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Getting Delayed Live With It

Spartan cover 2.jpg

Painting by Gregory Thomas

(We’re) still putting together the forthcoming first ever annual magazine which will include fiction by Tasha Hass, and Paul Costa, poems from Johnathan Mayhew, David Mcloghlin and more; lots of epistles, some imaginary, some found, all of them rather touching, intimate or funny; a comic strip from Allen Forrest; some regular features including the tour of people’s private or private vs. public spaces, an LFE apologizing and groveling before the lack of maintaining the theme of “the collapse or bridge between the public and the private” in EPP Issue one.

But that’s not all!  My third chapbook of poems Rapport Privilege is still available in print for $10.00, as well as PDF, please order a PDF copy $5.00 for (on the luddite honor system as of now) by emailing me at blamecreed@gmail.com or send me a much welcome snail mail at Enduring Puberty Press, C/O Creed Shepard, 246 N. 8th St., Lawrence, KS. 66044.  Please click on the link below to watch my “text trailer” to my forthcoming fourth chapbook, Rapport Privilege, which will be published by Spartan Press some time in the fall.  These are really interesting poems, if you like a lot of poetry that tries to be contemporary, you should give it a try.  I’d love to hear from you and see what kinds of musical, literary, visually artistic or other collaborations we may come up with.  Thnx

Watch and Listen by clicking Here but turn the volume down a little for the first three seconds.

 

 

List of Houses Lived in 1959-1964

Mother came to visit for the first time this year (and for the first time since the last national, and traumatic, election)! You may recall the monumental effort taken at writing her a letter.  In that letter I expressed an interest in oral history, of doing one on our extended family, about which, as with most poor whites, little is known.  Mom responded with plenty of starting material.  The following is a found poem of some of her personal AND JOINT recollections.

It is also a list poem.  The list poem has had its share of detractors over the recent years, and I have sympathy for that position.   The public visibility/use of the list poem seems concurrent with the rise of the “I do this and that”, a style, if you can call it that, popularized by Frank O’hara whose commercial and literary importance seems very bloated after about ten or fifteen years of seemingly constant articles written on him (while even more deserving poets of his generation like Barbara Eden, or the slightly younger Bernadette Mayer and hundreds of others…well, you know, wa! wa!). The preoccupation with the quotidian in poetry seems to run the risk of, by its very existence within poetry, something that as a practice is an institution separate from the blood and guts of the world, oxymoronicizing itself(my browser is telling me that   “oxymoronicizes” is not a word.  You and I know better).  This should also of course not be taken out of context of the everyday world of social media, where everything we do everyday, no matter how mundane has potential staying power by virtue of their own posted statuses…anyway, we were talking about my mom.  And the List poem.

In defense of the list poem, let me remind you of Umberto Eco’s statement: we like lists because we don’t like to die.  What follows is a list of homes my mother and her sister, Patty lived in as a child between 1959 and 1964.  I tried to be as true to her scrawl as possible, not trying to correct too much spelling, punctuation or abbreviation (brackets are mine parenthesis are hers), trying to bring out the sound I was hearing.   In my typical fashion I tried to be true to the line length and ignored the margin increase this format allows.  I particularly took literary and epistolary pleasure in the flow of thought that seems so natural (interstitial and all) when she speeds up to the time period well in advance of that which the list intended.  You don’t need her life story, or anyone’s life story.  Use your imagination.  But click on Iris and Patty’s homes 1959-1964 first, as this here blog format is unfriendly to conventional poetic lineation, spacing and general typography.

Two Poems

Two poems:

“Sui Generis”

“I Don’t Know Why Photo Albums Never Replaced Museums”

Click here  to watch the video.

As always, please ignore whatever repulsive ad they put below.

E Tu Mama?

Off and on, since August, I have been writing a letter to my mom . The letter started out with a somewhat quotidian description of the amazing public library of the town I live in, into an essay about community, interspersed with tellings of my life with Jamie, and about my means of keep-earning (working for a non-profit and doing lots of common labor/odd jobs), trying in as natural an unassuming way as possible to share my experiences of a good life.  What I call a good life anyway

In between we talked on the phone a few times, and I even received a very short visit from her in the early fall. Aside from asking those motherly questions to make sure I’m okay, her phone etiquette is a little strange there’s always been a sense of guardedness about her, a difficulty talking much about herself, and usually a point at which she seems in a hurry to get off the phone.  This never hurt my feelings as I hate talking through a mechanically manipulated medium that forces me to change the delivery of my voice in uncomfortable or unnatural ways.

As with everything involving letters to loved ones, there’s been very little assurance that they’re being read, or that the comments in them have been considered, and an occasional question of how willing am I to keep these correspondences up.  For my entire adult life we’ve had a good relationship.  Even though she doesn’t understand a lot of what I write and do, she accepts it and me.  Even though I am, more or less, cis, hetero, white and male, this acceptance still means a lot to me in a hyper-masculine capitalist culture that by and large values very little of what I have and do.

A day after the 2016 election happened –it “happened”, that’s a cautiously nauseous way to say it– She revealed to me on the phone, at my asking, that she voted for Trump.  This in addition to having already been down with an bronchial-type infection for the past week.   I was saddened–and terrified at the idea, which intensified during the conversation as she explained her vote.  Particularly her rationalizing away my reasons why Trump is so much worse than Clinton.  For example I told her that Trump intended to do nothing about climate change and let the fossil fuel companies go wild, she turned it around, into the responsibility of drivers. “Well people need to drive their cars a lot less.”  In hindsight, thinking about the distress of the moment it’s inconceivable that I would have slapped my face firmly with my palm.  I proceeded in the conversation,  reaching for what I typically consider to be lower fruit, addressing Trump’s behavior towards women, sighting the pussy grabbing comment.  “But, Josh, that was just on his show when he was acting.”  I can only assume that she is referring to the reality show he starred in “Celebrity Apprentice”.

