Matina L. Stamatakis Interview

Matina L. Stamatakis has been published in: zafusy, eratio, elimae, Can We Have Our Ball Back, Wicked Alice, Face Time, Down in the Dirt, The Wright Side, SP Quills, Cynic Magazine, and Albany Poets Other___. She is the editor of Venereal Kittens.

SK: May we discuss St. Kevorkian and his work?

Matina L. Stamatakis: Ah, yes. His Agnostic saintliness. When I first heard about Dr. K., it was back in ‘99 when he was charged with second-degree homicide. The media did a wonderful job portraying him as the quintessential nutcase (go figure). Many moons (and hairstyles) later, I was pondering the idea of writing a novel based around Kevorkian's work, properly entitled: Calling Dr. Love--you may be familiar with the title from KISS or, most recently, Electric Hellfire Club. Anyway, I did a bit of research, and it was a shock to find out he was not only a doctor (as we all know), but he also had hidden--or semi-hidden--talents. Why the hell am I speaking about him in the third person? Shit, he's not dead YET! Anyway, he possesses many talents. Just a couple being poetry, painting, and believe it or not, he‘s also a jazz musician. If you get a chance, check out his comical take on dieting in Slimmericks and the Demi-Diet--it’s a blast. As for his artwork, his most known work is the image featured on the cover of Acid Bath’s Paegan Terrorism Tactics. My personal favorite is The Gourmet (War), which depicts a man --in what could possibly be his Last Supper--sitting with a knife and fork in his hands, ready to eat his freshly decapitated head. It’s gruesome, yet its colorful canvas appears cartoonish and out of proportion, which is a classic example of Kevorkian’s macabre humor and artistic style--even though he will vehemently disclaim his paintings as 'art'. How modest!

As for his most serious works, which would be what he was charged for, it’s amazing how society has taken a person’s personal decision to a much more distorted level. It’s a community effort to stick its own biased morals into the mix, and play God or messenger of God. Jack had to face a strong stream of anger when he actually performed the act of voluntary euthanasia. Before that he was just a bumbling, old doctor casually working from his van (of all places), passing around little business cards to anybody who may have been interested. Hardly the man worthy of a full profiling from, say, the likes of John Douglas. Few people realize he was open about the issue, and even more fail to see him as a ‘humanitarian’.

Well, I could go on forever about St. Kevorkian, but I’d like to end this question with a quote from him that I find most interesting and really grasps his genius and intellectual depth:

"No, it's in an orifice --would you like to inspect it?"

SK: And the films of Jorg Buttgereit, but upside-down?

Matina L. Stamatakis: tihS! Tried, but got a headache. The view was nice, though. Jorg is like the closest thing to God I'd force myself into believing. Okay, maybe he's reached saint status like Doctor Death.

I'm thinking, since Broadway musicals have been reduced to shit for years since Disney took over, it is imperative they need to do a musical of Nekromantik to revive this dilapidated 'culture'. It'd be just like Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, only after Sweeny disposes of whatever's left of the corpse, Beatrice M. will come along and finish it off the proper way. My theory is, if they allow such a musical to appear on Broadway, they will be instilling educational value whilst bringing back just a hint of the sexuality that was once prevalent in that part of NY years ago. How can they go wrong? They should also do a musical of Der Todesking and Hot Love, because I have no clue what they’re about. Maybe watching ‘em upside down will help.

SK: Have you ever written a poem while standing up?

Matina L. Stamatakis: No, actually. How is it?

SK: Blood spots. Do you prefer to sit or lie down while writing a poem?

Matina L. Stamatakis: I prefer to jog in place while writing poetry. It helps circulate the blood, and it’s not a lead-in to 'pancake ass', usually caused by sitting down in one place too long.

SK: Do you use the Poet's Market cover letter format for email and paper submissions and, as an editor, is there a certain kind of cover letter that you prefer?

Matina L. Stamatakis: Never had to use a generic sample for any cover letter written thus far. Most of the magazines I submit to are a bit informal. But would definitely consider a proper cover letter if sending work to, say, Poetry magazine or Ninth Letter. Even though the thought alone makes me a bit queasy.

