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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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Starving Artist Interview #2: Sommer Browning
December 22, 2009, 12:42 am
Filed under: art, interview | Tags: , , , , , ,

Sommer Browning writes comix and draws poems in Brooklyn. She works in a fort, co-founded Flying Guillotine Press and just downloaded Judas Priest’s Sad Wings of Destiny. MP contributor Leeyanne Moore asked Sommer a number of questions about what the term ’starving artist’ means to her as an artist and poet living in a city that’s as huge on money as it is on art.

Originally published on our MySpace page, this is the second in an ongoing series of Starving Artist Interviews.

1) When you use the term “starving artist” in relation to yourself, how literal are we talking in terms of actual starving?

Sommer Browning, & pelvis

If I was to call myself a “starving artist,” I would feel very uncomfortable. I never have been cool with the word “artist,” it gives me the fantods. And I have never starved or even come close to it. I don’t know how poor you need to be to be an artist. I think I know some rich artists. I want to live in a motel one day.

2) 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 am so privileged it would be ridiculous if it weren’t so true. Sometimes I feel like the pate goose right before it’s slaughtered. I have a funnel attached to a pneumatic pump shoved down my esophagus and it’s feeding me heavy starches and poly-saturated vanity and flimsy images of human Being. So maybe I am an Overstuffed Artist, a great big gluttonous artist sack, about to burst open and spew Everybody Loves Raymond all over the place.

3) What’s been your most profound moment as a starving artist in terms of suffering? Has this shaped how you view your art or how you view the world & humanity?

I am due for another profound moment on Thursday, I have to schedule them in now that I live in New York. I used to have them quite often when I took a lot of LSD. They were great. Anyhow, my new thing is discipline. I’m going to explore it. I’ve fought against it my whole life, it just didn’t fit into my hedonism. But I think I was wrong about hedonism. Wrong about how I defined it. And I don’t think I like hedonism anyway, so eff it. I’ve been thinking about discipline and patience these days. Through control I might find happiness. That would be nice.

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