Just The Nuggets can be found here:
One of my fave things about being a multi-media nerd is when someone else opens me up to a new nerd-thing I didn't know I needed to nerd about (like "Hamilton" or Florida Supercon Wrestling). One of my fave things about poets is that they bring their nerd game to the next level by throwing down the words that make you care about the things they care about (like this journal, ahem). So in this "Everybody's Throwing Down The Writing Gauntlet" month of November my man Gus Wood is beefing up his blog "Just The Nuggets" by opining on 30 recommendations in 30 Days. He's already dropped science on Bobby McFerrin and The Wizard of Oz on Ice, Yahtzee Croshaw's video game reviews, and Busta Rhymes. He's got a lot more days to enhance your nerd life, so follow along this month and may the YouTube rabbit holes you fall down be full of pillows and the beverage of your choice!
Just The Nuggets can be found here:
FreezeRay family member and Navigator of the Poetry Super Highway RICK LUPERT (who blessed us with his amazing ode to Leonard Nimoy from Issue #6) has now published a totally rad poem about his Lego Spaceship in Silver Birch Press' series "My Most Prized Possession"! You can check it out HERE! Anyone who has ever had their Lego heart busted over some busted Legos will feel this one!
From the author:
"The poem was written out of the frustration, grief, and sadness of events this week (7/8). Between Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, Dallas...there has been ample need for reflection and expression on a personal level. Addressing the frustration of both observing such blatant terror, and having our grief silenced by those unaffected by it, brought me to a place of needing poetry to get my thoughts straight without having a to-the-death debate with everyone on social media. The Death Note metaphor came to mind while reading Lauren Bullock's 'Pokemon Go and Choosing the Blackest Joy'. I don't know if it was actually there in her writing, or was sparked indirectly (but either way, thanks to Lauren for the piece!), but the poem ended up being something I hope to share. For healing, sympathetic outrage and grief, for something other than dead-end despair. Hopefully something good can come from it. "
Death continues to court us.
Love-struck shinigami, its
is not an invited romance,
nothing in this melanin to misconstrue
as a spur in the side of its stalkership,
but its still us catching glances for the
aftereffects of its harassment.
Maybe if we didn't lead Death on, boast
its favorite shade in the beauty given us,
in the magic pronounced by unbowing heads
and tongues 400 years
have yet to bleed the song from, maybe then
we wouldn't find ourselves forever addressed
the bullets and badges
straight laying us out like speed bumps.
Maybe then, expiration dates wouldn't hang
their haunting promises overhead for those
with the right eyes to see, and to feel
like mouths devouring our insides. We
have begun to walk assuming each
one fear-gnashed traffic stop away from those
ghosts becoming zeroes.
How many breathless black bodies did it take
for Misa's bargain to wet our eyes
with this more horrible vision?
Our eyes are the only reminders we need that
those who look like us are little more than prey,
that those most responsible for our protection
are increasingly knife and fork at our necks,
and that those tick-tick-tick-ticks
we know to gloat overhead
will never be proof enough for people
who've already decided the guilt of the dead.
There Is A Shame
aimed at you
in the nerd
you admit that you
like Teen Titans Go
almost like a betrayal
of its predecessor that
is now dead, though pre-
maturely and never to
rise again. And I suppose
I could hide behind my
daughter's love of the
team who can't seem to
be respected enough
to be taken seriously as
my conduit into such
forbidden fanfare, but
honestly I just enjoy
watching a Black character
like Cyborg withstand
assaults and aggressions
and death every day
and still standing at the
end of the episode
or at least smiling through
the best laid plans of the bad
guys or who he assumes are
his allies. Especially when
the only other image dragging
its bloody memory behind
my eyes is Alton Sterling's
murder like so many vacated
plots and nonsense
before him and even though
I cringe when Cyborg yells
Boo-yah, I at least know
that joy follows the sonic
boom of his call out, but we
Black folk have a catchphrase
too that sounds too much
like a fired gun and our
name uttered by strangers
that miss the living version
of ourselves. Besides I can't
be concerned with what my
fellow snobs have to say about
my choice of cartoon as I lay
across the floor with my daughter
laughing at what we are watching
because I can't guarantee
she won't see her father
on TV one day get hit
with something and not get
back up and then laughter
will become a language
she forgets in my wake.
