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Murooned is a poetry blog with ebook and print editions where Ben Austin (murooned) posts original poetry. Someone once told Ben that he inspired his writing because his poems are “dynamic and emotive,” which is what Ben tries to do in every piece. He is inspired by Don Draper, MF DOOM, and GIFs. Nox, by Anne Carson is one of his favorite books, and he holds a graduate degree from Loyola Chicago. Add his real life and you get something like murooned.tumblr.com. Austin also published an ibook/ ebook called IOS Adorbs in May of 2012, which you can purchase here.
Top Drawer asked Ben Austin a few questions about his poetry:
TD: What is your creative process like?
BA: I start by typing straight into GIMP, which is open-source Photoshop. I really like writing straight into a finished product, at least for poems, but I do make a lot of changes sometimes. The psychological association with using word processors for work and school is so negative that I really like typing straight into a jpeg form. The only downside is there is no spell check in GIMP, so I end up manually checking words and phrases online, which is pretty silly and inefficient, but it’s really hard to switch up a routine. The only way I write is to include individual things that excite me and then combine them. I simply remove anything that doesn’t mean something to me in the abstract all by itself, outside the poem and it usually means a fraction more when it’s included alongside other ideas or images.
TD: How long ago did you start murooned? Did you accomplish (so far) what you set out to do? What is it that you set out to do?
BA: I started murooned.tumblr.com in the summer of 2011, but it’s only been a poetry blog since Christmas 2011. Before then I was doing sort of image macros and altered tumblr pics. I put out the first ibook/print book, iOS Adorbs this May, and the response was so huge it was daunting. I’ve never had a blog or website before, so the only impulse to do it was social. People on Tumblr have given me access to content I would’ve never found any other way, so the only goal I’ve ever had for writing online is participating in a 24hr. content stream, which I love. I’m the kind of person who used buy tons of magazines to flip through, but that gets expensive.
TD: How did you come up with the name “murroned?”
BA: As far as the name goes, I’ve always been “murooned” on Tumblr; I didn’t think about it at all at first, but looking back I’ve always been into desert island stories and movies, and when I moved overseas I felt pretty “marooned” for a while, and I felt really marooned when I came back to the US in 2011, so I think “murooned” is the 21st century, internet version of being on a desert island with only WiFi, which is not a bad place for me and a lot of other people.
TD: Your poems seem to convey an inherent irony that’s present in our internet age and current political situation (especially regarding the GOP). Can you speak more about both the problems and strengths of our generation, and how your poetry speaks to these issues? For example, do you seek to educate people through your poetry? Do you use it as a way for people to seek refuge a result of the absurdity of modern Western society? How do you perceive your poetry as taking affect?
BA: As a kind of groundwork, I would first say that for me anything aesthetic has to be “useless” by definition. For instance, I always think of Facebook as an example of useful language that people are in constant contact with; when FB is used, as it is 98% of the time, it is reporting useful, factual things that have happened or things that people are thinking or feeling at the moment: “OMG, I got the promotion y’all!!!” So, at work, at school, and even online, we’re getting a lot of factual, practical, and political facts, advice, and opinions, but when you get a status and tweets like “Cy Tumblrly” ( a tweet from https://twitter.com/percoset)
You are not having a factual, practical, or political (in any kind of direct sense to me) experience with language, so then you’ve drifted into an aesthetic or possibly poetic experience with language. That approach to language is where my poetry begins, so political relation is either so ambiguous as to be politically “useless” or political in way that would require a serious rethinking of what political means, which sounds accurate to me since, personally, I don’t think anyone’s political opinions or beliefs exist in the way the believer thinks they do.
I never have any intention to change anyone’s mind or force someone to “wake up” to certain issues through poetry; I know writers who do, and there are many poets from the 2nd half of the 20th century that did, and I think they’ve done a good job of it, but it’s something I have no interest in doing myself. I didn’t start writing seriously until I found the, what I’ve always called, “non-thetic” poems by John Ashbery (I believe Sartre uses “non-thetic” in a very specific way, so I don’t mean his version). Someone said the unique feature of Ashbery’s poems is that they have no anxiety, which had never been done before. So you could say a good poem to me has no “thesis,” and since there is no proposition, they are “useless” as I said before, and then it becomes aesthetic by definition; that doesn’t mean it’s any good though; it has merely qualified as aesthetic instead of practical and factual language ;)“Relief” is a good result for a poem even though I don’t think it would ever cross a reader’s mind during an aesthetic experience. People return to the same songs, images, and writing over and over, and I think if you brought up “relief” they might realize in retrospect that was what was bringing them back to those things.Personally, I don’t think our era is more absurd than others; all eras are equally absurd, but we happen to have the most information about and experience with the present.