To be sure, for those of us who have loved ones who voted for Trump, and have a sensitivity to the goings on in the land (and in the world) impacted by the government that represents us as a nation state, it’s not be easy to deal with.    Perfectly good people who act ethically in their private, domestic and working lives are perfectly content to give executive power to a person who consistently lies to them, and deliberately uses appeals to sexism, to racial, religious, and other prejudices to get their support  (Thinking about certain folks in Kenosha, Wisconsin confronted by Bernie here. ).  These good people are content to vote for a man with an easily observable display of all the symptoms of Malignant Narcissism.  How can we talk to them about this?  Is it worth it?  Are we really being true to ourselves if we ignore the topic when with them?

From a purely electoral-political point of view, we should not try, and don’t have to convince those who are firmly in the grip of a right wing world view.  By all accounts of the studies of public opinion in this country, they are a minority, albeit sometimes registering at around 45%, depending on the issues.  All we have to do is organize electorally, not leaving out any precinct, and promote a bold and pragmatic agenda articulated in the language of our values.  It is happening.  Despite the clear overthrow of constitutional government that is going on right now, in spite of Trump Administration’s recent inhumane executive orders, its potential threat of igniting a global war and, along with the right wing billionaire-friendly intention to end vital environmental protections and the social safety net that we all rely on, this is the most hopeful period for real positive social change in my 39 years on this planet, as a citizen of the United States.

But I’m writing about our personal lives not about politics in the narrow sense of what is sometimes called, “taking our country back”.  My wanting to convince my mother of how deeply bad the decision to vote for Trump was cannot be extricated from the feelings that underline my values and my need to know that my mother shares at least a modicum of those values.   This desire to attenuate the alienation of worrying that she doesn’t.  In other words, in trying to communicate to my mother, my relationship to my mother is more fundamental then any political information we could exchange.

Most of us have been through similar experiences, have felt these painful sensations, with friends and family who didn’t understand, mistook our words or actions for something base or shallow,  with those who showed they were only pretending to listen to us, before ex-lovers who revealed themselves to be pathologically controlling, defensive and afraid of appearing vulnerable (outside of sex), or too hooked on drugs to really give the minimum concentration we feel our being together requires.  And we’ve felt our insides turn listening to loved ones dismissing reports of police brutality (and military occupations of foreign countries) showing a general heartless ignorance towards people victimized on the basis of being poor, non white, gay, trans, etc.

My mother is not a doctrinaire right-winger.  She is someone who really doesn’t do much critical thinking for herself.  For 12 years she’s been married to Stewart, a man who falls into that all-too-dismissed-but-maybe-hard-to-ignore demographic of an angry white conservative male, who listened regularly to Rush Limbaugh in his commercial truck; is a crypto-but-not-doctrinaire racist.  Eight years prior to their marriage, she was married to a liberal, from an upper middle class background.  Back then she  quietly voted for Gore and Kerry, but only minimally disliked Bush, i.e. she and Garry both seem to believe a lot of Bush and Cheney’s lies that got us into the war, at least for its first few months, which seemed to follow the pattern of attitudes of the community where they lived in Lexington, MO.    After Garry and I clashed on the Israel-Palestine issue, which shook him (a cultural jew brought up being acutely aware of existing antisemitism in the world) my mother forbade us to talk politics and I generally complied.

Prior to her marriage to Gary, and back when she was with my father, I had very little awareness or basic understanding of politics.  As with most blue collar families in the U.S.  we weren’t that political.  (We didn’t have many books in the house either, but that’s a story for another time.)  But they generally voted for Democrats (perhaps, it’s more accurate to say against Republicans).  While not very aware then of the content (outside of my instinctive revulsion towards what I later learned was the Christian Right, which manifested perfectly in the rhetoric of Dan Quayle during the 1988 election), I do remember mom asking dad the kind of closed questions that told her how to vote.  My older sister has a much better memory for my dad’s more liberal political attitudes.  We both agreed that mom was always quiet, unsure about most issues, never questioned much authority and was usually preoccupied with the high stress of her domestic and work life.  Both of her parents had mental problems, she grew up in poverty, sometimes not knowing where she and her siblings would wake up the next day, She married my dad (also from a poor family but at least his dad had a union job) and bore my sister at the age of 16.  Why am I writing this?  I can’t pretend that I haven’t in the past used these things as an excuse for her civic failure. Whether or not it’s a valid excuse is beside the point.  But trying to recognize common ground with her isn’t.  Being able to identify the agents and her own agency in her own personal history seems necessary for going forward.

My sister’s point of view on this is key, because her reaction to our mother’s decision on November the 8th, 2016 was different from, and in way much clearer than mine.   A chat with her on That There Online Social Network (#AgainstProductPlacement), showed to me just how much our individual emotions had to be addressed before even knowing what to do, what “we”could do with the fact that a radical authoritarian rightwing movement had ascended and would likely fuck up our republic in irreparable ways.

I also know that my bias against the bipartisan neoliberal establishment, which candidate Hillary Clinton all too well represented, was gratified to some degree by my mom’s vote.  That is, the revelation of my mom’s vote for Donald Trump reenforced my interpretation of the electorate, particularly the rural white low-to-middle income folks who did not graduate college.  Clinton and her connection to Wall St and other corporate interests were all the sudden a liability.  She lost to a candidate who somehow placated working/middle class folks by connecting to a manufactured view of his “anti-establishment” credentials, by peddling a full blast stream of negative stories (mostly false gossip) about Clinton, (as well as demagoguery of almost every kind).   Most major polls showed that many Trump voters were favorable to Bernie Sanders, who across the country drew bigger crowds than either general election candidate; that had Sanders won the primary  –I won’t get into the shenanigans of the Democratic National Committee– he would have beaten Trump in the general election, even above the margins Clinton would have won if not for the voter suppression that in the end DID tilt the election to Trump.   As a result of these two choices, Clinton and Trump, forty six million eligible voters did not vote. Forty six didn’t feel their votes were earned.  The economic rebound from the 2007-09 recession was superficial.  The country has still been on a general decline.  In the last 8 years, wages are still stagnating for working people, while the rich, mostly of sinecure wealth get richer.  I still stand by that interpretation: corporatist centrism represented by Obama, Clinton and a feckless national Democratic party that continued to refuse the taking up strong economic positions, that were and are still badly needed, empowered radical rightwing antigovernment sociopaths to amp up its populist message to voters.  But as my sister, Amee reminded me, making too much of a stink about it was not productive, and could be reasonably seen as dismissive of the millions of voters who genuinely felt well represented by Clinton.  Sorta likewise, after Amee found out she chatted me up, I attempted to hip her to a sensitivity about the the white mostly rural working-middle classes. Understandably she had much to vent.   In hindsight, much of what I wrote was well meaning but misplaced:

