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Friday, 6 February 2009

Lux Interior Has Died

Sad news. The great psychobilly performer, Lux Interior, who, with partner-in-music Poison Ivy made up the bruised core of The Cramps, has died. American "trash culture" has lost one of its major iconoclastic icons. I saw them perform once in Montreal, in the late 1980s, and it was weird and inspiring. No one who was anyone then had not danced to "Human Fly".

The Cramps' style (they never cramped mine) was very influential, I think, on Canadian poetry of the 90s, in the sense that they were at the vanguard of a movement to reintroduce, or reinretroduce perhaps, a B-movie subculture to greater prominence, in the way that Vampirella did. This led to the rediscovery of Ed Wood, Bettie Page, and other lost figures on the sordid margins of the Eisenhower Era.

This love of creepily backstreet Americana was also part of what drove David Lynch and Tarantino. This was very much in my mind when I began my cabarets, and it was a part of the zeitgeist, then, for poets and performers to think of themselves as in dialogue with the more offbeat characters and trends of the 50s-60s cheesy Los Angeles subculture.

Perhaps no North American poet (other than David Jaeger or David Trinidad) has better caught this tone and theme than Montreal's own David McGimpsey, who put his own stamp of revaluation on hamburgers, bad TV, and relics of the golden age of trash, in formally brilliant verse. My anthology, for DC Books, Future Welcome, was very much a part of this attempt to imagine what a "B-poetry" style might be like - that is, a style of poems that, like other aspects of trash culture, made no qualms about aiming for sensationalism, thrills, pleasure, while avoiding any interest in taste, decorum, or lack of deviation from the norm.

While a "trash poetics" is not my only poetic interest, it is one of them, and I continue to reserve the right to write stuff I like, that speaks to that part of the brain that also loves the kitsch, the camp, pulp and junk.
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