Posts Tagged ‘justin karcher’

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When Severed Ears Sing You Songs by Justin Karcher

March 14, 2017

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“Trying to create miracles for all us dumb fucks

Who just want to see one curse reversed

Before our muscles betray our bones”

-from ‘I Want Michael Fassbender to Hold My Hand and Tell Me Everything Will Be Okay…’

Chapbooks have traditionally been a signal flare or a forerunner for a larger body of work. Sometimes the flare peters out on the way down, and there are other instances where they are strung together before being combined into a bigger collection of poems. When Severed Ears Sing You Songs (2016, Ghost City Press) by Justin Karcher is more of an about-face or a stylistic sidestep after his longer Tailgating At The Gates Of Hell (2015, Ghost City Press).  Fast, funny and philosophical while simultaneously walking the tight rope between timely and timeless.

The city of Buffalo is Justin’s muse. He creates mirth and magic and wonder out of the sub-mundane, the poverty class and the lost souls in a lost city. The phenomenon to Karcher’s poems is that I wrestle cognitively with whether or not they are clever non-sequiturs strung together to suit or if all of the poems are one patchwork diatribe touching down on distinctive benders, evenings we’ve all regretted or dark corners of the city and our scarred psyches at the same time. I’m not sure I want the answer anymore, but I enjoy struggling with the riddle. And there’s a wry gallow’s humor to his work that connects with the reader in a way I haven’t seen in poetry for some time. Too often we’re weighed down with a sort of 18th-century morose self-importance in 21st century poems that shouldn’t exist.

This chapbook strikes me as a writer becoming comfortable with his style, easing into his poems like you’d slide your heel effortlessly into a pair of formal shoes. He has his voice and now he’s checking off every octave. The age-old polarities of sex and death have gotten wonderfully muddy within the pages of ‘Severed Ears’. Now we’re venturing into the ache, the loss, the regret and the existentialism of half-remembered love and the sorrow and sometimes-dread of being alive. Somehow in all of this Karcher gives me hope for the city because if it can cause so much pain, then it means more than Post-Industrialism, decline and decay.

-Tom Waters

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Big Words I Know By Heart Episode 25: ‘Dramaturgy’

June 23, 2016

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I’ve been a bad talk show host.

Here we are a week away from the next episode and I’m just posting the previous episode now.  Chalk it up to procrastination, call it the aftermath to my comeuppance, call it whatever you want, but here’s last month’s episode.  I felt ill-prepared and intimidated by my guest Donna Hoke, a playwright, staffer for Buffalo Spree magazine, children’s book author and a lot more.  Maybe I read too far into her personality, maybe not, but it threw me off guard and it was noticeable.  That’s okay, though.  The two questions I ask myself after every show are 1. Was it entertaining? and 2. Was it funny?  I can respond affirmative to both for this show whether it was at my own expense or not.  Justin Karcher was terrific in the Co Host Hot Seat.  See the whole big hot mess for yourself:

 

Thanks are in order to Hoke, Karcher and the always-lovely Richard Wicka.  I’ll see you all back here in approximately one week.  Approximately.

Tom

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Big Words Video 25.1: Donna Hoke & Justin Karcher-‘Hamilton’

June 2, 2016

I got the sense that either Donna and Justin hadn’t seen each other in a long time, or that you could lock them both in a room for three days and they’d still be pontificating and arguing when you opened the door.  Quips and gossip and barbs were flying and they downshifted to a delightful debate about Buffalo theater once the camera started rolling after the episode.  See for yourself:

#BigWordsVideo will return later this month with a long-awaited guest spot from award-winning comedienne Heather Stack!

Don’t you touch that dial.

Tom

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‘Shotgun Start’-Tailgating At The Gates Of Hell Review

October 19, 2015
Tailgating At The Gates Of Hell by Justin Karcher with illustrations by Michael Biondo (2015, Ghost City Press)

Tailgating At The Gates Of Hell by Justin Karcher with illustrations by Michael Biondo (2015, Ghost City Press)

‘The rust born in my blood anchors me like a shipwreck
And it’s only through self-destruction
That I’m able to float freely.’-Virginia Isn’t For Lovers Like Me (pg.50)

Here’s the thing about being a mad bastard: you can always recognize another one. On some instinctual, primordial, reptilian, old-brain level, you can spot someone else who’s mad as a March Hare. Justin Karcher is out of his mind. In a good way. The best kind of way. In the poetic sense of someone who’s veins are on fire with passion and prose. The words are exploding out of this man and we’re all lucky enough to be on the other end of it. Trust me, I’ve been in his shoes and it’s a scary, exciting, unpredictable place to be. Real poetry…real poets? They’ve got the world pouring out of their fingertips and there’s no way to stop the flood. Tailgating At The Gates Of Hell is not your grandmother’s Condensed Best Of Safe and Inoffensive American Poetry Primer. Nothing inside of it will ever make it’s way onto a knitted sampler or the bumper sticker of a lily-white compact SUV. Thank God for that.