Me: “Amee, I don’t think you realize how bullying it sounds to accuse someone of being brainwashed. I understand your anger–I actually felt it myself and was a afraid I’d lose it with her. She does not have access to the kinds of experiences we know that make women issues important.  She’s genuinely pissed at Washington, and fears Clinton’s corruption worse than Trump’s.”

Amee: Yes-she does, SHE IS A WOMAN.  Also I am not going to bully her. I am just severing our relationship. Stewart is a huge fucking problem. She has never seen him speak? Done done

Me: Her experience of her life goes way beyond her gender.

Amee: Yes- I know. Don’t talk to me like a child- perhaps mom has an empathy defecit.

Me: I’m sorry I didn’t mean it that way, by I don’t think you understand fully how much we need to unite with rural whites. There are genuine sufferings that people in rural white areas live. I believe empathy deficit is a systemic.

Me: Which [maybe] is to say, you can’t blame every individual.

Amee: I can blame, she grew up on welfare!  She had been poor. She has been abused.  She has been paid less than men.  She so goddamned worried about our health insurance- we can fucking kiss that goodbye.

This last counter from Amee in particular shook me to the core.   It also brought me back to an insight that I have for years been trying to write about in my fiction and poetry.  The connection between lack of self esteem, and one’s disregard for the self, the abuses one endures yet at same time the pride they manage to take and how it manifests in their politics.  None of the  literary models I looked to quite captured the experience that I knew of such things. (Steinbeck maybe came the closest, but his prose style generally annoys me). In some way it’s too close to my nose.  As I just wrote, I was shaken, and there was no epiphany.  I didn’t all the sudden think completely differently or come to a sense of calm.  In fact, it took me three weeks to dig in and find my feelings of having been betrayed, after talking to Amee, my partner Jamie –her mom’s aversion to Clinton was more horridly decisive– and a couple other friends expressed theirs.  It is betrayal.  I feel betrayed most everyone I love, everyone I respect, who voted for Trump.  But more hurtful, I feel betrayed by my mother.  My own mother chose to not think about or wonder about the implications of a Trump victory, she ignored the level of mainstreaming bigotry, misogyny, unprecedented assholery that was clear for  the world to see throughout the campaign.  She accepted the inevitable unjust and unnecessary pain that millions of our fellow earthlings would daily experience at the hands of a brutal “law and order- heavy regime, under the influence of anarchic and ultimately nihilist libertarian ideology that has already been wrecking this country for the last 35 years.   My mother chose to accept the empowerment of racist bullies because she was afraid.  What was she afraid of?  That’s the question that my love for my mom wants to ask my mom.

It’s the same old Beach Boys line, in the bridge about building bridges: “how can I say it in a way that won’t make them defensive.”

But my desire to build a sense of global, class-based and completely intersectional solidarity among all my loved ones wants to ask her what she was afraid of that made her vote so.  Ultimately, and I admit also a desire to avoid spending time defending Clinton, I assume there is a much deeper fear that has always persisted inside of her.  Is it wrong to say that my love for my mom wants to educate her?  Because I know that my love for my mom needs to first figure out what she really thinks and feels, and that I must ask unassuming questions.  I hope my love for my mom is pitiless.  For example, I know she’s afraid of feeling stupid, which is why she doesn’t try to read my volumes of poetry (at least half of which are difficult, anti narrative and/or grammatically correct but narratively incoherent sound poems).   I will not protect her from those feeling, either being afraid or feeling stupid.   My love for pretty much everybody, including my desire to reach a bigger, even specific literary audience, wants also to document my own trail of ignorance, my own intellectual and emotional and social failures, my own ability to change my mind upon receiving new information from texts and experience, to show my own vulnerability and display the strength that I derive from it.   I do this because I know it can and has empowered loved ones.  I’m wary of the possibility that it may not empower her.  I wonder if my personal history of dissing self-esteem movement culture in general probably informs this.

And of course, duh,  we are not these fixed essentialist monads, yes we are numerous, have many identities and always until death in a state of becoming.   Is it the case, that our connections to the first people who loved us are what make that fact so difficult to live with?

The letter to my mom is now 7 pages, and I have serialized it, by mentioning each date I resumed writing, sometimes including important events, like the wedding of my friends, whom she’s never met, like my uncle (her former in-law) who lost his house in the flood at Denham Springs, Louisiana,  and the brief vacation Jamie and I took. As if to give an extra literary primer, a show of maximum (if interrupted) effort.

I decided to talk about the emotional information that needs to be understood before going over the facts of why she should actively resist the radical fascist regime in power.  I decided to ask her unassumingly, absent of polemics, about her vote, including what specific things she feared from Clinton.  I start to worry that maybe these questions are about as meaningful to her as what she had for dinner last night.  Then I am reminded of the fear of judgement I’ve always observed in her.  I suppose fear of judgement is an awesome motivator too.  What’s her version of my what I had for dinner last night?

A Look At The Office EPP

ORIGINAL WORKING TITLE: A DAY OF PURGING THE OFFICE OF EPP OF IMPURITIES

Why?  Oh, to scream fake bloody palimpsest.

