The Constellation of Ghosts that is poet Daniel Battigalli-Ansell

Daniel Battigalli-Ansell is a poetic contributor to our upcoming issue of Bombay Gin. He is a poet, rapper, and spiritual student. Born and raised in Los Angeles, CA, he moved to Colorado to attend Naropa University where he graduated with degrees in Religous Studies and Traditional Eastern Arts: Tai Chi Chuan. With far-reaching influences, from Nas to Rumi, he draws verbal pictures to captivate the ear and mind. His work ranges a spectrum of content touching on personal, cultural, spiritual, and political themes. Whether on the page or on the mic, this self-defined “word wizard” embraces the power of language to make meaning and convey feeling.

Keep an eye our for his poem Hazrat in Bombay Gin #44.

ERICA HOLLAND: How long have you been writing?

DANIEL BATTIGALLI-ANSELL: The interview answer is I’ve been writing since 4th grade, we had this poetry project and I still remember the first line, which was “Do fiery asteroids break time?” When I was like 9! I still remember something clicked inside of me… I was just like “Woah!” Just creating a thought that I had never thought before, that doesn’t even make sense, but does something to your mind, it takes you somewhere! But that’s kinda bullshit. I really started really writing when I was about 15. I started writing spoken word pieces. When I was 20 I really started getting into slam poetry and knew that’s what I wanted to do, it was awesome, and that’s when I really started writing.

 

EH: Anne Waldman and Ginsberg, the founders of the Kerouac School were amazing performance poets… and all of yours is so spiritually inspired, I am so happy I could interview you for this!

 

DB: I think it’s kinda funny, I always feel like I’m too poetic for rap, and too “rap” for poetry.

 

EH: I love it. I really love the line in your “Skeleton Closet” poem. There was a line in there, “I don’t need pity / pithy pissy poetry is my replacement for crying.” I could hear you say it when I read it, and I think that’s an awesome example of conveying your “rap” voice to a reader. It’s almost impossible not to read aloud. You do a lot of hip-hop and spoken word performance. What’s the difference between hip-hop and written poetry? How do you decide between something spoken versus something printed?

 

DB: I think they basically have different aspects, spoken word can have a whole different realm of intention, rhythm, cadence, how you’re saying things. In spoken, you can create that paradox where you create a tone that isn’t normally fitting to the words you’re saying. I think spoken word has an easier way of expressing words, I’ll perform poems differently based on how I’m feeling.

 

EH: Some poetry is just meant to be performed.

 

DB: I’m really influenced by Sufi poetry, and that was a huge trend, Sufi poets would always but their poetry to music, make their poetry into songs. I don’t think it’s new at all. If you look back into king’s and queen’s courts, and they had musicians playing the harp, and all types of instruments, while the poet was reading or singing their poetry. It’s natural. Allen Ginsberg – I don’t think you can really appreciate his poetry until you hear him read it out loud, it’s so good when he reads it; the page has a different way of expressing things. The page provides its own mediums of conveyance, and spoken word allows for different things. I feel that poetry is meant to be read aloud. I think there’s poetry that doesn’t even sound good or convey itself properly strictly on the page. If you give me any poem I’m not just gonna read it like a book, I read it like there is a voice behind it, and I think that’s one of the skills of page poets, being able to convey a really strong voice without the use of a voice in the physical sense. When I write poetry on a page, I already have a concept of how I would speak it, and I want to bring the reader into that.

 

EH: How do you go about writing? Do you take a lot of notes and then put them together, or do you just sit down and bang it out?

 

DB: It depends. Sometimes poems come really quickly. I just feel some impetus, some stirring inside of me. A lot of the times it’s subconscious or unconscious, a lot of times a first line will come to me and then I just sit down and it comes out. Other times, I’ll start writing and write it over a few days. It’s usually never fragments of things, it’s just sitting down and letting it come. Sometimes there’s some editing, but rarely very much.

