Here is an interview I conducted with Frankie Metro, a favorite writer of mine. I’ve known him online and in real life for about two years. His stuff always surprises me in the best ways. I met him through the publication of his excellent book of poetry, The Anarchist’s Blac Book of Poetry and a column that he used to write for Red Fez called the Left Handed Smoker. There’s a lot of links in this interview, take the time to check them out if you are able. Some real cool stuff.
Frankie Metro is Chief Rocknrolla (music/book reviews editor) at Unlikely Stories Episode: IV and co-editor of the online/print publication Kleft Jaw. His first poetry chapbook: The Anarchist’s Blac Book of Poetry is now available from Crisis Chronicles Press. Someday, he’ll be dead. But until then, he’s not content until the stars burnout.
Thanks for doing this interview with me. Tell me about Kleft Jaw it sounds like a real interesting project …
Kleft Jaw stemmed from a lighthearted, extremely nerdy conversation I was having with co-editor Dustin Holland, about the Greek Klephts who fought against the occupation of their country by the Ottoman Empire. I remember Dustin was describing this book to me (Black Mask and Up Against the Wall Motherfucker) which had an interesting commentary on the activities of these “warrior poets”-they would light campfires on the hillsides and sing songs of battle and victory. the young men below the hills heard their songs and came up to join them. I’m paraphrasing of course, but the concept of attacking the conventions of monarchistic society really hit home for me, in that the current status of the literary world (small press, big press, medium press whatever) is filled to the brim with such nearsighted convention. So we took the name of the warriors, added a Jaw to it, like the donkey jaw Samson used to beat the shit out of Romans, and voila! Kleft Jaw. Our main objective is to further the cause of transcendental realism in literature i.e. realizing the full capacity/barriers of the human consciousness, and thereby breaking them and extending those barriers for further exploration. It builds upon itself, the human mind. And if there’s anything we can do to champion that progression, well… what the fuck else we going to do? I don’t have enough comic books to keep me busy these days.
You’re an avid reader, what’s the last great book you read?
I just finished David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest, and I feel amazingly accomplished in saying that. I’ve met maybe 3 people that have sat through the entirety of 1000+ pages. For me, books are challenges. If there’s no challenge, then there’s no reason to talk. That’s how my wife Lindsey stole my heart actually, she sent me my very first Henry Miller book, saying, I think this would do you some good. It was Tropic of Capricorn. I was going through a very difficult time, had just moved back in with my parents after a failed stint in Florida, just released from jail, and this book made me realize that even though the settings are different, opposition and commonality are sometimes meant for each other. It can be the greatest inspiration, opposition. And books create the ultimate opportunity for commonality Therefore, when the 2 combine in a needed situation, it becomes the greatest love affair.
Where are you from? Where have you lived?
I was originally born in Iowa, was adopted at 2, moved to Ky, lived (if you can call it that) there for 23+ years, left for Florida, trekked around there for a few years off and on, and then got married and moved to Phoenix, during the summer, big mistake, left there after 4-5 months and several shitty phone jobs later, and now I love Albuquerque!
What do you like to do in ABQ? For instance, if somebody is coming to town, where should they check out, (i.e.. venues, bars, bookstores … food)
There are 2 sides of the street in downtown ABQ. One is the hipster side (the left) and the other is nothing but douches block to block (the right). For instance, on the right hand side of the street you have The Library, which don’t let the name fool you, they’re about as interested in books as I am in becoming a Klan member. But then on (the left) you have an equally pretentious set, but not as vocal about it. I do like the left, I really do. I love The Anodyne and the Sister Bar. But my own personal Cheers comes from the middle ground on 2nd street. Chama River. We hung out there right? The bookstores never seem to be open when i come around. Maybe they don’t like the middlegrounders here… ?
You work in a hostel on route 66. I was lucky enough to come and chill there with you and bunch of other poets for an event thrown by the lit. underground … what a great time that was. What’s it like working in a hostel?