Treating the New Year as such, a departure from the past requires excavating the past, or in my case, just not procrastinating any longer in the making functional this office.   Even having cut my paid work hours down to a 2016 average of 25-30 hours, I somehow refused to let our office became little more than storage for empty containers, envelopes, notebooks, folders most all my books, personal literary/art archives that await an imaginary executor of estate, magazines, musical equipment,  hopelessly entangled incomplete and possibly outdated bicycle and electronic parts missing their counterparts.  No longer.  I have to defeatedly admit, I’m still more comfortable doing the exciting work on a whim on the couch, at the dining room table, on the bus to and from work –which is in an office at the dining room of a friends house– or at one of the glass offices in the Lawrence Public Library, in which the peripheral movement of practical strangers energizes me.

While not a crisis, my relationship with individually claimed private space is a problem shared by many, and it’s worth considering, the penchant for enjoying solitude.  A hallmark of dilettantism?   I gladly accept that this continuous flirtation of taking seriously the possibility of making such a personal, somehow populist, but very unique idea into a professional thing.   Anyway, that’s enough self-indulgent diarist stuff.  Now it’s space to show you pics of the office, interspersed with updates in between on what creations to expect from  2017.

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Recently, Jamie and I went to a “white elephant” (known by some as “Chinese”) gift exchange for a Krampus Party.  Jamie and I each presented  improvised mail art creations vomited out within the hour before showing up.  We took notice that ours were among the last gives to be picked.  Perhaps it was because the packages were both flatter than the other gifts.  In any case it was a small blow to us and our endeavoring to attract aspiring honorary pubes.  Our host and friend Skylar Adamson mentioned out loud the possibility that the guests at the party may be uncomfortable opening a package with the word, “puberty” on it.  (It’s also worth noting that the person who picked out my gift, a copy of Reinventing The Third Wheel, is a female whom about 5 or 6 years ago, I literally rubbed the wrong way (I was being over affectionate (committing borderline sexual harassment?) petting her head.  All this reminds me…

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…is just that.  If it’s not a powerful organizing principle,  We, here cannot pretend that puberty is not an overarching influence.  And at the very least it is a powerful metaphor which can be extended to address many other things.  By the end of 2017, you will be able to read excerpts of, working title, “Thin Skin”, a book length poem  I decided to use my own painful experiences of growing up with delayed puberty and work in juxtaposed readings and other forms of witness to the experiences of being black in the United States of America.

The period between the 6-shot murder of Michael Brown by police officer Darren Wilson and the early June of 2015 slamming of a teenage black girl by a policeman outside a pool party, with all of the other police shootings of unarmed black men in between, combined with a hostile white reaction –can I get a “whitelash” from all you fellow finger pointers– to the emerging Black Lives Matter movement; the realization that a majority of white people in this country, including most of my family members (those who lean liberal included) still deny the existence of institutional racism made it impossible for me not to think about racism everyday.  This is very similar to my constant consciousness of the US occupation of Iraq in the last decade, alienated from the majority’s indifference. The difference this time, is that the victims of this currently talked-about injustice are visible on this soil, make themselves visible through various forms of protest.  Therefore we can produce practical outcomes by demonstrating solidarity with them.

I am not saying that my painful experiences of living with hypogonadism in a toxic masculine culture is the same, as difficult or morally equivalent to that of growing up black in racist America.  To be sure, there are analogous phenomena to it, such as the invisibility in crowds one experiences as The Other (black, gay, disabled, etc).  It is embarrassing to have to write such a disclaimer.  Not because of detailing my personal experiences, and not as much for the non literary folks that will read this as those “IN” the poetry and literary communities, many of them having had a “bleeding heart” shit storm during that said period when a certain privileged “avant-garde”, and relatively famous poet, Kenneth Goldsmith (Kenny G)  very incondsiderately appropriated the autopsy report of Michael Brown as a poem.  The discourse in the blogosphere, in private houses, classrooms and cafes went on and on, sometimes with highly constructive results.  We acquired the meaning of “white privilege” in many other households.  It’s still a phrase that too many people all across the spectrum of racial sensitivity don’t understand.  But folks in certain cliques, channels, communities do talk intelligently about it.  It’s helpful to remember even what privilege means in the pejorative: that you don’t worry about it because it’s not your problem.  And it is exactly that witnessing, of other peoples’ suffering that is off limits to you, that makes the act of bearing witness problematic.  I’m not even sure where this will take “Thin Skin”, if there will be a decent unity at all to the poem.  But the sources cited in the note, in the pic above, will make it impossible for me not to ground it in the racial and the racial yawp that “goes along” with it.  Hopefully it will redeem the following, this over here, the kernel of the idea, my self-conscious white ally preliminary to be read in the raw here.

The research going into “Thin Skin” dovetails with an even more immediate priority, working on a biography (co-written autobiography) of a veteran local civil rights and environmental activist I’ve been fortunate to get to know, Richard Mabion.  Looking forward to reporting more about that, and hopefully have an excerpt of the book, or perhaps a good snail mail correspondence with the man.

Next, give some long looks to see the collage creations by my partner, Jamie Hofling

Then down below here is my desk.  I am revisiting Antonin Artaud’s essays on theater.  I discovered Artaud through his poems from the early-mid 1920s in a 20th Century French Poetry anthology (edited by Paul Auster), then my readings about the Surrealist Movement in general, and was seduced entirely by his radical ideas–his worldview too.  It somehow led me to a long preoccupation with the phenomenology of perceiving authenticity, which he never dealt with directly, and that I failed to successfully write anything about.

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This convergence, in Artaud’s work, of rejecting the established order of things, society (whatever shorthand you prefer) and then acting upon it in his writings on the theater, but only as if out of a purely metaphysical interest, held for me some serious learning opportunities as a writer.  Later this year I’ll post a goodie on Artaud, the theater, where I think his utter philosophical dead end view on language and the mind unwittingly influenced some of the greatest practitioners of the theater, interesting connections between his writing and some of the best television I’ve watched in 2016, dealing with the big questions of what it literally means to be human.

