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It’s Influence Week!

By Harriet Staff

Influence Week is underway over at Montevidayo. What is Influence Week, you ask? It is where Johannes Göransson asks other writers what’s been influencing them and they write a post in response. So far, Danielle Pafunda and Blake Butler have chimed in.

From Pafunda’s post, she leaps off after reference the Pussifesto. Pafunda’s Post sounds like a great place to buy nubuck satchels, too.

So. Maybe you feel more at ease than surface dwellers do thieving in the graveyard, and you think, whose old phalanges will I use to type today? You dig up Ginsberg, you dig up Bataille, Nabokov, Kerouac, Ferlinghetti, Paul Bowles, but Jane Bowles is in the reader, too, and even though you’re a 17-year-old cockroach, you’re not stupid. Plath left you a trail of bones, and Anais Nin’s an easy find. There’s a whole anthology of Russian poets including Marina Tsvetaeva, Anna Akhmatova, Bella Akhmadulina. It’s okay if some of these people are still alive at the time. Better, even! Take a souvenir, swipe yourself a reliquary. You’re not an idiot. You read LeRoi Jones, Jean Toomer, Gwendolyn Brooks. This is all before college, even. Then you build yourself a bone suit and hop inside, and this is how you learn to become a writer. You take apart your bone suit. You make bone soup. You deflect your nasty professor with a bone when he tells you your prose is boring. You make yourself a second spine of other writers’ bones. You wear a bone crown and jam bones in your ears when people say dismissive things about you.

And a bit from Blake Butler:

I don’t think I feel influenced anymore. This is because I don’t feel creative. I think I’ve felt this way for all of this year so far and maybe the last 3-6 months of the year before this one. I don’t really know what is happening now. I think I used to feel really excited every day just by waking up and walking around without thinking of what I was doing, in the idea that my body was being piloted for me by a part of me that I could not or should not catalog. This is the same way I approach god, though I have never felt writing was godly. I think this mode of operation seemed centered entirely around being a conduit of something. Or a human filter. In that way I would be a tissue that what had come into me at whatever time would be as interpreted by my body and some amount of logic, like food coming in and being taken for what is needed and passed as shit. I think now I think the writing is the shit, whereas before maybe I felt it was something higher, or at least more eternal. Shit is not eternal. It degrades really fast and leaves almost no imprint on where it has been beyond the immediacy of the stink of it and the look of it if it is seen, and sometimes in exact locations a kind of summation gesture that the shit as a sum of the product of many filters begins to put onto the surface there, like latrines. So if I read a book even if I didn’t love it or even really remember it after, it would be in me, particularly maybe with a kind of half life where the life span extends the more you feel influenced in the moment of it; this is true of both books, food, people, places, significant emotions, websites, whatever else. It all operates among that flesh and in becoming language is altered by the flesh into whatever kind of rhizome system the body uses to make a thought a thing like a sentence or some other formation of words. That alone for me was enough of a place, and a kind of anchor as a person, to get me addicted to the feeling long enough that when I couldn’t sit down and get it out I felt worse than constipated, like spiritually stuffed with garbage. Writing was the only way to free me, and yet now maybe I am beginning to feel I was actually writing myself not into freedom but into a hole.

Montevideo, under the influence. Ka-boom.

Posted in Poetry News on Tuesday, June 28th, 2011 by Harriet Staff.