“our pain does not do justice to pain who cares we are crying because we secretly enjoy it”—Peiyu Loh, “We Are All Learning,” published in Shabby Doll House
“I think of how I treat my stuffed animals and boyfriends and dogs with the same learned tenderness, how I still have a strong urge to rub his back until he falls asleep because it’s pleasing and reassuring and asks for nothing, and that seems like the kindest thing you can give a sleepy person.”—From “Moving Home” by Meggie Green
HEIKO JULIEN interviewed by LK Shaw
Heiko Julien is a musician, writer & poet. He is the host of the new poetry talk show, ‘Tubbin’ with Heiko’. He is the author of three e-books. He is turning facebook into an art-form. He has three new poems in the Shabby Doll House spring edition.
I am interested in his life and work, so I asked him some questions…
1, you write under a pseudonym, but i get the impression that ‘heiko julien’ is more than just a name and more like a character or a persona for you. could you tell me how ‘heiko julien’ came about and if you ever feel like you are two people?
heiko was what they used to call me in german class in high school. everyone in german class had to choose a german name. my friend sean chose ‘adolf,’ which seems kind of obvious. my friend adam choose ‘christ,’ which i didn’t know was a common german name. i chose ‘heiko’ because it sounded nice. i still think it sounds nice thats why i use it. sean never stopped calling me ‘heiko’ after high school, so i guess it probably made more sense to him than other people when i started calling myself that on facebook and posting personal poetry stuff multiple times a day. the ‘julién’ part is french. i thought it’d be funny in a pretentious way to have a german first name and a french last name and have neither of them be real.
i’m not sure if i am two people. my girlfriend didn’t want to date my facebook with my real name. she broke up with me and asked heiko if he wanted to be in a relationship. i think thats probably significant.
2, what is the most enjoyable part of ‘the artistic process’ for you?
i feel like i am a person who is compelled to create expressive things. i need to do this in order to make sense of the world around me, by which i mean i need to create my own world, to a certain extent, because this one isn’t doing it for me in a lot of ways. that may sound selfish. it probably is selfish to look at all these things people have worked so hard on collectively and say ‘i am sorry, but what you have built is not good enough for me’ but that is how i feel.
i most enjoy when i can set aside stray, invasive thoughts and bodily discomfort and all these other awful distractions and focus on something for an extended period of time. it can be very difficult to focus for me but when i can i feel like i am in The Zone, like they say in sports. it feels good. i like to get in The Zone.
3, what did you read when you were a teenager? was there a book or writer which ‘got you into’ literature or were you doing something else? if yes, what?
i was much more into reading and writing as a child until around middle school, which i understand is how it often goes. i enjoyed learning to read. i learned to read early because my parents insisted and spent time reading to me and put the idea in my head that this was a way to be a Special Person and create my own identity, and i really bought into that. when i got older i lost faith. when i was a Sad Teen i must have felt that most of what other people had written had very little to do with me. there were few books that i related to or were on my level, so to speak. music was what really spoke to me, i prefered the sensation of sound and probably tried not to think about words a lot of the time, so i focused most of my creative energy on sounds. i did read to prove to myself and others that i was Smart and was keeping up, but i didn’t love it.
when i went to college i met my friend carl aagesen (http://fossilonapaper.blogspot.com.) he was the first person i’d ever known who was writing poetry just for the sake of writing poetry. like, because he enjoyed it and thought it was a good thing to do, i assume. i had forgotten that i could play a creative role in my own relationship with reading and writing stuff. im glad i remembered, it has been very helpful for me.
4, do you follow ‘the news’?
i watched the jody arias trial on cnn headline news the other day. they have 24-hour coverage of the trial this week with every show on their network covering the same trial. it’s weird to me, all the hosts and personalities want to kill this woman and that’s what people want to watch.
i dont know. feel like Cool/Entertaining Alternatives like the daily show or whatever aren’t really that much better. if there is somewhere to just read what has happened and it’s written in the most objective way possible, i think that is what i like read sometimes.
