Interviewed by Jess Novak
Dan Magers is co-founder and co-editor of Sink Review, an online poetry journal, as well as founder and editor of Immaculate Disciples Press, a handmade chapbook press focused on poetry and visual arts collaborations. He grew up in Kansas City, Missouri and now lives in Brooklyn, New York. His book, Partyknife, was released this year from Birds, LLC.
Q: The Partyknife book trailer opens with a copy of Billy Collins’s The Trouble with Poetry getting set on fire. Were there other contenders for this honor? If not, would you make some up for me? On the other side of things, what book(s) would you reach in & snatch from the flames & douse with your own urine, if need be?
A: The other contenders were other Billy Collins books. I don’t think any of us have a special animus for Collins or his work, but I guess he symbolizes a particular kind of mediocrity that lots of poets strive against. Book burning is a pretty intense practice, and even as we were about to film it (which, by the way, was in Prospect Park in Brooklyn, in a grill near dozens of wholesome families picnic-ing on Easter Weekend), we kept thinking, “Whoa I can’t believe we are
So yeah, I can’t really think of other books I’d want to burn (though Ayn Rand keeps popping in my head). I’m pretty sure there aren’t any books I would rescue from flames. I think I’d just buy another one. I would probably walk through fire for my writing notebooks (both electronic and hardcopy).
Q: Partyknife is throwing a party. What’s on the playlist?
A: There are all types are parties, and Partyknife can rock all of them. Partyknife knows that you don’t overthink a playlist. If you are having a dinner party, and want to play Cambodian psychedelic rock music from the 60s, go for it, but don’t try it for a dance party. Obvious stuff works. If it’s midnight and you swallow your pride and put on “Dancing Queen,” you will get laid.
Q: What has been your least effective yet most consistently used pick-up line?
A: You ladies look like you’re having a great time. [The ladies walk away.]
Q: The speaker in Partyknife and G.G. Allin walk into a bar. What
A: Speaker sits in a corner booth and watches as Allin wreaks havoc, and then he goes home and cries and listens to “Dancing Queen” and then two years later tries to make sense of it all melodiously.
Q: Wikipedia told me that “Tamaki Katori” is the name of a “pink film” softcore porn actress born in 1938. She sounds kind of killer. Can you tell me about the first time you saw one of her films & also how her name worked its way into your book?
A: Naming one of the book’s characters Tamaki Katori is just a random thing that I did that doesn’t necessarily make any sense. I have no doubt she is killer, but I’ve never actually seen any of her films. Six or seven years ago I was watching a lot of Pink Films from the ‘70s (about a generation after Katori’s heyday), particularly the Sukeban/Girl Boss movies. I think my favorite is Terrifying Girls’ High School: Lynch Law Classroom. So yeah, I think Katori’s name filtered in somehow through all that.
Q: Can Partyknife dunk?
A: Partyknife can dunk, but fuck that shit. Partyknife has nothing to prove.
Q: What story did you last retell as funny?
A: I can’t think of any specific stories, which is probably because I do this all the time, and probably when I don’t realize it. Maybe that’s why I’m so fun to talk to.
Q: I’m partyknifing. Supplies needed:
A: A party and a knife. Then…HOLY SHIT!
Q: Hey, how young is too young?
A: Jess, just follow the law and you can’t go wrong.
Q: Whothe fuck is Cecilia?
A: This is sort of what my editors were asking me. The manuscript that Birds accepted (before edits) had just one mention of Cecilia (in the first poem). They asked if I could develop her and the character Dr. Rob (also just mentioned a couple times). That was one of the main things I set out to do in the multiple revisions I gave to Birds before the manuscript was finalized. Like the poems themselves,
the characters are collaged bits of people, quotes, experiences that I put together.
Q: What poem would have the best chance of taking you home tonight?
A: Probably the one that I don’t know exists yet. All the ones I love I’ve loved already.
About the Interviewer: Jess Novak is the online editor of The Southeast Review. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Gulf Coast, In Posse Review, and the collection Milk & Honey, a Lambda Literary Award Finalist.