Arsenal of Words

The Writing of Arthur Klepchukov

Without Tomorrow

The glass cracks before my eyes and I
admire the fractal patterns. Branching limbs
reaching for the edges, just to find them. Nails on
endless rows of fingertoes too short, too close,
too hurt. So hungry for an end
they forget to taste.

So soon we’ll suffocate.
But now will never breathe again.

Tomorrow we expire.
But now already has.

Forget the next. It’ll still come.

As long as there’s no tomorrow, we can
rise to enjoy the fall. Smile before the reasons flee.
Abandon all perspective. Escape causality.
Dance with silence before it shatters.

I’m Not a Writer, I Write

The question “Are you a writer?” always makes me uncomfortable. Some days I don’t write. Does that mean I’m not a writer on those days? Where does the expectation of writing every day come from? Did I find it true for myself? Did I unconsciously assume it as part of some vague notion of what a writer is? What benefit have I derived from that expectation? From saying “I’m a writer?” At this point, I usually scoff in frustration at this black hole of semantics, philosophy, and identity and settle for the simplest answer that makes the most sense: I write. And I write, without worrying about what I am.

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Color Me Synesthesia (audio)

Here’s a recording of a poem I published a month ago, Color Me Synesthesia:

(If you don’t see anything above, listen to the track on SoundCloud.)

before, I was but a pencil line
_______________, simple little stroke,
lacking even a squiggle but you
you traced me well, gave me depth & Definition
a flair of ink, a dash of curve~ discovered
fingerprints with graphite, the shade of skin
with lead of many shades of gray,
revised my irises until they
were circles perfect, filled the lashes black
until they could.blink.perception, molded my cheeks
in the sculpture of touched joy or bliss,
trimmed my hair into a shapes of soft,
kissed grayscale lips until breath dribbled deep
inside and I learned to sing, tickled my ears
until they began to touchWords, danced by my nose until
   inhaling became a new addiction,
crosshatched an outline of a heart,
and looked beyond the eyes until/blinking/wasn’t/necessary.
And then I tasted color.
It warmed my skin until a sunburn was seductive.
Red seeped in and seduced my bloodstream,
pumping passion to the corners of existence.
Spilled blue all over my jeans. Flung yellow
at my skin to make orange orbs that shrunk into
peach pores covered in light brown forests of “oh”.
I heard every hue. And touched invisible.
Turned up the volume until I saw green waves of sound.
Showered me with lights until I tasted purple.
Danced with scent into a real dream.
Morphed my background to a limitless canvas. Created new dimensions to
raise me
from
the page. Invented time. so I could. slow down. and smell
memory. We peeked at infinity
the day you started to color me in.

euloJune

Today I learned to breathe
and the air was full of fragments
that tasted like the moment.
I didn’t dare hold on.
Just inhaled all I could and waved
at dusk-soaked curtains and darker ocean folds
and warmer nights stretching into tomorrow.
A summer fever collapsed into a
delicate ember with beads of sweat,
pockets of cool breath, ice cubes
succumbing into wet,
all gentle ephemera.
Watched the flames flicker
a familiar lullaby,
the only patch of color in a forest noir,
debuted and left us where we are
lonely in a moonless dream
fed by memories that were just lived.
Sat idle, welcoming the dark
nose tickling with last hints of smoke
whispering a thousand ways of saying g’bye,
and then, I exhaled June.

 

Inspired by Delerium – “Apparition”

My Experience with a PRWeb Press Release

By this point, my press release for blinks of awe boils down to:

  • 30,011 impressions – how many times my press release appeared somewhere PRWeb can track
    (10,000 is average)
  • 4,965 media deliveries – media outlets that received my press release
  • 2,790 Google results for my headline:
    “New Life Given to Old Art Form With Blinks of Awe for iPad”
  • 506 reads – on PRWeb.com
    (a few hundred is average)
  • 30 interactions – downloads, link clicks, etc. on PRWeb.com
  • 4 online pickups – sites that syndicated my press release
    (4-10 is average)

I had a lengthy call with a person from PRWeb that walked me through the results. That’s how I got most of the information about averages and a clearer explanation of what each number meant. They also called to offer help with writing my first release but I had already submitted it by that point. I was happy about their high-touch approach for a beginner like me.

Frankly, I don’t feel great about the results. According to PRWeb, my high number of impressions and big names appearing in the media deliveries list1 mean I had something newsworthy and reasonably well-written. Apparently not every press release gets forwarded to places like the New York Times. But the bottom line is the press release got limited pick up (the biggest being Yahoo! News) and those 30,000 impressions ultimately had very little effect on book sales. I’m happy to hear your feedback and entertain ideas for why that may be in the comments.

