Thursday, April 30, 2015

Felix Bernstein interviewed me for The New Museum on Speculative art and praxis

What’s death and destruction got to do with your art?

“From Whitman to WalMart” is a new poem I am writing where I start at Whitman’s doorstep viewing him as head cheerleader of empire with his essays calling African Americans “baboons” and his poem for the western pioneers written during the great extermination of Native Americans.  80% of WalMart stores allow sleeping overnight in their parking lots, which I do, meeting homeless families stretching across America, the true results of Whitman’s love of Manifest Destiny.  I show Whitman’s writing as the original TV commercial hiding the true body of unbridled greed that continues to destroy everyone and everything in its path.  I refer to myself as an intestinal expatriate poet.

“Resurrect Extinct Vibration” is another new poem.  In this one I saturate myself with field recordings of recently extinct birds and animals while taking long naps on the earth across America.  I begin writing as soon as I wake, but in the sleeping I return the vibrations of these creatures to my cells, viewing a degraded ecology as vibrational absence along with its poisoned air, water and soil.  In September 2014 the World Wildlife Fund’s biennial “planet index report” claims 52% of wild animals have vanished in the past three decades.  I am accepting and recording the sixth mass extinction currently underway.

Since 2006 I have stopped cutting my hair as both a reminder that my nation is at war and to use as a measuring device for the latest body count for a long poem now over 3,000 pages long.  We are currently bombing six nations simultaneously where we were bombing two when I started.  

To directly answer your question: everything.  I am a queer American who had a boyfriend I loved but someone bound, gagged, tortured and raped him, then covered him in gasoline and burned him to death.  His name was Mark.  He changed his name to Earth.  He was beautiful.  Do not forget this.  The artist Jason Dodge published my serial poem about this that you can read to not forget at

What’s philosophy got to do with your art?

Well I believe poetry is strong enough.  The power of poetry has not failed me like it has failed some poets in recent decades who hoist philosophy to buttress the poem.  It feels misogynistic in a way, like poetry is too feminine, too weak, needs a man’s ideas to move forward.  Love philosophy -- go ahead, I’m not an anti-intellectual I simply don’t need it to make poetry appear more vigorous.

Sigmund Freud said, “Everywhere I go I find a poet has been there before me.”  Not philosopher, but poet.  And you can have whatever feelings you want about Freud but no one can disagree that he changed how we view the landscape of human emotion and the origins of feeling.  “Everywhere I go” is bold.  It’s direct and from a man who was as careful with his words as a poet.