Just a side note to ponder. Nothing much here.
I want to get this on the record somewhere before I croak or the world ends or the Aztecs return from outer space and everybody freaks.
In the very early 90s, pre-internet days, there was such a thing known as the alt-zine universe. Small, micro-circulation, un-granted and otherwise unfunded publications that scooped up alternative (hence, the "alt") writers and threw them back out at the world.
My particular effort in this world was known as The Fiction Review - a grandly named effort with more submissions than readers, as was usually the case and probably still is.
We published the likes of Hugh Fox, Richard Kostelanetz, BZ Niditch, Sheila Murphy, John M Bennett, Gorman Bechard and many others.
Based out of Chicago as we were it was very easy to have been aware of a writer out of Columbia Chicago by the name of Lorri Jackson. She was the cream of the crop and about to break and cross over from poetry slams and youth ghettos to a more national position and also actual real money. Tattoos, a caustic wit, and actual talent. The world was about to see it all.
She sent me a story one day called "And The Corpse Had Numerous Tattoos" which, if you were familiar with her work, was a theme she had incorporated into prose and poetry, trying it out in different forms and approaches. It was the story of a woman with a lot of tattoos who dies of a heroin overdose in first person. I accepted before I got half way through.
Imagine my surprise, then, when I picked up a Chicago Tribune very soon thereafter and caught a headline below the fold on the front page. It was Lorri. She had died of a heroin overdose. It happened on the day I got the submission. And the corpse did have numerous tattoos.
I still have the manuscript, though I don't know why I've kept it. Maybe a nod to the wasted talent it commended. Maybe I have a morbid side I need to cultivate. Who knows.
I noted the other day that some of her stuff has been available here and there through the wonders of the internet - the same device that killed the old offset and ink alt-zine world. I'm not shilling that, but I do have some links for anyone careful enough to wonder.
Larry Oberc's postmortem reconstruction of those days (there was a lot of Sid & Nancy shit going on back then). Includes pictures of Lorri and the street scene late 80/early 90 on Chicago and is the full story though he has the year of death wrong.
The only surviving copies of the Fiction Review I know of exist in three places. One is a box in my closet. Another is at the Read/Write Library (formerly The Underground Library) in Chicago
And in the libraries of The Ohio State University Avant Writing Collection.
There was also a write-up and review of that particular issue in the old Factsheet Five compendium that tied all the zines together in those days.
Thanks for providing the space to archive this small historical footnote.
Oh, man. What a story. Thanks for sharing.
Yes, some folk you never forget. And for some, this world is a place they have to exit voluntarily.
Voluntary exodus is often the sanest choice.
Think Primo Levi. David F. Wallace. Virginia Wolff. The list of the sad, bright and beautiful is long.
Glad you let us know about Lorri.
Thank you. Your story of her last story is chilling and haunting. Her goodbye.
Yes, the list is long. I am glad for any of their words left behind. Peace...
A story to be taken as seriously as Rimbaud's. Lorri Jackson's life seems full of meaning. It was great to learn about this fascinating, headlong person and artist.
Anyone who knows the reckless seduction of diving into a dangerous milieu can relate to this. The old saying, "What does not kill me makes me strong," doesn't count for much if you've not considered the possibilities and your faculties are less than intact when you make the plunge. You will probably not be the same or the better for it.
There is always the danger of the romantic notion that a season in hell will make an artist better, but the better the artist, the more dangerous and damaging the exposure can be. Some never return. But they will do what they will do anyway and cautionary tales will seldom make a difference. Cautionary tales sound like vanilla extract to those who are inclined to walk through that door.
Thanks for telling this, R.W.
Bob, it's a sad story and strange vis a vis the timing of her ms to you, as if you were meant to somehow be the keeper of her flame.
I immediately googled her and found two of her poems. They are knock out poems. Thanks for introducing me to her.
Shortly before his death Christopher Hitchens wrote an article that pretty much devastates the "What does not kill me makes me stronger" truism. It is Hitchens at his best.
John, that must be the Vanity Fair piece in January...Trial of the Will. Hitchens gone too soon as well. Appropos of above and cited by Hitchens, opening the VF article, Dylan: (no, not Dylan Thomas!)
Pointed threats, they bluff with scorn
Suicide remarks are torn
From the fool’s gold mouthpiece the hollow horn
Plays wasted words, proves to warn
That he not busy being born is busy dying.
—Bob Dylan, “It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)”
What a fascinating story. Thanks for pointing out the way to this poet.
Thanks for the intro. Is there any way of accessing Lorri's story, other than going to one of the two archives or your closet? Could it be put online?
I'm Googling the hell out of Lorri Jackson. I came to the alt zine world way late...October of 2005, to be exact, when I discovered the genius of Christopher Robin inside the now defunct but never forgotten Zen Baby. Zen Baby was the inspiration for my zine, Instant Pussy.
Andrew, I've been tempted - and very tempted - tp include it in an issue of Thrice for some time now. "And the Corpse..." (which was a play on "Exquisite Corpse" of surrealist lore), however, existed in several different forms. It was in poem form, and I do believe had two different versions in prose. It was a theme, and a recurring theme, in Lorri's work over some time.