Naturally, PRWeb tried to upsell me to a plan that will let me continue pushing out press releases but I’m not sure that’s the best use of my time or resources given these initial results. I’m glad I tried the PR route but I’ll be looking for other ways to spread the word and make a bigger impression.


1New York Times, Bloomberg, Time, The Washington Post, Yahoo!, Wired, and TechCrunch, among others.

uncatchably

Recorded the sound of rain
but can’t hear when it repeats repeats
repeats, is every rain drop unique
like every snowflake, or are
they just reflections of
a somber surround?
Took off my glasses for a blurry fog
but can’t see where it retreats retreats
retreats, a gorgeous mess of
color, is every splat alive like
feelings want you to believe?
Yawned to create time
but the moments can’t be captured captured
captured, amorphous as those
pretty blurs, slipping
between thoughts
like raindrops,..

Forever June (audio)

In the spirit of Why You Should be Recording Your Poetry, here is a recording of my last poem, Forever June:

(If you don’t see anything above, listen to the track on SoundCloud.)

Can’t it be forever June, forever new
ever curious, passion like
a just lit flame, faces, features
quirks all unfamiliar, all unremembered names
Can’t we be forever in debut, forever unexplored
a thousand little sticks huddled at the edges of the flame
Can’t the fire stay humble and stay hungry
Can’t fueling now be our only destination
Can’t the question marks survive
Can’t the sparks stay sparks
Can’t it be forever chapter one
more unlived, unread, more imagined rather
than embraced after it’s death

Can’t we take photos
never to look at them again
keep the moment uncaptured &
untainted from the concept : time
Don’t need memory if this energy survived
Can’t we remain untouched
just to taste initial contact, every sigh
Can’t we be new friends
and can’t friends never choose to die
Can’t we be young and foolish
unexplained souls bursting from inside
Can’t we stay simply undefined, unlabeled, uncertain by design

Can’t the mysteries remain
details unrevealed, curiosity perpetually raw &
daring in the moments before hearts collide
Can’t the flame burn forever muse
smoke forever twisting into sky
Can’t first waves roll on and on unbroken
Can’t leaves be bronze that never fades
Can’t snow be first snow every time
Can’t petals always be in bloom
Can’t it be forever June.

If you read the original version last week, you can see the poem has evolved even further. Recording is definitely a surprising part of the editing process.

Why You Should Be Recording Your Poetry

I hate voice recording. It’s time-consuming, error-prone, frustrating, requires a range of skills, and is easily ruined by fickle technology. That sounds just like voice recording’s  ugly cousin – video editing. But as much as I hate it, I’ve found voice recording to be an increasingly valuable and necessary part of my process of writing poetry.

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What Else Can a Poem Be?

The following snippet of Jack Morgan’s review of blinks of awe brings up some fun questions:

…it’s hard to judge his poetry by itself because it isn’t. Are we going to start judging poetry like we do films and plays, where every job is criticized on its own merit? Should I take the sound production on its own and talk about that? We get a lot of new questions from work like this, which might be why Klepchukov made it in the first place.

Jack is referring to the unique qualities of the poetry in blinks of awe: the book lets you see my visual representation of each poem and lets you hear how I feel each poem should sound. How do you judge poetry by itself when other elements are involved? More importantly, do you even have to?

Read the rest of this entry »

Forever June

Can’t it be forever June, forever new
ever curious, passion like
a just lit flame, faces, features
quirks all unfamiliar,  all unremembered names
Can’t we be forever in debut, forever unexplored
a thousand little sticks huddled at the edges of the flame
Can’t the fire stay humble and stay hungry
Can’t fueling now be our only destination
Can’t the question marks survive
Can’t the sparks stay sparks
Can’t the season never end
don’t need the middle of the story
or the denouement’s descent
Can’t it be  forever chapter one
more unlived, unread, more imagined rather
than  embraced after it’s death

Can’t we take photos
never to look at them again
keep the moment uncaptured &
untainted from the concept : time
Don’t need memory if this energy survived
Can’t we remain untouched
just to taste initial contact every time
Can’t we be new friends
and can’t friends never choose to die
Can’t we be young and foolish
ageless ignorance unwise
unexplained souls bursting from inside
Can’t we stay simply undefined, unlabeled, uncertain by design

Can’t the mysteries remain
details unrevealed, curiosity perpetually raw &
daring in the moments before hearts collide
Can’t the flame burn forever muse
smoke forever twisting into sky
Can’t first waves roll on and on unbroken
Can’t leaves be bronze that never fades
Can’t snow be first snow every time
Can’t petals always be in bloom
Can’t it be forever June.