Hmm, let’s see…yes I stand by that.  It may be fair for someone to say, “isn’t it impossible to question what it ‘literally means’ to be human, unless you’re beyond human…transhuman?”   But then I could –could– say, while tracing a shapely rune with my skinny finger in the air in front of your nimby and wise face, and say, “‘literally mean’ is a tautology for literary effect”.

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You read that right, attentive viewer, “when chips are implanted in our brains getting through life will require less work than ever before!”  Always drafts, always a pile of the big and sometimes messy unfinished. This month Enduring Puberty Press will post its first art review, of my dear old friend Yuri Zupancic, who’s had a long exhibit at the Lawrence Art Center of some of his best paintings, sculptures and video installations.

Or it may just be a found poem of compiled notes written about his work, and recordings of the art talk he gave last month.  It was largely about our interaction with technology, #postdigital #transhuman.

Perhaps the most exciting publication of the year, will be the Enduring Puberty Press Annual Literary Review, which may amount to some 75 pages of fiction, poetry, visual art, essays, news articles, and intimate if not steamy letters submitted by prospective honorary pubes across the continent.  We are still accepting submissions, so click here.   Our editorial staff consists of Daniel Ward, Kalen Richardson, Nancy Hubble and Tasha Hass whose bios we will have out shortly.  My office is shining, crying and begging to create some hearth among literary comrades (who like me also have day jobs).  Maybe you can see it in the image below.

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My fourth chapbook of poems was to be titled Dawdled Aubade, completed in early 2017, but that will be my fifth.  I’m grateful to have been asked to submit my 4th “work”, a radically revised –as in half the poems in it have been replaced– version of Rapport Privilege to Spartan Press, based in Kansas City.  New art work, by Gregory Thomas, will grace the cover It will be out in February, as part of a 12 month series of poets of the Kaw Valley area.  My privilege of being a poem maker who has lived in the area all my life, having made enough appearances at readings for the last twenty years, sometimes featuring interesting utterances probably had something to do with it, which is just my way of saying that, I’m honored to be published in a series that includes some serious beautiful crafters of the written word Denise Low-Wessel, and Dennis Etzel Jr., just to name a couple of some of the best poem makers in the the local area of my poetry “community”.

Speaking of “‘community'”, the following is an example of a lofty idea in search of one.  One that intersects sports fans, people with disabilities, their advocates, and comix fans:

Seth's BUHHL Prototypes

We have procrastinated finishing the production and distribution of the first edition of Bottoms’ Trading Cards Presents: Baseball’s Unlikeliest Handi-Heroes, cards beautifully painted by Seth Ramsey.  I have sadly been unfaithful to Baseball in 2016.  It was if I used the Royals not repeating their success as an excuse to sit on it and wait.  Hopefully copies of these amazing cards with their written player profiles, will be ready before the MLB playoffs next fall.

 

Finally there is still the crassly modest efforts of commerce.  Would putting up an online donation thingy help you support EPP, I wonder?  Wouldn’t you like a homemade envelope to go with that chap book of my poems.

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Still available to order as hard copy or PDF, Reinventing The Third Wheel, Rapport Privilege and EPP Publication No. 1 Distraction Contra Diaspora

Finally, also, to keep coming: the never-ending onslaught of letters to and from friends, peers, favorite contemporary writers and family members all with whom my relationships in my head often say more than the relationships we have “in-person”.

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Please feel free to reach out to Enduring Puberty Press, write a letter, send a parcel, submit a work (see submissions page), join the editorial staff of enthusiastic readers, ask to have your projects or “community” be written about as a news story, or pitch brilliant but likely unpopular ideas (even humanly practical ones!) to the following:

1108 Oregon Street, Lawrence, KS. 66044

or, if you’re a prema-jack, email us at blamecreed@gmail.com

Collages of 2016

Most of these are by EPP chief visual artist Jamie Hofling.  In 2017, we will we accepting collage submissions as a part of a larger residential curation, to be announced in the spring.

For now, please browse below and embrace the continuing hegemony of the copied image over the found image, the found image over the made image, the drawn image over the privately conceived image, the picture over the drawing, the digital image over the paper image, and the image –always!– over the text.

 

Recess

 

 

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pic-2-day-2-night-in-foyerleninplatz

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Reading From the Office of EPP

Another attempt this year to share and/or sell my chapbook of poems, in which a moving image of me reading from Rapport Privilege. For Lawrencians, it’s available at the Raven Book Store.  Otherwise email me at blamecreed@gmail.com.  I apologize that we are not accepting online donations at this time, but we specialize in postal mail art.  Email me to place you’re order and you’ll receive an extra goody in the mail.

2

Spontaneous Character Curation in an Unnamed Trail

 

Today my partner in EPP and life, Jamie and I took my 2 of my first cousins twice removed, Lizzy and Teddy, through a long unkempt trail in the woods in our impromptu costumes that led to the cemetery. Jamie was Glutina, the Mushroom Queen Mother, Teddy was our son the leaf monster, Lizzy was Velva (Velvetica) the mushroom princess, and I was Bubber the Two-faced. I was cursed for years with the need to protect my skin with a feather mask, as was Teddy, the young Leaf Monster in his greenish white visage with, for good measure, ski goggles, for fear of being turned into a toad by the omniscient honey locusts (pics above are from the day before).

The walk went on seemingly forever and I kept pleading with them to keep going so as to find our treasure in the Cemetery. For some reason –maybe it was my gravely muppet voice, or maybe it was my pink and white hoop skirt, or just my crooked walk, your guess is as good as mine– Velva felt very embarrassed to be around me, even as I expressed to her the special meaning of the donut shaped pillow toadstool she got to wear. She kept telling me to go away. My Leaf Monster son was also indifferent to my attempts to keep our family together in this adventure. “I don’t know my own children,” I cried. Finally, my Queen Glutina helped out when she discovered our spore-bearing ancestors all over the tree limbs and vibrating under the earth. Velva relented and chanted with us in a circle “ooh ya ya-ya, ooh ya-ya-ya, ooh ya-ya-ya yeah!”

