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On Songbirds

In Reasons on June 18, 2009 at 6:38 pm

Fats; a starving rigor; a curious man admires the form of his wife’s curling iron: these are the elements of writing.

An enchaînement of stolen bodies, rearranged; disemboweled ideas; an eye becomes an item, or an index, a frenzied movement of the bergamasca: these are the forms of language.

My task as a writer is that of the mad bird keeper; the pen is the key; release the songbirds from their cages!

Over many a morning’s coffee have I pondered the syntax of birds. I think also of the rhythm of automobiles and the breathing of the things I eat and drink. I wonder the name of the birds in the bird language when I see them.

I find solace in leathered footsteps, magic in tiny matchboxes, answers in a lover’s heartbeat; and yet; what happens when music becomes flat and geometric, when colors migrate into lurid ambiguity … one faces the terror of speech, the tearfulness of love poetry, O red death.

Curious to think of Émile Zola; stories buried beneath sterile schema; tragedy as a medical text. And curious to think of the nightmares of Kafka, death of Kharms, sexlessness of the mad Artaud.

I find a pain in writing. It is an ascetic work. Only when I write do I ever feel a draft about my feet, an inexorable feeling. And yet I cannot escape the foreseeable derangement of the senses.

My methods involve a simple set of qualities, and they are: memories of synagogues, enclosed fields, old photographs, suicides, received ideas. I reward myself for hunger, I am receptive to wounds, and sometimes it is the anger of these things that I unload upon my writing.

I disvalue sleep, misunderstand money: these are the untenable secrets of my passion for text.

My inspirations are: mythical biographies of desert fathers, saturated images of crying mothers, eulogies for lost and dying children.

I am never satisfied in finishing a piece. I avoid the empty corridors of a final mark of punctuation; and yet I fill pages in the frenzy of cluttering an empty piece of mind.

I am not so meticulous as to assign colors to vowels; and yet I think of the fictional female in terms of the whiteness of her teeth and the depth of her collarbone: to me, these are ravishing, fantastic ideas. Sometimes they are the only ideas I have.

The act of writing is the emulation of instantaneous models, the re-evaluation of an expiring grammar, the articulation of a societal eroticism.

Most important is that I know nothing. I write to get the insects out; I put them on a paper; I transcribe pages of a girl’s perfume; I change the color of things with my mind. I tear things apart. I close a book as a meditation.

Bobby Alter is the winner of Lamination Colony’s This is not not a Contest, and this appearance on Writers’ Bloc is one of his prizes. His winning story is called The cardiovasc, and he has also just started a blog at hungerjournal.blogspot.com.

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  1. radness.
    way to be champion.

  2. while people like PHM bitch and moan (apparently about the lack of literary prose in the writing scene), there’s this sort of contempo-romanticism going on. so glad to see it. keep it up, bobby.

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