As for Venereal Kittens, the goal is not to be the premier, top-of-the-notch poetry magazine, because there are literally thousands out there doing the same thing and doing it well. My goal is poetry at a ‘community’ level. By this, I mean it’s highly informal, there is no deadline for submissions, no excessively long response time, and what matters most of all is it’s not a magazine but a collective. It just keeps rolling on no matter what. But I’m somewhat veering away from the point. No, cover letters are always optional, as are bios. That’s not to say I don’t place an interest in what a writer has to say in a cover letter (and, by all means, they have an option to include a cover letter with their submissions), but I’m more interested in the poetry itself. Cover letters seem like you’re just trying to convince the editor you can write. Why not let the poem do the talking?

SK: Your magazine is called Venereal Kittens. How many jealous emails have you received because of the greatness of this title?

Matina L. Stamatakis: Actually, the question should be: how many death threats have you received because of the offensiveness of this title? Hey, even bad publicity is still publicity. Isn't it? Think I'm gonna start a VK protest group. Wanna join? Let's smear the name even further! We can stand outside and picket in front of Planned Parenthood like those wacky right-wing-super-conservative-anti-abortionists. It'd be swell.

Seriously though, no death threats, no jealous rants, no free porn subscriptions, no one-night-stands. Hell, not even free topical cream samples to get rid of those nasty rashes!

SK: Please tell me about The Avant-Gardist's Dictionary?

Matina L. Stamatakis: Well, it was one of many unfinished projects that is currently collecting dust. It may be revived at a later date, but for now, I’ve run out of ideas for 'nonce' words, as I like to call them. The reason why AGD is a blog is because I felt it was important to include the 'community' in word making. Why not? I've had some wonderful nonce from various writers, and if others want to add their words, it's what makes it a unique thing. Usually the words are placed in Googlemark to ensure some kind of validity.

SK: How do you define 'postmodern'?

Matina L. Stamatakis: The typical definition of postmodern would be a display of the ‘extreme’ or ‘cutting-edge’, but I find myself tired of labels. Yet resort to them (hence Avant-Gardist) because there's really no other way to describe it. If you try to tell people who ask what kind of genre or style you fall into, it's hard to give a proper answer without pigeonholing yourself. We may as well all walk around with the titles printed on our foreheads. I think I'm going to start a label....how about...'pseudomodern'? That way we can all trick ourselves into thinking we are modernists, or maybe some anti-established literary force. It's hard to talk about it without getting a sour taste in my mouth. It’s a bit creatively and artistically repressive to think you have to cater to any one way of thinking, or any one style or literary movement. Yet, it’s comforting, in a way, to know you’re part of a group of people who share many of the views you have. Guess it’s more 'peer promising’ than, say, doing it all on your own with little or no guidance or reassurance.

I think some of it may be due to the fact that we’re taught at a young age to classify objects and even people, so it’s a naturally forming need that causes labels to be used so eagerly. But is the need really a necessity or some sick, inherent urge to belong? It’s the same thought of claiming unconventional views when the thought of ‘unconventionality‘ is in the same boat as conformist thought--it’s what it boils down to. As the adage goes, you’re unique just like every one else. Who knows? I’ll leave the categorical labeling to my sock drawer.

As for my definition of ‘postmodern’ it’s experimental work without experimental breakthrough--it kinda sits there like pus on a fresh, open sore and mingles with other pus-filled sores. Eventually, it’ll have to break away and start on a fresh sore. When that happens, It’ll be called something else.

SK: What can you tell me about your Exploded View poems? Does anything need to be said? What went in to writing these and how do you make language purr that amazingly?

Matina L. Stamatakis: Pregnant heifers with mad cow disease. Dandelions. Toenail clippings. A girl's soiled panties. Some subconscious fantasy to walk around in freshly peeled llama skins--epidermis of genocide.

SK: [MUTE] is a blog book of fifty-four of your poems. Are you shopping any book manuscripts? What are some of your favorite publishing houses and magazines that you plan to eventually hit? Are you still working on The Body: A Wasteful Gesture?

