about mark flanigan

Cincinnati native Mark Flanigan has been writing and performing for over 14 years....Works from his collections Wrong-Way Poems For One-Way Streets, Not Necessarily God Stories and Next to Nothing have appeared in a variety of independent publications and, along with his performances, have garnered critical acclaim. He has also co-written a screenplay (“Midway,” with Brian Keizer), edited a literary publication (omnibscure) and worked to develop, produce and curate various gallery shows and performance readings -- notably, VOLK/c.s.p.i. and Intermedia Series readings at the Contemporary Arts Center and the Weston art gallery. Flanigan’s monthly column, “Exiled on Main Street,” appeared for over three years, first in x-ray, and upon his resignation there, at semantikon.com. Performances of his can be found on “the Volk/c.s.p.i. spoken word series CD (2001),” which he co-produced, and on the CD “One Night Only" (2002).   To learn more about his work, read his blog, review some of the works mentioned above, and listen to additional audio tracks:

Visit markflanigan.com

flanigan audio
mark flanigan exiled from archives

October 2007: The Dance

June 2007: Cake
May 2007: Special Edition "Light Travel" Mark Flanigan and Steve Proctor
April 2007: Zero Hour
March 2007: Prelude to a Kiss-Off
Jan 2007: State Of The Disunion Address 
Nov 2006: Youngblood
Oct 2006: How I Spent My Summer Vacation
exiled on main street archives

feedback
Name:
Email:
About Artist:
feedback:

January 2007: State Of The Disunion Address
    This is not what you wanted to read.
     Normally, you wouldn’t. Most would rally, sweep this under the rug. All the same, for whatever reason, tonight it’s the cutting-room floor, the tail end of a month that demanded that you write five columns, collate a manuscript, apply to a festival, ready for a performance, and now this, the dregs of a conversation.
     But isn’t that what you wanted?: A ringing phone, paying gigs, deadlines to keep.... To be viewed, finally and seriously, as a writer?
     And yet, a longer and quieter silence falls between each word that is written.
mark flanigan minute poems
Semantikon.com Exclusive Mark Flanigan e-book: Minute Poems with Artwork by Alan Sauer
{290KB PDF}

      You look for inspiration from more than one type of bottle. You try different degrees of alchemy, and then sleep it off. Try again.
     Something must break, but what?
     You’re blowing deadlines left and right, spending too much time on each. You realize just how unbelievably inefficient a worker you have become in this realm, what with bellyaching more than you write. Suddenly, you long for the comfort of a boss, someone to tell you what needs to be done and when, implicit the cutting of corners and more decent pay.
     This is not what you wanted to hear.
     You remember that you have to attend a funeral in a few hours. Know already that you will arrive smelling of nicotine and no sleep, your hair tossed, your suit dusty. You will stand there in the cemetery with your hands crossed, reflect on life and find it lacking somewhat. You will contemplate and understand the true meaning of the word ‘deadline.’
     You look at the clock. Wonder how you get yourself in such situations. More importantly, you wonder how to get out?
     Knowing that there will be no normal days ahead, no nights spent abed with your girl. Even fewer calls to your friends.
     Your room is a cave, dark and quiet. There’s no music even, as if that too has lost its allure or has become just that much more interference.
     You don’t know if you’re depressed because of the change in season, or because of your general inactivity.
     You haven’t seen the sun in two weeks. You barely noticed.
     You remember earlier in the week, when you sat here for the better part of three days, to find that you had moved so little that your knees literally bruised.
     Something must break, but whom?
     You figure it’s not writer’s block so much as writer’s fatigue. You’re uncertain about most everything. Tired of your shtick. Of your own voice even, which sounds flat and reminiscent of your outgoing answering machine message.
     You’ve become a parody of yourself without having starred in a single motion picture. Without truly
ever becoming.
     This at a time when your confidence is flagging. In the recent past you’ve had one piece unceremoniously rejected, watched as another was gutted.
     You long to reinvent yourself but don’t know how. Actually, you know how, but you simply cannot do it.
     You’re not out of ideas, you tell yourself. There are pieces to be written, pieces ready to be written, and yet you are not ready to write them.
     It reminds you of a dream you had recently. You opened a door and found yourself in an old room, long vacated. Opened another to find the same thing happen. You looked across the way into a past neighbor’s window, seeing if she was home. Your old landlady made an appearance. You opened another door and found yourself back in San Francisco. Room after room gave way to other apartments, and the entire time you alternated between saying “There’s no place like home” and “You can’t go home again.”
     You realize that you rely on dreams too much anymore. Then wonder what this says about you?
     What’s more, you notice that your words don’t have quite the crackle they use to. Lines aren’t nearly
as crisp.
     You wonder, really, if you can consider yourself a writer at all.
     You consider each word as if you’re afraid to find out.
     You got the shakes, can’t relax. You think of public figures with entire days scripted before they begin.      You run the other way.
     You tell yourself that what you have to say no longer seems pertinent. You should be absolutely screaming about world affairs, starvation, AIDS in Africa—anything, you tell yourself, but all this self-interest. You long to distance yourself from sounding like a blog, make a point to eradicate the first person singular.
     You get an email from some girl in Chicago. I knew you ages ago at OU, it reads. You took my typewriter home to Cincinnati as you dropped-out, you promised to go to San Francisco to sell your poems on the street. Did you? We corresponded for a summer, you wrote sweet, sleepy letters to a fucked-up girl and (I’m sure unintentionally) gave me some of the best advice I’ve ever been given: don’t do anything halfway. Perhaps you are not the Mark Flanigan from my sad, sorry past. If not, forgive me. This is a sad, sorry attempt to tell someone from my past that I am grateful for a small but powerful piece of advice.
     The email cheers you up, but only momentarily. Your reply is merely something else that must be done, something else that won’t or will have to wait.
     As a poet once said, “There’s so much to do, nothing ever gets done.”
     You realize this is probably the first piece in a decade that you’ve written while sober, if in fact, you can call this sober. If in fact, you can call this a piece.
     This is not what you wanted to read.
     But then you look at what you have written in just a few hours’ time. You immediately forget, as one should, that it may have taken days to get there. And you forgive the fact that maybe it doesn’t scream or move the way it should, because you recognize it as something not heard everyday. Suddenly, you remember why you are here in the first place.
     And when you come to that last period, you do so confidently, however difficult or painful it is to read or hear. Or live for that matter. You smile to yourself, say hello to him even, and then get ready for your funeral. And, sitting on the edge of the bed, putting on a pair of black socks, you even think to yourself: Maybe it’ll shine? Yeah, you say, maybe the sun will shine?