How have online literary journals affected the way you read poetry?
Online literary journals allow me to more easily encounter an intense level of diversity. Styles, techniques, traditions, forms: all kinds of crazy words up the wazoo, and all right next to each other to boot. It's incredible, and reminds me how infinite poetry is, and how many poets there are writing it. It's daunting, but also fantastic in the sense of support and community. The inspiration of like minds (all trying to do different things). And with that, online journals also steer me into reading more books. The online encounter of someone incredible leads to searches and purchases.
What would Philadelphia be like without Paul Siegell?
Philly would be 1/6 millionth quieter. It'd be 1/6 millionth less conceptual, less quirky. It'd be 1/6 millionth less narcissistic and less secure. There would also be 1/6 millionth less of the stench of farts.
Wild Life Rifle Fire may not take long to read, but it stays with you--inside your head--all day. All week. Longer even. It's a book that one often wants to revisit. How long did you spend working on WLRF? Which piece from WLRF was the one that started it all?
Thank you for your kind words (and this interview). They are greatly appreciated. Wild Life Rifle Fire was so much fun to write and I'm glad it has an impact. Tuesday, September 8th, 2009 was the day it all started and Otoliths Books released it on Sunday, February 21st, 2010.
It was the morning after the long Labor Day weekend, with me seeking that wrestle and peace of writing something well, and I looked up on a weirdness: I had "ZOOM IN" typed in Helvetica on my screen, a headline for some ad at my marketing department job. I increased the point size a bit but I went too far and it was too much for the margins and then Word broke the line to reveal: "ZOO / M IN." Cue eureka. (Animals in captivity + zooming in makes something larger, but this says minimize.) I fell in love immediately and that, as if a meditation, would become the first page of the book. (Side note: the Disco Biscuits' "Digital Buddha" was playing when all that happened.) I hit print and took "ZOO / M IN" home to show my fiancee. She took one look and said, "Make more."
What was your most played album of your high school years?
9th grade: Pearl Jam Ten and Nirvana Nevermind.
10th grade: Blind Melon Blind Melon, Soul Asylum Grave Dancers Union and Tool Undertow.
11th grade: Counting Crows August and Everything After, Green Day Dookie and Grateful Dead American Beauty.
12th grade: Blue Traveler Four, Nirvana MTV Unplugged in New York, Phish Junta and Bob Marley Legend.
If you'd asked about middle school, I'd have said 2 Live Crew As Nasty As They Wanna Be. (What? Sicko.)
Have any of your favorite concerts coincidentally transformed into some of your favorite poems?
From Poemergency Room, "04.06.06 - the Greyboy Allstars - TLA, PA." A buddy of mine who never dances at shows danced his ass of that night.
From jambandbootleg, "SET 1" is an amalgamation of pretty much every PHiSH show I've ever been lucky enough to attend. That's a pretty special poem for me. "11.17.05 - Galactic - TLA, PA" is a great, crescendo-ing opening poem for a reading. "10.19.96 - PHiSH - Marine Midland Arena, NY" is me at my most, er, ridiculous at a show. And "12.03.05 - Iron & Wine w/ Calexico - Electric Factory, PA" is central to the story of how my fiancee and I got together. Highlights!
From the someday forthcoming Trombone Bubble Bath, "05.05.07 - Jonathan Freilich, Skerik, Stanton Moore, Todd Sickafoose & Mike Dillon - Chickie Wah Wah, NOLA" is a poem in the shape of a saxophone, and when I read it I get to produce an energetic and powerful tone, so it's a really fun poem for me to read aloud. It's the kind of poem I throw my hip into.
Tell me more about Trombone Bubble Bath. Is that the only new project on the horizon?
The next big thing is Trombone Bubble Bath, which is currently in manuscript. (((Who's got my publisher?))) Look for poems to go down the left margin, look for some sonnets, and also, sculpted by the spacebar, poems in the shape of a raven, a trumpet, a sax, an old STS9 sticker, Roger Waters on his bass, and a few other kaleidoscopic offerings that I'm very excited about.
I'm also all up in a manuscript called Take Out Delivery. It's completely different than anything I've ever done. Short bursts of (hopefully) bigness. The series started coming outta me in August 2010, and poems from it have been finding homes in places like Dark Sky Magazine, Everyday Genius and No Tell Motel.
Yeah, it's always good to have something to work on, you know? Poems to write and revise, poems to submit. A purpose. I'm looking forward to seeing where all this is going, and I'm incredibly grateful that there's a reader or two out there sharing in this experience with me.
Paul Siegell is the author of three books of poetry: wild life rifle fire (Otoliths Books, 2010), jambandbootleg (A-Head Publishing, 2009) and Poemergency Room (Otoliths Books, 2008). Trailers of these books are yours for the viewing [here]. Paul is an editor at Painted Bride Quarterly, and has contributed to American Poetry Review, Black Warrior Review, Rattle, and other fine journals. He has also been featured in the Philadelphia City Paper, Paste Magazine, Relix Magazine and elsewhere exciting. Kindly find more of Paul's work ReVeLeR @ eYeLeVeL.