Matina L. Stamatakis: Not at the moment, but may look into it later. When I first set out to write [MUTE], there was more time spent looking into potential publishing houses. Maybe searching for a publishing house was the best diversion, but it was clearly contradictory to the idea behind why I started writing in the first place. I wrote because of a passion and nothing more. It wasn't to be seen, or even heard--though it would have been nice. When the manuscript was complete, I took a hard look at it and (like the proverbial gut feeling) knew it belonged in a blog. It works better because of the option to combine my photography with the writings in a more linear display. Having [MUTE] in book form may be harder to pull off without it becoming extremely costly for the publisher.

To answer your second question, I plan to hit 'em all, grow a big, fat, unhealthy ego, then retire somewhere in Myrtle Beach where I can take up decopage and yell at the town hoodlums, and use geriatric-speak, like: You whippersnapper. Or, throw out some obscure 18th century vulgar British slang nobody's ever heard of before. You dirty puzzle. You son of a horse coser!

Oh, and favorite magazines...hmmm...would have to say a great deal of time has been spent perusing the archives of BlazeVox, elimae, Mad Hatter's Review, eratio, Sein und Werden, H_NG_MN. To name a few. I'm too poor to actually afford copies. Good thing most can be found on the internet.

The Body: A Wasteful Gesture is another one of those unfinished (or, more accurately, never-to-be- finished) projects. In the middle of the manuscript, I began chiseling away at an idea for a full-length story, Graffiti Suitcase, loosely based on a popular Greek myth. If I told which, it would be too obvious, and the end would not be as impactful--so it's top secret for now.

SK: Your poem Love Me Nots published in elimae begins:

A war of flowers
left your palm

Do you lose time when you write? Is it like blacking out?

Matina L. Stamatakis: Quite often. It's easy to lose the sense of time when you're isolated with a pen (or a keyboard in this case). When you're alone and there's nothing to do, the baby is asleep and you just feel like masturbating--instead you write. There's always a loss of time you could have used in a much more productive way. Like filling out tax forms. PTA meetings. Jury duty. Feeding chocolate laxative bars to annoying, little mutts, hoping they shit themselves to death. All of which I've never done because I've been too busy boosting my sex appeal.

Nah, I know what I'm doing. Try hard not to end up in a stranger's bed after.

SK: Do you listen to music when you write? If so, what music?

Matina L. Stamatakis: Tried it once or twice, but wound up blocking the music out. Sometimes I listen to a song or album before I write to set the mood. It can be anything from exotica to Tuvan throat singing--so long as it's not Merzbow, which would probably send me off writing about a horse named Rectal Anarchy. Hmmm...that may not be such a bad thing.

SK: Please name your literary influences at gunpoint.

Matina L. Stamatakis: BobFlaniganDaphneGottliebCAConradMargePiercySadeHomerBlakeCohen
BurgessKafkaCamusPlathPoeBurroughsKeatsVoltaireWildeMasoch, etc.

SK: Do you consider yourself a language poet? What is language poetry to you?

Matina L. Stamatakis: There go those pesky, little labels! Sure, there are certain elements in my own writings that give way to language poetry, but it's not something I would consider myself, per se. I tend to look at poetry in uncomplicated terms. Meaning, I do not pick away at something so inherently present and beautiful (for lack of a better epithet) in order to adapt or understand poetry in more complex terms. I'm not averse to the idea of taking this route in the future. But, at present, tend to place less stress on the importance of finding a home or proper title for my poetry which still needs room to grow.

SK: Do you become nervous in crowded areas?

Matina L. Stamatakis: Any public area brings a live-wire of nerviness. That's one reason why I don't write performance-based poetry. Shitty voice. Salty hands. Overactive bladder. It's no good being in the middle of a passionate, pour-your-heart-out poem when you suddenly get the urge to piss, and say "oops, gotta go, gotta go, gotta go, go, go". Then you'll be known as that-girl-who-never-finished-her-poem-because-she-pissed-herself-repeatedly. It's much easier to piss yourself alone, and do it with some sort of integrity intact. By the way, this is just a hypothetical situation. But I do see it as a foreseeable occasion, and am trying to take preventive steps.

SK: Have you ever been stung by a bee?

Matina L. Stamatakis: Yes, those vicious bastards.

SK: Have you broken any bones, yours or anyone else's?

Matina L. Stamatakis: No bones broken, but would like to break someone else's bones in the future if ever the opportunity should arise.

