Michael A. Arnzen's Blog: News from Gorelets.com
July 30, 2015
At the Nightsun writing conference in Frostburg, MD, last weekend, I had the privilege of performing a reading of fiction and poetry. Here’s an audio clip from the event, along with the text for one of the pieces I read — the Seussian horror poem, “Zombifurcation” — which appears in the latest issue of The Goreletter.
A zombie crawled right,
a zombie crawled left —
both shared the singular
body I'd cleft.
I'd chopped down his chest,
and cut off his scream —
but still he came at me,
splitting his seam.
He pulled himself toward me
One arm for each half
toward opposing locations.
A zombie crawled left,
a zombie crawled right —
both sides of my brain
they would eat to unite.
I dropped my machete
and pulled out my gun —
I had to be ready
to shoot either one.
And he got awfully near me
on the floor of the crypt,
but then lost all his traction
when his torso was ripped.
A zombie crawled here,
a zombie crawled there —
without one another
they just clutched at the air.
I could have just left then —
let yang to chase yin —
but I wasted two bullets
on the Siamese twins.
July 20, 2015
My wife and I snuck away to Germany early in July to visit with family and old friends, and during our stay, we took a side trip to the former east to spend a few days in the city of Dresden. It’s a fantastic city, brimming with festive nightlife partying in the streets of the “neustadt” and overwhelming with architectural beauty and the high life of the “oldstadt.”
In the midst of it all, I had an unplanned encounter with Till Lindemann. Till is not only the lead singer of Rammstein, but also the author of On Quiet Nights, recently released in English translation by Raw Dog Screaming Press — a book for which I wrote the introduction.
Well, I did not meet him literally. But he seemed to be all over Dresden, with posters still plastered everywhere advertising a recent concert for his Skills in Pills album tour. His forward leaning “shush” posture beckoning me like someone inviting me to follow him to a secret place…
And there was one. We learned that there was an “Over 18″ (aka NC-17) art gallery, Galerie Holger John, located deep in the altstadt, featuring a small exhibition of Till Lindemann’s sculpture.
As we entered, the current single from Skills and Pills, “Praise Abort” (NSFW video here) looped over the speakers and we were confronted with a taxidermy surprise — Lindemann’s sculpture of a deer kept under guard by two baby mannequins in leather masks with guns and batons. And that was just the start. Smaller sculptures of things like binoculars with phallic protrusions shooting out of the lenses and skull-headed babies under domed glass appeared all around the two floors of the gallery. The exhibition was amazing and audacious — and given the number of genital sculptures in evidence everywhere, it was not exactly a rated-G experience, so I can’t share many photos. But I loved it.
The exhibition predominantly featured the original photographs from the provocative shoot for Lindemann’s Skills in Pills album (see wikipedia), in addition to sculptures by Till, props from the “Praise Abort” video, and a few large displays of the original artwork/poetry from On Quiet Nights (aka In Stillen Nachten) by Matthias Matthies and Lindemann. There were two floors of fantastic photographs by Stefan Heilemann, Paul Harries, Aram Radomski, Bryan Adams, Tomaso Baldessarini, and Matthias Matthies, in addition to all the unforgettably outrageous sculptures by Till Lindemann. We took some photos, but most can’t be shared here. However, intrepid readers can see them on the gallery’s website, if they are old and bold enough to do so.
Dresden has a fantastic art scene and is an amazing city to visit. I’ve mixed a few extras into the gallery below. Highly recommended.
The exhibition lasts till 8/23/15 at Galerie Holger John (Rahnitzgasse 17, Dresden), so if you find yourself near this historical city in Germany in the month to come — and you aren’t carting around kiddies with you — it’s well worth a visit.
If not, the next best thing might be the super deluxe edition of the Skills and Pills album, which includes a great book of artwork and photography. The music — featuring Till’s all-English singing for the first time — is as hilariously twisted as the art in this exhibition.