 

EH: If a lot of it is subconscious or unconscious, do you feel like you learn a little bit about yourself when you see what comes out?

 

DB: That’s why I love poetry, because it’s revelatory. For me it’s the big difference between normal writing (like when I’m writing an essay or a blog post where it’s something I already know) and poetry. Poetry feels like it’s revealing something to me. Lines will come and I don’t necessarily even know what they mean, or they have a multifaceted meaning. One of the poems I gave you is lots of latent material and dark feelings, just finding expression, so it’s very cathartic — a release. At different times, like with my Hazrat poem, it feels as though another voice is speaking through me, and I just channel that, like I’m not even the voice. My muse writes, I don’t write, I just channel.

 

EH: And you weren’t a lit major, correct?

 

DB: I was not a lit major. I’ve never taken a poetry class. I majored in Religious Studies and Traditional Eastern Arts. Religious poetry has influenced me a lot, and I’ve thought a lot about what Hazrat Inayat Khan says, “Not all poetry is prophecy, but all prophecy is poetry.” Any truly inspired writing or scripture is poetic. The freedom of poetry to juxtapose meaning and words, and create concepts that seem impossible, helps bring about the paradoxical truths of religion and spirituality. In the Zohar, there’s this famous line talking to the emanation of creation, “in a single point, it both broke through and did not break through its aura.” That whole book is incredibly poetic, like, “A high holy king, adorned with adornments, gushed its flows through the ethers.” Reading it is poetry, and I think it just comes out like that because truth is spirally. Poetry is spirally.

 

EH: Let’s talk about our theme, “A Constellation of Ghosts.” One definition of ‘haunt’ is ‘to visit habitually or to appear to frequently.’ What haunts you?

 

DB: Using that definition, it’s a conglomeration of positive and negative things. Fears, regrets, and practical situations that are difficult keep recurring. Bills haunt me [laugh]. But also, things like love haunt me. Truth is the biggest thing that haunts me, the search for truth. Trying to live transparently to what is really true, and not just what I want to believe, is always disrupting my egoic plan. And then obviously there are actual ghosts that haunt me. Demons. The normal things that you would think of. Passion haunts me… I’ll be going to bed, but I just can’t because I need to write. It won’t go away.

 

EH: So you have happy ghosts, too? What’s a happy ghost? I feel like love isn’t always a happy ghost, or truth, because they’re such a struggle.

 

DB: Oh they’re not always happy ghosts. Joy haunts me. It comes up, even in the darkest of moments. It’s definitely been a recurring experience of sinking to depths of darkness and sadness or anger and really sticking with it and feeling it fully, and then it spontaneously transforming into joy. I have a hypothesis to support it, supported by lots of teachings, that joy is our natural state. No matter what’s happening, it’s a joy to exist and to be alive. I get bogged down by all types of fetters, but joy keeps coming up — in dark alleyways and black holes.

 

EH: That sounds like Trungpa’s teaching of basic goodness… so it sounds like you’re saying we could be haunted by our own true nature. It keeps trying to show up in between all the shit we try to cover it up with.

 

DB: Yeah exactly. I think a lot of times we build up so many walls and close ourselves off from our true nature so expertly that we can’t necessarily say our true nature haunts us, because in a certain way we just closed it. A false self and false walls will never truly feel right, because deep inside of us we always know how we really are, and there’s a part of us that hasn’t forgotten, no matter how lost we are. I think it haunts us in that way, but it “haunts” us as a more general feeling of angst or anxiety because we know. It’ll keep poking at us, but I think it’s different if you’re consciously deconstructing those walls, or at least open enough to experiencing truth or true nature.

 

EH: You think your poetry is an expression of your true nature, or a cathartic way for you to get back to it?

