This interview is with Sharon Clark, the author of our first issue’s poem “The Beatitudes of Lana Del Rey.” She lives in Brooklyn, but was not swept away by Sandy (lucky for us).
Describe your poetry in 25 words or less.
cerebral, condescending, precious, vicious, unexpected, disturbed, inebriated, saucy, violent, sassy, cheeky, intelligent, confusing, interrupted, yielding, celebrity-obsessed, dirty, sweet, self-conscious
Who has influenced you the most as a writer?
Anyone I’ve met who has made me want to be more interesting.
But seriously, the work of the Swedish poet Fredrik Nyberg has been very dear to me ever since I picked up the English translation (by Ugly Duckling Presse) of his collection of poems A Different Practice. Reading his work felt enlightening – like I was reading thoughts I’d already had myself and that this other person was making them salient for me, affirming what must be a truth. When I wrote my collection The Least Most Happy Time, I felt like I was channeling his style and the delivery of language in his poetry. Two poets that I simply admire and feel a lot of love for are Jack Spicer and Frank O’Hara. When I’m thinking about writing and nothing comes to mind, I can hear Frank O’Hara’s voice in my head reading “All That Gas” and somehow not being able to produce anything feels o.k. as long as I can remember that beautiful poem. Jack Spicer supposedly said “My vocabulary did this to me” before he died, and I can only hope that I can get to the point that on my deathbed I can say something equally as dark and clever.
Also, though they aren’t really influential, I consider Lindsay Lohan, Britney Spears, and soon enough Rihanna to be inspirational (as far as generating content).
Tell me about your poem “The Beatitudes of Lana Del Rey,” like how you came up with it, what it means to you, where you were, whatever you like.
At the time I was thinking about different artists and celebrities and what they meant to their “fans” or “supporters”. I was particularly fascinated by the differences between the two quasi-indie performers Grimes and Lana Del Rey, what their music and act meant, and who their fans were. I concluded that Grimes is a genuine artist, and to be blunt is a really weird girl with playful fans who like to take drugs and sway around with glowsticks and face paint to ethereal music, and Lana Del Rey is a fabricated, well thought out character that is mirroring the trends of the times – sort of like Madonna – even though a beautiful girl with heartbreak never goes out of style. I think that the girls who like Lana Del Rey sort of hate themselves and want to be that hot chick with a heartbreak tragedy so they can brandish their problem and garner attention. Writing the poem was a way for me to figure out what I think Lana Del Rey stands for and what she means to her fans. Also, I should add that I grew up Catholic and there’s something about her lovelorn, bad girl qualities that appeals to me. She’s full of regrets, she dwells on the past, she punishes herself, and she’s constantly in emotional strife. I consider this Catholic behavior. The idea of self punishment that breeds guilt and emotional disturbance led me to think about the beatitudes, which are basically a series of statements that the downtrodden can say to themselves to try to feel better about their shitty situation.
Do you keep a blog?
My tumblr is sharksightings.tumblr.com (even though it doesn’t contain much writing, I think that tumblr blogging is a brilliant way to engage with mindless, yet stimulating internet content).
My wordpress blog, which is updated rarely, is zer0esandones.wordpress.com. I keep it mainly because the cover photo for it is so amazing and sums up the really dark side of my late teens/early twenties: colt45 on the beach at Coney Island in December.
What are you reading right now?
The Poetics of Space by Gaston Bachelard.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Only go to school for writing if you can afford it or if it’s free.
What are you working on right now?
On and off I’ve been working on a collection of stories about a pre-apocalyptic Brooklyn through the eyes of a rat. The stories are about kids on drugs making mistakes, men robbing department stores, people suffering from anxiety attacks over holidays and norms set by consumerism (in a very neurotic David Foster Wallace kind of way), stuff like that. I’ve also been working on a series called The Murder Fantasies/Love Poem –“The Beatitudes of Lana Del Rey” belongs to this.