Ajebota by Precious Okoyomon – Review by Mitra Jouhari

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I feel like I can’t do Ajebota justice and that whatever I say won’t be enough for a book of poetry that alternates rapidly between the sharp intake of breath and deep release of it – seeing feelings you have never figured out how to verbalize sitting right there on the page will do that to you. (I will say the word “feel” 100 more times in this review because Precious writes with her heart and her gut and every poem feels visceral and a little painful and very cathartic.)

I knew I was in for it on page one, even before the table of contents – “It was nice to know that you were looking at me when i was looking at you.” It’s simple, it’s a gut punch, it’s beautiful. Her love is a lot like your love, even though we like to think that every love story is a revelation – you looked at me when I looked at you, and that’s all it took. Ajebota, to me, says that we are all a lot less complicated than we think, but it’s okay to be overwhelmed by our inner lives, too.

I was projecting a lot while I was reading Ajebota – obviously it’s easy to apply your own experiences to writing, especially poetry, but Precious makes it especially easy to lose yourself in the way she writes about intimate emotions without making them so specific that you feel boxed out. Reading Ajebota at times feels like emotional voyeurism and and at others feels as though the words have been lifted straight from your bones. It is conversational and relatable, with lines worded in ways that feel like something I could say and at the same time like something I could never find words to express.

Ajebota is full of contradictions. Precious shakes and rattles you and then reassures you, writes of hating everyone but being unable to stop herself from falling in love with everyone, cares deeply but can’t take action. It feels like nostalgia for something that you still have. It is very female – loving the feel of the female body and losing yourself in your love for another person. Precious writes about sex and vaginas in a blunt and direct way that I don’t see often. Sometimes sex is just fucking and sometimes it’s the world, but it’s nice to see Ajebota talk about sex without resorting to flowery language. Ajebota is beautiful in its simplicity. There’s nothing excessive – it’s just feeling.

Precious is trying to understand herself and her relationships and her identity and everything else through her poetry and we’re lucky to be along for the ride. She discusses sex, race (“HEAVY // A BLACK OBJECT” – wow), love, lust, burritos, her phone, her body, her mind, and a lot more. Everything has weight and at the same time nothing matters – as Precious puts it, “Everything is just a thing.”

Simply put, Ajebota rules. Check it out so you can lose yourself and find yourself in it. You will love her words.
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Ajebota is now available from Bottlecap Press. Buy it here.

 

Mitra Jouhari is a Brooklyn-based writer/comedian. She works at Full Frontal w/ Samantha Bee and is a member of the Three Busy Debras and the Holy Fuck Comedy Hour.

The Lost Inventions of Nikola Telsa

The Lost Inventions of Nikola Tesla-page-001

 

 

A source close to REALITY BEACH recently forwarded us some exciting news:

“In what will prove to be an unmistakably significant moment in the history of Science, a collection of previously-unpublished inventions by the ineffable Mr. Nikola Tesla has been collected, painstakingly edited, and now freely distributed by writer and comedian Ron Lechler.

Tesla, perhaps now best known as the guy David Bowie played in The Prestige, was one of the most important inventors and engineers in mankind’s history. His brilliance was criminally unrecognized in his time, but in the intervening decades, the Science Community has come to understand the vital role his work has had in many fields: electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, making huge-ass coils that shoot out lightning bolts, the study of magnetic fields, and getting fucked over by that opportunist and ne’er-do-well Edison.”

Our interest piqued, we downloaded this collection of Tesla’s inventions, and found its contents to be not only brilliant, but also hilarious.

The Lost Inventions of Nikola Tesla-page-007

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Perhaps most surprising about these lost inventions is that reveal not a mind brimming with the secret forms of energy production, or the mystic source of energy, but someone just like us.

 

The Lost Inventions of Nikola Tesla-page-019

 

After reading the collection in it’s entirety, we agree with Dr. Thoreau P. Blackwater, curator at the Brooklyn Institute for Secret Documents, who’s stated “Ron Lecher has done a service for the world in bringing together some of his most disparate, and indeed, most “game-changing” inventions, which before now have never been seen by the eyes of the public.” So we reached out to Mr Lecher, in an effort to learn more about the editorial process that resulted in this book, in the only way we know how, the REALITY BEACH QUESTIONNAIRE.

How do you take your coffee?

I take it black.