 

DB: Both. I really try to not hold myself in any type of state, positive or negative, deep or superficial. I feel like different poetry comes from different places. Some poetry is just very neurotic and it’s expressing neuroses, and some poetry feels like it’s coming from a very deep, wise place that, like I said, doesn’t even necessarily feel like me, it feels like God or something speaking through me. Poetry can be from a contracted place, or an expanded place, from a place of insight, or a place of neurosis. I feel like poetry is just a means to express the entire spectrum of thoughts and feelings. I think that’s something I struggle with as a writer, wanting to be true, and speak truth, and yet at the same time realizing truth is so multifaceted and there are different truths and different perspectives even within a single day. What my truth is can be changing. If I’m standing in line at the DMV, my truth right there is that I’m fucking annoyed that these systems are so inefficient, so I can write a poem that’s just angry rambling against skyscrapers and inefficient paper-people and whatever. And then there can be a moment of really deep peace and solace, and verse could come out of that. So it’s really about trying to represent what feels accurate in the moment, because there are no words that could ever really be the absolute truth. It’s only ever the truth from a single perspective. We have positive and negative and wise and neurotic aspects, so I try to represent all of it, and not hold a value judgment. I think for a lot of history, poetry was solely meant to be beautiful and wise and sweet, but I love poetry that’s like “fuck this, fuck coffee, fuck cigarettes, fuck the man” some Bukowski-cynical shit!” Yeah it’s cathartic, it’s maybe hyperbolic, but it’s all honest in some way.

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Naropa Archive Nugget: Ted Berrigan’s Advice to Young Poets, Plus Two Poems

When beginning to learn about Ted Berrigan, one thing that stands out—alongside his brilliance as a writer—is how well–loved he was among the poetic community. In particular, Berrigan’s presence was highly influential and nourishing to both the St. Mark’s Poetry Project and the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa in their formative years. And though his death in 1983 was a great loss to these communities, and to the world of poetry at large, we’re fortunate to have lots of archival material to ensure Berrigan’s pedagogical performance and conversational voice remains in this world alongside his many volumes of published literary works.

The seven-minute clip presented here includes excerpts from a reading and a lecture given at Naropa in the years 1975 and 1976, respectively. In both these settings, Berrigan’s warmth and candor evokes a sense of camaraderie—or even family.  You may note Berrigan’s dedication of the poem “3 Pages” to Jack Collom—another beloved community member, who we have lost recently—as well as the following line from beyond the grave:

“Have faith, old brother, and I’ll be there when you need me.” 

 

 

We hope you enjoy, and in case you’d like to listen to the full recordings (recommended!), we’re providing those links below:

Ted Berrigan and Diane di Prima reading 6/25/1975

Visiting Poets Academy: Ted Berrigan

 

This Naropa Archive Nugget was brought to you by one of our fabulous graduate editors, Travis Newbill. The Bombay Gin editorial staff is working hard to bring you more fascinating Naropian historical tidbits, straight from our vast archives. Keep checking for more Nuggets, and learn more about the yesteryears of our one-of-a-kind institution and literary journal.

 

Violation Poetics, an interview with Shawnie Hamer

Our Senior Editor, Alexa Chrisbacher, sat down with Shawnie Hamer to explore “the experiment,” lineage, and body and sexuality in writing.

Alexa Chrisbacher: What kind of work do you usually make?  Who are your major influences?  Do you consider your work experimental?

 

Shawnie Hamer: My work tends to lean into trauma and the female body. More specifically, because of my background/upbringing, how dominant constructions have indoctrinated my views of the self, the body, and sexuality.  The things we carry (un)knowingly. Writing about these issues is an act of activism for me, as this trauma is not always exposed. Though my writing often comes from the personal, my hope is that there is a multiplicity within the lines that many female or female identifying voices can relate to.

One of my major influences is Jeanette Winterson’s Written on the Body. I am fascinated how bodies interact with each other in intimate relationships. I believe there is a stigma in modern poetry circles against writing about love, and yet it is the one thing we have in common. I keep it by my bed as a constant reminder of what I hope to accomplish in my work.

Other poets that are really influencing me right now are Bhanu Kapil, Samiya Bashir, and H.D.