This is just the beginning. This is a Poet announcing his entrance into the ring. There’ll be more. A lot more. There’s no doubt of that. I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that we’ll have a whole bookshelf reserved for Mr. Justin Karcher in no time flat. While the housewife poets and armchair poets and tourists are working on economy of line and flash poetry and happy insipid nonsense, Justin is firing off submissions and hat-tricking acceptances while the rest of the sane world sleeps. Not because he wants to, but because he has to. This is how he makes sense of a milquetoast planet lost in its own slumber. He’s writing his way either out of or into a rubber room depending on his point of view that very second. Or both. Depends on the poem, the girl, the state line in question and a lot of other variables.

Karcher’s poems obey their own laws of reality, space-time and sexuality. He creates his own vernacular as he goes, hammering out his own alliteration-laced glossary off-the-cuff, and it makes for damned good reading. The adjectives and expletives click into place like the best kind of bedfellows. A chapbook was too small for his first shot across the bow, and Michael Biondo’s illustrations serve the subject matter well, almost like cocktail-napkin sketches about two drinks past last call at the bar on the wrong side of town after the first eight dives, juke joints, crashed parties and speakeasies. There’s an interlocking narrative as you make your way through the book, a man grasping at the identity of country, self, sex and the illusion of sanity. Salvation through self-destruction. It’s a tune that’s not too distant for me, so I recognize the melody, and Karcher’s rendition is a real barn-burner.
 

Tailgating At The Gates Of Hell is just the shotgun start. Mark my words. This is the good stuff. Distilled, refined and fired right at you with staccato sincerity. From one mad bastard to another, Justin, well done.

Chewing through my restraints again,
Tom Waters

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Big Words I Know By Heart X: ‘The Hot Dog Dance’

June 2, 2015

Before producer Richard Wicka and I even started filming the webisodes last August, I booked all of my guests for the first season of the show in an effort to keep the guests balanced and ensure that the show got off to a strong start.  Jon Elston (Episode I) recommended poet and playwright Justin Karcher as someone who would work as a guest for the show and Karcher certainly didn’t disappoint.

Publicity still for Big Words Video X by Richard Wicka.  Pictured (clockwise): Waters, Justin Karcher and co-host Pete.

Publicity still for Big Words Video X by Richard Wicka. Pictured (clockwise): Waters, Justin Karcher and co-host Pete.

Having never met Karcher before, I had no idea what to expect.  While researching the show I was struck by the amount of published work he’d amassed and the distinctive voice he’d forged as a poet.  He’s a very genuine person in a world where sincerity is in short supply.  We had a great time during the filming and a few long discussions before and after the show.  This episode marks a slight departure from the early format of blindsiding guests without giving them much of a breather between questions.  The show is evolving into a goofy comedy show with some very candid responses and a very real organic back and forth.  So ten episodes in, Big Words Video is beginning to grow up a little.  I have a four year plan for this show and I’m very proud of how it’s gone so far.  I hope you feel the same way after watching a few episodes.  You can view Episode X: ‘The Hot Dog Dance’ right HERE:

Please take the time to ‘Like’ the show on YouTube as well as ‘Sharing’ it on any of your various social networking platforms and apps.  Thanks are in order to Justin for delivering on his mystique, Pete for coming to the table with some research of his own and of course producer Richard Wicka for letting me run around his studio like a bull in a china shop.

I’ve been excited about next month’s guest since August, but why spoil the surprise now?

We’ll see you on the other side of the screen in a month,

Tom

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Big Words Video 10.5: ‘Phonaesthetics’

June 2, 2015

Justin Karcher was like a force of nature once the camera started rolling for this bonus segment.  I’ve seen a lot of poetry readings in my time and I’ve been around that world more than a bit and it was pretty clear watching him work that he has a well-worn place in his head where he goes when he reads from his poems. It was something to see in person behind the camera and that energy translated very well into the segment. Check out Big Words Video 10.5 right HERE:

Karcher is the real deal when it comes to poets.  He’s not a tourist and not a ‘hobbyist’.  I look forward to seeing how his bibliography plays out.  Please take an extra minute to SUBSCRIBE to the Big Words Video Channel to receive updates on new shows as they arrive.  There are only a few episodes left before Season One comes to a close and there are still some great guests down the road!

Tom

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