What Is A "Ship"?
An Elegy To Many Things
by Mikkel Snyder
*Spoilers for Many Things*
(For DC Things. At least implicitly...)
The Ship of Theseus is a famous thought experiment / paradox. It reads as follows: Theseus returns from his adventures and finds a crack in a single board of his ship. He promptly replaces it. Repeat for every single board and part of the ship. Repeat for every member of the crew. Repeat for Theseus himself. Repeat for the name of the ship. Repeat all of the above.
Is it the same ship?
Roughly 16 months ago, I wrote An Ode to My Favorite Comic Book Shop about the closing of a local institution, Star Clipper. Thankfully, death isn’t a permanent condition when it comes to the realm of comics. The day after the store closed in the middle of March, the Facebook page remained active and posted pictures of famous characters that were brought back to life.
The most salient of these portraits to me was Superman’s. One half of the World’s Finest. A figure of hope that needed four people to try and replace when he “died.” It seemed like an apt metaphor for the fact that I was desperately looking at the other comic book shops in the St. Louis. The strangest thought kept passing through my head. Without Star Clipper, I didn’t have a reason to stay in this city.
My friend Sam has constantly called me out on my utter devotion to DC comics. Whenever I lament a decision they have made, within hours, I will see that he has commented and I already know that the words sinking ship are going to pop up. Although, it may be the sinking ship emoji because that’s apparently a thing.
The latest of these laments is Batman v. Superman, which we’re not going to talk about other than I really wanted the movie to better than it was. I really needed it to be better. The six year old me growing up on the DC Animated Universe (Batman, Superman, Justice League, Justice League Unlimited, Static Shock, Batman Beyond, even the Zeta Project) needed the movie to better. The part of me that has internalized all of the fandom needed to be better.
Because fandom is weird like that.
While I was raised on animated superheroes, but exposure to comics was digital. I started out reading webcomics sometime in high school. It started out with Ctrl+Alt+Del and 8-Bit theater, but soon rapidly expanded, to the point where I was serial reading somewhere upwards of twenty comics or so. Some of my favorably remembered ones include Questionable Content, Penny Arcade, Bob and George, Penny Arcade, PvP, Order of the Stick, Homestuck, Flipside, A Softer World, and Multiplex. Some of the comics are still on going on. Some have ended, and I have sat at the final panels starting into the digital portal in front of me, dumbfounded and smiling.
In college though, that’s when I stumbled onto the Delmar Loop for lunch and ended up walking into Star Clipper. I don’t know how I missed it, other than the fact I didn’t go on the Loop that often. I walked in with that same dumbfounded smile on as it slowly dawned on me that I was home. It was the end of the semester and I picked up all 10 volumes of Sandman and hence started a ritual of going there every few months. This story should sound familiar. I told it already. And I’ll tell it again and again and again and again. But I will add here that I learned that Morpheus was supposed to appear on an episode of the Justice League and there are few things involving fiction that make me sadder about that.
So, what prompts this revisitation? If romance, my first visit back, my concurrent visits, my book club, my newly found friends (in both other regulars and the employees) did not spur me, what did?
Well, on March 25th, DC launched their #DCRebirth. A chance to shuffle some things around. To get back to the heart of what makes the DC universe great. To brighten up their world. To fix a ship. Maybe just for me. Maybe for everyone who firmly loves DC.
And despite it being a workday, I went to midnight release. I get sad about some of my favorite series ending. I narrowly win their trivia contest with the help of my friends. I spent time in a place that just makes me happy. I get my pull from Ray who informs me they didn’t apply store credit, before quickly joking “you’ll be here next week though. I’d be worried about you if you stopped showing up.”
We laugh, and I look around the storefront. I look at myself. I’m standing in the middle of downtown, on Washington Avenue. Across the block is the City Museum. In the other direction, a whole string of restaurants. Somewhere close by, there’s supposed to an erotic cake shop.
