An Open Letter from Lola Xylophone to Eric Fischman

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Dear Eric Fischman,

Remember the time two summers ago when I crashed on your sofa and in the morning I woke up before you and you had left The Book of Frank by CA Conrad sitting on the coffee table, so I read the whole thing, and you still weren’t awake, so then I started from the beginning and read the whole thing again, and then you were awake and standing in front of me in your sleepy bathrobe, and I handed you the book and asked you to read the poem about how Frank refused to eat his peas on a blind date because he didn’t want to let time move forward? And you read it in your lullaby-bed-time-story voice, and when it was over I asked you to read it again and you read it again and then I asked you to read it again and you read it again and we went on like that for quite some time.

Anyway I was just thinking about that because I’m getting ready to write a review of you for the Boulder Poetry Tribe, so I started thinking of significant moments I have known you through as a poet, and I definitely think that was one of the most powerful, at least for me. I’ve also been trying to remember some of the professional details of your career so that I can be sure to get that in the article. Obviously I know that you went to Naropa, since that’s where you & I met, in a poetry workshop with Sara Veghlan. And I know that you’ve been published a ton of local places, like Semicolon, Nerve Lantern, Kleft Jaw, Artspionage, The Siren, Sixers Review, The Hive. And of course you were published in Luminopolis, and at the book-release event you repeated that one stunning line of again and again- what was that line? I remember the feeling I was left with and the way your face looked, so full of angelic sadness, so full of a real heartbroken forgiveness. But I cannot remember the line.

I’ve been thinking the talk you gave on Creative Converse radio program about the Boulder Poetry community, where you talk about how the Boulder Poetry Community is the best there is. I needed to hear that, Eric. Sometimes I feel discouraged, Eric. Sometimes I feel lonely and afraid to make art. Sometimes I am afraid to write, & sometimes I am afraid to read what I have written. Writing is a strange thing, the way we so often isolate ourselves to get the work done but  really need/want. Writers may write alone but they do need a community. We need someone to remind us, to invite us back into that community sometimes. Thank you for so often being the one who does that.

One thing that I really admire about you, Eric, is your sense of community. Poetry is such a small world with such a small potential audience, and I’ve seen some poets get pretty stingy in fighting for that audience. But you, Eric, you have been the absolute most generous always doing things like spreading the word about competitions you yourself have entered, refusing to engage in competition with other poets, but welcoming all poets, & all poems, always. I can see that for you, Eric, writing poetry is not about the ego, not about the self. It’s about what can be created. Not about the ego of writing it, being the one behind it, but the satisfaction in the writing itself.

I really admire the way that you are always seeking collaboration. Always wanting to write a typewriter poem, a poem where everybody writes a line together. Or a poem on a napkin at a bar someplace, or on a roll of toilet paper in someone’s home. We poets use what we have and it is always enough.

I have seen you write poetry on scraps of paper for strangers to find on the Pearl Street Mall here in Boulder. And I love that idea you’ve been talking about lately, the NSA-Red-Flag-Word-Poetry-Project,  with the intention to transform the government database of illegally obtained private communications into a literary archive by filling space that was meant for illicit dealings with the populace and filling it with art and also forcing someone at the NSA to sit there all day and have to read poetry! Really, this is genius…

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I know that to you, Eric, everything is poetry. I remember your sermons to me and also strangers in hot tubs on this topic on multiple occasions. I have seen you scream poetry from outside of the window at Innisfree to the people inside. I have seen you read grocery lists, textbooks, & pieces of paper out of the recycling bin and you called it poetry. And it was poetry.

That’s why, when I went camping on the Oregon coast, I rose early and texted you asking for a line of poetry, and you gave it to me: “what gold crickets in the glass shaking!!” and I wrote it in the sand close enough to the water that the tide would come later that afternoon and wash it away, if people and dogs and birds didn’t destroy the words with their footsteps before then. Yes I did this to pay homage to you, Eric, to your Anti-Elitist Transitory Poetics, to letting the poem exist as fully as it can and then to not clinging to keeping the poem alive, to not trying to salvage anything, to experience it all right now.

Which reminds me of that line you repeated at the Lunamopolis reading. Oh yes. Here it is: “Everything Changes.” And you just said those two words over and over, faster and slower, and as your face changed and your voice changed, the words changed too.  You said these words with anger, with anticipation, with worry, with fear, and finally, with acceptance and with love.

I want to live my entire life the way you write poetry, Eric. With no strings attached. Not just bottling the moments into memories so I can enjoy them later, but enjoying the present fully now, instead of being so preoccupied with trying to preserving it. I want to just let what is be what it is, right now, to exist as fully as I am able to, right now, saving nothing for later. Really to just be here now, as fiercely alive as I can shine.

All my love to you, my Friend,

Lola Xylophone

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