Twenty is the new retrospective compilation by Richard Millett. The idea is simple, on piece of writing from each year.
Twenty is available for download at-
Richard Millett - Twenty at pdfcast
and alot more of his work is makethingseasy.blogspot.com
it's also available for reading and download here thanks to the good folks at scribd
And here is the artwork!
And here is Rich's awesome introductory essay!
WE'RE HERE, AND IT'S ALL TRUE: THE AUTHOR’S INTRODUCTION & WELCOME
First off, I must say thank you for reading this. When I started writing at the age of 12, I couldn't imagine there would ever be any interest, outlet, or audience for my work. Since then, it's become very cool and again very un-cool to be a writer. I've watched most of my peers go through phases where they fancied themselves filmmakers, painters, photographers, musicians, activists, philosophers, conceptualists, chefs, gurus, sculptors, and cult leaders- and perhaps I've been some of that too- but here I am in 2011, and my ongoing art project (its means and its meanings) remain largely unchanged from the starting point. Except that everything's changed, of course. As it should. And to be honest, I bridle at even being called a writer, I certainly don't refer to myself as a "poet". As for other mediums, two quotes "the message is the medium" (Marshall McLuhan), and "the more mediums, the better" (Tim Szostak). The point is, fuck the limitations, and the definitions/assigned roles that come with them. I'm no more a "writer" than I am a "lawyer". I don't even consider myself white, male, or straight. Fuck. The. Limitations. If you have to label me anything, "human" and possibly "artist" is about as far as I care about venturing down that idiotic road.
From the start, I knew I wouldn't make money at this, so I always considered that to be wasted effort. In the past two decades, one of the things I've watched change drastically is the relationship people in my age group have with art. Including so-called "underground" or "anti-establishment" people. Straight away, underground, in my experience, has rarely varied from "same as corporate, only with less cash/visibility." Anyway, I've watched art become quantifiable by a) how much income it can generate, and b) what niche audience it can be projected onto. Usually has to do with credibility by association. I've watched people who should know better, prostitute their gifts and visions in the name of assimilating themselves into the industry. I’ve watched people have their otherwise intelligent insights re-shaped by critics and the zeitgeist, in the process becoming fashion victims obsessing over the mania. I’ve watched people care more about corporations than they do about creativity, because they’ve been manipulated into thinking they’re on some sort of moral crusade by taking sides in what amounts to a Coke Vs. Pepsi argument. I’ve watched very talented people become indentured servants to said corporations, just for the honour of losing all honour, and berating anyone who hasn’t replicated their exact steps. I’ve watched people create ever more categories, labels, and factions, which only served to suffocate their spirits, and strangle their creativity, the outcome of which can only be considered little more than "output". I’ve been told I "don’t understand how things are done", by folks who's dinosaur moves turn the au currant into kitsch faster than you can say "paradigm shift". I’ve been told (by "independent" bookstore owners) that my books aren’t formatted the right way, so therefore they cant be sold on their shelves. I’ve been heckled by dolts, because I wasn’t a poetry slam cut-out. And my work has been outright dismissed by folks "in the know" before they’ve even read it simply because I don’t care to spend my evenings making their scene, exchanging bon mots and reveling in our delightful obscuritanism.
I vividly remember my high school and college days, where it seemed every week I was being implored to impress some guy, who it was tacitly understood, was a really heavy genius, and if I was lucky, and dropped enough of the right names/references, I'd get to hop aboard his magical art colony mothership, where I would be showered with benefactors and glowing reviews forevermore. Except those heavy guys were/are invariably frauds, never-weres, bitter, paranoid, egomaniacs, of whom two questions need asking- a) where the fuck are they now? and b) what the fuck did they ever produce that was worthwhile? The modern manifestation of this phenomenon (and I can't help but laugh when I see it) are the co-op writing websites that fuel their emergence on hype and the promise of being the ultimate, bulletproof, art revolution- the true new order, if you will...and within six months they are doing censored, dumbed down pap in order to please their advertisers. No wonder there's so much cynicism and all around small ideas, right? Bad perception begets bad ideas begets bad art. And when you cross bad art with bad marketing campaigns, you are just another Mr. Brainwash. Show me the contribution, show me the plan. Then I'll see you down the road (that leads to Rome) in ten years, and we'll have a laugh.
Why in the hell have I bothered, then? Because it is always worth it. The complete freedom of expression I have maintained, is absolutely, unquestionably, worth it. Being open to influence (not status or trends or the mania), running the river, so to speak, is worth it. Because I never know who I'll learn from, and being open to that, is always worth it. Because I have had the great good fortune to meet, befriend and collaborate with some truly remarkable, inspirational, astonishing individuals, who took on this vocation, and do it properly. I don't have to name you, YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE. You are worth it. Because on some level, it's important for me to provide yet another example (I'm hardly the first, and certainly not the last), that you don't need an advertising budget, a street team, and the approval of industry standards to give the world your creation. Because being a lantern beats being a flashlight. Because creativity (and the magic and hard work that goes with it) is obviously better than stagnation. Because the next creative adventure always holds endless possibilities. The most challenging, the most interesting, the most fun. Because, quite simply, I am in love with the creative process. It fulfills my life like almost nothing else. I love the work it entails. I still get a huge thrill out of watching these ideas come together and take shape. The same level of excitement finishing the artwork and going to the printer that I had when I was 17. Because this work is not my therapy, it's not "my truth", it just IS. Because Art Is Life And Life Is Art.
Then there's you. The audience. The first printing of my first book was 5 copies, which I handed out to close friends. Now, if my work gets 5 views in a week, I consider that slow. What I love is that you're here by choice. You haven't been conned or manipulated into paying attention, and it certainly isn’t a lifestyle accessory. 20 years in, and I have readers in the United States, France, Canada, Belgium, Russia, Romania, The Netherlands, India, Germany, Ireland, Malaysia, Brazil, Iran, Egypt, and Britain. I say this not to gloat, but as a point of pride. Not pride in myself, but in you, the reader. The audience is the other half of all this work. And the fact that you’ve been engaged enough to receive and transmit my work is beyond gratifying. Not to sound churlish, but the “readership” does not affect what I do, determine my course of actions, ideas about presentation, or the content itself. Obviously, I would certainly never censor anything. Because I started off the way I did, I believe that gives me strength to take my art in any direction I see fit, and my willingness to alienate or confound is, what I believe keeps people interested. I think it’s evident that you aren’t being taken for granted, and you aren’t being pandered to. I respect your intelligence, and ability to form your own opinions. Maybe that’s why we both stick around.
Oh, and now for the pedantic stuff. The layout of this book should be apparent...one piece from each year I’ve been writing. This collection is an overview for the curious. If you like what you see, guess what, there's alot more for you to check out. What this collection does not do is tell a story, reinforce any kind of narrative arc, or even show you how I got from a to b. For instance, there's nothing in here from Scatter (which I felt could not be broken out, and should remain whole), and my early 90's "political" material is almost entirely MIA. It's not definitive, and it's certainly not a "best-of". It's about laughter and freedom. It's about content and context. It's about transmogrification and transcendence. It's about all things as all things. It's about everything.
Richard Millett, 2011
And as an added bonus, here is the complete interview Tim Szostak did with Rich for the new compilation!