SK: How many weapons do you own?

Matina L. Stamatakis: Considering the fact that virtually everything can be used as a weapon, the numbers are astounding, and should not be placed below 1,000.

But a good follow-up question would be: What's your favorite weapon? To which I'd have to say, without even the slightest hesitation, a turkey baster.

SK: How many scars do you have?

Matina L. Stamatakis: Presently? Not enough.

SK: Do you drink?

Matina L. Stamatakis: Alcohol, no. I'm a cheap date. Usually it only takes one beer to get drunk--so I don't.

SK: Do you enjoy hurting people physically or mentally or both or neither?

Matina L. Stamatakis: A part of me wants to say neither. But the other part knows, deep down, it'd be nice to do both and get some degree of pleasure out of it. Maybe that's why I read Sade. He wrote about things I'd only dream of doing. But some things are best left at that. Fantasies.

SK: Do you lean toward nihilism or misanthropy?

Matina L. Stamatakis: Nihilism is not really my forte. It's good if it's used as a means to provoke a social uprising, but it wouldn't work nowadays because people are more content (at least it seems that way) with letting the assholes rule. It seems like there's a strong sense of security, or people unwilling to stretch out of their own skins, shake things up, bring on anarchy as a means for change--be it political or social. Maybe it's a sense of indifference, and the you're damned if you do--damned if you don't attitude. Nihilism, like I said ealier, wouldn't work so much today because of the strong materialism needs we possess, and the need to be governed. It just doesn't seem plausible, and it's much easier to give in. Now, I don't believe that one should give in completely. There needs to be some sense of identity or small uprising amidst the bumbling, brainless cattle.

I used to be a misanthropic bitch. Now I'm not so sure. It depends on the day. For instance, if I have a downright shitty day at work, I make a secret pledge to hate the rest of humanity and hope they all die horribly painful deaths. It usually passes when I go home, and realize only certain people need to die horribly painful deaths. The rest just need to die of old age (which can be a curse in itself).

SK: Do enough poets commit suicide?

Matina L. Stamatakis: No. But they should consider suicide as a means of selling future manuscripts for heaps of dough. It's a great marketing tool. I'd recommend it to anyone looking for a way to give their writing career a good boost. Don't know why they don't cover this in the Writer's Market--it's truly baffling.

SK: Do enough interviewers commit suicide?

Matina L. Stamatakis: Yes. They're killing themselves at an alarming rate. Probably because of interviewees like myself.

SK: How many houses have you lived in?

Matina L. Stamatakis: Can't remember--still not housebroken, though. There I go pissing in the stairwell again.

Chewing on my owner's moth-eaten penny loafers.

SK: Is the sky a joke the trees are telling badly?

Matina L. Stamatakis: The sky is a tree badly telling a joke.

SK: How many sit-ups can you perform?

Matina L. Stamatakis: Way out of shape. Maybe one with a struggle.

SK: Have you ever used a firework to murder a small animal or many insects?

Matina L. Stamatakis: As a child, I used a magnifying glass on a hot summer day to burn a small ant to death.

Also did some science experiment with a segmented worm, where I poured hydrogen peroxide on its cuts and all the brown crap bubbled out of it. Had not experimented on animals, though. Any you recommend?

SK: Do you paint your fingernails with anything unusual?

Matina L. Stamatakis: Donkey semen (which is also good for the complexion)

SK: Do you re-write? To what degree do you re-write your poems?

Matina L. Stamatakis: Used to extensively, but realized it's a waste because when you re-write your works so much, they kind of lose the spontaneity they once had. Now I'm less concerned with re-writes. They're usually done when I have a good piece going, but one or two words or a stanza is pissing me off to the point where I have to be picky and overly critical. Honestly, if it comes to that, the poem gets scrapped and I take the salvageable parts and mix them into another poem later on.

SK: Have you ever cried after writing a poem?

Matina L. Stamatakis: No. What's it like?

SK: It feels political. Do you think poetry will exist in twenty years?

Matina L. Stamatakis: That's like asking me if the world will still be around in twenty years. Crap--hope not because I'm looking forward to Armageddon.


Blogger c. allen rearick said...

"SK: Do enough poets commit suicide?"

this is my favorite question of all time.


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