This week I’m stoked to be giving away a copy of ‘DOOM: Love Poems for Supervillains,’ written by the talented Natalie Zina Walschots.
Poetry can’t be tough! Or metal! Oh wait, yes it can. Explain how a love for heavy metal and super heroes can co-exist with written prose.
So, I had another life, once. I was a bit of an odd kid in the tiny Catholic town I grew up in, and got out as soon as I could, but my path wasn’t the usual teen rebellion stuff. I went to University at 17 and grad school at 21. I started out studying literature in creative writing, which gradually narrowed to Canadian literature, then contemporary Canadian writing, and then experimental poetry.
I also got married when I was 21, as well. My plan was to get my PhD all in one frantic run. To lock myself away in the Ivory Tower of Academia, write about literature and very weird poems and never really deal with the larger world at all. I was going to become an evil Writing Wizard in my Tower.
I suppose there was always something bubbling beneath the surface. My first book, published when I was 23, was a weird and granular collection of poems about sadomasochism. I was restless and suffering from an anxiety disorder. I felt something clawing to get out.
Then, a whole series of things happend including me getting unmarried shortly before my 25th birthday, and suddenly I found myself in Canada’s largest city without an academic career. The Ivory Tower had failed me. I was terrified and completely unprepared to deal with the world, and also very, very angry.
I started to get sharper, and develop hard edges. I lost weight and began collecting tattoos and cut off my virgin blonde hair; I dyed it pink.
And I discovered heavy metal.
One night my friends took me to a warehouse show. I left with bootprints on my back and a ravaging hunger for more of the intensity, the volume, the noise, the catharsis.
After that introduction, poetry was the way I processed my burgeoning relationship to metal, because it was the language that I spoke. I began to write though my experiences and love affairs with the genre. I wrote weird little postcard-length reviews that were much closer to poems than proper responses.
Which is, to say; poetry and metal are very naturally intertwined for me, both because it was through poetry that I first built a relationship with heavy metal, and also because I have always studied and loved the strangest, most difficult examples of poetry out there. They make a much more complementary pairing than you would expect. Poetry is not all sonnets and pastoral pieces and reflections on love and nature. There are blood and guts and metal and fire there too. I think the average perception of what poetry is is much softer than the contemporary reality.
Tell me about the book. How’d it come about? What compelled you to sit down and write it all out?
In late 2007, Matrix Magazine put out a call for submissions to their Fan Friction issue, dedicated to interpretations to fan fiction. I wrote a piece called ‘Three Love Poems for Dr. Doom.’ I’ve always had a crush on Doom and dabbled in fan fiction as a teen, so I couldn’t resist contributing.
I had such a great time writing those poems that I wrote more. Soon I had pieces dedicated to The Joker, Ra’s al Ghul, Lex Luthor, Magneto. The first 30 came very quickly. They sort of poured out.
I sat on the project for a very long time. I took jobs at an oil company, then a book store. I moved from Calgary to Toronto and worked in a private high school and a call center. I would pick at the manuscript now and again, add a piece here and there or push the words around, but I rarely worked on it steadily. Once I started writing about music I wrote very little poetry as I focused my energy on learning how the hell to write a live show review.
Then, in the early spring of 2011, I found myself as a content writer and social media manager for a porn company, and the burn to finish the book returned. I cashed in all of the vacation time that I had and took a week and a half off to write every single day. That was all I did. All day. I turned all my notes and research into poems, and revised the pieces that I had. At the end of that process, I had about 100 pieces. After that last intense push, I started seeking a publisher.
What albums have you fallen in love with in 2012? Any “album of the year” candidates for you?
I hate these questions because I always, always miss something. But, I certainly have some albums that immediately leap to mind and will surely wind up on my best-of lists:
Mares of Thrace, The Pilgrimage
A stellar example of noise, doom and sludge. Combines intelligent songwriting and complex song-structures with genuinely emotive lyrics and gut-wrenching execution.
Alcest, Les Voyages de L’Ame
A trembling, vital record that paints an incredibly vivid dreamscape. Something otherworldly and fae.
Pallbearer, Sorrow and Extinction
An extraordinary doom album, incredibly crushing but also capable of a light touch when required. Incredible musical textures.
Christian Mistress, Possession
Classic metal that is simultaneously utterly contemporary. Smoke and broken glass.
High On Fire, De Vermis Mysteriis
Their finest effort to date, without a doubt. Huge sound, excellent production, very well-written.
Way more bubblegum and sunblock and beach vibes that the average metal album, but brilliant.
Gaza, No Absolutes in Human Suffering
This album destroys me.
Witch Mountain, Cauldron of the Wild
Appallacian doom. Uta Plotkin has one of the most incredible voices I have ever encountered.
Gojira, L’Enfant Sauvage
I include this under the “bonus round” heading because this is as conflict-of-interesty as can be, since my partner is the vocalist/lyricist and all the rest of the guys are my good friends. That doesn’t change the fact that this is a raw, emotionally devastating example of twisted, blistering metallic hardcore. They call themselves “northern hostility” for a reason.
To win a copy of ‘DOOM: Love Poems for Supervillains,’ make sure you’re following @skulltoaster on Twitter or Instagram.
Then, just pay attention to our Twitter and Instagram feed and answer one (1) metal trivia question correctly from 8/20-8/24 correctly and you’ll be entered to win a copy of ‘DOOM: Love Poems for Supervillains’ by Natalie Zina Walschots.
One winner will be chosen at random, and you’ll be contacted if that happens to be you.
You can also buy the book from Insomniac Press.