Writing a Press Release for Your Self-Published Book

I just created a press kit to promote blinks of awe. What’s a press kit? How’s that different from a press release? What do you mean I have to do marketing?

After you’ve emailed everybody in your address book, posted the billionth tweet, and flooded your Facebook news feed, it’s time to let the rest of the world know about your work. Regardless of how many friends you have and how much they love you, that doesn’t mean you have an audience. That’s what I’m trying to build. Read on for the start of my journey.

Read the rest of this entry »

Haikubes, again

Haikubes are a small collection of blocks you can use to write haiku. You can roll two inspiration dice and write on that theme. I played around with these last month and dug them out again tonight. Here’s what I came up with when I rolled [ die 1 ] and [ die 2 ]:

[ a reflection on ] [ my work life ]
(programming or writing late into the night)

[ a vision for ] [ my family ]

 


Color Me Synesthesia

before, I was but a pencil line
_______________, simple little stroke,
lacking even a squiggle but you
you traced me well, gave me depth & Definition
a flair of ink, a dash of curve~ discovered
fingerprints with graphite, the shade of skin
with lead of many shades of gray,
revised my irises until they
were circles perfect, filled the lashes black
until they could.blink.perception, molded my cheeks
in the sculpture of touched joy or bliss,
trimmed my hair into a shapes of soft,
kissed grayscale lips until breath dribbled deep
inside and I learned to sing, tickled my ears
until they began to touchWords, danced by my nose until
  inhaling became a new addiction,
crosshatched an outline of a heart,
and looked beyond the eyes until/blinking/wasn’t/necessary.
And then I tasted color.
It warmed my skin until a sunburn was seductive.
Red seeped in and seduced my bloodstream,
pumping passion to the corners of existence.
Spilled blue all over my jeans. Flung yellow
at my skin to make orange orbs that shrunk into
peach pores covered in light brown forests of “oh”.
I heard every hue. And touched invisible.
Turned up the volume until I saw green waves of sound.
Showered me with lights until I tasted purple.
Danced with scent into a real dream.
Morphed my background to a limitless canvas. Created new dimensions to
raise me
from
the page. Invented time. so I could. slow down. and smell
memory. We peeked at infinity
the day you started to color me in.

I’m Now a (Self-)Published Poet

blinks of awe cover

I’m so thrilled to type these words: blinks of awe, my first poetry book, has just been published in 32 countries!

Blinks of awe is an interactive book of poetry, or as I prefer to call it, a poetry experience. It’s only available on the iPad but when you first open it, you’ll see why. There’s no boring, black, left-aligned, serif text on a tidy white page here. Traditional poetry isn’t boring; it just doesn’t leverage what’s possible today. I’ve pushed the technology further than I’ve ever seen in a poetry book so that the medium truly complements the content. In the future, I plan to write more about iBooks Author, the main tool that made this book (and the textbook I designed earlier this year) possible. But in the mean time, I need your help!

This project began as a “wouldn’t-that-be-neat” idea on a late January weekend. What I thought I’d throw together in two days and nights ended up taking two months. In the process, I learned a lot about self-publishing ebooks, from formats to ISBNs to imprints to copyrights to pricing to working with Apple. I learned the joy and exquisite pain of trying to record your own voice, from replicating the way it sounds in your head to how it sounds on various kinds of speakers. I pushed my vocal limits and made voice recording part of my editing process. I went through numerous design iterations of every single poem. I leveraged my best personal photos, my pencil and digital artwork, and royalty free photography to put together designs that I’m damn proud of. To keep myself motivated, I started a Seinfeld calendar with six friends and worked on blinks of awe every single day for 55 straight days. And now seeing it published just made it all worth it.

I have little experience in marketing. But I know that if I don’t try everything I can to share this book, all this hard work and wonderful, late-night inspiration will be for naught. So take a chance on something new. I think you’ll be surprised.

Buy blinks of awe in the iBookstore.

Hello, June

you wake from a sweaty slumber
and send a quiet wave past the
illuminated curtains. she’s here.
ignore the clocks
sleeping in shouldn’t be a secret
you won’t miss her gentle, warm debut
it runs through us in waves
until the school bells chime.
but you don’t think of that end
so far away from today’s balmy skin
you shed your sheets and rise to
sunny heartbeats free of worry or
the chill of risk.
you stand at ease,
wind warming you naked
shadows blinking, dancing across
your chest from a thousand trees
all lost in bloom and
even their shade is but a snug embrace
the smiles across your face emit the
first sound of the season:
“hello, June.”