 

After getting permanently off track from any well trodden traill, we found a broken type writer, then what looked like a dead man sitting against a tree–it’s okay, it was just a dead mannequin. And it all added up as the beacon for the destination of our pilgrimage: a cemetery full of corpses underneath the ground, with erected tombstones with names of other people’s loved ones etched into them. All the sudden we became free of our oppressive costumes, shedding our mushroom heads, second face, feather mask, greenish visage and ski goggles! After 25 minutes of frolicking in the green and reading the tombstones, we decided to go back home a different way. I managed to avoid being suspected as crazy.

Video Preview of Rapport Privilege

Never liked my voice, but understand that a lot of other folks I know do, it’s shiny pubescent, androgynous…what else?  Wait, I don’t care.  This may make it easier to decide whether the time commitment of reading or attending a reading is worth it.  Click here to tickle your curiosity, if you’re a stranger to me, and ask yourself, “is he trangender?” or, if you’re not a stranger, “just how old is he?”

 

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Towards a New Map of Our Adopted Home

As stated last year, Enduring Puberty Press wants to promote a practice of radical (small r, because I want to avoid any specific political connotations, while still owning up to whatever our politics plays in the content) geography (small g, because I’m just beginner student, and haven’t yet learned any technical aspects of the field).  Radical Geography, what the fuck does that mean, you may ask?  [At this point you may click on the video below, if you don’t want to read the following intro]

In the simplest of terms, we want to bear witness to the things that are out there barely noticed.  Things both hidden and things in just too plain of site.  We want to show spaces that have no official specific public function in the eyes of a general public, places that have an interesting appearance, natural or human-made, that could easily (and sometimes are) be private spaces, but can plausibly be utilized for intimate public gatherings or events.  The video below is a wonderful example of this.   It is set in my adopted home town of Lawrence, Kansas.  Yes Lawrence has a tiny desert.  Yes, we probably trespassed on a sunny but somewhat mild Labor Day morning.  Yes, like childhood majestic alleyways, those unacknowledged commons, there was nobody around but us nature loving urban explorers and an abandoned piece of steel from an already forgotten (forgettable?) age.

I believe that everyone of us has a personal past that cannot be fully uncovered.  Spaces like the Lawrence desert speak to that.  Likewise there’s history that cannot be fully covered.  By acknowledging the presence of human-made objects AND THEN reinterpreting them yourself –helpful to remember that everyone interprets the world on a daily basis, even as most aren’t aware of doing such– you can tell your own story.  Whatever your role now, the fact of your oppression, or at the least to the extent of your being a victim or helpless bystander of political economic forces beyond your control, can be taken into account, even if just in a fictional context.  I think this is why cargo cults, as a thing, are worth reading about.   Please absorb with your sensorium-informed consciousness this slide put together by the staff of/at Enduring Puberty Press.

 

 

What’s Been Going on This Summer

And to think this movement (18 from Louis Zukofsky’s “A”) started out as an epistolary hypothesis about (hypothetical?) separation (death?) from (his?) the narrator’s beloved (Celia Zukofsky?)

zukof-a

“Who shall imagine that his dictionary can embalm his                                                              language, that it is in his power to                                                                                                         change sublunary nature.  Sounds are too volatile for                                                                   legal restraints.  To enchain syllables and to lash                                                                              the wind are equally undertakings of pride unwilling                                                                             to measure its desires by its strength.  That                                                                                        signs might be permanent…like the things?                                                                                         to explain requires the use of terms less                                                                                           abstruse than that which is to be explained                                                                                       and such terms cannot always be found.  Words                                                                             hourly shifting, names have often many ideas, few                                                                     ideas many names.  But every art is obscure                                                                                           to those that have not learned (?)  it. The                                                                             exuberance of words, to admit no testimony of                                                                             living authors, but when my heart in the                                                                              tenderness of friendship solicited admission fo a favorite                                                        name—to persue perfection was like the first                                                                    inhabitants of Arcadia to chace the sun, which                                                                              when they had reached the hill where he                                                                                     seemed to rest, was still beheld at some                                                                                    distance from them: that I set limits to                                                                                                 my work which would in time be ended                                                                                               tho not completed, that he whose design includes                                                                whatever language can express must often speak of                                                                    what he does not understand: writes hurried by                                                                   eagerness to the end—that the English Dictionary                                                                                  was written with little assistance of the learned,                                                                             and without any patronage of the great; not                                                                                          in the soft obscurities of retirement, or under                                                                                    the shelter of academick bowers, but amidst inconvenience                                                       and distraction, in sickness and in sorrow—success and                                           miscarriage…empty sounds…having little to fear                                                                         from censure or from praise’”

Dear Jamie

I am starting at the first page following several notes of my 11th grade U.S. History class.  It’s one of those old spiral notebooks I found in the envelope, package and notebook scrap heap under the EPP station.  I obviously had saved these notes because  I felt the information had value to me.  Glancing over them, Chapter 14 “Compromise and Conflict, which starts from the late 1840’s to to just before the Civil War, no 21 and a half years later, I re-cognize that value.  There are some Kansas events that had been forgotten.

More on that later for now I must share with you, how wonderfully lucid-dream like it feels to be sitting at your desk (my old table from Sunflower [House/Cooperative]) surrounded by your well ordered stationary, supplies and art.  I am jealous.  I’ve gotta step up my office to at least a half-as-cozy as yours level.  I tilt my head from the right through the open window toward the chorus of frogs and crickets, to the 5” by 5″square painting of abstract lines, convex and other shapes, underneath it the strip of lacy cotton; upwards and left, over the marbled printed tapestry up on where some of your best transposed envelope collages show; then around the corner where your single cage like crate of file folders sits snug on top of the L shaped mini table;

offic of Jamie pic 1

then to the back wall where the majestic small scale of images evokes multiple worlds all across the back wall of this corner above your “list of things to work on.” and beneath it the bulk of your writing utensils and staple office supplies finally I get to the left of my body, up above that psychedelic pin-up of an animated outer space flower garden surrounding 3 oval spaces, bird’s eye view of a moon canyon and the guilty stare from former president Clinton’s eyes (taken from the cover of a late 1990s issue of Rolling Stone Magazine.

