Blake Butler Interview

Blake Butler is published in The New York Tyrant, Caketrain, Black Warrior Review, Sleepingfish, Salt Hill, Ninth Letter, New Ohio Review, Fence, LIT, The Believer, Tarpaulin Sky, Pequin, Unsaid, Sir!, Action Yes, Oranges and Sardines, Alligator Juniper, DIAGRAM, Memorious, Keyhole, 11:11, Opium, Wigleaf, Quick Fiction, McSweeney’s, elimae, Juked, Underland, Eyeshot, Apocryphal Text and more.

He edits Lamination Colony, co-edits No Colony, and maintains HTMLGIANT.

Two very helpful blog posts:
Where did Lucy purchase her new vagina?
My year of submitting a book length MS to small presses


EVER (forthcoming, Calamari Press)
Scorch Atlas (forthcoming, Featherproof Books)

SK: Where did you grow up?

Blake Butler: I think my knees grew up in Haiti, cause I can feel them pulse. I think my neck grew up in Botswana, not sure. I think my nuts grew up in a sinkhole off the side of a barbershop where they dump the hair when they have to dump the hair. I’m pretty sure my collarbone was manufactured by sweatshop babies, children are too old, they would have had to take a bite out of the ridges, they could not have stopped themselves, because of the prize. I think my right incisor is grown up from strip clubs. I think my thumb is not grown up at all. The rest of the damn things on me, I don’t know, I lost the receipts, my mother fed them to me, I realized, when I was really little, it hurt to shit them out, I know I was assembled in Japan and shipped here in a feather purse.

SK: Is there gangbanging in Atlanta?

Blake Butler: This one street you drive down, it’s like playing Paperboy. I mean thugs are just tromping back and forth across the street, they look in through your windows, they’ll let you hit them they don’t give a fuck. I showed them my branding between my shoulderblades of Dr. Dre getting ass reamed, they leave me alone. Other streets are like right out of Thriller but you have to go out of your way to get to them, there’s a store a few miles from whiteland (they have crushed all the projects with their dickdozers) called Wigs N Beepers, I am going to apply for part time work, I need a good one.

SK: Have you gangbanged in Atlanta?

Blake Butler: Believe that. My face and dick are very bruised.

SK: How many beatings, one way or full fights, have you partaken in?

Blake Butler: I got my ass handed to me by a Lithuanian priest a couple weeks ago, he didn’t like my forearms, I was busy stroking the aphids off my goiter so I didn’t have a free hand to fight him off with, I ended up shitting all over the pavement. God I stink in the evening in that light. Once I punched a baby but no one was looking, it wasn’t a ‘fight’ but I felt really strong and ready to evolve after that one, he got his Gerber on my knuckle, it won’t come off. The last day of high school I stood up with an erection and decimated the whole damn bleachers, it was Parents Day, they had their spirit colors on, I made it bloody, the colors clashed, they would never fuck again.

SK: How much love?

Blake Butler: Someone just handed me a free sandwich, no shit.

SK: Will No Colony give people Morgellons?

Blake Butler: No Colony gave me teeth herpes, but who needs teeth when you’ve got a child? I don’t have a child so I suppose I am going soon to see a physician. I have heard reports from readers so far, and since we haven’t yet shipped out the issue I am now aware of who’s been creeping in my house at night, who claim that reading Sam Pink’s play made them vomit trinkets and vinyl siding, and after reading Michael Kimball’s novel excerpts they could no longer see their pinkies, and that page 1-120 in effect severed the gonoidal tissue, I can say with all clear discretion that No Colony, as yet, has given no one Morgellons.

SK: Does wide-scale consumption of Lamination Colony lead to hysterical gait?

Blake Butler: I guess I consume Lamination Colony more than most people and I feel a little light-headed, and there is someone camping out in America, and I know my ass is collecting itself for something massive. So, um, hmm, well, yah, yes, maybe?

SK: Why is NO ONE DOES THAT the hypocenter of my candy?