The neon sign from the old store is hanging on the wall. The “new” logo outside is now two year’s old. The old bookshelves are filled with new issues. There’s an entire section dedicated to board games in the back. Two break rooms where I’ve played demos, read previews, discussed books I wouldn’t have read. A wall of funko figures that are slowly eating real estate in my cubicle.
It’s obvious in this moment that it’s not the same store.
But what does “same” even mean?
Batman is 70+ year’s old. Star Clipper is 15+. I’m 24, soon to be 25. As much as I’d love for a status quo, the saying goes, the only constant in life is change. We’re supposed to become different. We’re supposed to adapt to the surroundings.
We can’t blindly accept what it is presented to us. We can understand how we got here, but if we don’t have a narrative arc, if we don’t change, if we don’t (in the words of one of my best friends, Brooke) become more ourselves, what’s the point?
And what’s a ship? A vehicle. A metaphor. A term for a fictional couple we want to happen (*cough cough* Batman and Wonder Woman from the DCAU *cough cough*). A thought experiment on the fluxing nature of identity.
When I talk about ships, I mean fandom. And by fandom, I mean loyalty. To fictional characters, sure. But also people. But also places, from comic book stores to cities. I’m talking about some strange love for the stories and storied that took you in and helped you grow.
And I’m so fucking glad I still have the ones I do.
Everything about this painting gives me life. So to speak. Write about some dudes leaving their knives at the table and just talking shop.
Ode to My Favorite Comic Book Shop
A Photojournalism Response Essay to Star Clipper’s Announced Closing
by Mikkel Snyder, FreezeRay Editor
On January 15, 2015, Star Clipper customers received notification over Facebook and email that their doors would be closing. The popular comic book shop based on the Delmar Loop meant a lot to St. Louis residents. The bulk of the essay was written the day of the announcement, and was edited to reflect additional information gained in the following weeks.
Star Clipper staff knew about the closure about a month earlier. This essay is dedicated to the incredible community that I, and many others, found thanks to them and owner.
When you’re growing up and moving around a lot, one of the things you don’t actually notice is that places change over time. It seems simple enough. However, when you’re moving every few years, you can’t really appreciated it because to you, everything is new by virtue of being different. You don’t see places rise and fall. Roads pretty much stay the same. Life goes on.
As a military brat, I didn’t start noticing that places change until my family stopped moving and we actually lived in the same house in Maryland for nearly a decade. However, given that four of those years overlapped with my college career, I can’t say any of the changes I noticed affected me in any meaningful way.
Today, as I continue my attempts to settle in St. Louis, I’m forced to confront this challenging concept of change that comes up with being a resident. That is to say, the loss of a beloved institution and establishment.
Star Clipper's Storefront Neon Sign. After Star Clipper’s closure, the sign will be donated to
St. Louis’ City Museum, a fitting home.
Star Clipper was, is, and may always be my favorite comic book store. When first finding the store on the loop five year ago, I was not well versed in comics. I was a huge nerd of comic book properties since I had grown up on the DCAU, and had an extensive list of webcomics that I kept current with, but comics, physic comics, were foreign to me with their picture book-esque quality. I had read a graphic novel here and there, sure, but never experienced what it really meant to be a comic book fan.
Star Clipper elevated me to a new kind of nerd. The first time I walked into the store, I just started browsing the stacks to see the plethora books available and I stumbled on Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman series, a ten volume set and to this day one of my prized possessions. Being reckless, I purchased all ten volumes in celebration for the end of the semester and proceeded to read that series in a weekend. This started a long standing ritual with me and a store.
I can’t iterate enough times how important this place was to me. I can’t tell you all of the thing I loved about it, from the incredible that has guided me through the selection, the store front itself being pitch perfect, the amazing events I’ve gotten to be a part of.
I will say Star Clipper is responsible for the two bookshelves of comics that I display proudly in my living room. I will say that I’m really, really sad I need to find a new comic book shop, because if there is a single lesson to be taken away from this, it is not the fact things change, but that I can’t stop reading comics now. I’m in too deep. There are too many good stories that I’ve stumbled on to.