The upload of the Clinton episode of PBS American Experience that I selected for us to watch tonight is split up in four parts.  I stopped at the end of the first some 25 minutes after you fell asleep.  It is easy to splurge on it.  I am after all a political junky.  it’s really hard to live with some times, because it doesn’t exalt my sense of life in the same way that good art, literature and good human interaction can.  It’s tainted with something, almost like a bad conscience.  Or, at least some bad underlying assumption that I can’t free myself from.

To be sure, my love of politics is my love of plays of forces, multiple levels of conflicts between entities, fighting for things that may conceal or reveal other deeper causes.  Conflict that changes the social and spatial landscapes in which we identify ourselves or someone else.  Conflict that may allow me to describe a situation in a way that defines what it is to be human.  In other words my addiction to politics is very much the same as my love for narrative art.

But action, where does non vicarious action come in?  Most definitely not within the equidistant points of view that would 1. help me get my fix and 2. address the ancient philosophical questions of “how should you lead your life”, “what are we”, “how do we make sense to each other”, “how can we live together with as much peace as possible” and “how will it end”?  To be sure, my commitment to politics, political action has very little to do with my love of politics.  The former is out of a deep commitment to what I see the good life as being, and belief that collective–concentrated collective actions can make changes I want to see in the world.  Whereas my love of politics tends to feel like passing time when I’m too fogged to face what might be called literature, poetry and almost anything that engages my creative intellect.   [and I feel horrible when I go too long without creating] Hence the feeling similar to bad conscience.

This difficulty is also made harder –and more interesting– by my difficulty to feel connected to other people as often as I’d like, or perhaps feel I should be.  I am currently smiling, aware of how you are a staggering but uplifting exception.  (It took me thirty seconds and I could only think of staggering but uplifting!)  But I also started thinking that there may be those I look on as loved ones who don’t even have that luxury: to see connection with others as consciously necessary to manage a modicum of thriving, to consciously desire connection and consciously obtain it.  I have read too many [fill in sub genre]___ novels.

Anyway, that “bad underlying assumption I can’t free myself from”?  Maybe it’s more than one.  One is a fear that I may not absorb the freedom of other to the point of total witness they deserve.  Another is that I won’t feel that I’ve read enough fiction until I learn to accept the way things are more often.  How often?  Enough to show my love for you (and others) in as dedicated a way as possible.

I think I’m touching upon something that’s really close to my aesthetics, and maybe my politics, and something that may improve our relationship.  Save this, and I will continue it the next time I can’t fall asleep with you.

 

Love you so much,

Creed ([A.K.A.] “Chauo”)

 

Biggest Envelope to the New Bride and Groom

ToAllenAndMaya

It’s all about our love for Allen & Maya

Allen & Maya back page

 

 

Image

Wall Hanging for the New Baby

Recess

RAPPORT PRIVILEGE IS REAL

I mean it’s so real I’ve entertained the idea of curating the idiosyncratic bedrooms of solitary children to justify this cover, was even considering employing the expertise in some of them to finish the cover.  In any case, this is yours for free on the link below.  But you may send me a check, money order or trade literary, visual or other ephemera at the address below:

Last draft for front cover1

 

ODT version of Rapport Privilege

Enduring Puberty Press

1108 Oregon St.

Lawrence, KS 66044

Notes on Talk on Yuri Zupancic’s Art

Wednesday, December 7th at the Lawrence Art Center, we got a chance to see a talk with an audience by my dear old friend Yuri Zupancic on his work, an impressive sample of it being on exhibit under the moniker, Screen Deep for the next few weeks.

Not being well versed in contemporary art (let alone post digital art) didn’t prevent me from pretending to be a real art journalist–and a pre digital one writing in a big sketch book to boot– and look in order to see.  But mostly listen.  Though it doesn’t match the live experience, you can view most of the work that was exhibited via Yuri’s website here.   Instead of writing a review about the work itself, what follows are a few notes, and recorded dialogue between Yuri and members of the audience.  Glaringly absent, are focused descriptions of what can be seen.  Words about the works themselves –and believe me, I take “works themselves” seriously to the point of erasing the maker’s biographical self– will not do justice to the works,

Yuri began taking about Berlin and other cities where he explored more deeply the concept of transhumanism.  Before going any further, read Yuri’s artist statement here.   He spoke of the processing of his reality of going back and forth between Europe where makes art and promotes the visual artworks of Willam S. Borroughs whose estate is based here in Lawrence.

I was tempted to downplay Burroughs’s presence in Lawrence in the last 16 years of his life being spent.  But it’s hard, many of Bourrough’s ideas touch upon transhumanism — his “Mr. Rich Parts” being one of my favorites (couldn’t find it on That There Online Video Sharing Network {TTOVSN} [#AgainstProductPlacement]), but to those of you who were around Lawrence, KS. in the early-mid 90s, search: Cough It Up: The Hairball Story, a compilation of local bands, and the inclusion of the aforementioned story.

Anyway, this going back and forth between different places is accentuated or even exacerbated by having a special someone to communicate back to where you came from, which was highlighted by “Newlwebd”(oil paint and assemblage on circuit boards, 2016), the featured image above.  One’s level of attention to another is tested.