Fans of the book, On Quiet Nights might be interested in the photo session from the previous Lindemann/Matthies & Rammstein exhibit for IN STILLEN NÄCHTEN at the Galerie Holger John celebrating the book’s release, which are currently archived here. Large prints of Matthias Matthies’ art and Till Lindemann’s poetry from the original collection seem to still be for sale online from the gallery.
June 24, 2015
The Goreletter Vol. 10, #1 — the first issue of 2015 — was delivered to mailing list subscribers on 6/24/15 @ 10:15pm est. It contains extra entertainment/material not available here on the weblog version, including a new gorelets poem, information on upcoming summer signings, and new art. The image below, for instance, was included in the newsletter, and you can see more weirdness like it in my flickr gallery.
If you subscribe and did not receive this issue, or just want to see the back issues, review the archives at gorelets.com. If you need to check or update your subscription’s email address, just enter it in the subscribe box and review the report.
If you don’t subscribe yet, sign up! I see The Goreletter as something akin to a weird magazine rather than an author’s publicity tool. It’s free and you can always unsubscribe. Issues are sent just once every three-or-four months, so your inbox won’t suffocate. Contact me if you have any questions. — Michael A. Arnzen
“Flick” by Michael Arnzen
June 13, 2015
Till Lindemann — frontman from the German metal band Rammstein, also releasing a promisingly twisted new solo album this month — has just published the English translation of his poetry collection, On Quiet Nights (aka In Stillen Nachten), through my favorite indie publisher, Raw Dog Screaming Press.
I wrote the forward for this edition of the book, which I had the chance to read in original German as well as English. The poems make for a very unique read. Here’s an excerpt from my intro:
Poetry is about sound as much as it is about sense. Rammstein reaches worldwide audience because Till Lindemann’s lyrics cut across cultures; the sound they make is as universal as any scream or howl, and Till’s vocalization of these words with all their Germanic trills and spittle express the feelings we all share — from rage to fear to lust — at the very level of their utterance. In some songs, Rammstein sneaks a little English into the mix, maybe to throw Americans a bone — as in “Amerika” or “Pu**y” — songs that are hilarious in their mockery of nationalistic arrogance mixed with a brash sexuality that suggests one country might be screwing with another. But ultimately, vocabulary is less important to these American fans than the charge they feel in their ribcages when the music plays and Lindemann push his voice into the mic. One only needs to hear Till growl out the opening phrase that launches the song, “Ich Will” — a phrase delivered like a hot burp of molten tar mixed with broken glass — to know what I’m talking about: this is a voice to be reckoned with. And it’s at the foundation of this collection of poetry.
The Examiner also has a fabulous review of the book.
Of course, you should look into his latest album, Skills in Pills, too, if only to enjoy the disturbing and devious new video. Lindemann sings the songs on his first solo outing in English, which makes the Rammstein vibe of it all the more unsettling. It’s great to see the man expanding his global audience.
May 29, 2015
The Best of Horror Library 1-5 now out in paperback.
In case you missed the news elsewhere, Cutting Block Press and Farolight Publishing have released The Best of Horror Library, Vols 1-5… and it really is the best! The anthology contains top-rated stories by a treasure trove of great writers. Having worked with editor RJ Cavender and crew at different times over many years now, I can totally testify: they care a lot about quality. And it shows in this collection, which gathers the top 30 stories out of over 150 tales they’ve published over the past decade in their thrice-Stoker nominated series of chilling horror and dread.
I can’t review this one, as a) I’m in it, and, b) my review would go on forever because every story rocks. The introduction by Lisa Morton really explains what makes this book work so well: it’s top of the line small press horror, “which didn’t play by the major (publisher’s) rules…but elevated originality and craftsmanship over formula and stereotype…” Just take a gander at the Table of Contents, and you’ll no doubt spot a familiar author or curious title, and I know you’ll want to read the whole book:
“A Chainsaw Execution” by Stephen R. George.
“After” by Kealan Patrick Burke.
“Consumed” by Michael Louis Calvillo.
