YesYes

acehotel:

Portland, OR

INTERVIEW: DANNIEL SCHOONEBEEK

Danniel Schoonebeek’s poems take back roads and veins to an American place filled with secrets in your ear. Where the barn behind you is lit with the most eerie Gregory Crewdson-like light.  

Last Saturday Ace New York hosted Bound by Chance. Danniel wasn’t there, but his words were. People used them to make stories and bound those stories into pamphlets. Tonight, Danniel reads from his book in Portland at Crema Coffee + Bakery before he sails back home to Brooklyn. It’s going to be an after hours poetry party. 

You recently completed a poetry tour in support of your first book, American Barricade (YesYes Books). Independent musicians tour all the time to support themselves. What was the experience like as a poet?

When I was seventeen I left high school and toured in a van with four other guys. We were a band, I was the drummer, and we toured the country for a few months, living in the van with our instruments. What’s startling to me is that I did this again ten years later. This time I was alone, I was reading my poems and not hitting a snare, and I took the trains across America instead of riding in a van. The tours were alike in that they were both these depleting, chaotic bursts in which you learn more about yourself than you knew was possible. You aren’t working hard enough are the words I came away with when I was seventeen. Our last date on that tour was at CBGB’s, and there was this holy feeling like we’d arrived. But nobody gave a shit about our songs, not the bands, not the people. I think that experience taught me that you have to demand to be heard, like a list of demands is heard in a hostage situation, and that list of demands is work. 

The tour I just finished leaves me to this day with jubilee. In some ways it was like playing a chess match against my own life. I’d just been kicked out of my apartment, I’d just been laid off, the love life was in the gutter. I booked the tour myself, no agents, no help from my publisher. I needed to see if a poet could do it alone. Friends came out to read and see me off, let me sleep on their floors. Strangers opened their doors to me, handed me their keys, helped me hunt down venues. These people are part of my life now, and they handed me small tokens along the way, tchotchkes and mementos, a little scratch some nights. The trains are their own crash course in how much American disgust you can tolerate within yourself. If you don’t have the constitution within yourself to wash your hair in the sink on a moving train, or deal with drunks, or fall asleep hungry on a dinner of tic-tacs, don’t get on the trains. But there was something unbelievable about waking up on the train, feeling like shit, drinking a styrofoam cup of coffee, and watching the landscape of America peel away outside while you’re surrounded by all these families and drifters and bulleting your way to a poetry reading in a different city each night. It was like not being a citizen anymore. 

I’m finishing a book about this last tour and that’ll come out soon. I’m working with two editors who are challenging the work and pushing it in directions I’m thrilled about. I can’t say who yet, but it’s coming. It’s called C’est La Guerre

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acehotel:

Portland, ORINTERVIEW: DANNIEL SCHOONEBEEK
Danniel Schoonebeek’s poems take back roads and veins to an American place filled with secrets in your ear. Where the barn behind you is lit with the most eerie Gregory Crewdson-like light.  
Last Saturday Ace New York hosted Bound by Chance. Danniel wasn’t there, but his words were. People used them to make stories and bound those stories into pamphlets. Tonight, Danniel reads from his book in Portland at Crema Coffee + Bakery before he sails back home to Brooklyn. It’s going to be an after hours poetry party. 
You recently completed a poetry tour in support of your first book, American Barricade (YesYes Books). Independent musicians tour all the time to support themselves. What was the experience like as a poet?
When I was seventeen I left high school and toured in a van with four other guys. We were a band, I was the drummer, and we toured the country for a few months, living in the van with our instruments. What’s startling to me is that I did this again ten years later. This time I was alone, I was reading my poems and not hitting a snare, and I took the trains across America instead of riding in a van. The tours were alike in that they were both these depleting, chaotic bursts in which you learn more about yourself than you knew was possible. You aren’t working hard enough are the words I came away with when I was seventeen. Our last date on that tour was at CBGB’s, and there was this holy feeling like we’d arrived. But nobody gave a shit about our songs, not the bands, not the people. I think that experience taught me that you have to demand to be heard, like a list of demands is heard in a hostage situation, and that list of demands is work. 
The tour I just finished leaves me to this day with jubilee. In some ways it was like playing a chess match against my own life. I’d just been kicked out of my apartment, I’d just been laid off, the love life was in the gutter. I booked the tour myself, no agents, no help from my publisher. I needed to see if a poet could do it alone. Friends came out to read and see me off, let me sleep on their floors. Strangers opened their doors to me, handed me their keys, helped me hunt down venues. These people are part of my life now, and they handed me small tokens along the way, tchotchkes and mementos, a little scratch some nights. The trains are their own crash course in how much American disgust you can tolerate within yourself. If you don’t have the constitution within yourself to wash your hair in the sink on a moving train, or deal with drunks, or fall asleep hungry on a dinner of tic-tacs, don’t get on the trains. But there was something unbelievable about waking up on the train, feeling like shit, drinking a styrofoam cup of coffee, and watching the landscape of America peel away outside while you’re surrounded by all these families and drifters and bulleting your way to a poetry reading in a different city each night. It was like not being a citizen anymore. 
I’m finishing a book about this last tour and that’ll come out soon. I’m working with two editors who are challenging the work and pushing it in directions I’m thrilled about. I can’t say who yet, but it’s coming. It’s called C’est La Guerre. 
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leslumflower:

