A Photocopy of the Artist as a Young Man
When I was an undeclared undergrad, at some point I must have decided that getting a degree in poetry was probably the best thing that I could do with my time and money.
Now, I’m not going to spend the entire article talking about how stupid or irrelevant poetry is. I am going to spend a bit of time talking about how stupid and irrelevant my poetry is / was. What you see before you is the first and only copy of my personal poetry digest: fuck/nothing. I suppose I was aware of how dumb writing poetry was even then. But really, the title was an attempt at being edgy and deep without actually diving in beneath the surface. The whole ‘zine is full of poems that want to be something much more than they are. But, I didn’t have the perspective and I didn’t really put in the work.
That’s not to say I don’t still look back on some parts of fuck/nothing fondly. I was really into learning about visual poetry. Magazines like Blast were a huge inspiration. And obviously I was trying to mime the look of punk ‘zines. I was listening to a lot of Penis Envy by Crass at the time. Really, the poems were old by the time I made fuck/nothing, but I wanted content for my graphic design experiment. It was successful in places. And in other parts…well let’s take a look shall we?
I still love the front cover (on the right). The whole project started as the cover. The central figure from “The Ancient of Days” by William Blake represents the divine spark of creativity and the swan represents the piece of art taking flight. Deep, right?
The title fuck/nothing represents the absence of ultimate meaning, or a person who is a fuck-up a.k.a a fuck-nothing, or it represents a defiance of nihilism as in “I will not do nothing”. It’s contradictory. It’s open to interpretation. It’s so fucking deep.
The rear cover (left) is just a collage of the guitarist from Bridge and Tunnel. “A Journal of Recluse Youth” is a shout out to the band Tiltwheel. I told you it was punk rock.
Another major influence for me at the time was Roberto Belano. In his book, The Savage Detectives, Roberto writes about a street gang of rebellious poets in 1970’s Mexico. I loved the book and wanted to be one of the Visceral Realists from the novel. The picture on the opening page is a photo of the real life Viscerealists that Roberto was a member of and who served as the inspiration for the book.
Also on this inside cover page is attitude. Lots of poetry attitude.
The ‘zine opens strong with a nipple in the first poem. Shout out to Gavin Rosdale’s daughter, Daisy Lowe, and her boobs. I was so committed to using that picture that the poem itself is nearly unreadable.
Still, the first poem is kind of beautiful to me. Only it makes no sense. The “speaker” is a character from a short story I wrote. So it’s one of my characters writing a poem to me. You, as the reader, would have no way of knowing that, though.
“Foxhill” is a complete throwaway poem. It’s no good and the picture is terrible. I remember rushing this one in as I tried to get at least one copy of the ‘zine printed before our bi-weekly writer’s group.
“In Silent Anticipantion” is an attempt at writing a poem like “In a Station of the Metro” by Ezra Pound. The poem isn’t bad, but the title is weak. Also, the picture of crazy old Ezra doesn’t match thematically even if it doesn’t look too bad.
The idea of “Mausoleum” is good, but the execution is real sloppy. When you’re a young writer, or at least when I was a young writer, you tend to be afraid to delete anything. It takes a while before you realize that revision is 90% of the work that goes into whatever it is you’re working on. And the image is random and doesn’t do anything.
“Vanishing Point” is an attempted art piece which uses a drawing convention to represent the idea that hearing the numbers of how many soldiers die doesn’t mean anything. It’s only if you actually know someone who died or hear the story of an individual that we can start to interpret how horrible death and war is. More deep shit, basically.
Every young, white, male poet wants to be Allen Ginsberg at some point. He’s a terrible example because his good poems where probably flukes and he was very anti-revision. He thought that the first thing you wrote was probably always the truest thing. There’s truth to that statement, but that doesn’t make the statement true. Either way, here’s a very mediocre attempt at being Allen. The pictures are cool at least.
I love “Dam” in that way where everyone in the world could tell me how wrong and ugly it is but I would still dig it. “Lost in the Polygons” is a nothing poem, but the stolen image of Captain Nemo looks sweet.
“Cut the Tension” is about a New Jersey band named Lifetime. It’s about measuring success. It’s also about me coming to terms with the fact that I’m probably not going to chase being a poet.
This is probably the best piece in the whole ‘zine. Picture and poem match well, look cool, and mean something. It makes me wonder if I should have kept up writing poems a little longer.
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