Glitter Pillsby Ben Fama
To live a serious life
that’s a fucked up thing
I would have to rent out a cabin
beneath terrible angels
if I get old wipe the dust off my tits
I should have a serious log cabin
the cabin’s name is Ben Fama.
find directions on the internet
when you want to leave you can
I’ll stay there just me and my heart
bigger than the sun
What Ben Fama won’t tell you is that he lives a serious life, and it’s fucked up. Most of us do. To live a carefree life takes a lot of business savvy. Ben’s got a lot of business savvy, but his life isn’t carefree. It’s meticulously crafted by outside forces, by fate. And for Ben, fate is a serious thing. Position oneself as best one can. Consult the Tarot like some people consult Oprah. Know the characteristics of the Zodiac as if they were family members. It’s no wonder that Ben’s wrote a collection of poems named Aquarius Rising.
“How much do you rely on planets?” Ben asks, almost capturing the theme of Aquarius Rising (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2010) in a single blow. The collection is an astrological love letter, read like a divination, the collection of poems being a sort of arcana: the celebrity, the paparazzi, the juvenile, the suitor, the broken-hearted, the cynic. Aquarius Rising is also a play on Kenneth Anger’s own Scorpio Rising, and its themes of idol worship factor heavily in this book. There is humor in this book too, though of a self-deprecating kind: “Woman of Tractus / I come bearing .gifs”. The pun turns the bearer into a voyeur. Other times when Ben is making light of something, it’s as though he’s cracking a joke during a break-up, alleviating it’s emotional upheaval: “o mountain, how did you become so serious?”. And what at first seems facetious can appear, upon closer examination, to be Ben casting a sort of spell to turn the circumstances of life in his favor, as in these lines from “Cub”:
If today is your birthday please
remove exactly 300 hairs from my beard
I’m dancing for fat rain
to press on the evening
so you may climb up and tear
the sky in half so it will look
the way I have secretly wanted.
Once you finish Aquarius Rising, check out Ben’s latest book of poetry, New Waves (minutes Books, 2011) It trades the horoscope of Aquarius Rising for dance shoes. Ben’s fantastic tumblr blog is also called New Waves. If you’re looking for a party on the internet, that’s a good place to go.
Though Ben is fascinated by celebrities, he is one in his own right within the poetry world. You see, Ben also runs his own poetry reading series and journal, SUPERMACHINE, based in Brooklyn. Readings occur monthly with new poets featured at each reading. No poets read twice at SUPERMACHINE unless it is for an issue release. Issues are published bi-annually and three have been published so far. To be included in an issue of SUPERMACHINE is like being on an Altered Zones mixtape; it’s carefully curated with an overarching vision in mind. Ben’s commitment to this vision will even cause him to turn down work he likes if it doesn’t fit the aesthetic of the issue (though you will still find many of the most buzzed-about young poets of a season, guaranteed). Not to mention great cover art. And issue launch parties pull all the stops: every poet included in the issue being launched reads, but only one poem apiece, keeping things lively while visuals are projected onto walls, shrines are built to give the space a mystical vibe, and afterward live musical acts perform (past groups have included Beach Fossils, Reading Rainbow, and Forma). Venues have included the School House and The Silent Barn. And you’ll be hard pressed to find a better-dressed crowd.
Perhaps Ben is aware of this double standard of slowly becoming, in a sense, micro-famous, while maintaining the purity of solitude. That’s the irony of becoming someone known. It’s easy then to imagine him lying in a cabin, dust-covered and glowing, waiting for the approach of those ghosts that chase down those who have left an impact and whose names remain on people’s lips. That’s a macabre thought to end on so I’ll finish on this verse from his poem, “Boy” –– “I bury my face deep in the front lawn / a family of magicians moves onto the block / a sequence of colors erupts from their chimney / now anyone can walk among strangers towards daylight”.
Art: Nathaniel Whitcomb
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Think or Smile | Nathaniel Whitcomb © 2011