Also, my cohort is the biggest influence on my writing. They are brilliant and beautiful and constantly pushing me to find a strength in my writing I didn’t know was possible.

 

 

AC: Are you working on any projects right now?  What are the motivating interests/influences behind it?  What are your visions for the end result?

 

SH: I am working on two big projects right now. The first was started in Bhanu’s Architecture class. It is an experimentation of reframing the “I” and “You” of a romantic relationship through the lens of an architectural structure, more specifically a geodesic dome.

The second project is my critical thesis, which is on a topic very near and dear to me. I am exploring/inventing a term I have titled “Violation Poetics.” This term dissects masculine language, its violation of the female body, and how by creating art the female body, in turn, violates the dominant conventions. I am focusing this theory specifically to populations in conservative/rural areas of the United States. Stay tuned.

 

 

AC: How has the JKS lineage interacted with your writing and other artistic endeavors?  Do you consider yourself part of this lineage, do you think your work is in conversation with it?

 

SH: Part of the lineage of JKS is that of pushing boundaries and leaning into the fray to enact change. It is about community. It is about holding yourself and institutions accountable. In this way, I do consider myself and my work a part of this lineage.

 

 

AC: Every generation of writers is classified into a group (ie Outrider, Beat, New School, etc).  What do you think the state of writing is for this current generation of makers?  How would you and your peeps classify yourselves in the larger scope of poetics and culture?

 

SH: I think this is a tough topic to navigate for a lot of the current generation. There is a desire to be like the writers that many of us have been so influenced by, but there is also an understanding of the issues these groups had. I think it boils down to the fear every artist has had since the beginning of time… we want to be relevant. However, that being said, it’s kind of all bullshit if you really think about it. It’s an illusion. I think my peeps and I would go for the “or not” option. Why should we limit ourselves and our work to a label? We want to write. We are passionate about change. We don’t need a name for that.

 

 

SH: To participate in poetics is to be in conversation with “the experiment,” as defined by each individual and group.  To you, what experiment are you interacting with through your work, practices and creative actions?

 

AC: “The experiment” is such a broad (and sometimes overused) term in modern poetics. I have thought a lot about this and all I can say is, to me, the experiment is subjective. It’s personal. A writer can smear shit and piss over their work and be in conversation with the experiment. A writer can work with traditional sonnets and be in conversation with the experiment. Personally, I find my experiment to be following intuition. Trusting myself and my writing when it needs to go too far, or stop completely. I think the experiment is truly pushing yourself to continue to learn and expand your work. If you think you are an expert and have no need for this anymore, you are involved with the experiment.

Issue #42 to be released unto the world!

We will be launching issue #42 this upcoming Wednesday at this year’s Summer Writing Program Staff Reading. This will be an evening of fantastic readers, the official release of our online content, and the chance to buy your own shiny, new copy of this latest issue. All while hanging out at the beautiful Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art. See the Facebook event page below for more details. Hope to see you there!
 

ONLINE FEATURE: “A TASTE OF GIN: ISSUE FIVE”

A Taste of Gin: issue five

curated by M Shea Lynch, Bombay Gin’s Marketing Co-Editor

bgFeaturing work by: Bruce Bennett, Judith Lavelle, and Jes Lyons

A Taste of Gin Editorial Feature:

Each month (or so) Bombay Gin Literary Journal presents an online feature by one of our editorial board members. We call this: “A Taste of Gin.” These tastes give us, as editors, the opportunity to share our individual artistic and aesthetic visions. We split our Bombay Gin third-mind temporarily in order to show you the nuances, quirks, and concerns we, as an editorial board, comprise. We hope you enjoy these future tastings.