“Apple” by Marc Paoletti.
“Ash Wednesday” by Lorne Dixon.
“Bound” by Alan Smale.
“Drawn” by Daniel L. Naden.
“Exegesis of the Insecta Apocrypha” by Colleen Anderson.
“Follower” by Danny Rhodes.
“Footprints Fading in the Desert” by Eric J. Guignard.
“Ghosts Under Glass” by Tracie McBride.
“Guarded” by Michael A. Arnzen.
“I am Meat I am in Daycare” by Cameron Pierce.
“Into the After” by Kurt Dinan.
“Jerrod Steihl Goes Home” by Ian Withrow.
“Next Stop, Babylon” by John Mantooth.
“Obsidian Sea” by Kurt Kirchmeier.
“Open Mind Night at the Ritz” by Shane McKenzie.
“Santa Maria” by Jeff Cercone.
“Skin” by Kim Despins.
“Sporting the Waters of the Bermuda Triangle” by Greggard Penance.
“The Apocalypse Ain’t so Bad” by Jeff Strand.
“The Exterminators” by Sara Joan Berniker.
“The Garbage Collectors” by Ron McGillvray.
“The Happiness Toy” by Ray Garton.
“The Healing Hands of Reverend Wainwright” by Geoffrey L. Mudge.
“The Immolation Scene” by John F.D. Taff.
“The Living World” by C. Michael Cook.
“The Puppet Show” by Rick J. Brown.
“The Station” by Bentley Little.
“The Steel Church” by Charles Colyott.
“The Vulture’s Art” by Benjamin Kane Ethridge.
“Trapped Light Medium” by Sunil Sadanand.
Each story comes with a reflection by the writer on their inspiration for the tale. Read this book and you will get a great snapshot of the diversity of weirdness at large in new millennial horror. Buy a copy from Amazon today.
Tip: see my somewhat buried Anthologies page to discover more books like this, featuring short horror stories by a gathering of writers usually riffing darkly on a common theme.
May 11, 2015
I am so glad that I attended the 25th World Horror Convention & 2015 Bram Stoker Awards Banquet in Atlanta, GA, this past weekend. I think I was laughing the whole time, giddy with the good times and gore. It was great to reunite with so many old friends (I actually attended the very first WHC, 25 years ago!), and as usual, made several new buddies, too. There were something like sixteen Seton Hill MFA program students, alums or faculty colleagues in attendance, a barrel of Raw Dog Screaming Press associates, and hundreds of gibbering weirdos, which meant I always felt there was someone nearby I could chat with at any given moment, day or night or in-between.
A few of the major highlights for me included: a fun dinner with Stephanie Wytovich and Michelle R. Lane that started the con off with lots of laughter; watching speculative poets read each other’s work with reverence in a great poetry panel, hosted by Marge Simon — all were great, and a lot of well-deserved respect was on hand for GO Clark’s horror poetry, especially; moderating a great panel on horror in academia with my good friends Tim Waggoner, Lucy Snyder, Vic Kerry and now Thomas Drago; hanging out with Frazer Lee and getting to see his film adaptation of Christopher Fowler’s dental nightmare story in “On Edge” (& the premiere of his new film, The Stay!) sitting alongside Ryan DeMoss; watching so many party-goers at the Raw Dog Screaming Press room party make Fridge of the Damned poems and recite them aloud (see the giant gallery of photos on Flickr for all of that!); sitting at the RDSP table at the Stoker Awards banquet and thrilling over hearing my pals’ names read as finalists for the award — several of them winning; hearing Jeff Strand deliver the best emcee job he’s done yet (he even snuck in a reference to my book, Licker!); presenting the Non-fiction Award in a jocular way with Michael Knost; catching up with everyone from Bruce Boston to Anderson Prunty, Weston Ochse to John Urbancik, Mikey Huyck to Adam Cesare, John Skipp to Jonathan Maberry, CV Hunt to Nikki Guerlain. And that’s just a paltry few out of them all. There were also too many weird and unnameable things that cannot be expressed (nor should they be) about fur-curiosity, horror-huffing, Bigfoot, frothy pink god knows what…and more and more and more. I’m leaving out WAY too much, and there are too many folks I haven’t mentioned yet. It was a lot more fun than any explanation can capture, so I’ll just share a few of my favorite snapshots found on my cell phone after the con below, and let the rest speak for itself. I think it’s pretty clear from the evidence, though: horror writers are classy and know how to laugh.
