I received a PDF of Poncho Peligroso's full-length poetry book manuscript, "The Romantic," from Poncho. The cover he designed features an image of Poncho exhibiting a serious facial expression while holding up a red Converse high-top.
I liked "The Romantic." It is ~90 pages of poetry, split up by the months of the year, which appear sporadically in large font on the page, sometimes crossed out. This graphic representation of the passing of time reminded me a little of the screen titles in the film (500) Days of Summer. While the passing of months is not presented non-chronologically, as in that film, "The Romantic" does open, unconventionally, with an epilogue, or rather, 2 epilogues.
"epilogue, part 1" expresses a desire to remain in a beautiful but necessarily impermanent moment in life with someone, while "epilogue, part 2" expresses a more rational yet still romantic (in my opinion) desire to be with someone and love him or her for as long as is reasonable/possible. With these 2 epilogues, Poncho expresses some of the duality upon which the rest of the poems build and which they complicate---namely, the poet's desire for transcendent love in a transient existence, and the struggles inherent to someone who has an overwhelmingly rational mind.
"fuck you i write what i want"
These poems exhibit a lot of what I perceive (via the internet) to be aspects of Poncho's personality: a light-hearted sarcasm, a fixation on sex, an endearing (to me) earnestness. An example of the first thing would be the lines "eventually, the oregon trail / developed into portland / whose bright idea was that." An example of the second would be the statement, now immortalized in a computer wallpaper designed by Steve Roggenbuck, "i want to do nothing but have unprotected sex with you forever." An example of the third thing would be the lines "i miss my dead cat from six years ago / i'm crying now."
Other poems indicate Poncho's sense of humor, such as "natural born salesmen," wherein the protagonist convinces a bunch of friends to crowd into his dorm room to watch "brazilian shit porn"---screaming, vomiting, and mass exodus ensue. My other favorite funny poem is "who doesn't love tibetan eagles," which contains the lines "if you don't love tibetan eagles you hate freedom / is what i'm saying here." Other poems demonstrate Poncho's self-consciousness about his privileged status as a white, middle-class male, as in the poem "why am i writing all this goddamn poetry." I felt like the poems had as much variety in tone and personality as the poet seems to, and that made me happy.
I like when poems or other creative works seem to embody the artist's personality, whether the work is autobiographical or symbolic, funny or sad (or both). Increasingly, I think this is something I value in nearly all of my favorite artists, for example: J.D. Salinger, Woody Allen, James Joyce, Jean-Luc Godard, Virginia Woolf, Federico Fellini, Pablo Picasso, Kanye West, Tao Lin, Andy Warhol, John Lennon, et al.
I think one of the reasons these artists are so popular is because their personality is so strong in their art, and thus the work "implants" an idea of the artist-as-person in the reader/viewer's mind and "lives" there in the imagination. In my experience, imagining an artist as a person either while "taking in" their work or afterwards can cause me to experience a fresher awareness of myself, my surroundings, or, abstractly, my life. In this way, the barrier between art and life becomes blurred and porous, which is exciting. Life as art, art as life, to me, is a fulfillment of life's already existing capacity for ecstatic joy, for creative, natural release. Which is an abstract way of saying, art can be exciting to me, and when it is, I am also more excited about life, and that feels great, and makes me think life is sweeter than I previously felt it was.
This quality in my favorite writing could be described as "superliterary," which I would define as "beyond literary," extra-dimensional, a deepening, to me a positive thing, not negative (as a certain very confident writer deemed it elsewhere).
Got a little sidetracked, yall.
Getting back to Poncho's manuscript, Poncho's style reminds me a little of Tao Lin's at times, although I didn't feel like he was "aping" Tao very much at all, and the verbal expression of his self-consciousness and mental processing, as well as his Brief Interviews-like presentation of male sexuality, reminds me a little of David Foster Wallace. Also, interestingly, literally just after I thought the words "Lydia Davis," the poem I was reading referenced "cremains," and that word is the basis for a Lydia Davis piece.
"hey pretty girl / i like you"
"The Romantic" feels like a whole work, by which I mean I felt satisfied at the end of it, like I had spent some time in another person's head, and he had tried to show me many of his thoughts and feelings, including the painful ones and the ones that are hard to express.