A Semi-Regular Literary Series in Providence, Rhode Island
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
Mystical Ceremonies This Sunday at 6:30
...access to goddesses and the unconscious, for free, alcohol possibly not necessary
Mini-interview with Janaka Stucky
COUSINS: Something really cool about this book is how, for all its sensuousness and fire, the poems seem overall an act (acts) of ceremonial speech...rituals. It does sort of feel as if what enslaves the poems--speaking their death and desire--is also what redeems them... In the context of these thoughts, I found your title particularly fantastic. I wonder if you could talk about why you chose that title?
Janaka: It’s interesting that you picked up on the “ceremonial” act. I wrote these poems back in April of 2009, as part of an exercise for National Poetry Month. So I set out to write a poem a day, but normally I’m not a very prolific writer. Following some advice from a very prolific novelist friend of mine, I created a ritualistic space for myself to write in every night. Now, I think he was talking “ritual” in a very broad sense when he gave me the advice, but I created a complete ritual for myself. I turned off all the lights and lit candles and incense; I poured myself a small glass of chilled vodka, and I just sat in the semi-dark listening to this really ambient, droning doom metal. I also only read one book: a collection of the Nag Hammadi scriptures—or Gnostic “Dead Sea” scrolls. At the same time I was meditating on the Hindu goddess, Kali. So out of all that personal ritual and focus came this very deliberate (and almost transdimensional) act of speech. I’ve considered writing poetry a form of meditation for years, but this was the most overt acknowledgement of that. The title of the book is a direct address to both Kali and the lover that appears as a “you” in many of the poems. There is an annihilation of the Self through love for the Other, whether that’s a spiritual love or a romantic love. That self-death is also totally liberating—so in the Other, in the mantra and the name of the Other, there is freedom from the Self.
COUSINS: Who are your literary cousins, dead and alive?
Janaka: Among my literary cousins I would include Frank Stanford, Bill Knott, kissing cousins Mina Loy & Arthur Cravan, Paul Celan, and S.A. Stepanek (for her trance-written book “Three, Breathing”). Also, Dorothea Lasky and I are developing a school of poetry that we refer to as “psychedelic goth,” but we need a catchy name for it—possibly “gothadelic?” I also like posi-goth, or psygoth…