Forum / I Always Back My Writers, Even When They OD

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    RW Spryszak
    Jun 21, 12:28pm

    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.

    http://www.burkhartstudios.com/gallery/interview.htm

    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

    http://readwritelibrary.org/content/fiction-review-number-10

    And in the libraries of The Ohio State University Avant Writing Collection.

    http://library.osu.edu/finding-aids/rarebooks/JMBcomplete107.php

    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.

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    Nicolette Wong
    Jun 21, 12:52pm

    Oh, man. What a story. Thanks for sharing.

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    Lucinda Kempe
    Jun 21, 01:39pm

    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.

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    Linda Simoni-Wastila
    Jun 21, 01:43pm

    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...

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    David Ackley
    Jun 21, 02:33pm

    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.

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    James Lloyd Davis
    Jun 21, 04:46pm

    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.

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    Susan Tepper
    Jun 21, 08:08pm

    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.

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    John Riley
    Jun 21, 09:11pm

    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.

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    Doug Bond
    Jun 22, 12:14am

    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)”

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    Joani Reese
    Jun 22, 12:16am

    What a fascinating story. Thanks for pointing out the way to this poet.

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    Andrew Stancek
    Jun 22, 12:49am

    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?

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    Misti Rainwater-Lites
    Jun 22, 02:47am

    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.

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    RW Spryszak
    Jun 22, 12:45pm

    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.

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    RW Spryszak
    Jun 22, 12:48pm

    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
    screaming peacocks
    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."

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    James Claffey
    Jun 22, 02:08pm

    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.

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    John Riley
    Jun 22, 02:30pm

    I found this one too.

    ***

    She Wants A Boyfriend

    she wants a boyfriend to compliment her
    queen size bras bed
    pay attention
    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
    he says
    do what you gotta do
    she wants her live in boyfriend
    to stop exercizing his superior
    physical strength
    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

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    Barry Basden
    Jun 22, 09:29pm

    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

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    Barry Basden
    Jun 22, 09:39pm

    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:

    http://www.mediafire.com/?1z1mh1tm2fe

    Who's doing the book report? :-)

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    See ya
    Jun 23, 06:12pm

    Fine work, keeping the flame burning. I tip my straw hat to you, blue collar cat.

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    Gloria Mindock
    Jun 26, 03:29pm

    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!

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    Penny Goring
    Jun 27, 02:38am

    Wow. Love her work.

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    RW Spryszak
    Jul 02, 10:12am

    Follow up note.

    Years beyond this posting I received a letter from Lorri's sister referencing this post and confiding that there was no such effort by her family to "expunge" her work, which I am glad to hear.

    I'd tried to contact her in the past and now that I have her email, maybe I can find my way to putting that story back up in a coming Thrice.

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    RW Spryszak
    May 09, 12:56am

    This post. These participants. This web site. It all began right here. And culminated with this tonight. A very big moment for our little publishing house, and the family who survived her...

    https://www.amazon.com/dp/1945334010/

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