The Aforementioned Bookshelves ( the collection has doubled since)
But in particular, these last two years with Star Clipper have been particularly defining to my adult life. After graduating and moving up to Madison, Wisconsin, the absence of Star Clipper was one of the many factors that made me realize that I loved and missed St. Louis. I literally made the 300+ mile trip down south to “see friends,” and by that I mean “go to Star Clipper at least once.”
It was only 6 hours.
I remember going with Kastyn during one of my visit and then getting a 24 pack of Fitz’s root beer before I headed back north. I remember driving six hours, getting six hours of sleep, and then waiting in line for three hours with Ben Tolkin as we talked poetry and the musical episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold, just so we could get all of the comic book offerings possible. I remember the Free Comic Book Day the year before when I gave Emily an Iron Man 3 pen in exchange for a declaration that I was in the fact the best of all her friends to much discontent with our other friends.
So much swag.
I remember having my ever feature as Crossover Poetry with my stage partner, Lauren.
I’m pretty sure I was doing a pantoum persona piece of Renee Montoya when this picture was taken.
I remember graduating Comics U as a freshman this past year, and now I’m going to have to get my certificate framed and wear my t-shirt more often as a reminder.
The first (and last) Star Clipper produced zine on the left. My poorly drawn Voltron on the right.
I remember going to midnight showings at the Tivoli and getting five dollar gift cards or anime themed postcards and just being so, so, so happy with my life decisions.
All of that awesome in one summer (and yeah, one of these things is not like the other)
I remember when I saw that Star Clipper’s owners had literally developed software for tracking comic book stock and falling even more in love with the store and what is stood for.
So where do I go from here given this news?
Well, clearly this is not what I ever wanted to hear. Clearly, Star Clipper is so important to me. Clearly I don’t want to find a new store and if I had the funds necessary, I would toss money until the doors could be kept open for eternity.
Unfortunately, that’s not an option. And unfortunately, I think that’s growing up.
The last big merch run collected that Saturday after close.
Come February, there’s going to be a hole in the heart that matches the size of the soon to be vacant storefront on the Loop. At the end of the day though, I am a comic book fan. I am one thanks to Star Clipper. I will continue to be a patron there until they tell me I can’t. I will buy books at an alarmingly frequency for a few more weeks. I will keep my weekly pull of the half dozen series I’m reading.
But mostly, I’m going to keep being a nerd. It’s the best way I can honor Star Clipper, its staff, its owners, and everything they have done for me.
A rare selfie taken in memoriam for this incredible shop. I’ll miss it.
In the half month since writing this first draft of this essay, Star Clipper Facebook Page has linked to many an article that range from talking about the history of the store to its current standing. Rather than try and incorporate these directly into the essay, I wanted to present a few of the ones I found resonant as a coda below.
Star Clipper Announced Closing in the Loop
Star Clipper is St. Louis’ Latest Culture Retailer Casualty
Why Star Clipper’s Owners Shuttered Their Beloved St. Louis Comic Book Shop
Black Nerd Problems is one of the few nerd sites that makes me think and laugh at the same time, and BNP's livetweets during shows like Walking Dead and The Flash are must-read hashtags when you're watching along with them (#DemDeadz and #DatFlash are the tags to follow). We decided to pick the brain of BNP head honcho WIlliam Evans about the upcoming pen-and-paper version of the website, Black Nerd Problems: Zero Year.
1. Let's pretend that I'm someone who's never been to the Black Nerd Problems site because I got caught up in a YouTube rabbit hole of Epic Rap Battles for the last year or so. Tell me briefly what you're all about.
Black Nerd Problems is an unapologetic deluge of nerd-centric and geek commentary from the perspective of people of color. Every topic that becomes an editorial or a review on the site isn't political, but just the fact that we are people of color that revel in pop and niche culture with our own voice is still political. We nerd hard at BNP, but we speak from a perspective that is still under-reported and I think that makes what we have to say very significant.
2. What if I'm a BNP regular? What will the book offer me that I can't get on the site?
We're putting a lot of original content into the book to reward the people that have been with us from the beginning. There will be plenty of editorials and features that will only appear in the book (never online) including from people that aren't part of our regular staff. Some of our archived content will have some additional commentary attached to them as well. Whether it's background or anecdotal text, we hope those elements will offer some new insight to pieces that people may have already been familiar to from the site. We will also have a lot of original artwork featured that will be exclusive to the book as well.
