libby wachtler



FEBRUARY 15, 2016

I saw Steve Roggenbuck (@livemylief) read/perform last week at Goldmith’s University. I’ve been a fan of his work for years, and recently was fortunate enough to interview him, in depth, about his new publishing venture, Boost House (@boosthouse) for my dissertation in my Publishing MA. 

This was a weird event! Held in a lecture hall at the University, it had a rough-around-the-edges feel that came from Steve’s really organic and emotive poetry and short stories being performed and discussed in an academic setting and fairly sterile-feeling room. But Steve’s use of language is magical - personal favourite phrases from the night include THE BEST WAY TO WIN A RACE IS TO LOVE HOW IT FEELS TO BE RUNNING and JUST FUCK AROUND WITH ME, DUDE and PLEASE BE QUIET - YOU ARE GOING TO ALIENATE THE WORKERS FROM THE MEANS OF PRODUCTION. He’s got such a good grasp on the line between naive sincerity and naked passion; he’s able to bend it and break it at will, and I’m always caught off guard by the beauty of the language that results when he hits it just right. 

I was really interested in the question of how Roggenbuck translates the raw energy, hyper-positivity, and emotive spectacle that seems to drive his video work (which can be seen on his YouTube channel at ) into his written work. I tried to keep tabs on my questions while I was taking notes. On the third page above I finally got into that question a little bit, and my main take away was that it seems that Roggenbuck treats the editing process of his written work very similarly to the video-editing process: he collects as much written content as he can (as you would film a lot of footage), and then goes in and removes the false starts and unnecessary connective tissues, carving out the poem or story from the mass of raw material. I think that’s really nice! It feels tactile and honest, in a way. 

A great point someone made during the Q & A session at the end of the reading was that engaging with Roggenbuck’s videos, stories and poems can feel very similar to reading a timeline of Tweets - fragments building on top of each other to create a body of work larger than each component on its own. I love that idea.

Much love to Steve Roggenbuck, Goldsmith’s University, and everyone who came out to see the reading last week.