Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Dave Sim's blogandmail #64 (November 14th, 2006)



I've known Darrell Epp for a number of years. He's one of the people who started writing to me after I became a Pariah and then continued writing to me even after it would have become apparent that that wasn't the wisest course of action and that he had nothing to gain by it so he always stands out by contrast in that way. When he started writing to me it was mostly in association with the interviews that he liked to do and which he published on his website. He was certainly the first person I ever knew who did such a thing. The Internet is free, right? So what's in it for you in doing these interviews and laboriously transcribing them? And the answer, self-evidently, was the simple exchange of ideas and that people who were interested in reading the opinions of his subjects would be able to do so.

Then he became a poet. I'm not sure how far into our correspondence that took place, but it certainly came as a complete surprise and (I must confess) a disappointment since he no longer took the time to write longer and more involved letters. So I rebelled against the poems at first. I'd read them, but all I could really see them as being were poor substitutes for Darrell's letters. That resentment didn't last long, though. The things he was writing about and the way he was writing about them—mostly the internal texture of romantic disappointment and the intrinsic "otherness" of women—were so sharply realized that I soon came to look forward to their infrequent arrivals in my mailbox. Sometimes there'd be half a dozen, sometimes just one or two. But they were always carefully crafted and with a sharp scorpion's tail point to them. I'm not sure what my reaction would have been if he had been sending them while I was in the throes of my last break-up (nine years ago, this February). The scorpion's tails are pretty sharp, indeed, and I found them a lot easier to take as "Gosh, I remember going through that" rather than "Gosh, that's what I'm going through now."

He sent me a strip that he wrote and David Collier drew from Romantic Eye #1 which I will be reviewing tomorrow and a couple of poems and I wrote him back a letter (one of the very few I've written in the last while!) asking him if there was anything of his poetry that I could publicize on the Blog & Mail and he called me when he got the letter and in the course of the conversation, I just suggested that I give him a guest spot, here. Just put as much on a disk as he cared to and I would introduce it and him. I really couldn't be happier that my first guest Blog & Mail is Darrell Epp, the only poet that I read with any amount—and, in his case, a GREAT amount—of enthusiasm. Take it away, Darrell!




"Darrell Epp's poetry is just bursting with artistry, but you only notice the magic, never the technique behind it. These are, quite simply, marvelous poems—poetry that's actually fun to read. Imagine that!"

--Governor-General's Award-winning novelist David Gilmour

I've written plays, short stories, all kinds of things, but when I started writing poems, everything just seemed to click. I was finally able to express myself with the force and clarity I'd always wanted; finally, a happy marriage between form and content. After writing a lot of prose that was a little too long-winded for my taste, the discipline that poetry required was both a huge challenge and a huge blessing. If you didn't nail the thought perfectly, if you ran over by even a syllable, the whole thing would just `look' wrong, even a kid could tell that you'd blown it. The task required the steady hands of a surgeon, and once I figured out a few things and got out of my own way it turned into a really fun ride. My favourite poets are Franz Wright, Jim Carroll, and Lou Reed, but my poems aren't influenced by other poets as much as they are by things like Raymond Chandler, Charlie Chaplin, Robert Mitchum, insomnia, living in a pretty crummy neighbourhood full of folks who'll never be employee of the month, and the headlines in yesterday's newspapers.

Of course the best way to explain what my stuff is `like' is to show you some samples. Here goes:

A Party

i'd been trying to discard my

belief in God but i just couldn't

do it, everything was just too noisy,

too crazy, too obscene, too perfect

burt lancaster was breaking out

of prison in black and white,

someone said change the

channel but nobody did, he

deserved a chance after all

the shit they'd thrown at him

lou spoke of lorraine and her wild

ways, my heart stopped beating

and started back up again at 1:01

and again at 2:43 and people stillsay nothing interesting ever goes

on in this town, how wild is that?

For Henry Ford

you look up at the ceiling and

your laughter that sounds like

the braying of a mule reminds

me of a german girl i knew 6

years ago—in fact, you seem

identical to her in every way

i used to work in a canning

factory, we mass-produced

tin cans full of sliced pears

packed in syrup, i can't say

how many identical tin cans

i saw rush by on tiny tracks

that summer, i could never

tell if i found that parade of

efficiency to be reassuring or


i think that the assembly line

virus gave us something and

took something else away

when you go, please don't

slam the door, and if you

see the next one, tell her to

be kind to me, like you were.

Rise Above

from way up here

i can hear the telephone's click

from the time you hung up on me

and a congregation from thirty

years ago chanting hymns in unison

like androids

i can see you dancing in the snow

(you looked like an angel)

and our old addresses in

obsolete phone books,

letters never sent,

letters returned,

current address


Hard To Read

distant thunder, the humid air

crackles with electricity

screaming birds pinned against

the sky like crucified criminals

hard to concentrate, i've been

staring at this same page for

15 minutes

put the book down, stand up,

raise my hands, prepare to

welcome the raging storm.

While You Were Gone

the same 26 letters can be

rearranged in so many

different ways it almost

makes you drunk to think

about it until you think

about the dna, 4 amino

acids combined over &

over again in so many

different ways without

any repeats, you never

run into any doubles,


or rider—is a new miracle,

this is just something i

thought about as i

waited impatiently for

you to return from your

too-long vacation,

dreams of you are like

little balls of opium, all

arranged neatly in a row,

it's the waking up that hurts.

Here's what I've got for sale:

A zine called Lines On Paper featuring five short stories and a poem. Good stuff, although the number of typos that slipped by me is pretty irritating.

A book called Consolation Prizes featuring a play, 20 poems, and a short story. The play's good, the short story's very good, and, um, I think the poems sound a bit too much like they were written by a beginner. Some folks love them, so what do I know?

A bound stack of recent poems I call Up The Hill. This is my best stuff, I think.

Send me twenty bucks and I'll send you all three collections. If you want to haggle, email me at darrellepp@hotmail.com and we'll work something out. The address is

Darrell Epp

4-526 King St. East

Hamilton Ontario

Canada L8N 1E2

My website, www.twohandedman.com, features exclusive in-depth interviews with folks like Dave Sim, Peter Bagge, Chester Brown, and Joe Matt. I hope you can check it out.



(and thanks, Dave, for sharing some of your cyberspace with me. Looks like I owe you a Mars bar!)


If you wish to contact Dave Sim, you can mail a letter (he does NOT receive emails) to:

Aardvark Vanaheim, Inc
P.O. Box 1674
Station C
Kitchener, Ontario, Canada N2G 4R2

Looking for a place to purchase Cerebus phonebooks? You can do so online through Win-Mill Productions -- producers of Following Cerebus. Convenient payment with PayPal:

Win-Mill Productions

Or, you can check out Mars Import:

Mars Import

Or ask your local retailer to order them for you through Diamond Comics distributors.