for Boris Vian
It’s an old robe story. Old folktale. Woman surrounds herself with flowers and dies. Petals wilt. Plates squirm. Mounds gather a mattress of warmth. Acorns made for testing. When she dies, her blood is paper. Here’s some money back, the director replies. The sky is cardboard. Like in the flickers. He carries her past the rats. She burns his journal, runs from the tracks that gathered the feathers. The church echoes when the coffin falls out of the window and onto the car. He ages over lunch. They follow a tow truck disguised as a hearse. A boardwalk to drop the flowers. The coffin enlarges. He can’t afford order. The film cries a hole. Bleak dresses shot into the lake. Alarm clocks walk like insects. His ears grow. The trees fall. The rat wins. It’s awful what they did to the friend. The piano at the end asks for a hand.
Mini-interview with Benjamin Niespodziany
HFR: Can you share a moment that has shaped you as a writer (or continues to)?
BN: Utilizing the stacks at my library and reading for a little bit every day. Utilizing Interlibrary Loan when my library doesn’t have the book (which is rare). I’ve been able to read so many great (and hard to find) books because of these two services.
I could talk about my time copywriting for a tutoring company, or moderating a message board in middle school, or writing the descriptions for every single toy in a moderately sized toy store before they started their online launch, but I’d rather talk about books. So many writers have published poems and short stories and released books that have made me love and look forward to the act of reading. Pages so good where I have to put the book down and write my own poem/story/idea. Anyone who shows me a new way to maneuver through the page, I am grateful and in awe. Some writers who have recently done this for me/to me/through me: Joanna Ruocco, Edward Carey, Robert Kloss, Dalton Day, Jessica Poli, Johannes Goransson, Nathan Hoks.
HFR: What are you reading?
BN: Edward Carey’s Observatory Mansions (it’s incredible, but please read The Swallowed Man).
Joanna Ruocco’s Man’s Companions (it’s incredible, but please read Another Governess / The Least Blacksmith).
Diane Williams’ Fine, Fine, Fine, Fine, Fine (it’s incredible but please read every short story and sequenced novella Diane Williams has ever written).
Barbara Comyn’s Who Was Changed and Who Was Dead (I haven’t started it but it’s due back at the library soon so it will be cracked open by the time this runs so help me god).
Lastly, I just requested Jodorowsky’s book on the tarot through Interlibrary Loan. Is 2021 the year I get into tarot?
HFR: Can you tell us what prompted “Indigo Froth”?
BN: I’ve been watching movies on mute on my iPad and then free writing in my journal or on my laptop. Sometimes I have some piano music in the background or some ambient tracks, but lately I’ve been preferring the silence. When the movies are over, I usually have 600-2,000 words of fragments and descriptors and moments that caught my eye. Then I try to trim and shift and sculpt and mold into a 100-200 word prose poem.
This one was written while watching Mood Indigo (2013), a sad and magical French film directed by Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine, The Science of Sleep). It’s worth noting that this film is based on Boris Vian’s surrealist novel Froth on the Daydream (1947) (even more sad and even more magical), hence the ‘Indigo’ and the ‘Froth’.
Other films I have done this ekphrastic freewrite for: The Northerners (1992), El Topo (1970), You, The Living (2007), The Triplets of Belleville (2003), Borgman (2013), Birds (or How to Be One) (2020). I’m realizing now that none of my selections for this series have been English films. What an unintentional joy! The rest of the series I’ll be sure to do no English movies. Watch foreign films!
HFR: What’s next? What are you working on?
BN: Watching more movies and writing more poems.
I have been tinkering and finalizing a novella in microfables that I finally started submitting around. Hopefully something comes of it. It’s about a woodsman. And a town. And a witch.
I’m also working on some poems about my family, some poems about religion, some poems about war, some poems about monsters, and some one-act plays.
HFR: Take the floor. Be political. Be fanatical. Be anything. What do you want to share?
BN: Capture your curiosities however you can. Practice patience and persistence. Read every day. Read more than you write. Read John Maradik and listen to Duendita and watch movies by Alex van Warmerdam. Keep a book of poems, a book of shorts, and a novel in you backpack at all times. You never know what kind of words you need. I’m tired of this routine. I hope we’re alive by the time this goes live. I love the world. I love the world. Don’t die.
Benjamin Niespodziany is a Pushcart Prize nominee and Best Microfiction nominee. He has had work in Hobart, Maudlin House, Fence, Wigleaf, and various others. He works nights in a library in Chicago.