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/

 

 

MODERN SHAMANISM AND NOMADIC SURREALISM

NOMADIC SURREALISM

There are so many of them. Don’t you get tired. Reading all those words. Dry lifeless fossilised language. Every technology leaves something behind. There is a cost, always, with traveling from one technology to another. For example from oral literature to written, and now, maybe the omega point, the internet.

Words, there are too many of them, and we drowning. Brevity works better for the rewiring of the brain via the internet and social media. Of course there are visuals too. And the internet is full of visuals. Cave paintings. Or, perhaps, images with words, the memes. Soon we will be drowning in memes.

The powerful words are oral, even when written. Voice is everything, or almost. We crave the intimacy of the human voice and this will increase as we move further and further into the virtual realities of the internet. The return to orality in literature is not a new thing. The American golden age of poetry, beginning in the late 1950s with the beats, and also flourishing with the NY School all through the 1970s, and still going, is largely oral and speech based art. The human voice. But it was also there, at the birth of an American literary tradition distinct from the British, more specifically with the primitive energies of Walt Whitman. And yes, we have been always going back there, the primitive, and the oral. Sometimes the pull back there, to the primitive oral is a strong pull, and sometimes weak. When it is a strong pull, there is a strong pull the other way. We are always going there, into the unknown, with the birth of the new. But that’s not right either because the past is unknown too.

Are we moving forwards, backwards, both or neither. Things are changing folks, per always. But also, there is never a blank slate. We carry everything with us, all those older technologies, especially of the sacred, but their pull is sometimes weak and sometimes strong.

Where are you traveling to and will words help you get there? This is a great mystery only you can answer. For me, I favour the artists as shamans, sometimes tricksters, mostly unnoticed, part of the ancient primitive. Sometimes a kind of nomadic surrealism, traveling between worlds.

But don’t get me wrong. I am not talking about the hokey spiritual stuff, full of cliches, greatly enriched by the language of our marketing and advertising culture. The content and style, if we can make the distinction, of my favourite primitive word artists is very contemporary, or at least a mix of contemporary and the ancient.

How much of culture do the primitive artists shape in a culture of television and movies? Will artists become more powerful with the internet? I say BAH! or BLAH!

Terrence Mckenna, in a warning that goes at least as far back as the ancient primitive prophets, said:

We have to create culture, don’t watch TV, don’t read magazines, don’t even listen to NPR. Create your own roadshow. The nexus of space and time where you are now is the most immediate sector of your universe, and if you’re worrying about Michael Jackson or Bill Clinton or somebody else, then you are disempowered, you’re giving it all away to icons, icons which are maintained by an electronic media so that you want to dress like X or have lips like Y. This is shit-brained, this kind of thinking. That is all cultural diversion, and what is real is you and your friends and your associations, your highs, your orgasms, your hopes, your plans, your fears. And we are told ‘no’, we’re unimportant, we’re peripheral. ‘Get a degree, get a job, get a this, get a that.’ And then you’re a player, you don’t want to even play in that game. You want to reclaim your mind and get it out of the hands of the cultural engineers who want to turn you into a half-baked moron consuming all this trash that’s being manufactured out of the bones of a dying world. 

Yes, this smacks of the great wisdom of the 1990s. I had that bumper sticker: smash your TV! My coming of age, after leaving a Mormon mission, was in the 1990s. The great hope. I could see it, it was clear to every free thinking person, the television was mostly evil. It was brainwashing. But we had a new technology for our saviour, the internet. It was the great hope of the future. I am not sure how it is going. Do you? Somedays I am very optimistic. I am, after all, sitting here typing this for anyone to read, with more potential reach than any traditional print or oral culture could dream of, but does it matter. Do I feel less alone. I am sure there are other like minded people out there. But will anyone read it? I am drowning in information and scatterbrained with clicking and liking. Or, to put it another way, how can I quiet down enough, with all the anxious noise of our culture, especially through social media, more than the internet, to focus and get back in touch with the power of the primitive.

The primitive is continually being reborn, but also, there is the danger of losing or burying it, at least temporarily. Our ancient technologies.

bill bissett is the shamanistic primitive poet par excellence. There are of course many others. Turn off your internet brain, at least for a spell, is it possible, and read bill bissett. But not silently, create the spell with your voice and take the nomadic journey. There is everywhere to go and also nowhere!

 

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 NOMADIC SURREALISM?

NOMADIC SURREALISM

Panmelys

wrote a nice review of my nomadic poetry.