It’s a challenge and a Godsend. I mean, I love the whole idea of working for room and board, no bills!, but I don’t know if I can say I’m a real people person. I’ve had numerous years in customer service and whatnot and the one thing ive taken away from it all, is that customers suck. But the guests that come through are for the most part, pretty kool individuals. I just met a guy last night who is mistaken for either Skrillex or Jason Schwartzman all the time. We talked about the Cannabis Cup in LA this weekend, until he asked if I had any pot, which i said no, cause I didn’t have enough to smoke with either Skrillex or Jason Schwartzman at the time. Sorry amigos
That’s funny as hell. What projects are you currently working on?
Currently, I’m really taking to journalism. I write a lot of book reviews these days for Unlikely Stories, but I want to pursure more Gonzo Journalistic endeavors, considering Gonzo Journalism was one of my first lit scene loves. I miss Hunter S Thompson. Other than that it’s all pretty much editing these days. We (Kleft Jaw Press) are putting out our first poetry collection for Andrew Boeglin come 4/20/13 entitled Galaxy vs. Sabretooth and it’s been a real fuckin blast working on this book. The kid is on fire!
Your Chapbook the Anarchist’s Black Book of Poetry out from Crisis Chronicle Press was a very tight work, what went into the writing for that? How long did it take? What is your self editing process like?
The majority of that book was written in 2010 and the recurring poem (Streets of the Pan Americano Nightmare) i.e. the base of the book, was written in one day during multiple/illegal breaks while working at another call center in Florida. Alot of it had to do with my times there, but there’s a mix of environments (physical and mental) that went into its production, including ABQ and Phoenix. When I edit, I can’t just get ideas down and move on. I get really OCD about it while writing, so if there’s a comma that’s off, and i dont change it right away, you can bet it’s in the mental log, position and everything. I can’t just write something and it not be professionally presented. It kills me. I drive my chief editors crazy with notes about typos and the like. It’s torture self editing.
You were in Florida … you were working at a call center, what else?
I was living with a woman and 4 kids at the time. I wasn’t really happy. It’s hard for me to rundown my environment on that book man. In all honesty, I don’t know where I was at during that time (mentally). It stretches from 2010 on to the (almost)-present? I guess, if you want me to size it up, The Anarchist’s Blac Book of Poetry is about being an individual haunted by individualism. In essence, that book was a great purge for me. I had to get some of that stuff out or it was going to eat me. I will say that at the time of writing it, I had a healthy obsessions with Henry Miller. Anymore, talking about it seems futile, ’cause I’m totally not in that space anymore. You ever get like that man? Were you just hate everything that you did before? That’s the book. Crisis Chronicles did an excellent job with it, and I guess you could call it a labor of love, but these days, it reads bitter to me, and i’m not that bitter anymore. I found a woman that I love, who is mentioned in one of the first poems (and possibly several after that) called Team Zen. That’s where I want to end up when they shut the casket yo. I want to be on Team Zen.
What’s your daily life like?
My daily life was once described, by Lindsey, like waking up everyday to a new slumber party/agro session. We keep it pretty loose around here, and typically shy away from looking at or using watches or clocks. ABQ is a really open place to live and thrive artistically. Sure you have your issues, but aside from the occasionally proposed knife fight or momentary scuffle, it’s a good life amigo.