Tell us a little about the experience of finding these amazing sketches.

It was pretty incredible. The blueprints were found in a storage locker on the island of Manhattan. Apparently he had paid for it for like 70 years in advance. People kept asking me, “Ron, is this real? Did you really recover lost blueprints for Tesla’s inventions? Did you somehow gain this incredible access to secrets that have for decades been kept from the scientific community?” I’m not going to lie to you. Yes. Yes, I did.

Where can we buy some of these inventions?

I don’t think any of them exist yet, but I think with a little effort and a lot of imagination, you could make some yourself.

What’s the last thing you burned?

Either figurative bridges or literal evidence.

Where is your beach?

I don’t know how much people think I’m making from the sale of this book, but I want to be clear that I do not have a beach.

What’s the best line on the fifth page of the book closest to you?

“I’m right here.” from page 5 of The Road by Cormac McCarthy

What’s your favorite sport?

Hockey fights.

What’s the ebb reveal?

I just want everyone to know that I had to ask the author of the article what that meant.

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Make sure to check out Nikola Tesla’s Lost Inventions here.

 

 

 

s/o my main dude winking owl: a discussion of Louis Packard’s pls drown me in ur bathtub w iced coffee

Packard Cover

I’m not going to tease you with opinion. You should buy pls drown me in ur bathtub w iced coffee by Louis Packard.

What I’ll tell you is that I think there’s a difference between cool and COOL; The former representing a late style of poetry that apes the latter, sometimes unwittingly. I think COOL is often interpreted as insincerity because of the cool. We live in a post cool, but cannot exist in a post COOL. Louis Packard’s work is COOL.

 

AT       I’ve listened to Only Built 4 Cuban Linx every day since reading pls drown me in ur bathtub w iced coffee. Is this an intended side effect?

LP       this is certainly a good side effect i think, i myself have been on a steady diet of tommy wright iii + young thug. i feel embarrassed that i haven’t even listened to this release! i was rly into ‘enter the wu tang’ in hi school but nvr delved into solo projects.  i just downloaded + was planning on listening to only built 4 cuban linx while answering these questions but i got distracted because raein comes before raekwon on my itunes library (but also they might finish during the course of answering these + raekwon will begin, im unsure?)

AT       In listening to Raekwon, I’m reminded how the strength of certain lines, in rap and other forms of poetry, seem to have a gravity which folds the experience of the containing piece in on itself. For instance, Wu Gambinos collapses into “I call my brother sun cause he shines like one”.

Do you feel a certain gravity to any of the lines in this chapbook?

LP       yeah i definitely feel heavy mostly w the poems in ‘pls drown me in ur bathtub w iced coffee’ as   opposed to the short stories because i draw them from real life instances instead of wild fiction. i reckon the lines that have caused the most self implosions over time w myself are “it’s raining and i think im in love/im in love and i think it’s raining”

AT       This is beautiful! The idea of love as natural phenomena seems illegal and free to me. Are you illegal and free? In what ways? No worries. I’m not a narc.

LP       i get illegal + free sometimes, usually just um, drugs, i guess.  i feel kinda stunted in that, like i need drugs to feel rly ‘free’ idk, im glad ur not a narc.

 

Another way to express this idea would be to say that a lot of people have tried to write Bernadette Mayer poems, yet there is still only one Bernadette Mayer. Let me be the first to say this is the case in Louis Packard as well. pls drown me in ur bathtub w iced coffee is an authentic, sincere document of the poetry of life, essential because it is inescapable.

 

AT       I’ve noticed an inclination towards mapping in many reviews of poetry. In contrast, I often think of poems geometrically. For instance, I correlate Bernadette Mayer’s Sonnets to million faceted crystal,   Ecodeviance, by CA Conrad is a model of a garden spider’s web, a lot of slam poetry, and also some Dorothea Lasky poems, are parabolic swooshes.

Could you discuss your own work in this context?

LP       i dont think i could discuss my own work like that, they’re rly just things that worm out of my brain when they’ve overstayed their welcome, maybe like, reaching into a plot of dirt and grasping a handful mixed with worms dirt and grass then placing the clump back down in a different area and walking   back to ur car w dirt still under ur fingernails.

AT       This really resonates with me. I had a discussion with an editor of another journal a few months back, wherein we got to talking about the idea of having lived too much. Your answer here reminds me of   that idea, the past worming itself out.