3. Part of Zero Year is going to be a Greatest Hits album. Fire off a few hit singles we can look forward to.
You know, we're pretty proud about a lot of the content that people have gravitated to on the site. Our biggest problem in editing the book is going to be what gets left out simply due to space. We haven't made any decisions yet, but I can say that some of my personal favorites that represent our mission well are the ones that deal with social politics and identity. Columns such as "I am Woman, I am Nerd" from Carrie McClain or "Exploring Identity as a Gamer" from Ian Khadan. I'm a sucker for a good personal narrative and those along with many others from the site really illustrate why this site exists in the first place.
4. One of the coolest things about running a site are some of the unexpected interactions that occur. What's one of the most memorable exchanges you've had as a result of BNP?
I wrote a piece regarding the newest version of Captain Marvel and how the writer, Kelly Sue DeConnick, cleverly went against type by not having the hero Carol Danvers be the White Savior. About a week or so later, someone forwarded me Kelly Sue's tumblr where she shared my column. That led to me interviewing her on two separate occasions and having a conversation with her husband (and also one of my writing heroes) Matt Fraction when he visited Columbus. That's one of many that the staff members have experienced, but Kelly Sue is my favorite.
5. If there's one person in the nerd world you'd want to get a copy of Black Nerd Problems: Zero Year, who would it be, and why?
You know, if I could send it to one person with hopes that they would read it, I would have to say Aisha Tyler. Look, I love Neil DeGrasse Tyson as much as the next nerd, but I've always been a big Aisha fan, ever since I saw her rocking the pistol from Halo: Combat Evolved at E3 one year. She's the quintessential Black Nerd for me, but maybe I'm just hoping that Lana Kane makes a BNP reference on Archer someday.
Black Nerd Problems: Zero Year will be available from FreezeRay Press in May 2015. FInd out more about it here.
SOCIAL MEDIA AIN'T ALL BAD DEPARTMENT: A while back, someone was recommending FreezeRay on a Facebook thread when Ellyn Touchette replied, "I should send them my Gene Hackman poems" to which we brightened up and went, "WHAT NOW YES PLEASE", and to our delight, they were wonderful. Ellyn's "Gene Hackman Suite" was published in FreezeRay #4, and from there, your humble editor bugged Ellyn to find out if there were more poems in the suite, enough for a chapbook. Later this year, THE BOOK OF GENE: APOCRYPHA IN FIRST PERSON will be released on FreezeRay Press in all of its Hackman-esque glory. So we sat down with Ellyn to find out more about the process and the origins of how Gene Hackman might just save your life.
1. Okay, the obvious question: Why Gene Hackman?
Okay, for real this time. It had to be someone, and it had to be someone who could get the job done.
2. Did you research Gene before or during the writing of these poems? Were there movies or roles that informed how the poems unfolded? Or is the Gene in your suite a wholly new version than any we've seen before?
When the idea first sort of showed up, my knowledge of Gene Hackman was about on par with anyone else's. The only ~research~ I really did was to try and figure out what kind of a dude Gene Hackman is. My Gene Hackman is kind of this weird melange of his movie roles, (what I gather to be) how he is as a guy, and mostly what he grew into within the space of the narrative. Can I just answer that entire question with a broad-sweeping "yes?"
3. What was the first poem you wrote in the sequence? Did you intend on writing a suite, or did that happen organically through the process?
The first piece I wrote was "Gene Hackman is a Dick at the Farmer's Market." Initially, my friend David (to whom the book is dedicated) and I came up with this idea of an unspecified piece of media/artwork that detailed a day in Portland, Maine with Gene Hackman, wherein he just acts like an asshole around a variety of scenic landmarks. It kept getting weirder as I wrote out more of the story. And that's fine.
4. Were there other poems or suites out there that got you pumped to do this?
Looking back, I've always really enjoyed poems wherein the narrator interacts with a fictionalized and/or internalized version of a celebrity. "Marilyn," by Cheryl Maddalena, comes to mind as a great example. I like fake people with real people's names, because having a good name makes it hard to keep from being real.