But outside of that I'm not sure who owns the rights to it anymore, and a few years back I'd heard that her family was attempting to expunge the body of her work that dealt with the seamy undergrowth, so to speak. I'm not sure where I heard that or who told me, or even if it is so. So far I'm unwilling to put myself into that kind of mess.
There are items of Lorri's work that can be purchased online. To be totally honest I don't know where they're coming from or who is selling them, especially considering what appeared to be her parent's wishes about her memory.
That's the long way around the barn to explain that to answer your question - I have no idea.
Those googling the shit out of her may have run across this artifact;
One Death Every Eleven Seconds
When the pillow reaches
around your head in a hammerlock
blue light rings
your eyes with black coal
coal black sadness.
when you're dancing
in one corner of the room
like a little yellow fish
wandering in the wrong skool
the lights are so many
eyes its hard to discern the floor
until you hit it.
bouncing off the walls
a silver ball of red magnetic
fields talking slow to the
waitress of the favorite baby girl
who died last week w/out a
murmur overcome, it seems,
by a million emitting machines
all registering "No."
just a marvelous reminder of how tenuous the hold we have on life can be. i hope you do include it in thrice, i'd love to see it in print.
I found this one too.
She Wants A Boyfriend
she wants a boyfriend to compliment her
queen size bras bed
to all the money she spends
on his breakfasts
she stumbles home if she can
with teenage guitar players
sucks them off good, believes
handcuffs will keep them around
she wants her boyfriend
to notice how she jumps
when he says jump
she calls him on the phone
threatens to jump from the 26th floor
do what you gotta do
she wants her live in boyfriend
to stop exercizing his superior
the black eyes are shameful to explain
of course everyone wants to know
she wants a boyfriend who will paint
her toenails faithfully red
she tells all her girlfriends
to move out on their boyfriends
when hers is ignoring her
she let her boyfriend take poloroids
of her pussy and show it to all his friends
she let her boyfriend bring home some blonde
he picked up in a downtown bar
she did what her boyfriend wanted
and he finally left her for good
she cried rape for a few days
after giggling the knife up where it hurts
she knew a girl who knew a girl
who killed herself
by sticking a real gun up her cunt
of course she sits by the phone a lot
and at least used to cry on her pillow
Then there's this one, untitled, at Bloody Mess. I suspect it's called Because of You:
Because of you
I want to eat bacon
3 times a day, to sit
with my legs
spread, so that I can smell
my own strong self at breakfast
to have secret affairs behind
the world’s back, or at least
behind the 7-11, offering
to never look again
in a mirror, but to gaze
at my self constantly, that is
to wonder what it’s like
to look through your eyes
Because of you
I want to write good poems
or at least naked ones
big ones that wake me up
in the middle of the night
with a raging hard on
and sour breath that I love
to breathe in so much
and will until you wake up
screaming for air
Or little ones like a probing finger
that, like trust, are too hard to forget
but which can be gently removed
along contours of the spine, fingers
a million blinking eyes rendering infinity
Yes, because of you
I don’t mind, not one bit
being pagan, in fact, nuclear
not clear and clearly devastated
Because of you I will never be
happy, and so will write good happy poems
for the rest of my life. And for that
I may even develop the sense of humor
I’ve always wanted
Because of you I want
to fall down, laughing
get back up, go on
Because of you I will be
relentless, needles of sleep
another soft voice on your answering machine
collection of soft voices, a blue sky forever
sharp as a goodbye, a human interest story
read many times by an old lady
so that she may be
never alone or lonely. Because of you
I will suffer
a rush of lions, a lunch of habits
that have come to feed me
with predictable horrors
words falling from their toothless rotten mouths
me going so far as to say, “Get off of me
No wait, don’t get off of me, I need
to be weighed down, or else I will just
float away, just another bum.”
Because of you I won’t ask
those stupid morning birds to shut up
instead I’ll just ignore them, or let you
snore even louder in order to drown
them out, and then I’ll pretend
that I will never be robbed
by nazi skinheads ever again
And lastly, because of you
I will never be torn in two, but merely
yeah verily, comfortably, divided
as in half baked, no wait
quiet, raging, quiet, raging, quiet, raging
- Lorri Jackson
Also, you can download a zip file with 24 jpgs of the (stunning) cover and pages of My Mouth Is a Hole in My Face at:
Who's doing the book report? :-)
Fine work, keeping the flame burning. I tip my straw hat to you, blue collar cat.
What a story. Thanks for posting this. Her work is amazing. Maybe you can find out who owns the rights and get permission to put some of her work in "Thrice."
Some people in their writing never leaves you. It is sad she passed away from an Heroin overdose. I see this happen so much since I work with addicts. Once in awhile I get an artist/writer as a client. One guy in particular, I can't forget. He gave me his novel to read. It was amazing. Needed some editing but the talent was there. Don't know what happened to him or if he is alive yet but I will never forget him or his work.
So glad you shared this. I really want to read more of her work!
Wow. Love her work.