Warrior of Light

NOMADIC SURREALISM, the green monk

As an immigrant in America I was obsessed with ninjas and invisibility. Also pink hot dogs. I was no good with baseball but liked the slap of the leather. My first pair of American sunglasses were made of gold plastic. Every journal entry ended with I am a warrior of light.

Here is the poem. From my book The Green Monk. Forthcoming from Boiler House Press in November 2018.

BRIGHT EYES BURNING LIKE FIRE

MARCUS SLEASE POETRY, NOMADIC SURREALISM, the green monk

Did you watch Watership Down, the cartoon, as a wee lad or lass? Was it scary? I think it is still scary. The theme song, with its chorus of bright eyes burning like fire, still haunts me.

How about Roland Rat? Roland Rat with the floppy doll of my brother before we immigrated to the U.S.

Hop aboard the magic boat to childhood. Prose poems, from my book The Green Monk, forthcoming from Boiler House Press on 5th November 2018:

https://soundcloud.com/jjmars/poems-for-the-elephants

Prose poems originally published by The Elephants

TEN POEMS FROM THE GREEN MONK AT FLULAND

MARCUS SLEASE POETRY, NOMADIC SURREALISM, the green monk

Fluland published 10 of my nomadic surrealist stories/prose poems from my book The Green Monk (forthcoming from Boiler House Press on 5th November 2018). Some Las Vegas immigrant stories. Gold chains and french kissing. Aliens and fig leaves. German Edelweiss hidden in bibles. And much more!

Thank you Fluland!!

Check ’em out over here:

http://www.fluland.com/2017/05/10/ten-poems-marcus-slease/

 

 

DALI AND LONDON MUSTARD IN STOCKHOLM REVIEW OF LITERATURE

MARCUS SLEASE POETRY, NOMADIC SURREALISM, the green monk

I have two prose poems in The Stockholm Review of Literature from my book of surrealist prose poems.

The book is called The Green Monk. Forthcoming from Boiler House Press on November 5th 2018.

One of the poems is based on Dali painting. The other based on a late night in London.

They are called “Burning Giraffe” and “Mustard City”

You can check ’em out here:

https://thestockholmreview.org/the-stagnelius-section/poetry-by-marcus-slease/

 

 

NOMADIC SURREALIST STORIES WITH MUSIC

Grzegorz Wroblewski Poetry, MADRID POETRY, MARCUS SLEASE POETRY, NOMADIC SURREALISM

https://nevermindthebeasts.bandcamp.com/album/never-mind-the-beasts

Folk surrealism. Experimental electronic. Magical realism. Immigrant stories. Outsider art. A journey!!

A collaboration between UK musician Stephen Emmerson and Madrid-based writer and performer Marcus Slease.

Available over at Bandcamp:

https://nevermindthebeasts.bandcamp.com/album/never-mind-the-beasts

 

(album cover by outsider artist Grzegorz Wroblewski)

IMPROV JAZZ WITH POETRY FROM THE BATHTUB

NOMADIC SURREALISM, the spirit of the bathtub

When Ewa and I first arrived in Madrid, Christian Pérez, his wife Megan, and their son Oscar welcomed us. Showed us around their neighbourhood of La Latina, lollies and neighbourhood festivals with sweet meats, up on their rooftop terrace, an introduction to mighty fine Spanish olives, wine, and cheese. And much much much more. They are great friends!!

Christian is a terrific musician, so versatile and expansive and curious with his instrument, it is more than an instrument, both Ewa and I love attending his performances. One of the first ones we experienced, and experienced is the right word, it is fully immersive, you feel it with your whole body, expansive, was at the old tobacco factory, a kind of network of cave street art and music, a lively place, and Christian and other musicians collaborated with dancers, improv, the dancers moved in and out of the instruments, around them like snakes, slithering and bendy, it was all very sensual, and also beautiful.

Last Sunday, 3rd June 2018, Christian played some terrific improv/free jazz with some visiting avant-garde musicians from Canada, Francois Carrier and Michel Lambert, and it was a spaceship, my pineal gland was vibrating.

The concert was at Cafe El Despertar, one of my very favourite places in Madrid for experimental music, tons of pictures of various legendary jazz musicians on the walls, and the room for concerts is intimate and cosy, there is direct interaction with audience and musicians, a nook.