5. In a perfect world, Gene Hackman would have a copy of THE BOOK OF GENE in his heavenly hands. What would you want to say to him about the book?
Jesus, I'd be terrified to say anything to him. "I'm sorry," maybe, or "thank you so much." Mostly I'd just kind of hunch over in preparation to be smacked across the face with a book/lawsuit. Maybe I'd try and give him a hug.
You can pre-order THE BOOK OF GENE until January 13th right here!
The first anthology from FreezeRay Press, AGAIN I WAIT FOR THIS TO PULL APART, is based on the theme of musicians in popular culture, ranging from Patsy Cline to Justin Bieber, with plenty of ground covered in-between. When it came time to find an editor who could do this concept justice, it made all the sense to ask Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib, who has made a name for himself by sharing his love of music in poems like "Ode To Biggie" and "At The House Party Where We Found Out Whitney Houston Was Dead".
1. AGAIN I WAIT FOR THIS TO PULL APART is a lyric from a Blink-182 song, and the title you chose for this musician-themed anthology. What is its significance to you? What made that stand out as a encompassing blanket for these poems?
So if I'm being completely honest, my wife Laura picked the title. I decided early on that I wanted to extract a piece of a song lyric to use as a title, and I landed on Blink-182, one of a small handful of bands that both my wife and I have a mutual admiration for. I think (Blink frontman) Tom DeLonge is this interesting, somewhat tragic figure. He existed in this space that was genuinely very needed for a long time. And then he became less needed when so many of us moved out of our parents' houses. He kind of didn't move out with us. There are still Blink-182 posters in my old bedroom that I just never felt the need to take once I started paying my own bills. That said, I still return to Blink-182 because they remind me of a time when I was laying this really weird foundation, trying to figure out how to not suck as a person and still have people think that I'm a little cool. And so, it was that approach that I wanted to take to this collection. I wanted poems from good people. I wanted thoughtful people sending in thoughtful work, and I wanted to make sure the world would think it was cool. Cooler than me, at least. My wife was listening to some Blink-182 songs shortly after I told her I wanted to pull a Blink lyric, and on the song All Of This, the line "Again I wait for this to pull apart / to break my time in two" hit. She just said "I think that's the title." And here we are. That's why she gets paid to teach people.
2. I know your inbox was pretty full during the submission period for AGAIN I WAIT. Were there any overarching qualities in the poems you selected? Were you determined to represent as many different musicians as possible, or was it solely based on the work, or somewhere in-between?
Yeah, what a weird thing for me. I expected I'd get like ten submissions from my friends, would accept them all, and we'd be on our way. I woke up one day with fifteen submissions from the night before, and I nearly had a panic attack. I had to keep reminding myself that it was a real thing. I think the best poems about music aren't ever about the music. I don't know the secret to this. It's easy to hear someone say "Ok, so this poem is about Puff Daddy, but it's really about my dead goldfish", but there are so many poems that don't do that work, even when they think they are. I wanted poems doing that heavy lifting. I wanted poems about love, loss, identity, race, gender...all of those things. I wanted the musical aspect of it to be a backbeat. The best drummers just keep the time. They keep everything together, until they're instructed to do otherwise. I picked poems where I felt like the musical aspect of the poem was merely a timekeeper for the other emotions. So, sure, I wanted as many musicians as possible. Poets write about Kurt Cobain a lot. Poets write about The National a lot. Poets write about Prince a WHOLE lot. But I got really excited seeing some unexpected artists touched on, even though I wanted the artist to be the frame, not the painting itself.
3. Your bio always ends with a variation on "He wants to know your Top 5 Albums of all time" (which you asked our contributors to do as well, and their Top 5s will be in the book accompanying their poems). Are you the kind of music enthusiast who can discern something about a person based on their Top 5? Do you get all High Fidelity when checking out someone's list?
