July 12, 2014
I have been writing poetry for my whole life. Yet it is difficult to describe the horrors and put that on paper. I usually write with green ink, because for me, that color represents desire and hope. But to be honest, it is futile to think that I can change the world with my writing, and whatever it’s green or black ink, it comes out white on white piece of paper, and barely readable. I’m intrigued by the art of the sentence, the way the lines break on a page with respect to poetry. It is these little pleasures that keep me on the page and holding onto my pen. On the other hand, I don’t see much hope for the world outside my studio or writing space.
I have always been fascinated by a world that I wasn’t allowed to see. As a small child I pretty much learned to read by devouring “Famous Monsters of Filmland” edited by Forrest J Ackerman, especially articles on Tod Browning. As a ten-year old, I had a favorite filmmaker, yet I never saw any of his films. I just loved the film stills I have seen in the magazine, such as “Dracula, ” and anything with Lon Chaney. I was intrigued with Chaney due that he wore the most bizarre and scary make-up. The photograph of him dressed up as the Phantom of the Opera, scared me, but everything he did with Tod Browning as his director, seemed impossible to see, especially when you are ten-years old, and this was all before VHS video or DVDs. The one film that seemed taboo was Browning’s “Freaks.” Quite often, “Famous Monsters of Filmland” would have articles and images from this film, and it truly captured my imagination. I couldn’t draw, but I could write, so I started writing poems devoted to the images I have observed in the magazine. As a teenager I started to read French surrealist poetry, and I was struck with the image of filmic horror and the surrealist imagination, as being married, or perhaps connected to the hip, like the Dolly Sisters.
As a poet, I strived to be as cold as Richard Stark’s “Parker, ” in that I want to plan out the poem as a route on a map, or at the very least a destination from there to here. To take everything that is out there and make it into my home, or at least in a position where I can control or contain a world that I can call my own. Like my favorite poet, Max Jacob, I’m often at odds with the world, which in turn hates me. Everything I have done in life has ended up as failures, on the other hand, I wear ‘failure’ as a badge of pride. Like Thoreau, I’m interested in the idea of survival in the face of hostile elements, historical change, and the most important, natural decay. I think this is exactly what I sense with respect to the figures and characters I saw in “Famous Monsters of Filmland.” To survive in a world that is hostile to the monster, the vampire, and best of all, the side-show circus freak, captured my imagination and my soul.
A lot of my childhood friends played with toys like G.I. Joe, and I think later they were in a position to join a culture that was open and friendly to them. I, on the other hand, was on the side of the mad poets and monsters. As a young adult, I became attracted to the work of Alain Cuny, a French actor who was likewise a close friend of Antonin Artaud. He appeared in numerous films made by Fellini, but the role that I am mostly impressed with is the character that he played in “Emmanuelle.” He played an older man named Mario who convinces Emmanuelle that monogamy will die out, and that lust will win out over guilt or reason. He leads Emmanuelle to one sexual adventure after another, and like the characters in the monster magazine, I have found another hero.
The sad thing in life is that I just have notebook after notebook with writings in green ink, that is barely readable. Yet I continue, because as I said, the destination is just a direction, in which I don’t think will bring me to a conclusion.