Just a memory

One two three, and you’re just a memory.
Passed through me like a breath rushing to escape
these layered days bookended in
a haze of smoke disguised as ethics.
Eyes don’t perceive the depth of field in this
panorama of you. Fingers reach out          but can’t touch
a thought. With sense of smell improved, less
hunger, sleep
no longer             desperately
needed, we
swim through seas of philosophy.
anthems of a conversation only one of us
will willingly remember. do you hear my smile?
lips                      so far                           from taste.
I’ll keep this road well-lit if you choose to
take another stroll. I’ll keep your reflection in
my eyes in case you look back. I’ll keep these
fragile things safe. your voice.
unrecorded. your face.
pictureless. this t’me.
now it’s. getting. h rder
to r m mb r details
so*I*fill*the*gaps*with*something*pleasant
clouded morals become dimples
but between blinks of busy bliss
the last seconds of you exhale:
One two three and you’re just a memory.

Looking for unusual poetry books

When I got the idea for blinks of awe earlier this year, I immediately jumped on the opportunity to push what modern technology can do for an artform as old as poetry. I’m excited by what I’ve come up with and I’m sure you’ll be excited too (as soon as I get Apple’s approval). While I’m waiting, I’ve been looking at what other poetry books have done to push the boundaries of the expected. Unfortunately, most moden poetry books are still left-aligned, black text on a white page. Most poetry ebooks shun the power of the devices they run on and are essentially exact replicas of their print versions.

The first really standout example I’ve found is Between Page and Screen by Amaranth Borsuk and Brad Bouse. Now this is what I was talking about when I wrote about creating a poetry experience! The book is both physical and digital, requiring a physical copy and a visit to the book’s web site to be read. The site uses your computer’s webcam to show you what neither the printed page nor the digital screen can. I am eagerly awaiting for my copy to arrive. I’ll post a review as soon as I can!

In the mean time, please feel free to suggest unusual poetry books in the comments! I’m sure there are others pushing the boundaries of verse.

Updateblinks of awe is now available here!

Infinite Cigarette

you light up late at night, indulging my
newly-found addiction
it’s just before you have to leave but
the orange breaths of gray help you stay a moment… longer-
your smoke fills my bubble and hugs me
with thoughts i never thought ideal
ideas taking inappropriate shape between
quick and quiet looks punctuated by smiles and puffs
Breathe, i tell myself. But there you are
lungs and logic tell me to inch away, rebel
drift into the darkness of tomorrow
but tonight, basking in an orange glow that’s
barely there i bare this moment.
turn off everything but heart and combustible bits of
nicotine. let’s dream just a little… longer-
Breathe, you remind yourself. But there i am
seconds turn to ash before it hits the ground
the darkness finds us like we never will ourselves
embracing thoughts both cute and wicked.
i whisper stay. hold on. even if it hurts.
we can share that burn too.
but the moment turns
black orange gray and black again.
Breathe, i tell myself. But the air is clean

Sailing in place

i. clutch. the. showerhead, drowning
in the afternoon of sound, shrieking
lyrics of your December song on final repeat – but why end?
headBANGING! in the bathtub, almost slipping
on the words of agony, they fill his heart like
tear droplets and I spew them out. neighbors worry as
i stomp with bass until marble cracks, curtain
ripping as he holds on, still singing
naked body thrown against the wall
fists pounding bricks, skull throbbing fierce
but no inch of him is listening
I’m on my knees and pull the faucet out like
a stubborn cord, pipes escape their prison of decades
and thank him with a hiss
the water gives me goosebumps before it melts
my hair and begins to clog
toes drowning in a violent pool of me
nails detach as lyrics still drool out of
melting mouth and closed-eye visions dance around
red droplets sprinkled all about like morning dew
sounds punching at the ceiling until
eclipse invades, all sanity escapes
a brilliant bathtub shatters, no more
container for the ecstasy of melody or madness
he’s nothing but a violent nude,
wet fragments of a soul
that can’t bear to sing along
when every untouched inch of you is gone

a Violent Naked

let’s lose our minds and morals and ourselves.
shed integrity and enemies, friends and figureheads, the future us,
the trusted parts, the known and certain patterns of the heart.
forget described disguise, the honest lies, the dreams inside,
the thoughts we hide from light.
take off this skin with all of it’s experience and all it knows,
take certainty and joy and the way we woe.
strip us of all these emotional clothes and
barb wire blankets that poke til we explode.
peel away layer after prayer to get at the heart of consciousness,
at desires innocent and not, at profound lust and loneliness,
at every fiber of humanity and breath and obvious.
e x h a l e every idea ever known until there’s only a you
so gorgeously unknown