Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Battle of . . .

So the title of the sixth poem in Purpose and Devil Piss, my first full-length collection that is available for pre-order on the Sibling Rivalry Press website here or on Amazon, is called "The Battle of . . ." And ending a sentence with a poem title that ends with an ellipses is really a pain in the ass; I believe one does not add a period. I have to get out my Chicago Manual of Style for this one.

I am fairly certain that I wrote this poem on my lunch break at work. I was working at Prentice Hall School as a production editor, doing all of the copyediting and proofreading in-house. I worked on middle-school and high school textbooks. The first book I worked on there was a world history textbook. In the seven years I worked at the place, I gained a lot of knowledge, sort of a reeducation. It's unfortunate that I only remember every tenth or so tidbit of information that got stuck in my head. At the time that I wrote this poem, I was sitting in a cubicle. Eventually I was given an office, which fucking rocked. I was in an office for like the last five years I worked there. There were no windows, but that was totally fine--because there was a door and walls.

I don't have much more to say about this poem except that I've always felt it was one of my more successful poems. And a coworker of mine, who was (and still is) a dear friend (who I don't speak to often enough), did actually walk out of the office building on a very sunny day holding an open umbrella because he claimed he didn't want the sunlight hitting him. This friend is a crazy talented writer in his own right, and he and I used to work on a prose project called "Him," in which we began this story about this rotten old man who worked at a textbook publishing company and had an overweight, chain-smoking, foul-mouthed ex-wife and a bisexual, suicidal, drug-addicted delinquent teenage son. It's a real laugh riot. Maybe one of these days we'll continue "Him" and finish it. I should ask my friend if he'd mind if I post some of it here. I think it eventually deserves an audience.

I have to flee now.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Party Pooper

"Party Pooper" is the fifth poem in my book, Purpose and Devil Piss. It's an older poem too. I wrote it in early 1999. I was working as a temp at Prentice Hall. I was the production assistant for the ESL college books division, meaning I assisted all of the electronic production editors (who were really in-house typesetters, something pretty much unheard of in publishing these days) and the development editors. This is where I began my journey into the world of copyediting and proofreading. I even assisted the art department at times. As the assistant to nearly the entire division, I was in charge of ordering the supplies. At some point a new electronic ordering program was brought in and I was instructed to attend a seminar on learning how to use this new program. You can imagine how thrilled I was. Since I was twenty-four and still partying a lot, I'm sure I was running on five or less hours of sleep, which is why the poem probably begins with sadness over March having no three-day holiday weekends and concern over drinking too much coffee. Now that I think of it, I guess I wrote this poem in March of 1999. That was an extremely life-changing year for me, but I'm not getting into that now or here. Read the book. Ha ha ha. You can view it as a puzzle, putting together the pieces of someone else's life.

So this is also the first poem of mine that was ever published. It appeared in a fanzine called Swallow Your Pride in June 1999. This fanzine was handed out at an event in Dumbo on June 19, 1999, called Gay Shame '99. The department assistant of the New School Writing Program at the time was one of the organizers of the event and the fanzine and asked some of us queer MFA students if we had any work we'd like to submit. I thought this poem would fit in perfectly with their agenda. Here's a statement from the introduction to the fanzine:

"We are ashamed of Chelsea homegeneity, 'community' as a corporate target market, Giuliani in the 'pride' parade, foaming-at-the-mouth praise for anti-feminist 'pro-gay' beer advertising, and reactionary 'we're just like you' gays and lesbians who ally themselves with straight, racist conservatives."

Here's a link to the Wikipedia page for the Gay Shame movement:

And here's a link to the ZineWiki page for Swallow Your Pride:

Check it all out.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Plastic Bags and Coated Leashes