I think I used to be. But now it's a bit exhausting, to exercise it in that way. Sometime around early last year, when that bio/my work spread a bit more, I'd have people coming up to me randomly after shows or whatever, just firing their top 5 albums at me. Which is awesome, but it doesn't really serve the part of that process that I love. I like seeing how people arrive at their top 5s. The end result is cool, but I like the discussion about how we get there. The intimacy before the intimacy, if you will. I LOVED all of the contributors emailing me their top 5s and adding some conversation about why they chose the albums they chose. It's never just one thing. I'm interested in your top 5 albums of all time as they stand on this date, but I also want to know the top 5 albums that you love and don't tell your friends about because I know that's that shit people really want to get out to someone. I feel like if we can talk about that, then I know we're on the right track as music fans. I think that's where the honesty is. I loved seeing people list Nelly and Kelly Clarkson albums in their top 5s. It isn't to say that there's dishonesty in listing The Beatles, I'm just less interested in that discussion today, because I've had it for the past decade and I haven't ever gotten to know anyone better from it. Yeah, you like the Beatles? Cool. So does everyone's unhip uncle. Tell about what you listen to on headphones, praying no one else will hear.
4. The idea of ekphrastic poetry is hardly new. Are there other poems about music that you'd recommend to give readers a sense of what to expect from the upcoming anthology?
I don't know if it will prepare people for the anthology, but Tyehimba Jess has a powerhouse book of poems about Leadbelly (titled Leadbelly), and I think those poems move in the kind of way I was hoping for the poems in this anthology to move. As far as specific poems about music, that book has always been my bible. Blair, the late/great poet from Detroit has a poem called "Little Richard Penniman Tells It Like It T-I-IS". And there's this video of him performing it on the steps of the Motown Museum. I first saw this video in 2011, when I was slowly making the decision to give up journalism for poetry, and it gave my work such a strong permission. It met me with so much thunderous possibility. Blair has a lot of fantastic work that I found after his passing, but I owe that poem a lot. I still use it when giving workshops on how to infuse music into poems without having the music overtake the poem.
5. Finally, it has to be asked: What are your Top 5 Albums of as today?
My top 5 right now? As of this day and hour? Ok, I'll start at the top and work down, because it's just easiest:
1.) The Clash - London Calling
In about 2007, I decided that I just had to pick a definitive greatest album of all time. And I know London Calling isn't perfect, but for the type of music fan I am, I'm not sure if any other album is as complete as it is. Also, it's one of the few "I don't have to justify this shit to you, dude" albums. Those joints you can put in your number one spot and not need to talk to anyone about. That aspect of it is a bonus.
2.) Sleater-Kinney - One Beat
Admittedly, this is largely due to my excitement for their return. But in any more definitive list I've ever made, this is still a top 20 album of all time. The day Sleater-Kinney reunited, I was in a hotel room in Ohio, and I nearly began hyperventilating. I get to see them live for the first time ever next month, and I can't promise anything except for the fact that I'm going to be weeping.
3.) Brand New - The Devil And God Are Raging Inside Me
Brand New's entire discography is a big tug-o-war for me. This is a top 5 album today, might not even be a top 50 album tomorrow. I have these constant internal conversations about how good Brand New REALLY is vs. how good/important I need them to still be due to all of the sadness they rescued me from in college.
4.) Mariah Carey - Daydream
I'm a firm believer in what I call "The Stevie Wonder Rule". It simply states that sometimes, an artist has done enough in their early career to be forgiven for all late-career missteps. I don't know where I come down on Mariah Carey, but I think she's a lot closer to being granted immunity under that rule than not. I've really been overdosing on Mariah's golden era (I'd say from like 1994 until 1999. And then again, very briefly, in 2005) to kind of wash my mind clean of Mariah's present state. In the midst of that incredible run, Daydream is, for me, her most impressive collection of songs. I mean, the "Fantasy" remix alone remains untouchable, and shall remain untouchable until well after I have left this earth and left my children my old Mariah Carey cassette tapes.
5.) Black Sabbath - Paranoid
I really like metal. Like, a whole lot. Problem is, I'm not sure that there are any music fans more difficult to have actual conversations with than metal fans, so I enjoy metal the same way I eat pints of ice cream. Alone, and often times very uncomfortably.
You can pre-order a copy of AGAIN I WAIT FOR THIS TO PULL APART until January 13th HERE.
The FreezeRay Blog! From the hearts and mind of the staff, these are the things that get us geeked. In the best way.