Dan Magers writes some messed-up shit. I don’t really mean messed-up in the sense that it is jacked or bizarre, though he does manage to get poetically unorthodox shit like Cash Money Millionaires, Morrissey album counts, sexy Muppets, and weed and Paxil and Vicodin into scenes where you would not ordinarily expect them. I mean that in Dan Magers’ text the range of logic and approach to how we normally read and receive information is perverted, though in an alarmingly casual way. Like at first it seems you’re being spoken to in party conversation talk, then it seems maybe like you’re on Twitter, then suddenly you’re digging through one of Wittgenstein’s notebooks, then you’re reading a letter from someone you used to know. It swims together into a thing that’s singularly Magers. It's a lot like staring into those Magic Eye paintings at the mall, which I could never do, and so ended up just seeing all these flecks of color flexing against themselves, and all the mall voices weaving into that.
I’m reporting all this on the occasion that his debut book, Partyknife, just came out on Austin, Minneapolis, New York, and Raleigh-based independent press Birds, LLC. The book is shaped like a record sleeve and has six multicolored knives on the cover and on the back. Thurston Moore says, “Writing poems like these is just as good as starting a band,” which is apt because the book is stuffed with all these made-up bands and made-up artists and real bands and real artists all smudged together in this weird, wise, lazy stoner brain assemblage, the movement of which sneaks up on you. It’s cool when a book can access reality in a way that isn’t boring and then append that reality with made-up shit, I think. Partyknife does that in a way that feels fresh and sticky. Last time I saw Dan Magers he was wearing a copy of the book around his neck on a gold chain. It’s like that.
Another thing: dude is funny. And not in the way books try to be funny and aren’t funny really for what they are but because you know it is supposed to be—like here’s my funny scene involving shaving cream and tits. Instead, Partyknife is funny logically, in how it organizes its thoughts, surprising the first time and then impressive in a different way the second time. For all the wild shit crammed in here, all the beer and stoner metal and Lacan and art bros and quiet panic attacks, it gels and works machine-style. It makes me want to stare at shit with a blown-out smile on my face, which is good because that keeps happening when I read it.
Check it out:
Three Poems from Partyknife
The idea of smoking pot to regulate my life is unraveling,
so I need to make a necessary improvement. I am a nationally-known public speaker. Sexy like a Muppet,
guzzling Diet Cokes like I was Bill Clinton, my blankness is the blankness of Reagan. Then I became hungry like a fat person. In preparation for Fucktime,
I threw my bedding in the dryer
that was defective and everything burned.
My friend Rob said it smelled like skin.
You know what it was?
It was the beginning of tomorrow.
And today is all your life will ever be.
I’ve seen everything that’s funny on the internet.
Rockstar of masturbation and hot dog violence.
I serve everything I get.
What comes in is entered out of pity.
Oh my god, it’s happening!
Thinking about the history of death metal,
I realized I know nothing about death metal
and had a panic attack.
I tried to mouth off to some people,
and they just took it.
What a wimpy Halloween.
Even though I’m hanging out with white people,
it’s turning out pretty well.
Why would I pee on the bath mat? The toilet is right there.
I tried to start a rumor that Cecilia’s career would stall
because she was epileptic, and when she would perform in discos,
she will have seizures.
It’s as if the wind just dies away,
but this is not the masochistic work of man. It is nature within man.
Eventually she transforms into a tree and it is beautiful.
That’s the power of skin.
And when I die, I’ll just be dead.