I wrote the poem "Plastic Bags and Coated Leashes" in a poetry workshop class with David Lehman during my graduate work at the New School. I don't remember what the assignment was but I've always loved this poem. The best part was that David wrote, "Brilliant!" on it. I don't think I'll ever forget that; therefore I'll always feel good about this poem. I had to add it to my book, even though it's older than the rest of the poems in the collection. I think there are only two other poems in the book that are older. Anyway, it takes place in a small drycleaners. I worked at a drycleaners my last two years of high school and the first two years I was in college. On Saturdays I would work by myself in a small drycleaners in an upper-middle-class to rich town in northern Bergen County, New Jersey. Most of the houses in this town were mansions, so you can just imagine the people that were customers. And you also can imagine the things I found in people's pockets, ranging from a used condom to money to a twenty bag of cocaine. And once Andrew Dice Clay come into the cleaners because he and his family had recently moved to the area. The best part was that I was listening to Sinead O'Connor when I saw him coming toward the store. I ran to the boom box and shut it off. Considering she refused to perform on Saturday Night Live when he was the host, I figured it probably wasn't a good idea to leave her music playing. He came behind the counter to grab his clothes off the spinning rack. It was very strange, but he was very nice. I liked his wife; she came in more often. Typically I had been out all night at the nightclub The Tunnel the previous evening so I would be working on one or two hours of sleep, if that. It was bad, but I always made it to work.

"I say WAR!"

Friday, September 13, 2013

Photo in the Silver Bedroom

The third poem in my book "Photo in the Silver Bedroom" was actually written for a class assignment back in college, circa 1995. The teacher, Carole Stone, asked us to write a poem based on a photograph. (And by the way, Carole Stone is an amazing poet whose most recent book Hurt, the Shadow was released by Dos Madres Press in June 2013. Find it here: She taught me much in the three creative writing classes I had with her [two of which were poetry writing classes], and she helped me focus on finding my voice and expanding it. I honestly don't know if my work would have become what it is today if it wasn't for her influence back then.)

So at some point nearly ten years ago or less, I rediscovered the poem and heavily revised it. I ended up liking it so much that I decided to include it in the manuscript that became Purpose and Devil Piss. And so now I want to share the photograph of me and my friend Stephanie that the poem was based on. The photo was taken in 1994 or 1995 in the "silver bedroom" at the New York City nightclub The Tunnel. The door to this room was guarded by the clubkid Sushi, so it was kind of VIP, or whoever he felt was worthy of entering. We were regulars and snappy dressers, so we always got in. I have many stories about that room and the club. At the same time that the "silver bedroom" existed, there was also a room in The Tunnel filled with yellow plastic balls that you could jump into, like one of those ball rooms at a Chucky Cheese. You can just imagine how much fun that was in the middle of the night all fucked up on something or another at a nightclub. Here's the damn photo:

And here's what my boyfriend did to the same photo after he scanned it into his computer before e-mailing it to me:

I felt that this version needed to be shared as well. I love my Divine makeup.

While thinking about this post, I also began thinking about a classmate of mine from those poetry classes. His name is Josh Humphrey, and I'm a huge fan of his work. Honestly, I still believe that I like his poetry more than three-quarters of the work I've read from others through the years since then. If there was ever a poet who deserved to get a collection of his work published it's him. His work has appeared multiple times in the Paterson Literary Review, as well as other journals. Here's a little bio I found online:

"In his richly narrative poems, Josh Humphrey crafts hauntingly evocative scenes and settings, often historical, with characters that display true emotional depth and unique points of view. His live recitations are compelling. Josh’s poetry has most recently appeared in The New Plains Review and The Talking River Review. Previous works have been published in The Journal of New Jersey Poets, Lips, The Paterson Literary Review, Soundings East, Lullwater Review, Sensations, Mentil Soup and Ibbetson Street. He was runner up in the Allen Ginsberg Poetry Competition for 2009, and has received honorable mention for this award on three previous occasions. He won the Merlyn Girard Poetry Prize in 1999 and the ‘America at War’ Poetry Contest, sponsored by Sensations Magazine, in 2004. He was one of the inaugural co-features for the William Carlos Poetry Cooperative in Rutherford, New Jersey, in January 2006."

The last thing I could find about him online was that he received an honorable mention for the 2011 Allen Ginsberg Poetry Competition. I just e-mailed him before writing this post so we can catch up. The last time I saw him was at a reading he did at the Cornelia Street Cafe in either 2005 or 2006. I'm hoping he'll let me post one of his poems on my blog. It seems like he's somewhat well known already, but if I can introduce him to any new readers, that would be cool.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Dreaming It

The second poem in my book is called "Dreaming It." Part of it takes place in a movie theater during a showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, during "Touch-a, Touch-a, Touch Me."