Do you ever feel that you’ve lived too much, that maybe time hasn’t been true, that experience is a time machine?

LP       o fuck like, all the gd time, or that i cant believe im still alive.  it’s weird, this one time ~2 years ago i got real blackout at a party + tried climbing down a second floor balcony, but the banister wood was weak + i fell. there was a concrete walkway directly underneath that i should have fallen on +   probably died maybe but my legs hit the balcony below + i kinda flipped over the concrete and on the grass. i dont believe in any sort of ~thing~ rly so i just kinda thought “ahh i should be dead but im not, tite” + continued ~living~

AT       What else can be a time machine?

LP       playing ‘tony hawks underground’ 2 player horse on ps2. getting hi in a mid 90s subaru outback during the fall. biking loudly 2 young thug

 

Poets sometimes fumble with new language. Packard sings in it. Often, said fumbling includes a number of cloaking mechanisms: allusions to savantism, feigned ignorance of the lineage of forms, an unjustifiable anger. None of these are present here.

Consider how the poet places himself into a historical context in the following poem. Consider “yung hikikomori” in contrast to Kerouac’s “smoke hashishi”. Consider what the fun is that the poet’s making here. Consider the beauty of the sound of “yung hikikomori.”

 

I ASKED MY DAD TO SMOAKE WEED FROM MY APPLE PIPE W ME BUT HE SAID
“NO:”

i’m making fun of jack kerouac,
because among other reasons
he never got the chance to fall in love w someone over the internet
shouts out all my eBbohemians
leeching free wifi
on mac books lifted from art school supply closets
selfies in the art museum

performance art is like me becoming friends w teens playing call of duty on xbox live performance art is like u kissing me then me leaving the state
basedgod guiding my plane home safely
returning to life as boo rad-ley
yung hikikomori

 

AT       What’s the best apple, from a pipe-making perspective?

LP       hmm they’re all good i think.  i usually make apple pipes in times of duress, when i wrote that poem i was living at my parent’s house for the 2nd time since  dropping out of college, opened at a coffee shop job i hated while maintaining a  3-4am bedtime + was in a long distance relationship. i had no pipe + needed a way to smoke weed because i hated my life (or at least the way i had situated it.)

usually i use a pen to stab thru the apple into the middle, then twist out the stem + stab down to meet the first hole. for a while i would stab on the other side of the apple to make a clear hole but more recently i’ve been lazy/not depressed enough to smoke weed from an apple.

AT       What is reality?

LP       man, shit, i have absolutely no clue, still feel unsure most times if ~this~ is real or reality or any type of tea (hopefully a green or something caffeinated)

AT       Is poetry a separate form of this?

LP       yeah i’d like to think poetry is a sort of separate entity to everything else, on it’s own timeline or whatever, more of a belief but i always keep my eyes peeled

AT       What is the best kind of sweater to wear while reading pls drown me in your bathtub w iced coffee?

LP       crewneck green bay packers or crewneck from a college u didn’t go to

AT       What role does poetry play in your life?

LP       i’d say a v big roll because as corny as it sounds, like, everything is poetry or can be seen as poetry when looking from the right angle.  plus for the most part, i listen to rap and i feel as tho rap is more poetic than other music genres? or at least has more qualities of poetry

AT       Can poetry die?

LP       o god i hope so, otherwise we’d need to create a stronger form to kill it right?

AT       TBH I’m not sure there is a stronger form. I think poetry is a higher power. I fully realize the silliness of what I’m saying, but also believe life is silly. I think maybe a more logical way of approaching this would be to say poetry is a bridge. So what’s poetry a bridge to, in your writing and reading?

LP       ahh see i see poetry as the bridge mostly, sometimes a silly bridge tru, sometimes serious but always the bridge

AT       Has Only Built 4 started yet?

LP       nah, rn im in the living room while my roommates watch mad men, feel as tho i will begin listening when i take a shower

AT       Anything else you’d like to add?

LP       uhh s/o my main dude beast ice
s/o my main dude winking owl

 

Consider that these poems couldn’t have been written thirty years ago, but I wish they had. Packard’s loose and intimate voice places him in the lineage of poets like Mayer and Starkweather. Consider the intimacy of the eternal. Consider the winking owl. Consider visiting Moloko House. Consider buying this book.

 

By Adam Tedesco