The Operating System

POETRY MONTH 30/30/30: Day 6 :: Matthew Nelson and Jacob Perkins on Paul Legault

Interview with the Self
Jacob Perkins &
Matt Nelson
Q: In what way has Paul Legault improved your sex life?
A: It’s a tough question. We’d like to point out that we didn’t get into sir Legault on our own. Like any good relationship it takes, at the very least, two. Our friend read from his book in the subway and all she had to say was, “This guy will turn you inside out,” which he of course didn’t. No one can do that to you and if they try, you should call the proper MTA authorities. But he did turn us outside in, as in what the ufkc? His poems trick you into thinking you’re reading multiple voices shouting in a space where shouts can echo, colliding with each other and creating new sounds. But the intellectual gift is that all the voices are thrown. There is only one Wizard in this Oz. Legault takes control of your equilibrium and maintains a kind of trustless navigation that is impossible to follow on first read.
Q: What method of Paul Legault’s language turns you on and why?
A: Well, if you are one of those who can pick out patterns, Mr. Legault, at least in The Other Poems, which, by the way is titled on the sub-title tacked to most collections of poetry, sticks pretty close to what we would describe as a format. In our own work the format relies on a series of folds (literal) which we attack as a unit, one space at a time, passing our work back and forth without verbal cooperation. This results in a timing based on mutual challenge and uncomfortability. It is unpredictable but refreshing, the rhythm. Paul (can we call him Paul?) discomforts the supposition that what you read before was what was you read before. Every line, every word is a question game. When did the adjective turn into a noun? How can time be turned into space with just the tiniest turn of a preposition? These are the types of strange knife twists Paul manipulates causing a poetry hemorrhage, showing you the insides of words.
Q: Describe how you’ve incorporated hemorrhaging into your own poetry.
A: Hemorrhaging is something we carry between the divide, a type of bleeding that connects our ideas subconsciously. Telepathy. Empathy. Transfusion of reality into an ‘other’ medium. Paul crafts dialogues which cannot extend past himself, except they can and certainly do when you consider the role of the reader. We talk at length about voice. There is always some grumbling but we’ve come to understand voice as a conversation that takes place within the writer. Voice is the central idea and also the central product of our work. Our interest is in creating a voice that exists as one entity, produced by two minds, something uncertain that notions of ‘knowledge’ can’t contain. We look to Paul for enlightenment on that dialogue in terms of characters who should inherently have their own voice, their own words, but are always in relation to whoever else is in the room. Almost any(every)thing can have a voice.

Paul Legault, The Other Poems
How dare you
invent God in a bathtub that you dreamt was a tower
full of daisies made of flour in Spain.
SUMMER: Never trust a butler.
BADGER TOM: You’re the only one who understands me.
POPE JOHN PAUL: This is it, badger.
BADGER JOHN PAUL: Can’t you talk without pointing that gun?
In the confessional, there are ten buttons
a man you want to have sex with is pushing.
His name is Saskatchewan Saskatoon.
SASKATCHEWAN SASKATOON: You work here, angel?
ROSES: He would spend it on the ponies.
MAYAKOVSKY AS A PONY: And just why shouldn’t he?
I am quite serious about the problematic nature
of suns wearing sunglasses.
Q: Why should readers want an erection while accessing these tongues?
A: There is a certain pose more apt to Surrealistic or Absurdist type poetry than most. One must enter into the conversation ready to stretch their intellect over their eyes and forget a lot about rhythm or flowering. We are interested in the opacity of the ideas, the undefined center, about which these conversations and monologues are taking place and at which they never arrive without the reader. This relates to the happy intercourse, of course, precipitated by a willing party. You want to be messed with. You want to be serious and spontaneous and open and stringent all while concurrently changing your own idea to what’s going on in the world/poem in order to have the best experience possible, if that’s possible. We believe that is possible.
Q: Where can I find you a bum to kiss?
A: We live in Bed-Stuy and if you’re lucky we’ll be working close to the subway and you won’t need much car service fare to find us. Try the library. Try a metal grate blowing hot air at 2 AM. The point is that if you want to find us you’ll need at least a gallon of coffee and a Muji 0.38 ink pen. If you want to find Paul, look for him in his books. There, there are “Paul” characters speaking, but if you want to see the real meat Paul, his new book, The Emily Dickinson Reader, is about to be birthed this August (2012). So get ready to let Paul’s ropey voice down into your ear wells.
Q: Is there any way to better my chances of being saved by Ryan Gosling?
A: Put yourself in terrorizing situations. Step out against the light on Houston without looking. Ask the nice woman standing next to you where she was born and how bitter cold it was and finish her sentence with a telephone number from North Dakota, disconnected since preschool. Or just follow our work, Fifty-fifties, or, Jacob’s poetry at how THE FUCK did we end up on a steamboat, or, Matt’s work at My Brother Became Dependent on Online Walkthroughs.

Editor’s Note: Could I love Matt and Jacob more? Their 50/50’s project will be profiled here sooner than you can say banana. Ok, maybe sooner than you can say banana in a week or so. They asked that I highlight this video, where they alternately read the beautiful dual-fold prose-pieces that they co-write (see below)… it took a few listens before I realised that this particular one just might start with the story of me meeting Matt at the chapbook festival and inviting he and Jacob to POTLATCH 2012 — where we *WERE* all spirit-animal love, but unfortunately to which no one brought pemmican, which is a shame.  Next time!



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