I remember the first time I saw The Rocky Horror Picture Show at the movie theater on 6th Ave. by 3rd St. that is now the IFC Center. I don't remember what that theater was called in 1990. Anyway, they made each virgin stand up and then the entire audience shouted "Fuck you!" It wasn't so bad compared to other places.

"I want to be dirty."

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


Phantasm and The Brood are two of my favorite horror movies ever. Both have provided fond memories from my childhood. Find out why in the first poem in my book Purpose and Devil Piss, now available for preorder on the Sibling Rivalry Press site here and on Amazon here

Both of these films were released in 1979.

The Brood features a little girl being attacked by child-sized monsters wearing puffy hooded body suits.

I was either four or five years old when my father took me to see this movie. I enjoyed it.

Phantasm also features people being assaulted by child-sized monsters wearing hoods, but they are not the same creatures. The main villain is the Tall Man. He scared the shit out of me when I saw this movie. I was either four or five when I saw this one too. Again, my father thought it was a good idea. I was freaked out but I still liked it.

All of this in 1979, the year I started kindergarten.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Upcoming Publications, Besides the Book

So with nothing better to blog about, or perhaps for a lack of interest in actual blogging, I'm going to just mention some upcoming publications, besides my first full-length collection of poetry, Purpose and Devil Piss, being released by Sibling Rivalry Press on October 8, 2013.

At some point this fall, my poem "Gay Life During Wartime" will be published on The Nervous Breakdown.

And also at some point in the remainder of this year or possibly early next year, my short story "Lunch" will appear in an upcoming issue of the gay short-fiction journal Jonathan, also by Sibling Rivalry Press.

That's it for now. Hopefully I'll have more publication announcements down the road.

I'll certainly be listing more readings as each one gets closer.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Xavier and Siek at Poets House October 19, 2013

Emanuel Xavier and I will be having a combined book release reading/party on Saturday, October 19, celebrating the release of my debut collection, Purpose and Devil Piss (on sale October 8), and Xavier's new collection, Nefarious (on sale October 15), starting at 6:30 p.m. at the Poets House, located at 10 River Terrace in Manhattan. Here's a link to the Poets House website:

Come one, come all. Please join us. It should be a blast.

I don't know about Emanuel, but I plan on tearing your soul apart--ha ha ha, totally kidding--but I know everyone in the audience will just be gagging.

Let us entertain you.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013


My boyfriend, Ryan Collier, has this kick-ass band called TeribalAnamal. They have an EP called Anamala that is available on Spotify and iTunes. Check it out.

Go to their Facebook page

Go to their ReverbNation page

Explore the world of TeribalAnamal.

Their video for the song "Mourning Dove" on YouTube is an absolute must-see. Check it out here:

All hail the TeribalAnamal!

Monday, September 02, 2013

Purpose and Devil Piss

My first full-length collection of poetry, Purpose and Devil Piss, is being released by Sibling Rivalry Press on October 8, 2013. It's available for preorder now.

Here's what others have already said about the book:

"Robert Siek’s poems have this rich, layered dailiness about them that seems to both gobble up and perfectly attenuate everything he touches on, and he knows just how and where and what and who to touch. I’ve been his work’s dedicated reader and fan for ages, and, even so, the beauty, feeling, and tech on display in Purpose and Devil Piss has knocked me for a loop." —Dennis Cooper

"I applaud Robert Siek’s candor, his eschewal of embellishment, his hardscrabble rhythms, his documentary fidelity to everyday life’s seamy texture. Whether oriented toward erotic bliss or toward bummed-out isolation, he writes for survival’s sake. He makes poetry seem important again; unacknowledged legislator, he reinvents verse’s divine mandate. I feel at home in Siek’s universe, especially when his lines put out the welcome mat for sordid customers." —Wayne Koestenbaum

"If you enjoy poems that are fresh, fun, and fuckin’ fabulous, urine luck! Robert Siek’s Purpose and Devil Piss will leave you feeling just a little bit dirty and totally purified with his fearless word flow."
–Emanuel Xavier

Go here to preorder: