Ben Kopel probably sounds familiar. That’s probably because of Layne’s awesome review of his book, Victory, recently released by H_NGM_N. If that’s not why, it’s probably because his rendition of Thunder Road, (performed here in Atlanta shortly after his reading alongside Kory Calico and Megan Volpert for the Solar Anus reading series) was truly inspired and really got people talking. Luckily for Atlantans, he’s coming back! Ben will be reading for the What’s New in Poetry series at Emory with Hazel McClure, Laura Theobald, and Kim Vodicka tomorrow at 8pm. What better excuse for an Awful Interview than a reading?
Ben, you recently had a collection of poems released by H_NGM_N entitled Victory. Now that you are an expert on all things victorious, you can answer the question that’s been itching at my insides for decades: Who would win in an arm-wrestling match: Bruce Springsteen or Bono? Why?
Ok, having taken this mental image under serious consideration, here’s my answer: They sit. They stare. They lock hands. They struggle. He smiles. He smiles back. They struggle more. They come in close. They touch forehead to forehead. They stop struggling. They kiss. Nothing crazy. Think ‘Bob and Charlotte at the end of Lost In Translation.’ Platonic but passionate. Exploring but knowing. A contradiction of a kiss.
In that scenario, the winner is all of us.
Ben, that is really beautiful. I’m kind of flustered, actually. You live in New Orleans, yes? Is it true that you can pay for things with Mardi Gras beads and Bacchus coins there? What’s the current exchange rate Bacchus to USD? How did you come to find yourself in the Big Easy?
Yes, I’ve been living in the magnolia for about a year now and I couldn’t love it more. RE: exchange rate and whatnots: YES, beads and trinkets are still a very viable bartering system in the city by the river. Currently, a fistfull of Bacchus doubloons will get you a there and back streetcar ride to nowhere in particular. Now the beads, that’s a totally different story. Those will actually COST you about 7 lbs. of self-respect.
As for how I found myself here, well, that’s nothing insanely exciting. I grew up in Baton Rouge, about and hour and a half away, and was there for twenty-three years. I left to spend 5 years (cue ‘Ziggy Stardust’) in the poem mines of Iowa and Massachusetts, respectively. At some point in the process, I just kind of capital ‘K’ Knew that that’s where I needed and wanted to be. It’s like living on the Island of Misfit Toys, but minus all the self-loathing and plus all the dark-hearted sickboy joy one can handle. It’s a pretty honest place to be, if you ask me.
You made yourself a home on the bayou! I happen to have a number of Bacchuss XX coins (Alan Thicke circa 1988) what do you think that would get me?
If I had my way, ma’am, seventy-seven ’88 doubloons would get you a private evening with Alan Thicke’s son, the human sexbomb himself, Robin Thicke. See here.
OMG Ben! For realz? Also, do you remember this jam from the early days of Robin Thicke? EPIC. Speaking of epic, what kind of awesomeness are you going to unleash when you return to Atlanta this Thursday?
I am totally prepared to inflict my feelings on yr fair city. I’m bringing the Lucille Ball of contemporary female poetics, Kim Vodicka. She’s a farce of nature. We’ve adopted a megaphone named Rudolph. I’ve been listening to ‘Bankrobber’ by The Clash on repeat, so yr gonna have to see where that’s gotten me. I went to Graceland today, so the word of God lays heavy on this heart of mine. I miss someone, too. That only makes me stronger. Atlanta, I’ll be up in yr grill ASAP. To quote Sam and Dave, hold on. I’m comin’.