Blake Butler: They are advertising spots for the new Nelly record on the front page of Myspace today, jesus christ, that dude looks like a Moonpie turtle, someone needs to hit him with a basket of marmalade. I don’t know why you read my moronic babblings, really, are you dumb? Maybe people just like to listen to a candy cigarette burning, that’s what I feel like most days, I wake up in an ashtray early each morning and start working on collecting back the baseball cards I was supposed to come with, and yet seem to not have, not anywhere, there are 10,000 birds on my roof right this second, I know my skin is dying, right now this coffee is making me hysterical, I only just started, the room is alive.

SK: Are there bigger tastier balls alive than Gaspar Noe or David Lynch in the cinema today and which other films may have influenced your aesthetic lately and before?

Blake Butler: Noe and Lynch pretty much kill me, so I don’t know about bigger or tastier balls, though there are some other nice balls to sit on the coffee table to admire. Hmm, I really like Harmony Korine’s first two movies, Gummo and Julien Donkey-Boy, the aesthetics of those, the collagist elements and the idea of each scene being its own sentence, letting the sentences then kind of collapse on one another, I really have been blown up by what he did there. I wasn’t as big a fan of Mr. Lonely, though, I think he got off drugs, I don’t do drugs really but some people maybe need them, or maybe he was tired, I liked the shots of the black kid riding the pig and Abe Lincoln spinning the basketball on his fingers. I love American Movie, Buffalo ’66, A Clockwork Orange, The Jerk, each for the worlds they create, I like films that contain themselves and yet could be considered completely open-ended in certain aspects, in the way of energy. As far as mood and aesthetic I think the two biggest influences on me in the past few years have been Tarkovsky’s Solaris and Fellini’s Satyricon. I’ve only had the balls to watch each of those once apiece (where as the films I mentioned around American Movie I’ve probably each seen more than 50 times, literally). I can remember the exact time/place/setting I watched each of those two films, and the way they implanted something in my chest, I’ve been carrying that shit around for a while now, it leaks out a little when I look hard. I also like Three Women, Freddy Got Fingered, La Soufriere, Oldboy, Magnolia, Cremaster 2 & 3, The Piano Teacher, Life of Brian, touching myself in the forehead, walking to the store.

SK: Does meaning ever impose itself over the construction of a sentence when you work?

Blake Butler: I probably don’t know the meaning of any sentence I ever wrote, at least not in the last year, I hope I don’t, I hope I can continue to have no idea what I’m doing, the minute I have some idea of what I’m doing is when I am going to stop. I like sentences I didn’t write coming through me, I am not a vessel of the lord for words but more a vessel for some dead fat labyrinthian autistic baby maybe, that would be a nice way. I think the less I can be aware of a sentence while I am writing it the more right it comes out feeling, because really I am very stupid and the more of me I can forget the better. I One, word, at, a, time.

SK: Where can I jump to get your sentences?

Blake Butler: If it wouldn’t kill me, and it would actually work, I’d put my head in the microwave, or I would eat a whole bee’s hive, or I’d slip inside the anthill that is slowly overtaking my parents’ yard, I don’t know, maybe there are more sentences there, that seems like where my sentences would be if I could go get them, or in the grease trap at the oldest Wendy’s in the Wisconsin, maybe inside my Resurrection Grandma’s nostrils, those are places to go, or you could sit inside a plastic year, you could touch yourself, distraction is the best attraction.

SK: How much of the sentence is editing?

Blake Butler: It’s hard to remember. Some sentences seem to jump out right the first time, especially seven miles deep in coffee, I don’t know, I think about 40% of my sentences now are no editing at all, I’ve been really into preserving the initial intention, what I was talking about before I had any idea what I was talking about. You find that vein, the small black one, and you kind of peel it up and out and make it realize who it is just enough for it to get angry, and then you leave it alone? But also, in the making of the text, I think cleaning up the sentences that surround the ones that came out right, this is dire, obviously, and can take many, many strikes before they get knocked into the way. So I tend to read through everything I write probably between 30 and 60 times, editing each a little less and a little less each time until I feel happy enough to stop looking. And actually, even those 40% that feel right the first time, even those, as the other sentences change around them, get knocked up and yielded, and the meter changes, so you have to go in and make sure they stay in the mind of the rhythm. I think rhythm is probably the most important tool in the creation of a sentence, you can have absolutely no intention, and the beat of it will beat it out if you are in the correct mind for this, there are ways of getting in the mind of this, most of them involve various state of sleep or nonsleep. The bed is just as much a typewriter as the typewriter is.

