National Poetry Month 2014 and bullets in the head

Ban This
¡Ban This! The BSP Anthology of Xican@ Literature art by Josh Divine


Why Are You Watching? from AmeriKKKan Stories by Santino J. Rivera


From Demon in the Mirror by Santino J. Rivera


Good Mourning from AmeriKKKan Stories by Santino J. Rivera
9/11 Part 2 from Alcohol Soaked and Nicotined Stained by Santino J. Rivera

I often tell people that they will find things in my books unlike anything else they’ve read elsewhere. And though it sounds cliche, I mean it. Sometimes that’s good and sometimes bad…everyone’s a critic after all, including myself.

Truth be told, I loathe most modern poetry. Everyone I tell that to finds that either hilarious and or shocking but it’s true. I hate it. I hate your poetry. I guess as a writer/editor/publisher that makes me more normal than I realize…but it takes something powerful to move me or catch my fancy.

Poems, in my opinion, should act as armor-piercing bullets (the armor being all the apathy/snark we’ve built up over the years) and if they’re not splattering my brains all over the walls or causing me to bleed out from my punctured heart, then I want nothing to do with them. A poem should rock your goddamn foundation. Anything less is a waste of time.

A journalist asked me one time if I’d ever killed anyone. It was said both in jest and with a genuine sense of curiosity. They asked after reading my first book, Demon in the Mirror.

At first, I was offended. My first thought was: do mainstream authors have to put up with shit like this?!  Are people asking Clive Barker if he’s ever killed anyone?! 

But then I realized that if I elicited that kind of response/query from someone reading my work, then my mission, at least partially, was accomplished. Sure, they might think I’m nuts but at least I made them think…

Too often poetry is pigeonholed into rigid categories and cast aside as garbage. Hell, most book stores have less than a shelf dedicated to the subject and mostly classical authors at that…yet there are so many of us still writing it.

I share these pictures (above) as a reminder that not all poetry is roses and rainbows. Not all stanzas are love-lorn. Not all verse is soapbox material. Not all prose is meant to be “slammed.”

Sometimes a poem is a love letter and often enough a love letter is a bullet in the head.

Thanks for reading.

– S|J|R


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