For me it has always been the notion of the threat of losing a capacity for reflection that’s framed my reaction to all of the technological changes that have occurred in the last twenty plus years (let alone, or so I’d like to think, the gauging of any felt connection to other human beings).  I have always been interested in the kinds of protagonists in novels who conveyed, or were portrayed with an absence of self awareness.  It was nice to read this in his statement and hear him discuss this.  To even be able to view it optimistically –just that fact that we’re talking about it– or at the very least not freak out about it.  (On a personal note, Yuri’s always been the coolest headed one in the room, almost detached –to the point of being mistaken by some as cold– but giving the right amount of acknowledgement that whatever subjectivity he comports with.  When he visited me in the mental health ward, no matter what batshit came out of my mouth, he never acted any differently towards me).

Other questions Yuri asks in his art:

what are the slips in online communication that happen between those sharing an intimate relationships?

Then there’s the exploration of the physical, the signifying of the physical by digital phenomena just by its mere absence,  a return to the sculptural .

EPP chief visual art maker, Jamie Hofling made some observations as:

The space between that gets lost when you’re divided and with a divided mind.                                       Looking for the tangible in a digital world.                                                                                             Internets of the natural world.  Circuits of the forest.

And then I broke out in posey:

“window ya gotta fall in love with this window                                                                                                                   It gets easier to detect its sentience

“The Breathing Screen”

What to be put in the bars                                                                                                                                         in place of TVs

Piece of many microchip

painted eyes.

Don’t resist the idea

Looking/being looked at what

does it all mean

man

exponential increase of awareness

exploring the map of East Lawrence.

The video of the sound of wireless traffic

How to aestheticize the utility of the swipe

The mildly sweet sweaty perfume of tobacco in the room.  I was sitting behind Lawrence artist and long-time celebrity, townie and raconteur, Wayne Propst.

Yuri, referring to a painting in the room with actual computer parts on it:  “the guts on a piece of guts of a computer”.

Benjamin Rosenthal asked about the eroticism in the work.  “What is your position with respect to the eroticism of the touch?”

Yuri: “that aspect has marked me from a very early point…there’s a deep desire to touch it.  Even in a non-sexual way.  And, uh, just thinking about the things that I’ve seen on a screen that I’ve wanted to touch, but can’t”

“I have this vision of reaching through a screen.”

“It’s not just digital.  But where we’re at in our evolution”

Lady in the middle row: “How can you look and listen to and think about this stuff without feeling anxious?”

Yuri: “it’s scarier not to talk about it.”

Lady in the middle row: “You’re brave.”

(long pause)

Yuri: “Well, thank you.”

[audience laughs]

Later, Yuri let us know that the entire exhibit traveled in a typewriter case

He hit on yet another one of the big time preoccupations of mine, when he sighted feeling “pressured to make more choices of what I focus on”.

At one point he says, “studying slowly on a small scale is very interesting.”

In what reasonably passes as something called the art community in the world, Yuri is most famous for his microchip paintings, which  you really should look at here, including his very astute commentary   Even though his installations are the most compelling for me, the thing I wanted to write most about was the notion of working on a small scale, of (re)presenting large objects in the world on a small scale, that he so brilliantly explores.

And thinking about the inverse, of (re)presenting microscopic (or just relatively small) things on a big scale, (Doing so with Music is the first thing that comes to mind, with Matmos’s A Chance to Cut is a Chance to Cure), which he achieves in his biggest piece, the audio-video installation “Screen Touch Screen”, which you can view and read about on this page, a quadruple mirror shot of thumb and forefinger scrolling  on laptop scroll pad, captures a tangibility of the hidden world of wireless traffic.

Wayne Propst asked Yuri about Burroughs’s influence.  Yuri, declared his having been seduced by the work of Burroughs, and gave an interesting example of him having declared that the British would never be the kind of country to explore outer space.  The idea being that to explore outer space you have to be able to detach yourself from everything.  “The act of leaving crap behind”, Yuri stated plainly.

Which takes us back to the theme (and the future) of transhumanism.  The Lady from before asked, “what if the human being turns into this thing inside a little red light”

Yuri responds. “Yeah!  What will that feel like…light tube tunnel future”.

The Lady: “a little thing on a wire.”

Yuri: “no I don’t think we’ll need a wire.”

Shortly thereafter, Yuri stressed the power of a work of art independent of the physical.  I asked him, “how independent do you wanna go with your work, how independent can you get from not just the physical, or the sense of the physical?”  At this point a youngish employee and/or long time associate of the Lawrence Art Center,  Kate Richard, offered the example of the work of Eve Klein, as something entirely conceptual and not digital, making work with light and making black holes.

Wayne: “Be careful.  Black holes are dangerous.”  (laughter from the audience).

A few side bar conversations discharged.  Yuri did qualify that he still loved to accumulate a lot of sturdy things.  Also, a “striving to create a new kind of work that shows beauty”…finding “where is the intersection between us and these strange objects that are growing a life of our [their?] own”

Another good question by an unidentified guy (UG) that was asked was about the juxtaposition between his paintings and his digital work.  What’s the correlation between them?  “I search for tangible feeling I’m my works…I don’t want to draw any lines (of what I do and don’t know).

UG: “I was just trying to see if there’s a connection between them, of how you arranged them on these walls”.

A curatorial question, I told myself.  Where (who) was the curator at that point?

Back to transhumanism, Yuri mentioned that, “we could be reduced to an eye and a finger”.

Benjamin Rosenthal: “What do you envision for the kind of space you want for yourself as an artist and a human.”

Yuri: “I hope that we can add these things in a way that doesn’t severely handicap us along the way.”

Yuri, always to me so optimistic.

James Marc Smith, a long time acquaintance of mine and a long long, as in back to their childhood in Dodge City-time friend of Yuri’s reinitiated a dialogue about becoming cyborgs. “If you’re not afraid of it”, says James, “you’re not doing it right.

Another dude sitting near Kate Richard spoke up: “We are kids with way too many tools.”

Benjamin asserting that technology is natural.

James: “we’re not ready for skull jacks.”

The lady from before: “make note that Yuri’s watch [on his wrist] explains beautifully.”