Russell Jaffe Gives Us Answers (6)

How do you take your coffee?


Tell us a little about the experience of making the work you have featured in REALITY BEACH.

This was extra bonus interesting because I’m at a writing point that’s powerfully ambivalent; one part of me does not give a fuck at all, the other part gives more of a fuck than ever. I feel like I’m living at a point where I’m living poetry the most, I can just feel poetry taking a walk with our kid, but I also feel totally outside the game. Even now, Celestine is running around the room screaming as I try to type something that plugs me into a shared market of poetry. It is that, it is that in a nice way. So poetry has been something that has been profoundly personal but I’m not sure I’m going to level up and up with bigger presses/jobs/money. I’m not sure those are related.

Anyway, this all points to my having sent really experimental stuff, and that’s stuff I care about most now, because Reality Beach feels new and different and exciting, I wanted to be on board. SO I sent this poem called Floret Sprung, and Carleen hates it because it’s really bad, but I get a kick out of it. And you guys said no to that. The idea for that one is 1000% promotion/hype, no substance. So I sent some other stuff (actual substance where the poem does the work) from that same manuscript, These United States, sort of inspired by commercial jingles and other things that feel American or homeland-y to me, especially now having a little on and short jingles and refrains are such important parts of being a citizen. AND the really fun part was recording them with music!

These conceptual poems are like the bottle of Lipton Pink Lemonade in the vacant lot across the street. Real conceptual poetry simply presents as simply as possible. It doesn’t work to remix or re-present material for lessons or didactic, institutional continuity. It just presents the unobstructed commonplace that’s a result of people. So two of these poems are list poems of products or area bars/liquor stores with “battery packs” of single “regular” poetry lines.

I don’t want to be Hulk Hogan; I’d rather be the Junkyard Dog. I don’t need to be Anderson Silva, I’d rather be Wanderlei Silva. That is, there is no best, and being up is never for that long, things are wavy. I want to be a part of journals from now on where I can contribute something DIFFERENT to the art spirit of the variety show. Just like how teachers pretend they’re the only ones giving their students work and it makes for an overwhelming and sad learning experience, I want to read and be a part of journals that want to create a great variety mandala in colors and interplay that isn’t just individual poems starkly alone. That’s why recording them made the experience a lot more fun.

Tell us about the poems you’ve been writing.

I wrote this book about Candy Crush and I’m turning it, plus other poems I’ve been writing for the better part of a year, into Civil Coping Mechanisms: The Book. I have been a runner up for CCM twice, That’s the press I want to be on the most, the most future oriented and hybrid. I am trying to write shorter, funnier, less I-centric stuff for a quicker, funnier, harder to identify world. That’s the one we all subscribe to. I’m actually trying to talk less, believe it or not.

Where can we buy some (if applicable)?

Yeah, email me russell(dot)jaffe(at) and I’ll send you my mad libs book This Super Doom I Aver or my Punk Hostage Press book INTROVERT//EXTROVERT for cheap as hell. Our family definitely needs the money and I have them in the back. I haven’t been fixatedly promoting like I used to, not strapping the rocket pack to myself and megaphoning as I go; I’d rather just write stuff that’s different where I can give back to the great art and I can pay deference. So yeah, I don’t have a website anymore, just Facebook or Instagram or email.

What’s the last thing you burned?

russell's skull candle

Where is your beach?

My favorite beach is on the Isle of Arran in Scotland. I studied abroad in Scotland. It’s a place where writing in all forms and reasons converges on that one, say, ferry boat where there’s only one singular way to go and all walks have to take it: it’s just trying to capture images and feelings way beyond being able to do so. Writing can be for careers or catharsis or therapy or super good looks, just like going to the beach. The only way to describe the beach there is that it’s really beautiful and lonesome in a comforting way, like being face to face with yourself being a person in the face of nature.

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

It is a miracle I’m sitting on the couch on the end near my bookshelf (not OUR bookshelves; Carleen and I each have shelves of our own books that we haven’t combined) because here is Danielle Steel’s book of poetry, Love.


From “Waiting For Your Call”

Backing / and sidling / hurting / ribs / within / my stall.

danielle steel


What is your favorite dance move? Please Describe.

What’s the ebb reveal?

Another ebb waiting to be free


Be sure to check out Russell’s amazing poetry in REALITY BEACH ISSUE ONE.