mildred pierce zine


Starving Artist Interview #6: Brandon Holmquest
February 23, 2010, 1:43 am
Filed under: interview | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

In MP3, Brandon Holmquest was interviewed about Calque, the translation journal he edits with Steve Dolph; he also generously contributed some translations of Nadaist Manifestos for the issue. His literary activities since include a translation of Manuel Maples Arce’s City: Bolshevik Superpoem in 5 Cantos forthcoming very soon from Ugly Duckling Presse; and a book of his own poems, The Sorrows of Young Worthless, right behind it on Truck Press. (And hey, hey, what’s that you say? Brandon will soon be joining us on this here blog.)

BEHOLD: Holmquest on hunger, theft, cigarettes.

Brandon Holmquest

If/when (now or in the past) you have used the term “starving artist”** in relation to yourself, how literal are we talking in terms of actual starving? What would you count as part of the territory that comes with being a “starving artist” and what would you disallow?

I myself have never used the term in a self-referential way. It has occasionally been put forth by someone else, usually in jest. This is one of those terms that don’t get used that much anymore, however accurate they may be, like “bohemian” for example. I have used the snooty, Joycean term “inanition aficionado” on at least one occasion, but again I was joking.

That said, we are talking about some actual starving. I was on what I called the one-meal-a-day plan for years. When I came to Philly the first time this morphed into the one-hoagie-a-day plan. I would eat one substantial thing in the middle of my nocturnal day, and supplement that with something like bread and olive oil as necessary.

None of this ever seemed like that big a deal to me, though. Having been homeless a couple times as a teenager, a whole hoagie everyday was material wealth to me. In the homeless days I used to cadge pizzas out of dumpsters and day-old donuts from delivery guys. Or just go hungry.

What would you say is your general level of starving as a starving artist? By that I mean, when you look around you, or think about starving artists in history, how would you place yourself in a kind of spectrum?

I wouldn’t place myself very high on the historical continuum, cause you’d have to be an idiot to starve to death in this country, an idiot or a suicidal germophobe. Khlebnikov died of hunger, so he’s a ten, and I suppose John Updike or some talentless New York hack like him would be a zero. I have known very few people who I’d classify as starving artists in my own life. The overwhelming majority, all but a handful of people, have had at least some money. I think a five might be as high as a contemporary American could even get, in the worst-case scenario.

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barf: a preview

1. In 2004, Eileen Myles gives a talk called “Everyday Barf.” I know nothing of this.

2. In 2008, Dodie Bellamy publishes Barf Manifesto, a chapbook collecting two lectures she’s written/delivered in homage to and appropriating in certain ways the style of “Everyday Barf.”


One of these lectures I have the opportunity to attend. It is scheduled for 8:30 a.m.; it is winter in Chicago; it is snowing. I sleep in.

3. I come across Barf Manifesto two years later by accident. Am thrilled by Bellamy’s defiantly loose and idiosyncratic approach to the essay form. (It is my first brush with Bellamy. Probably if I had gone to the lecture, who knows where I’d be different.)

4. Reading Bellamy’s response to “Everyday Barf,” I realize I own a copy of Sorry, Tree, the collection of Myles’ poetry in which “Everyday Barf” appears. I own this book by accident because I won it in a raffle. I read “Everyday Barf” and the rest of the collection, which I’ve since lent to a friend who needs to give it back to me; am bolstered by the reminder that Myles exists in my world and lifetime.

5. I go see Eileen Myles read in November 2009. She Is Great. Afterwards, go for dinner with friends, eat too much, go home, barf a lot, involuntarily. In a move that is often but not always unusual for me, I post personal information to my Facebook page about this uncommon incident: the barfing (I do not do it often). Trembling with the thrill of public confession accompanied by the immediate gratification of amused and supportive “likes” and comments, I comment and recomment on my status update, narrating a simultaneity of barfings, a layering of all of the recent and various barfings I’ve experienced (my own few, my oddly numerous encounters with the barfings of others). Next day, cringe,

6. Shortly thereafter, spurred by these electrolyte-deficient Facebook postings, I begin writing an essay for Mildred Pierce after the essays in Barf Manifesto which are after “Everyday Barf.”

7. Shortly thereafter, I chance upon Kate Zambreno’s blog, find her doing the same sort of thing!

8. Am initially crestfallen, like knife to heart, betrayed by shattered unreasonable hopes/illusions/etc, then realize no, I have never been original; there is an answer, which is to bring Kate Zambreno into the essay, particularly her v. fascinating thoughts on bulimic versus anorexic writing.

9. Begin internet-stalking Kate Zambreno. Turns out we attended many of the same panels at &NOW and probably sat in the same row at the Gurlesque panel (though on opposite sides of the room). Turns out she lived in Chicago while I also lived in Chicago. Turns out like MISSED CONNECTION. One day, Kate Zambreno, we will together spew.

10.

BARF BARF MANIFESTO MANIFESTO (working title) forthcoming, Mildred Pierce Issue 4, release date possibly May 2010.



Mildred Pierce blog gets a ‘Nuevo Look’
February 10, 2010, 1:33 am
Filed under: art, comedy, submissions | Tags: , , , ,

The Mildred Pierce Zine site has undergone some changes, and yr lookin’ at ’em. We are getting into what my friend Nate M. would call “serious bloggin’, y’all.” As much as we want to stay committed to the paper product, we are also trying to get some internet lovin’, so we went out and got our virtual hair did for you writers out there who can only submit to a Cultural Crit magazine that looks like she pays her own bills… Am I right? Anyway, with a new look comes a new deadline for proposals: March 31st! Get those genius ideas in folks! We’re gearing up to roll out Issue No. 4, and you know you want a ride (of course MP pays her own car note!). The details of submission are below… Continue reading



Demetri Martin: Gen X Prince of Stand-Up
February 1, 2010, 1:46 pm
Filed under: comedy | Tags: , , , , , ,

Demetri Martin is unique in the history of stand-up comedy today. He’s like the antithesis of 80s comedian Sam Kinison — that overweight, repulsive, cokehead screamer. Sammy K was a man’s-man stand-up comedian; someone who conveyed with his rage and purple-faced delivery his unhappiness with the world and everyone in it. Ready to have his stomach split open and his guts splash out onto the stage, he made stand-up look like the hard, drug- and alcohol-driven job it truly is.

If Sam Kinison was some kind of 80s Thersites — the foul-mouthed, humanity-hating slave to society — then Demetri Martin is our modern-day Paris: a lover, not a hater, the shiny-eyed, self-effacing dude who plays his guitar softly, making jokes that zing but land softly in a nimbus cloud of post-hippie ethos.

Demetri Martin

His first comedy special, in 2007, features a finale that was more fantasy than wit-cracking crescendo — the comedy coming from the tension created by breaking convention with what comedians do and don’t do. He plays out on his guitar a little tune while a forest setting shows the imaginary space in his mind, what he calls “the place where my jokes come from”: a place where elves romp along side jokes and his mother and grandmother appear.

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