Online Feature-Somatic Book Review of Beast Feast

Somatic Book Review of Beast Feast by Cody-Rose Clevidence

BeastFeastImageCody-Rose Clevidence
Beast Feast
Ahsahta Press
$18


Before beginning, take a butter knife from the kitchen counter drawer and begin to saw off your breasts [or] before beginning, take a butter knife from the kitchen counter drawer and begin to saw off your penis and balls. A steak knife will not do, you really want to feel the irony here of the most delicate weapon in the vicinity causing the highest intensity of pain. DO NOT WASH THE BODY PARTS DOWN THE DISPOSAL ! I instruct you to use them as book marks. You may need time to rest your eyes in between pages, as the content is rather mindfully invigorating, and it will be appropriate while coming back unto a page to have a reminder of the parts of you that did not exists as parts, but as an extension of the whole, before you were so mercilessly dragged through the poetic forrest that is Clevidence’s mind. A book that makes you WORK. Red gatorade is not recommended for hydration, the dye stains your insides and we might need those for later. Water is best, unless you reside in a city where Whole Foods is more rampant than water supply, in which case certified organic coconut water will do (however, do not drink the milk of the actual certified organic coconut, which excessive consumption has in some cases been known to cause diarrhea, which will cause, most obviously, dehydration).
Furthermore, embarrassment is expected once the blood stains swim into abstract pool designs on your respective boob or ball areas, but this book is really not meant to be consumed in the corner crevice of a couch in your mother’s basement. It is meant, obviously, to be experienced in the presence of beasts.
Any preschool will do, really. I recommend volunteering for story-time around page 52. Scream (I do not mean this gently) SCREAM the words into their wild, absurdly bendy little human ears until they are satiated to the point of missing snack time. Before encountering the last page, run! (I do not mean this gently) RUN ! Nearing the end of the last page, you will be, physically, a deformed running beast, captured and consumed by the sticky hands of small beasts, booked marked in time of death by severed breasts and/or balls. This is, arguably so, the preferred state of being for whispering the last line, and truly offers such a visceral perspective for interpretation of the text as a whole.

REVIEW BY MARIE CONLAN

 

 

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ONLINE FEATURE-SOMATIC COMIC REVIEW OF “RAT POISON #4”

Somatic Comic Review of “Rat Poison #4” by Louis S. Whiteford

Louis S. Whiteford
"Rat Poison #4"
Self Published, 2014

For this one, find a primo back alley. The grimier the better. There should be plenty of trash on the ground, broken glass, oil-slicked puddles, abandoned needles; the whole lot. Plant yourself by a dumpster, preferably overflowing, with the most repulsive odor that you can possibly find. You should be unable to avoid deep whiffs of rotting produce, mold, decay. Take a quick look inside, there should be slime: if there’s no slime in the dumpster, move along and find an even filthier spot. This is a gross, dirty comic, and the environ should reflect that.
Light a cigarette. Even if you don’t smoke, just for the ambiance, as an incense of sorts. Light a whole pack on fire if you can, the air should be thick with gray, cancerous fumes. A 40 oz. would help too, getting a good buzz on will probably help with your enjoyment of the comic, but otherwise just sprinkle some malt liquor in a circle around your reading spot, as a sort of ritualistic sealing of the space with the scent of spilled beer, garbage, and smoke.
Now that you’ve settled into the most disgusting, gross space you can find, it’s time to crack open the comic. You’ll immediately be swept up into the wyrd tales contained within: Kelsey Grammar leading a bleak existence on a secluded vineyard; pissed off queer punks yelling at bourgeois children; fucked up scientists creating murderous, mutant animals with an insatiable thirst for beer and cocaine. Really gross, disgusting stuff; if you were able to manage to keep your dinner down over the sights and scents of the back alley haunt you’ve established for the reading, good luck making it from one cover to the other without retching at the contents within. The stories all tangled up with each other, no victories for any of the characters, misanthropy abounds, great for a wistful punk on a quiet evening who digs hanging around trash and being a trash person.

