Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt. Here is the picture in my head for this sentence: a human face with the whitest white skin – this is where people use the word “milky” – translucent, fluorescent in brilliance. An incredibly white human face with its eyes closed. It exudes neither heat nor cold, riding the line somewhere between snow in the sun and August. Just August. August is white and opaque because it’s so hot.
It might be a man’s face.
None of this matters. But I’m putting it out there simply because I hate Kurt Vonnegut, and I wanted to open with this quote of his. Because it’s confounding. Because it’s simple. Because anybody could write it or say it and own it and be called brilliant. And this could be done without a thesaurus or training or credentials or a black and white headshot.
How infuriatingly magnificent is that?
I love the quote because he gave it to us in this way: unfussy. I still hate his books. His face was wonderful to see in the same way that play-dough is good to touch.
I don’t write purple prose anymore. I like the color purple. I like prose. I like “prose” especially because the word sounds like it could be some kind of herb or flower that is perhaps eaten by bears in the early spring to aid digestion. They would be eating it right now. But I try not to abuse either of these anymore. I will not rape the color purple. I will not pick all the proses growing wild in the field. I will not waste water.
I see now that I like words because they can fit anywhere. Simple. Like water. Water can be shaped like anything. Same thing here with language when it’s raw. Fill a jug at the tap and the water is a jug. Words could do this too – “jug” is a word and it’s shaped like a jug. They spill in the same way. They can be fouled with shoes and offal and nonchalance in the same way. Ignored on the banks of a city. We’re not going to do this. Nothing will be purpled or proses together. Here is the article:
Join Sarabande Books at 21c Museum Hotel this coming Monday, March 25th, for this month’s installment of the 21c Reading Series. Fiction writer Frank Bill and poet James Arthur will be featured, and for them we’re going to be shaped like jugs and be full and we’re not going to lose a drop.
Following the release of his latest book and first novel, Donnybrook, local writer Frank Bill will bring guests his gutsy storytelling voice, imparting the unfettered realism of Kentuckiana’s backwoods. The author of the short story collection, Crimes of Southern Indiana, Bill’s work has earned him acknowledgements such as a GQ Favorite Books of 2011 as well as a Best Debut 2011 from Daily Beast.
Also bringing his talents to the table is the author of the collection Charms Against Lightning, poet James Arthur. Currently serving as a Hodder Fellow at Princeton University, James Arthur has published his poetry in the likes of Ploughshares, The American Poetry Review, Poetry and The New Yorker. With an acclaimed debut collection now under his belt as a Lannan Literary Selection, Arthur has also received the Amy Lowell Travelling Poetry Scholarship, a Wallace Stegner Fellowship in Poetry and a Discovery/The Nation Prize. He and Bill will lend their words to the shape of your ear starting at 7:30pm.
I don’t really have anything. Just you. And this here slice of ether – and all that can be filled and stuff. It feels pretty beautiful. I don’t ever see how it could hurt. Simple. Brilliant.
I will write things that are just made of words. And when I drop them they will scatter like bouncy balls in your head and form a picture – I don’t know what kind; maybe a white, white human with closed eyes; go crazy – and your will never suffer the pain of a violent death in a dictionary trying to find what I am trying to give. I will never call you a plebian when I write to you. I love you. I don’t know what in the world I am talking about.
21c Museum Hotel is located at 700 W. Main Street.
Image: Courtesy of Photobucket www.photobucket.com