Danez Smith - “Genesissy”

"On the twelfth day, Jesus wept in the mirror, mourning how his sons would shame his sons for walking a daughter’s stride."

Dancing (in bed) with White men (with dreads) by Danez Smith

poemswap:

As published in MUZZLE Magazine.  Listen to the poem here.

Forgive me Audre Lorde, I have sinned
but we both could give a damn about that.

Forgive me Lorde, the master’s tools
brought my house down. I begged him with my own hands.

I’ve been floorboards, wing nuts
& slow blues at his pale hard feet, his full moon flesh

my new moon flesh, waxed nights
of bloodcandles, wince, grazing teeth & no history

until morning, ruined by his glued, yarned experiment
at our natural, his braided unwashed attack against our tentacled blaze

is pulled sugar to my mouth. Lorde, he doesn’t know
how long it takes to look the mirror in the eye, love what the world won’t.

Lorde, forgive me for not grabbing the shears,
forgive me the night I let him stay in my bed after

he said race wasn’t real, for harboring
him in our earth caked skin & not making him walk

to the store, around the store,
drive anywhere while he was covered in our brown bright hand-me-down.

Lorde, there are brown boys I never called back,
sweet as God, gorgeous sun descended men, perfect & plump

but none of them made me fail
as joyous, none of them so undid my spine’s subtle tension,

I don’t want to tell you none of them
went to college, but it’s true. Lorde, we just didn’t relate past our hued past

& isn’t that what uppity people say?
Is the new spelling of my name T-O-M? Does it matter anymore?

I want to tell you about the president,
but not what some say about him. I don’t want to tell you about being 4

& playing with white barbies,
about going to college in a small town, about rent

& the men who paid it for a while,
their wrinkling ghosting bodies, about who lives in Brooklyn,

about Chicago & how she bled,
and that Davis boy or how ain’t nothing changed & nothing hasn’t,

this half dream world, good enough utopia, & still,
his hair. Lorde, what is your word? He’s in my bed, dreads splayed,

taking up too much space.
Audre, gravity is pulling me everywhere. I sit on the edge,

if I fall, I not sure where I’ll go.

this is what you can expect from our ello presence. 

this is what you can expect from our ello presence. 
nope. fuck that. your body is still your body. your arms still wings,
your mouth still a gun. you tragic monster, misfiring bird.
you have all you need to be a hero. don’t save the world,
but do save yourself. when prayer doesn’t work: dance, fly, fire.
—Danez Smith (danezsmith) , from "Director’s Note: a note on the body for my 20 year old self," published in alice blue (via myshoesuntied)
alternate names for black boys by Danez Smith

1.   smoke above the burning bush
2.   archnemesis of summer night
3.   first son of soil
4.   coal awaiting spark & wind
5.   guilty until proven dead
6.   oil heavy starlight
7.   monster until proven ghost
8.   gone
9.   phoenix who forgets to un-ash
10. going, going, gone
11. gods of shovels & black veils
12. what once passed for kindling
13. fireworks at dawn
14. brilliant, shadow hued coral
15. (I thought to leave this blank
       but who am I to name us nothing?)
16. prayer who learned to bite & sprint
17. a mother’s joy & clutched breath

For me, the body is too sacred not to include in poetry. Most of my poems start in the body, often coming from something physical that then inspires the words to come about. I think dance and movement is a thing of my life, not necessarily in a formal sense, but in a ‘I dance all around the house and on the bus stop’ sense. If I am to accurately write my world, then my poems must dance, they must sweat and get weak in the knees. Also, I hate the gym, so I make my poems do some cardio for me.
—Danez Smith, interviewed by Jason Bayani for Berkeley Slam (via bostonpoetryslam)
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