Hello, dear listeners and readers.
Here is the statement that I read during my new chapbook's virtual release event, on the night of Saturday, May 5th. Following that statement is a poem, which I also read during my performance, for which I should receive $200, if Yemassee Journal is able to secure it for me (though the administration refused to give me paperwork for that).
This statement pretty much covers the thoughts I had to keep close to my chest until that occasion:
"Thank you all so much for joining me tonight [or thank you for reading me now]. Before I dive into my poetry, I just want to thank the Yemassee Journal for being a really supportive team of student editors, Beau Collins for my chapbook’s gorgeous cover art, and the brilliant poet Dustin Pearson for selecting my manuscript. Wow!
"Lastly, I want to give a quick “shoutout” to the University of South Carolina, which was perfectly prepared not to offer me one single penny to perform for you at this reading. Only after Yemassee editor Alex Mayer rose up to speak out for me and I threatened to involve the National Writers Union did they offer me and the Fiction winner, Lynn Mundell (congratulations, Lynn!), an “honorarium” of $200 apiece, which is still only one third of my rate—a pretty modest rate as academic readings are concerned.
"This is a flagrant attempt to steal creative labor, and the main reason I join you here now is because I am genuinely enthused to share my poems with you all; however, an institution such as a university should not feel free to exploit this enthusiasm, and the other reason for my joining you is to encourage you always to challenge such flagrance, along with the myriad abuses by our world’s owners of the working class and working artists; and to that end, my fellow workers, we must organize.
"Now, on to my very communist poetry, which the academic administration clearly did not read nor understand. Abbondanza!"
And now, my comrades, for the poem (buckle up, kids):
An Open Letter to the University of Sucking Blood from My Queer Ass
Your chosen name
is the “University of South Carolina,”
but that is deeply unfair
to the peoples of any Carolina
on our Earth—because, for one, Yemassee
is a tribe of your state’s native people
and not just the student journal you underfund;
but for another, vis-á-vis
just the “You and Me” of it all:
giving me your pocket change
for the creative labor
of reading my poems
to your audience because
you have affixed my likeness
to your glimmering shell
like some fancy undersea crab,
only once you could no longer
simply soft-enslave me for it
after I had told you my usual rate
and the name of my union,
does not (to my casual understanding)
totally fit the definition of an “honorarium.”
To date, I have spent nearly half
of my “honorarium”
on some indica-sativa hybrid marijuana
that ought to help me fathom you.
To my mind, you are nothing
but the University
of Sucking on My Fat Jewish Ass
with a Gigantic Sharpened Crazy Straw
because you are not even cool
enough to be a cadre
of actual vampires; for one,
you lack the aesthetics
of sublime human desire
or abject deathlessness.
Hold on a moment—
is that second one true? Meh.
However dull your aesthetic,
your colossal mouth
yet drips with my life-
blood, and a stake must be plunged
into your obscene chest. To wit:
as you will witness,
I have metamorphosed
into that anarchy clown
whom the masses affectionately
regard as, The Joker—
at first, this might strike us as
an imprecise description
of the mythical villain called “Joker”
and/or an ideologically complete “Anarchy”;
nevertheless, the Joker has reasserted
himself into our pop-cultural milieu,
and we must account for him
and also anarchy. I am become Joker,
destroyer of minds; you have made me so,
and you must account for me.
Now, as for anarchy: those damned Sex
Pistols aside, Anarchy
has already swept the hearts of the United
Kingdom, and today it is here
within the hearts of your flock; to paraphrase
biblical scripture, “We are legion.”
But—just between us—
it didn’t have to go this way;
all I wanted was six hundred
fifty dollars. I love
six hundred fifty dollars!
Six hundred fifty is my favorite
amount of dollars
that is ultimately meager (to you).
You might be accustomed to viewing
yourselves as, like, gods
who can feel free to zip it out and piss
from your towering heaven unto
all such as my clownish face, but
to me, the lot of you is, like, way drugged out
and shoved into a driverless public
school bus, blindfolded,
and I am roaring past you
on a bitchin’ hog
revving my engine
and shouting over my back,
“DROP OUTTA SCHOOL,
— Stevie Subrizi, 3/2022