SK: Does rape improve a sentence?

Blake Butler: I think rape creates a sentence. 65% of my sentences are the children of rape. I think once you get them, though, once they are captured, it’s less a process of rape and more of heavy petting. Rap can definitely improve a sentence¾I’ve been biting ODB and Tupac and 3-6 as much as possible in my joints. Most mornings when I am sitting at the computer bleary trying to get amped on coffee but not so far as shaking and looking at the internet and coughing into my hand and making a mess of the desk I feel raped. I feel date-drugged and like I’m on the loveseat in the rec room with Joey, like he’s got his hand up my skirt finding the one word their on my vulva. Yeah, rape is it, some, at least.

SK: Because your innovation owns the English sentence should I try to sing instead?

Blake Butler: I have thrown up six times on the keyboard while answering your questions, are you imposing the Dick Lifter? Most all singing is throw up if you ask me, but the bad kind of throw up rather than the kind I like to stick my head in. I heard Michael Gira sing once on a replicator, he I think understands what his neck grew out of. There were babies in the street the other morning with the neighbor backing in and out and crushing their rattles, that was good singing. I’d prefer you rap, really, can you rap? Besides, you crush my dick already. We are rewriting NAKED LUNCH right now, what are we going to do with it when we’re done? Meet me on Burroughs grave, we’ll ask him about it.

SK: Who have you read lately and growing up that influenced your sentences in any way?

Blake Butler: Everything I know I learned from David Wallace, William Burroughs, and William Gass, no shit, with some extra bonus classes in the evening while there was still time to park the car. As for recent, I really like the two published novels of Eugene Marten, that guy has his full head-blood on the page, right there, gleaming. God. Um. Noy Holland’s ORBIT really ate me alive fully and with complex muscles, I don’t know how I hadn’t found that until this year, and then after I went into Frank Stanford’s THE BATTLEFIELD WHERE THE MOON SAYS I LOVE YOU, another relic I should have found back when I had my head up Ginsberg’s ass in 10th grade, so on. I also really like Michael Kimball’s new novel Dear Everybody and have considered it a tutorial each time I sit down with a Diane Williams collection, man when she gets inside it she is full on inside it and the vulva spank.

SK: In PRETEND I AM THERE BUT VERY LITTLE, or in general, to what degree does sentence structure dictate narration or vice versa?

Blake Butler: Most of the time I think sentence structure, in any of my writing, dictates about 80% of the narration. I don’t plan things, and don’t think in plot or character creation devices, it’s pretty much all about putting one word after the other, and the further I can loose myself from the thinking of the word that should come, and more putting my head under my whole arm and peeling the skin off there, the more I can do that the more I feel I’ve said something, to myself.

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Blogger Unknown said...

You know I need to say something having published Blake and yourself. I go to his blog to see where the new poets are. Who I need to keep an eye out. He is the mastermind behind a new wave of poetry writing that I am not capable of naming right now but once the lightbulb goes off I will come back and let you know the name and we will christen this new poetry thus. I have spoken.

Didi Menendez
Publisher, etc. etc. etc.

Blogger Unknown said...

P.S. I crack myself up sometime but none the less, I shall return with this name.

Blogger Unknown said...

P.S. We could hold a contest and I will pick the best name. I am going back to something very important now like corresponding with St. Therese or something like that.


Blogger BLAKE BUTLER said...

i luv didi

Blogger sam pink said...

sean i can't find your email address can you email me.

Blogger DH said...

We still haven't found out what the Dick Lifter is.


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