REVIEW BY ROBBY FRIEDLEN

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Online Feature-Somatic Book Review of The First Bad Man

Miranda July book review coverSomatic Book Review of Miranda July’s The First Bad Man

Miranda July
The First Bad Man
Scribner
$16

Before reading Miranda July’s The First Bad Man, set up an airbnb or couchsurf account. Host someone younger and more attractive than yourself, preferably of the same sex.
The night before they arrive, put on a pair of sweatpants. Sit on the sofa and eat half a box of Oreos. Feel gross.
Put on a kickboxing video. Watch it while eating a few more Oreos. Watch another. Eat more Oreos.
Open the book. It is preferred that this reading takes place in one sitting. If one is to get up, it should only be to further stuff his or her face, to further the feeling of self-disgust. Occasional longer breaks may be taken, but only if they are used to watch another kickboxing video. Or, if that gets tiring, watching Jillian Michaels is fine.
Fall asleep on the couch in your own filth.
In the morning, be sure to arrange the house or apartment very meticulously. Put everything in its place. Make sure it is spotless. Have more fitness/fighting videos on in the background while this happens. Make sure to be constantly eating junk food. This is important.
When your guest arrives, act very awkward. Eventually, start a fight. Use the moves you learned in the videos. Be jealous of how attractive they are. Feel inferior.

REVIEW BY SHY WATSON

ONLINE FEATURE-MICRO BOOK REVIEW OF GO FIND YOUR FATHER/ A FAMOUS BLUES

Go-Find-Your-Father-300x113Micro Book Review of Go Find Your Father/ A Famous Blues by Harmony Holiday

Go Find Your Father/ A Famous Blues
Harmony Holiday
                                                       Gold Line Press 
                                                       $16

Harmony Holiday’s Go Find Your Father/A Famous Blues is a curious compendium of mesmerizing montages derived from memory, nimbly memorializing a melodious, near musical-refrain, “imagining is remembering”, that creates an indelible, sonorous and syncretic impact on the reader’s mind. Holiday injects a generous modicum of vigorous energy in the text by tracing the roots of the Black myth through the ages and compiling a mythopoeic, subtly revelatory web of entrancing yarns, gutting and riveting in equal measure, authentic, raw, polyvalent and streaked with glorious nostalgia. Holiday’s various moods as borne by her authorial persona, her delicate, dexterous, deifying epistolary epistles, despite mythologizing and edifying her father, Jimmie Holiday, to at times caricaturish and stilted proportions, imbuing the ongoing psychodrama with unnecessary bathos, magnificently succeeds in evoking the grandeur of a bygone era. It is in the meticulous creation of a fascinating world of blues, the contextualizing of a girl’s psychic journey in the intricate tapestry of a surcharged musical ethos, that Holiday transcends the spatio-temporal limits imposed by the text on the page. Holiday effortlessly weaves together a world out of the ambiguous fruits of mutative memory, enthralling the reader with anecdotal references, charming poetic fallacies, paeans replete with fantastic lore, and a synesthetic text that bleeds into music.

REVIEW BY ANEESHA ROY

GROOVY TIMES WITH BOMBAY GIN! FUNDRAISER EXTRAVAGANZA 11/24/15

Fundraiser Flyer

LIVE MUSIC * REFRESHMENTS * PRIZES

Come through and help support Bombay Gin!

Raffle Items include:

-$25 gift card to Trident Booksellers and Café

-signed copies of Brooke Gessay McNamura’s Feed Your Vow: Poems for Falling into Fullness, Sarah Schantz’s Fig, Richard Froude’s Fabric, Reed Bye’s Fire for Thought The Lune, Vol.1, No. 5

-records donated from Bart’s Record Shop

-Sean Fields Magazine copies

& more!

Silent Auction Items include:

-1:1 writing consultation with Anne Waldman

-2 hour card reading by Selah Saterstrom

-One Saturday in either Ritual Winter or Elemental Spring Workshop

-1:1 writing consultation with Reed Bye

-Custom essential oil blend (perfume,spray, or tincture)

-Life Skills coaching session for stressed writers

& more!