5, do you feel interested in being famous? do you feel interested in having a ‘cultural impact’?
i would probably like to have as much power and influence as i can handle, which i think is a very unwise thing to want. it might be best to be a part of a community of somewhat-like minded creatives that is relatively small and stable, but i would probably let oprah yell at me in front of millions of people if it got me attention.
6, what are you working on at the moment?
i am working on getting a collection of my ebooks published in print through a third party, which feels validating and also risky. writing a new chapbook to go along with the collection. finishing an album of music because that is also something i feel compelled to do.
slowly making progress on a novel which i am very proud of so far but is the hardest thing i have ever tried to do.
7, if i asked you to come live with me and a bunch of other people ‘from the internet’ on a small farm in wyoming, where we would have time, unlimited art resources, food, drinks and a karaoke machine BUT no wi-fi and no way of leaving the farm’s estate for 1 year, would you be down!? (everyone invited has made work that made you hopeful)
IF REPORTERS CHASED ME & ASKED ME FOR A COMMENT ON THE UNIVERSE I WOULD SAY I AGREE WITH IT
ok ok ok
im serious though, please listen:
a book told me all the US flags on the moon are faded to white.
a book told me that the natural inclination of the universe is to be
infinitely still & cold.
i stand on a tall thing & feel ok with the view.
anywhere you can think to place the tall thing,
i plan to stand on it there and feel ok with the view there.
i am ‘fine with anything.’
but still. i am trying to make an impression. i
spit on your rug & leave through the wrong door.
as a ghost i haunt the automatic doors at your
local walmart. i trigger the motion sensors with my ghost body: the doors
open & close
& i watch, floating an inch above the ground & calmly thinking
‘anarchy’ to myself.
(this doing & undoing does me fine)
but still. a book told me the only flags left on the moon were white ones
& another book told me that someday all energy would leak away,
leaving the universe infinitely still & cold.
but still. the muscles that move your eyes remind me that a small number of things
have been, are currently, & will for a while longer, be warm. our highest duty is this:
stay together on a rock & be warm at the universe.
some things i am into lately:
the college dropout, kanye west (errday)
fuckfame imma human secret, mike bushnell (this guy)
the radiant child, jean michel basquiat documentary (have watched this ~6 times, makes me feel motivated as hell)
rontel, sam pink (!)
share your fears with mine, sarah jean alexander (bad bitch contest, she in first place)
baby babe, ana carrete (she’s so funny, i’m die)
young americans, jordan castro (oh my)
aladdin (i’m very into disney soundtracks right now)
tracey emin interviews (lur dis girl)
never give up. if you give up, fuck you, steve roggenbuck (instant pump up from bb steve)
other people podcasts, brad listi (i listened to the dennis cooper interview yesterday, i liked that a lot)
moving home, meggie green (belle as hell)
the last days of tokyo, bob schofield (this guy)
alone with other people, gabby gabby (doesn’t come out til july but i read it and it’s hot/fire)
Museum of Cancers
(That’s why they’ll cut off your feet. That’s why they’ll seal your eyes with bits of ancient maps. That’s why they’ll say your name in celebration of the pancreas. Got it? That’s why the uterus is darker - intestine and cornea-. That’s why they’ll cut out prayer. Got it?)
-Luna Miguel Santos: living / sugar cancer
-Ana Santos Payán: living / mom cancer
-Pedro Miguel Tomás: living / health cancer
-Chus Tomás: living / patience cancer
-Pedro Miguel: dead / grandpa cancer
-Mercedes Payán: living / loneliness cancer
-Manolo Santos: living / family cancer
-José Ángel Valente: dead / light cancer
-Roberto Bolaño: dead / probabilities cancer
-David Foster Wallace: dead / economic cancer
-Marcel Schwob: dead / syphilitic cancer
-Antonio J. Rodríguez: living / Europe cancer
(That’s why it hurts me, you know? That’s why my blood hurts: because it’s outside. And inside it doesn’t hurt and outside it kills. And inside it doesn’t ache and outside it frightens. What intense blood. How dangerous. That’s why it hurts me, understand. Do you understand?)