At the beginning of their second set, Christian invited me on stage to read my balloon poems, from my latest book The Spirit of the Bathtub, an improv collaboration with these stellar musicians. It is just what the doctor ordered, feeling that energy, something larger than small mind self, by the time I started the second poem I was letting go, feeling the hula hoop, it is the best kind of nomadic travel. I am still riding those waves!

jazz poster madrid 3rd June 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

IF LANGUAGE IS A FINGER THAN WHAT IS THE MOON?

BUDDHISM, NOMADIC SURREALISM, the spirit of the bathtub

My writing is part of a life practice, using language as a means of travel, being in the flow, letting go. Language in motion, not attempting to impart stale or static knowledge. Maybe language is a little bit like a finger. If language is the finger, then what is the moon? The moon is a great mystery. Do not mistake the finger for the moon. Or vice versa. My writing attempts to travel with those great mysteries, to the moon, or other places, without clinging, or judging what is appropriate, better or worse. The Spirit of the Bathtub is part of that great mystery. It is, essentially, a spiritual book of nomadic surrealist travel. In the expansive tradition. Sometimes minimalist like Basho. Sometimes narrative and parable like.

If you listen to Alan Watts and other American Buddhist dharma talks, they often talk about expanding, rather than constricting. What does it mean? We all feel it, in one way or another, the tightening in the mind and body from various obligations, fears, and worries. The natural response is to cling, try to hold on. For example, as a teacher, I sometimes think in order to create a good lesson I need a lot of planning, and also anxiety, before entering the classroom. I have to prepare myself for the unexpected. But does the anxiety really help? Are my lessons more effective when I am anxious beforehand? It seems when I am in a more open and expansive state, some call this being in the flow, I am also more likely to complete various tasks more effectively, including writing and teaching. Of course, most importantly, the quality of my life is also better.

Many of us, in one way or another, have to deal with anxiety. My anxiety is very high. I used to take various prescriptions for severe anxiety, among other mental health issues, but stopped taking them in 2007. It is not easy but I felt they were no longer useful. Cognitive behavioural therapy is sometimes helpful. But I often feel I have a long way to go in dealing with my anxiety. It is a practice. I have to find ways of letting go. How to let go, in a skilful way? Without either repressing the emotions or feeding the anxiety by expressing it? Sometimes I need to allow for anger, and that is something I am still working on. How to express anger in a healthy way. I rarely express any anger. I just internalise it. I am afraid if I express anger, or any other so-called negative emotion, I will feed it. So how to let go? I am most happy in the moment, not holding onto anything, not clinging, being in the flow in an alert observational state, but this takes practice, without clinging to ideas of the “correct” outcome, and sometimes it takes expressing my “negative” emotions in order to let go.

In Alan Watts book,The Wisdom of Insecurity, he explains the often repeated story of the finger and the moon:

“It is like when someone points his finger at the moon to show it to someone else. Guided by the finger, that person should see the moon. If he looks at the finger instead and mistakes it for the moon, he loses not only the moon but the finger also. Why? It is because he mistakes the pointing finger for the bright moon.”

Poetry is part of my life practice, but it is only the finger pointing to the moon, bright and radiant. If language is the finger then what is the moon? It is the great mystery. It is  original mind. Beyond good and evil.

 

 

 

 

WHAT IS PLAY YR KARDZ RIGHT?

MARCUS SLEASE POETRY, NOMADIC SURREALISM, Play Yr Kardz Right

Las Vegas had a show on the telly, it was exotic and foreign, hard to imagine, and we were going there, as immigrant pioneers, for a better life, like immigrants and migrants the world over, changing their languages and also adding to the host languages, the big mixing bowl, maybe.

Play Yr Kardz Right, my book from underground press Dostoyevsky Wannabe, is a radical venture. Creative spelling for word textures, in the mouth, and also for the eye. Also the voice is often of a child, although not always, and the child is from another planet, a stranger in a strange land.

Dostoyevsky Wannabe, one of the most vital underground presses in English, made a wee mix tape for the book.

The music is part of the journey. Some of the songs are from experiences as a recent immigrant to the United States in the 80s. Rocky the movie had a song that repeated living in America over and over. It was showy, this new land, and more direct, unabashed, I needed to develop something called gumption. There was also Sugarhill Gang (Jump on It) and it was one my favourites. It made me want to become a better dancer, and maybe, later, learn to breakdance, like so many of the other immigrants in the apartment complex. There are other songs too. Some more recent ones, from living in London, like Grime, and further back while living in the Northwest of the U.S. with the story of an artist from Daniel Johnston, and many others.