Another project of yours that I was really blown away with was/is The Meth Lab, a website featuring some pretty wild poetry and prose. Tell me more about that:
The Meth Lab was started a few years ago by Newamba Flamingo. He asked me to help out and seeing as how Newamba Flamingo is like, almost literally a blood brother, I accepted. We’ve published all sorts of moral turpitude at The Meth Lab. It doesn’t get the kinda respect it should, in my opinion, because the name can have a less than favorable effect on those that skim by it. But man, since our induction we’ve published a shit ton of great writers and artists:
just to name a few … shit
What do you get out of running your own publication. for instance, Kleft Jaw, from what I’ve seen so far is a complex labor of love … describe what goes into making your own zine/website/literary endeavor, ie. The Meth Lab, Kleft Jaw … ect …
I get to keep my sanity. I dunno man. I guess what goes into it is making love, sweaty stank brown sheet vinegar kinda love to it. You’re really asking the wrong guy what goes into making this stuff. Cause I’m still figuring it all out. Not a pro at this by any means. Luckily at Kleft Jaw I have a partner as well. Dustin Holland and I read submissions, we choose what we like, what we think fits the transcendental realist genre, and we do a lot of DIY shit to make it happen. We use glue and tape and paper cutters and rulers and we fucks with pictures ya know? We fucks with pictures hardkore. The biggest problem for me, editing a mag, is I have to deal with people that don’t read the flipping submission guidelines. When we see someone that obviously hasnt even glanced at our homepage, and they send us bios when we dont ask for them and they send us docx files when we ask that you paste it in the body of the email, that stuff is really testing, cause it’s a matter of courtesy endurance. I can’t be courteous to people I view as being condescending or fake. I just can’t. Fuck you if you are.
You’re a music critic too, can you recommend something(s)?
I would highly suggest The Mountain Goats. Funnily enough, I saw a FB ad here a couple weeks back, that was trying to get votes for their lead singer to be named Poet Laureate of United States. I think if anyone deserves that title, it’s that guy. Amazing lyrics. Pretty much the drive of the band. The music itself isn’t very special, but the words man. Goddamn the words will hit you from (left!) field. Also, Birdy Nam Nam. All of Tinyamp records. Nuff said.
Speaking of Tiny Amp records, Kleft Jaw is putting out a chapbook from their own Andrew Boegling (AKA: William Seward Bonnie) right?
Yes! Galaxy vs. Sabretooth is Andrew Boeglin’s bleeding heart, diced, chopped, screwed, remixed. It’s all there. The kid writes love poems that are actually enjoyable to read. I’m just amazed he can pull that off. We’ll be releasing it on 4/20/13 and from what I understand, there is a release party in Denver in the making as we speak. Funny thing is, The recreational Cannabis Cup ceremonies are scheduled for Denver that same weekend. So guess what we’ll be doing m’fers… It’s going to be a 40 page, perfect bound glossy covered release, and it’s going to rip a whole in the time/space continuum. Yup.
When I hung with you in ABQ I was real impressed that you didn’t have to have a car. I think it’s pretty great. You skateboarding around alot … tell me about that
I’ve been skateboarding since I was 7. I hate water, so no surfing. I hate snow, so no snowboarding. I love the motherfucking streets. And there is (almost) no greater release when you’re super tense than ripping up some curb. I’m older these days of course, and not as risky as I used to be. But yeah, i’ve been that guy hitching on the passenger side door when you’re going 40 mph in your Toyota Tercel. Scaaaaary…
I’ll leave you here with a poem called Pre-Nup that Frankie read on the Unknown Show last Tuesday:
by Frankie Metro
The Shattered, Unspoken
mouth of hell is asking for a divorce
from the Cruel, Unflinching nerve of
the egoist’s bedside manner. matter of
fact, it’s been given on good authority,
that once the theatrics are all but played
out every demon in the legion of the larynx
will come out with a gold or platinum tooth
that whistles like a catastrophe near a school
yard crossing. if there’s any chance for reconciliation
it lies in being able to recognize how much fun is
too much fun(?) we all know the ego is abrupt, forceful.
we know it as cunning & at the same time oblivious
to others pleas for rationality. but it’s a kinky game
it plays with itself, where instead of platinum plated
underlings with the capacity for independent vertical mobility,
the egoist sees progressive opportunity. each tiff with the Undoing
is like a phrenology course you mistake for church. every move
in the heart of a beast is effort toward strangling something
or the soft everlasting touch. there’s no real difference in species.
the nuptial between hell & the ego. it’s as sacred as the
hand brokered deal between piety & success. there’s just more
red in the color scheme.