Monday, August 08, 2005

About "Sometimes Sinister"

Sometimes Sinister is the tentative title of the longer poetry project that I am working on. It's a series of poems that is designed to tell a story. My goal with these poems is not necessarily to explore each second of the plot in great detail, but rather to poetically explore the thoughts of the protagonist as the plot winds on. I am making some significant progress, though it is hard to gauge exactly how many poems I still need before I am done the series because I have not been writing the poems in a linear manner. That is to say that I have been writing poems and deciding after they are written whereabouts on the plotline they belong. As I have accumulated more and more poems for the series I have found myself wanting to explore certain points in the plotline with the poems a bit more.

I won't give away the plot just yet, but what I do want to talk about is how the series of poems itself is an attempt on my part at writing something darker and more sinister than what I have typically written and performed for audiences in the past. That's part of the reason why I have tentatively titled the series Sometimes Sinister. The title descibes the plot line of the poems, especially the nature of the relationship between the protagonist and the woman he loves and at the same time it wants to describe my body of work as a whole.

The idea for attempting a project such as this came to me earlier this year. I attribute it to the culture that I have surrounded myself with and I think it might be pertinent to talk about some of my strongest influences.

1.) Nunt by: Mingus Tourette - This collection of poetry really taught me a lot as I was reading it. First and foremost I learned that there is no need to censor one's self when it comes to writing poetry. Really, I was probably saying that a long time before I ever read Nunt, but as much as I said that there was always a degree of restraint that I exercised for fear of alienating my audience. Nunt really put the whole idea of restraint into perspective. Tourette's brutality and his stark images created something that was truly beautiful, something that brutality and stark images shouldn't create, but there you have it. That's just what he did. He took grit and made jewelry of it. Secondly, there was a narrative style to the poems in Nunt that got through a lot and didn't get muddled with too much flowery language, making for a book of poetry that didn't alienate me as a reader. There definitely needs to be more books like Nunt

2.) Johnny The Homicidal Maniac by: Jhonen Vasquez - The antihero of Jhonen Vasquez's graphic novel (is this considered a graphic novel) is to be lauded, at least by me for the purposes of Sometimes Sinister. What Vasquez has done is create a protagonist who is as violent as he is complex. I wish I could do half as much with my protagonist with poetry as Vasquez did with Johnny The Homicidal Maniac in panels. I should be that fortunate.

3.) Fight Club by: Chuck Palahniuk - Anybody who knows me knows that I'm a huge Chuck Palahniuk fan, having turned a lot of my friends on to his writing over the years. In actuality I could have probably named any one of his works as an influence and I'm sure that most, if not all, have influenced me here in some small way, but Fight Club deserves special designation here because what I culled from my multiple readings of the book and multiple viewings of the movie is a lyrical style that can be graceful while it's being gritty. Chuck Palahniuk has an attention to detail that is almost clinical and it makes for a vivid reading experience. I would love to be able to use refrain like Palahniuk can use refrain.

Those are my primary literary influences. Certainly I could have extended this list to include a great number of other books. Who knows? Maybe I'll post this and just remember another title or two that absolutely has to be included here and I'll have to go back and redraft the post to incorporate them. I'm going to call this a post for now and when I get one done I will post a mix of songs that I listen to to get me in the mood for writing the poems in the series. There is one song that sort of triggered me to sit down and start writing that goes by the name "Someone's In The Wolf" by Queens of the Stone Age if you want one track to check out right now. There are other songs, though, and I'll get back to you with those.

My intention is for this to be the first of a series of updates on my progress with the project. Hopefully, this will give me incentive to stick with it and not let it fall by the wayside like I do with so many other things in my life.

For now, though, good night and I'll post for you again soon.


Anonymous said...

Sounds intruiging, Michael. I'd like to read/hear more of this project. Interesting.

Anonymous said...

Sorry...that last comment was me.

Michael said...

Thank you. It's also a bit liberating right now because I have a different perspective to write from than my own all the time. Not that writing from my own perspective is difficult, it's just that it was getting old. Nicer for a change of pace to make something up and roll with it.