There is an outsider artist mentality at work in Play Yr Kardz Right, observing, but also participating from a distance. I think the music of this mixtape gets at some of the tones and emotions of Play Yr Kardz Right. Play Yr Kardz Right is part naive art, but also part of other arts too, a mix of many, a hybrid, not pure, not fully anything, and in some ways anti-poetry, via Nicanor Parra, also primitive, another kind of nomadic surrealism.

Playing your kardz right, the highs and low, good luck, bad luck, it keeps spinning, the wheel of samsara.

 

 

 

 

 

WHAT IS A POLISH BEAVER?

MARCUS SLEASE POETRY, NOMADIC SURREALISM, the spirit of the bathtub

Twice a year my partner and I visit Katowice, Poland. At Christmas and also during the summer. It is a great time to visit Ewa’s family and it is also partly my writing retreat. I feel at home there even though my Polish is still basic. Like any forever beginner, I can of course understand a lot more Polish than I can speak. Someday I will speak better. I also lived in Poland for a number of years, in various parts of the country, and I feel connected to Poland, but per usual with every country, I am also an outsider. Occupying the outsider position is a good place to be, with the right mind.

One Christmas, it must have been 2012, there was magic snowman, with over 100 lights, and I sat next to the snowman, in my own mini room, tucked away to the side of the living room of Ewa’s parents. There was no door, but it was a nice writing nook. I sat on a nice hardwood rocking chair and took out my notebook. I was reading a lot of so-called Alt Lit back then (although that label, like most, encompasses a lot of very different writers). It was the big peak of so-called Alt Lit writing. Writers such as Chelsea MartinSam Pink, Melissa Broder, and many others. I finally felt like the writing I had been writing and reading, absurdist, sometimes surrealist, and often plainspoken, sometimes broadly confessionalist, had a larger community. Previously, closer to my generation, there were other writers with some similar inclinations as the so-called Alt Lit writers, and I was drawn to their writing very early. Poets like Matthew Rohrer and Dorothea Lasky and  Zachary Schomburg.

I was never at the centre of that Alt Lit community, but I attempted an essay/review entitled The New Poetics of Confession. The Alt Lit community had a lot of potential, as well as problems that led to its demise. It was good to feel that potential. That aliveness. Art outside the walls of various academies/universities. Something fresh. It all dissolved, as most artistic communities are prone to dissolve, with quite a bit of controversy. But no matter. Many of the writers associated with that largely online community have continued writing some interesting work.

So there I sat, with my notebook and pen, Christmas 2012 in Katowice, Poland, writing a nomadic surrealist prose poem. It all came at once. The voice and the story/lines. This doesn’t happen often. Usually there are years of tinkering and collaging. But it was a whole birth. It feels nice to be written though completely, to lose yourself. The radio of Orpheus speaking through you, as Jack Spicer would say.

It was also the Christmas my sister sent me a t-shirt. In Utah there is small town called Beaver, it is very famous, and my sister sent me one of their famous t-shirts for Christmas. I was wearing that t-shirt, in that little compartment, rocking on the wooden chair with my notebook, feeling the heat from the snowman with 100 lights, and remembering the dancing from the previous night, at Ewa’s brother, with Gangnam style. Gangnam style was sweeping all the nations, and I was feeling it. The birth of the Polish beaver.

Here is a reading of that prose poem/story, “I Love Beaver,” from my new book The Spirit of the Bathtub

 

 

 

HOW TO GIVE BIRTH IN A HOLE

MARCUS SLEASE POETRY, NOMADIC SURREALISM

A few years ago The National Poetry Library in London invited me to record a poem. I decided to read my poem”The Fly“.

 

After the death of my brother Aaron, I began having a series of dreams about flies. Every night the flies came. One night, I tried to speak to one of them. But it wasn’t a real fly. It wasn’t organic. It was a giant fly made of cardboard. It was an artsy fly. My childhood dog, lady, also showed up. And she dug a hole, just like maybe 20 years previously, to give birth. She was in great pain but something beautiful was happening too, the birth of new life. So there was the fly, the eater of poop, and my childhood dog, giving birth, but in a hole.

There was no speaking to the fly. It was a silent movie, full of images, like the early films of the surrealists.

Death and birth, back and forth, dancing together. Can they really be separated?

4190041225_96bcaf213c_o.jpg

“Alien Encounter” by Azarius is licensed underCC BY 2.0