We are still here.
Collage was invented by the surrealists and Max Ernst took it to another level. Now, of course, collage is a common method, but it is still magical. There are so many ways to do it, in language and visual arts etc. Play Yr Kardz Right is almost 3 years old. It came after Rides, which was written while riding the London underground, and it uses a lot of the same methods of collage. Play Yr Kardz was inspired by the work of bill bissett, among others. There are four parts to the book. Here is a reading of part two of Play Yr Kardz Right, written while visiting Katowice, Poland for Christmas, over the course of a few years, and also while riding the London underground in London, U.K. It is nomadic and surrealist, and perhaps also absurdist. There are a lot more poems, of course, and lotsa yummy surprises. The rest of the book is available from Dostoyevsky Wannabe.
Image: Trilogy of the Desert, Salvador Dali, 1946.
Dali painted The Trilogy of the Desert shortly after moving to the United States in 1946. The desert was new to me, as an immigrant in America, from Northern Ireland to the Vegas desert. Snakes, also new, since St. Patrick chased them out. And also legs, since I was just turning 12 with new hormones, and also becoming a runner. I am no longer a runner of the desert. It was a good place to be, temporarily.
Super happy to have my book Play Yr Kardz in terrific list of books from Beach Sloth. Check ’em out over here
Greer describes the presses radical approach to publishing, in both design, distribution, and content:
“With their books retailing at around £5 each, accessibility seems to me an important part of Dostoyevsky Wannabe, and the most obvious comparison for me is the independent record label K Records in 1980s Olympia, Washington. Similarly to Dostoyevsky Wannabe, K Records ideology was based around using the technology of the day to democratise the process of making lots of art, by capitalising on the cheapness and malleability of cassette tape technology. For Dostoyevsky Wannabe, the 2018 version of this vision is to capitalise on the tools of late capitalism.”
The books are so beautifully designed. I feel very fortunate to have my book Play Yr Kardz Right with them. A terrific press with so much creative energy. One of the centres of the literary renaissance of small presses and record labels. As Greer says, “The common strand between all them is a DIY spirit and an experimental ethic which makes Dostoyevsky Wannabe feel less like a traditional publishing house and more a platform for innovative artists and innovative literature.”
“There are so many that it is difficult to keep up, but it is worth keeping up with them on social media to see what they have going on. Their books are good, and cheap. Buy them, read them.”
The counter culture is alive and well. Cheap and beautiful and mind altering. Long may they live!
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.
Las Vegas, 1985, maybe August. I am a newly arrived immigrant in the United States of America. First Vallejo in a trailer park and then Las Vegas. Also, from a few years previously, a new religion, Mormonism.
I was almost 12. On the border of puberty with a funny accent from Northern Ireland. Do you want to see the strip, asked my mum. I didn’t know the strip but it was obviously something exciting. My stepdad drove the car, a secondhand Nova donated to us by the Mormon church, to the strip. Needless to say it was buzzing. I was saturated with eye candy. Las Vegas, on the strip, was hyper sexual. It is one of the sin cities in history. Maybe the premiere sin cities. Circus Circus was my favourite. We ate a very large American buffet. It was cheap, and even cheaper for us since we were Mormon. They wouldn’t make the money back from the slots. We just came for the steak. And also, sometimes, the eggs. American steak and eggs. And then a toothpick afterwards.
In the new Mormon church, everyone was brother and sister. A nice thought. But no one got our new surname right. So my mother was sister sleeze. Instead of Slease. Slease is pronounced like a leasing a car and adding an s. We got the new name when my remarried a British solider in Northern Ireland (and part of the reason for leaving the country). No one knows where the surname comes from. I have felt alienated from it. But also, it’s my name. Your name is the first fiction. Is everything a story? Maybe almost everything.
Here is a story. It is from my book Play Yr Kardz Right:
Play Yr Kardz Right is now available from Dostoyevsky Wannabe: https://dostoyevskywannabe.com/original/play_yr_kardz_right
Nice book launch last night. Lots of folks scattered around the bookshop. Great chats with fab folks afterwards. Thanks for coming! Thank you Desperate Literature and Dostoyevsky Wannabe. Gud Tymz!
MY NEW BOOK, PLAY YR KARDZ RIGHT, IS NOW AVAILABLE FROM THE RAD DOSTOYEVSKY WANNABE.
Seven of my current loves over at Swimmer’s Club.