-Daniel Clowes: living / ghost cancer
-Clarice Lispector: dead / audacity cancer
-Alejandra Pizarnik: dead / cage cancer
-Miguel Hernández: dead / moon cancer
-Jorge Luis Borges: dead / widow cancer
-Michel Houellebecq: living / penile cancer
(That’s why I don’t exist. You’re leaving already? That’s why we all escape once healed. Who stays behind? Or worse. Where?)
-Antonin Artaud: dead / insane cancer
-T.S. Eliot: dead / phoenician cancer
-Eduardo Cirlot: dead / Astarte cancer
-Édmond Jabés: dead / Egypt cancer
-Antonio Machado: dead / Leonor cancer
-Vladimir Nabokov: dead / gut cancer’s fire cancer
-Thomas Pynchon: living / face cancer
-Sharon Olds: living / satan cancer
-Dorothea Lasky: living / milk cancer
-Virginia Woolf: dead / water cancer
(That’s why I drown. That’s why I don’t understand love. That’s why I don’t fall ill. That’s why I only sicken. You know? I only sicken.)
-Charles Baudelaire: dead / ugly cancer
-Arthur Rimbaud: dead / elephant cancer
-Paul Valéry: dead / marine cancer
-Joyce Mansour: dead / woman cancer
-Paul Éluard: dead / blue cancer
-Lysiane Rakotoson: living / snow cancer
(Thus these stains. And this skin. Like an eternal scar, long and white, my skin is scar, my skin is umbilical cord between tongue and armpits. Thus these red stains. Thus these black stains. Thus this smell of fruit: tongue, armpits)
-Emily Dickinson: dead / cunt cancer
-Anne Sexton: dead / cunt cancer
-Anna Akhmatova: dead / cunt cancer
-Sylvia Plath: dead / cunt cancer
-Marina Tsvetaeva: dead / cunt cancer
-Javier Marías: living / heavy cancer
-Enrique Vila-Matas: living / Enrique Vila-Matas cancer
-Gonzalo Torné: living / spy cancer
-Rodrigo Fresán: living / troubling cancer
-Tao Lin: living / MDMA cancer
-Ben Brooks: living / deer cancer
-Unai Velasco: living / 1990 cancer
(That’s why I vomited, do you understand? Thus the bulimia of those months trying to slim down to draw pity, trying sickness impregnated with who knows what. Trying literature. That’s why I vomited, do you remember? )
-Ana Santos Payán: living /
-Ana Santos Payán: living /
-Ana Santos Payán: alive /
Luna Miguel, translated from Spanish by Kevin Cole
we can play that game where we pretend that we are in a documentary about the intricacies of human relationships
Is “sell out” still a dirty word?
Because that’s what I’m going to name my first born child, if it’s a girl
or a stack of 100 dollar bills.
A tiny human that expresses
wanting emotions using crying
and nonsense syllables
is called a baby —
Tight like a baby
Small dick like a baby
Soft like a baby
Innocent like a baby
Cry like a baby
New like a baby
Accidental like a baby
Closed eyes like a baby
You call me baby
and in your hands that is what I become
as we sit cross-legged on your bed,
bare mattress to carpet,
watching TV shows on my Macbook
because you can’t afford furniture yet.
Laughing inwardly at the NBC comedy Thursday lineup,
our knees express wanting emotions as they bump together,
making the clicking sound of two things
that fit perfectly into each other.
We know that these shows won’t last another season
but we are laughing now and next year
we can laugh about something else.
With both hands
I hold the large, pale orange
that we shoplifted from Whole Foods
earlier that day.
You take the large orange from me
and in your hands it becomes
a tiny grapefruit