Sunday, November 06, 2005

Report to Hell, you fucking jackanapes!

Years ago, I co-published a rotten piece of bimonthly tripe known as Report to Hell. It was a literary "zine," as such an abomination was then known; the form has since mutated into the equally-lame "website" or "blog," which can be happily ignored for free (instead of sending cash or stamps and regretting it later). My buddy (Mr. Lantern Fishworks) and I started RTH as a way for our far-flung friends to contribute their writings to be consolidated into an intermittently published booklet, then to be distributed among interested acquaintances. I misbegottenly submitted our title to an outlet for poetry submissions, and soon began receiving a torrent of mail. Most of it, whether perpetrated by zine veteran or newbie, was really, really fucking dreadful. Originally, however, I stuck by my hey-isn't-everything-poetry-really? stance, and printed some literary crimes the like of which should only qualify the offending writer for a spot in a just and dispassionate hell. I soon became disgusted with the whole thing and flushed it, with the blessing of my conspirator. We've since spoken of reviving it many times, but the shitty taste in our mouths may never subside enough for this to occur.

Once or twice a year, I Google the name of our zine, and this time around I found something to regurgitate that vile taste: one "Raindog" (whose poetry is every bit as trite as his sadly self-applied moniker would imply) has grunted this dropping on, I think, his own website. (Trust me, it really doesn't afford further investigation.)

"EPG: So how did you first get into publishing?

RD: I started writing poetry again seriously in about 1993. I got a computer in 1994, my first computer. And I had sort of this renaissance of writing. I wrote 150 poems that year. And somewhere in there . . . somebody brought it to my attention that there were all these magazines out in the world that accepted poetry. The first magazine I submitted poetry to was called, "Report To Hell." It was a little stapled digest-sized thing that was kind of thrown together. It didn’t really look that great. And the editor insisted I use my real name as opposed to my writing name, which pissed me off. I thought, there’s gotta be a better way to do this. After successively trying to get published in other magazines and getting rejected; or having things published but then having the magazine look like garbage, I decided, well, I’ll publish my own magazine."


I felt a perverse need to reply to this. Here's what I emailed to "RD":

I was the main editor of Report to Hell. I didn't "insist" that your real name be used. It's just that the name "Raindog" was so douchey (and still is, and will be forevermore) that I couldn't bring myself to use it. I printed your poetry simply because I received it, having, at the time, some hippie notion that any and all poetry was at least worth distributing. I changed that ridiculously liberal policy soon after, and eventually stopped publishing entirely because I finally realized that nearly everything I got was crap. Good riddance to zines (as far as I know and care), and fuck poetry and its dead mama in the ass.

Best,
Paul

I like that he considered writing 150 poems in a year a "renaissance." I'd call it unrelenting diarrhea. At least I knew my crap was crap--this guy thinks his is literature. I bet he reads his poetry out loud, the pussyfart. "It really didn't look that great." Gee, I'm sorry this zine out of Calabash, North Carolina didn't look like Utne Reader, you stupid, self-aggrandizing twat. And yes, I know that the name is a Tom Waits reference: when he uses it, it's cool; when you call yourself it, it's just gay and embarrassing.

I guess that's my first official blogrant. (And to be fair, RTH had its occasional charms.)

11/6, 6:17 pm... Okay, I'm less angry about the whole thing now, so to put it into perspective I dug out the issue of RTH with Steve "Raindog" (ugh) Armstrong's poetry in it. Ironically, the way the mag looks is one of the few things I like about it, but I can see why the hacks we published rarely liked it. It obviously doesn't take the whole zine thing seriously, and these people were nothing if not dogmatically earnest about their dubious art. I see that I did use the name "Raindog" in the front, but the page with his poem uses his real name, heaven forbid. I recall that he sent a bunch of poems. The one I used is terrible, so I can just imagine the wretchedness of the rejects. I probably shouldn't print it here, but I'll sum it up: hotel as metaphor for relationship, or some such blather. It's like, I'm gonna paint this place and clean it with Murphy's, and then you can check in and someone will take your bags. That is seriously about the gist of it. It's called Vacancy, which also describes his imagination. Anyway, "Raindog" answered my admittedly pissy (and piss-drunk) missive. He agreed that 98% of what's out there is crap and that it's good I don't do it anymore, and that was it. What a dullard. He could've at least called me an asshole.

Looking through that RTH has invigorated me, though. I think I'll start writing uninspired poetry again and inflict it on the poor dopes still publishing that crap. Except this time around, I'm going to call myself "Thundercat."

5 Comments:

Blogger MO'SH said...

Dear Thundercat,

Thanks for saving me the disreputable duty of writing a blog about RTH. I had begun research the other day, having dug through the dusty but sadly not yet deteriorated box of RTH submissions and paste-ups. I did scan in a cover and persue said issue. Of course, our (meaning not "their") submissions that were not "serious" poetry is hilarious at times, especially Jim and Brian's. When it got away from the things we'd always talk about when together in Cortland or down in NC (and of course drinking bottom shelf malts and liqueors), the whole zine went to shit. Never let in the outside! There's a reason those fuckers are out there in the first place.

I might submit a "Best of" to the blog. It will be brief.

Sincerely,
L.O.D.I.

Mon Nov 07, 09:54:00 AM 2005  
Blogger Brian Kunath said...

I still have a stack of Report to Hell's. How they survived when so much of my other stuff has dissapeared over the years is a mystery.

When I first came to NYC, I used the 'zine in my resume to round out my writing experience. Of course, I called it "RTH" not Report to Hell. That might have been a little startling to prospective employers.

Actually, some of my old submissions were a little startling to me. What the hell was I writing about?

Mon Nov 07, 10:28:00 AM 2005  
Blogger the feeb said...

how about "clarke nova"? is that better than "raindog"?

Mon Nov 07, 01:55:00 PM 2005  
Blogger MO'SH said...

Shit, "Raindog" poesied with the strength of a renuzit plug-in.

clarke nova wrote like Armageddon!

Mon Nov 07, 03:48:00 PM 2005  
Anonymous raindog said...

the key

to

writing

shitty poetry is

lots of random spaces

I was n(ever) opposed II
t[r]ying a few

skcimmig myself(ish)

-raindog

Mon Nov 07, 05:16:00 PM 2005  

Post a Comment

<< Home