Kudos again to my friends at Raw Dog Screaming Press who ran a great room party and hosted the best table at the Stoker Banquet. It was a good year for RDSP: Lucy Snyder and Maria Alexander both won Stoker Awards! Some other good shapshots from the affair are up on the Fridge of the Damned Gallery, or the Raw Dog Screaming Press’ facebook page online.
Oh, and I almost forgot that I even did a sound recording. When I met an opera singer, I asked her to do the psycho shower scene music, and pressed record…
April 19, 2015
If you are in 150 mile radius of the gentle town of Frostburg, Maryland, consider making the drive to come see me this summer in one of two events sponsored by the downtown Creative Writing Center at Frostburg State University.
FIRST UP: MAY 2nd, Coffee with a Writer
On May 2nd, 10am, meet me in downtown Frostburg at the FSU Creative Writing Center and join me in the morning for a cuppa joe. (Oh, who are we fooling? I will drink gallon drums of the stuff!). It’s a happy little gig they call “Coffee with a Writer” — an open-to-the-public live conversation about all things writing. We’ll informally sit down to chat about writing, horror, life as an author and all the weirdness in between. The more coffee the weirder.
Located at 22 East Main Steet in downtown Frostburg. The CWC has coffee, wi-fi access, writing reference books, and contemporary literary journals to browse.
Arnzen will be leading the speculative fiction workshops at the 9th annual Nightsun Writers Conference, held from July 23 through July 26th, at the Creative Writing Center in downtown Frostburg, MD.
These workshops require advanced registration. See the Nightsun website for details. It’s a chance for writers to generate new material for publication, hone the craft of creative writing, and join a larger writing community, along with getting the one-on-one attention of a guest author. Others who are teaching at the conference include Allison Joseph, Karen McElmurray, and Tim Wendel. Read more on the http://gorelets.com/events/nightsun-w... event page or visit Nightsun.
A rare chance to work with Arnzen outside of enrollment in a graduate school. Black hole sun, won’t you come?
Arnzen talks shop at Frostburg Small Press Fair (Spring 2015), photo by Bethany Doyle
April 12, 2015
Use the “cold activated” Coors beer bottle
as a body temperature probe.
Make them run to the hills,
where the air is even thinner.
Visit all those new head shops downtown,
seeking fresh brains.
Eat the best Mexican.
Gallop into a Bronco game on Thunder,
as one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
Show them what what their state name really means.
A busy month in my day job, but I’m trying to write horror poems here and there all month in a loose celebration of National Poetry Month. Most of them will be kept offline for later revision, but I’ll probably be posting more here before too long. You can also catch some things on The Nest.
February 25, 2015
we gather up the sacrificial goats
twisting heads to face the sky above
we snick our razors quick across their throats
wringing necks to squeeze out all the blood
naked in the mud and incense smoke
February 9, 2015
“Grawl” by Michael Arnzen
when it first crawled
the stump stung
but it realized somewhere
within the ring of bottomless pain
at its base
that it was feeling
and because it was feeling
it was thinking
if only in that strange way
that we all quiver in powerlessness
when overcome with agony
like a child banished to the corner
by a teacher we secretly want to kill
and then it realized
that it once had a teacher, too —
an instructor of American Sign Language
who used to rap its knuckles
when it misproduced
(which was the teacher’s way
of saying mispronounced)
simple expressions and gestures
and so it did know how to communicate
now, without mouth or head
and the dismembered hands’ first words
were an empty angry clutching,
a stiffly silent scream