the ages since the sands 
First touched the wind, 
Not one, not one, 
No beast of all the beasts has stood 
On meadowland or plain or hill 
And known the thrill of looking at those fires. 
Our soul admires what they, 
Oh, they, have never known. 
Five billion years have flown 
In turnings of the spheres, 
But not once in all those years 
Has lion, dog, or bird that sweeps the air 
Looked there, oh, look. Looked there. 
Ah, God, the stars. Oh, look, there! 

It is as if all time had never been, 
Nor Universe or Sun or Moon 
Or simple morning light. 
Those beasts, their tragedy was mute and blind, 
And so remains. Our sight? 
Yes, ours? to know now what we are. 

But think of it, then choose. Now, which? 
Born to raw Earth, inhabiting a scene, 
And all of it no sooner viewed, erased, 
As if these miracles had never been? 
Vast circlings of sounding fire and frost, 
And all when focused, what? as quickly lost? 

Or us, in fragile flesh, with God's new eyes 
That lift and comprehend and search the skies? 
We watch the seasons drifting in the lunar tide 
And know the years, remembering what's died. 

Fertility Cult