She writes:

“seeking otherness
Of a soul, hungering after ‘Hiraeth’.
Which means ‘A longing for something This
World can never give’, Celtic source, with an
Emphasis on ‘This’ as opposed to ‘Other ‘world”

I like this very much. I think it gets at the seemingly contradictory tensions in my work. My poetry is, I think, influenced by some NY School Poetry with its emphasis on the everyday and conversational language, and also surrealist. Maybe Ron Padgett’s form of surrealism mixed with a visionary poetics. NY School poetry is itself influenced by French surrealism, but with a lighter touch. That’s where I am coming from, overall.

My work is a nomadic writing practice, living simply in many countries, immigrating since the age of six. It is also a kind of contemporary shamanism traveling between visionary and so called ordinary states. Sometimes dream-like states of the unconscious and other imaginary worlds of the “marvellous,” but also an attempt at zen like grounding by accepting the absurdity of existence. The Zen teacher Gil Fronsal suggested that Buddhism is maybe a kind of existentialism, but without the angst. I think that is maybe my orientation.

After coming home early from my Mormon mission at age 20, in my newly adopted country of the United States, and arriving in a small town in Utah, I felt alienated. I was having what is commonly called an identity crisis. When I immigrated to America, at age almost 12, I adapted myself to the United States by moving my mouth like an America. Eventually I got rid of my Northern Irish and working class British accent. The same thing happened when I immigrated from Ireland to England at around age 7, but not completely. It wasn’t good to have a Northern Irish accent in England in the 70s or 80s. It is a bit like being from the “middle east” today. You were a terrorist, or a drunk. So I tried to become more and more English (or British), but I still had traces of my Northern Irish accent. And then came Mormonism. A new religion. It helped us immigrate to the United States and survive there. The Mormon church helped my family a lot with food donations and also hope. My mum and my sisters still carry that Mormon hope. I have left the Mormon church with its attempt at Truth and a fixed meaning of life. And I have continued traveling the world without a home base. My alien card for America has expired. I have no legal claims to the United States of America and they have no legal claims on me.

My passport is British out of convenience but I need to change it to Irish. I am an Irish citizen since I was born in Northern Ireland. I hope that doesn’t change with Brexit.

And yet my ancestors go back to Lowland Scotland. And also French Huguenots. I was born in Ulster.

Do I feel Ulster Scots? Yes, there is some of that, it is part of me. I’ll take the country and western legacy and also Johnny Cash and Van Morrison. Also David Lynch (An Ulster-Scots father). Ulster Scots is the language of my childhood and all my relatives, except my immediate brothers and sisters and step father. In America, almost every evening for many years, my mum sung the songs of Ulster and Ireland to us, and also the stories. So many stories and songs from Ulster. My mum is a natural storyteller. In America, my mum seems at home as a first generation Irish American. Many of her friends are different kinds of Irish. There are no more distinctions between protestant and catholic. I hope someday Ulster Scots is another kind of Irish.

So I am really a hybrid. Americans are often hybrids too but if they have lived in America for so long, then aren’t they just Americans? The great melting pot experiment. Is it working? We are all searching for home, a place to belong.

When is someone really from somewhere? I cannot really fully answer the question: where are you from? Actually, if you examine that question long enough, it becomes more and more absurd. Where are you from? The Mormons try to trace their lineage back to Adam and Eve. We are all from Africa. But that’s not it either. We are from the Milky Way. And something further. Nothing.

After my Mormon mission I returned to university. I thought education was the ticket out of poverty, but more importantly the key to my freedom. I focused all my energy on education and school when I immigrated to the United States at almost age 12. But after the Mormon mission, and no longer believing, it was existentialism and philosophy that helped me. I saw, and still see, the absurdity of existence. For a while it was psychedelic existentialism (with various spiritual searchings in the desert, both literal and metaphorically). Now, mostly, I am finding absurdity as a way of letting go. Yes life is often absurd, so why cling to it. When faced with the absurdity of existence, no fixed meanings or metaphysics, Camus considered suicide. But there is another kind of letting go in the face of absurdity, Buddhism as a practice. I don’t really consider myself a Buddhist in terms of a fixed religion, but more of a practice, in motion. Ditto my art. My art/writing is a practice in motion, traveling. My reading and experience of art is not separate from my life. It is all part of my life. It is part of that original grand experiment of the avant garde, to unite life and art.

Of course, words are slippery. And labels, as words, are sticky. I am a writer cosmonaut. A traveler. Like all of us.

cropped-26596570007_7cf85c1ae9_h.jpg

“Pregúntale al padre – 4” by Ubé is licensed underCC BY 2.0