3RS Reading Diary: Ruth Novaczek


I Remember

There are so many particulars that don’t overtly describe a culture, time, and place, but form a picture that is vividly ‘of’ a culture, time and place.

This is all so intimate, but surprisingly candid.

Personal, but not awkward, like too much purple, or Bryan Adams.

Awkward, but not embarrassing, like trying too hard to play the French horn and blowing out your tampon.

I recognize myself in some of these memories. I feel nostalgia for someone else’s memories. Is that some kind of perversion?

I remember that humour can be subversive. It arrests a moment. It distracts the reader enough to suck them in blind. Clowns are the easiest to fall in love with, and they devastate you the most when they’re hurt. I have power empathy for clowns. I fall in love with them so quickly.

I Love Dick

As these unsendable letters accumulate I feel the paranoia of Chris and Sylvère losing their hard-on for Dick. Their desire is a compulsion that grows as the distance between them and Dick increases. The power of ‘maybe’ is palpable. How did this happen? They are accomplices in each other’s desire. It’s hard to tell if this desire has anything to do with ending their marriage, or saving it. Maybe both. That maybe.

The compulsion to eject yourself from a secure, comfortable situation, albeit passionless, is a fantasy fuelled by the possibility of things being better. But they always could be better, right? The only known is that change is the only constant. Chris and Sylvère have become infatuated by their own imaginations, and projected it all onto Dick. The projection surface is a screen, and perhaps a mirror too. They witness the artifacts of their collective fantasies play out in their obsessive writing. Risk is delicious. Fear is motivating. Desire needs a space to ignite. Mystery is a head game. Curiosity nips constantly.

David Holzman’s Diary

As soon as you turn the camera on, it is not longer reality, it becomes a part of something else, it becomes a movie. What does that reveal?

The self consciousness of being on camera is exemplified by David’s girlfriend Penny. The sudden thrust of awareness to every movement is unnatural, for the camera, and feels intentional.

What are you trying to find? What are you looking for? What is the video supposed to teach you? What is the magic of it?

Truth is unstable. This is fiction. It has to be. Right? I flip many times while watching, wondering what scenes were planned, sanctioned, who was filmed inadvertently and if they give permission.

He calls himself Bartleby the Scrivener at the end. Why? Isolation? He’s really talking to himself the whole time. Societal nonconformity?

I love the camera in the mirror at the end.

The voyeur is caught by his own eye. He is introspective and curious. Looking for something unnamable.

I love the moment he catches a woman throw something in a trash can and dusts her hand. He talks of how her gestures give her away. This changed the way I watched. I was looking for detail, looking for something.

My Childhood

I love you Eileen Myles. Don’t ever stop getting in your own way. Trip over your own twisted face and disappoint the nuns and blush at any kind of compliment because you are a ‘good girl’ and this catholic stain will thwap you at every step. Guilt is inherited and creates distance. Same with self-sacrifice and protectiveness. It’s our defenses that create friction and space between people. I dilate inward to protect my brother from knowing that I accidentally let the dog out and he ran away. Actually, my mother lied and said he ran away, but she actually gave him away to a farm and didn’t want us kids to be angry with her. I never told her of the nightmares I had thinking the dog had died cold and alone in a ditch somewhere. Meanwhile he was frolicking amongst lillypads and homemade ground chuck. 

Cindy Sherman Untitled Film Stills

I love it when false, fake, fictional renderings take on a believable narrative. I inject my own stupid narrative onto these stills. Stupid because it takes over, pops up in its own ignorance. I don’t know what this film is about, but I have a whole mental Mobius strip telling me otherwise. It is a projection of things I’ve absorbed.

The personal history comes through, not necessarily in specific details of actual events I’ve experienced, but in tone, emotion, vibe, arc, and the iconic stuff I’ve been exposed to that is specific to my life and culture. The readability of these images is an articulation of a collaborative truth made entirely of smoke and mirrors.


Random sections.

I enter this book like mouse enters a New York squat.

I immediately notice that there’s a punctuation hierarchy. The Period rules. Sometimes the comma is second in command, although rare. To write a question, then place a period, shakes the reader slightly. A nudge through improper grammar is the first clue. This is intentional. This is stream-like. Some rules will be lightly subverted.

A personal rendition of hell is delightful. I picture Eileen’s hell as restraint, but the pleasurable kind with fuzzy pink stirrups. There’s so much behind the words. She’s also so direct. The inner saint, the outer demon. The outer demon, the inner saint. She may be perceived as good, by some. She may be perceived as bad, by some. Honesty dilutes morality, and perception. Another light subversion.

“People always look like you hit them before they laugh.” It is an enjoyable jolt, achieved without violence. The humour in these poems is a gateway. I care the most about clowns. I fall in love with them.

Eileen’s burgeoning sexuality is the undirected magnetism of many of these poems. Its tension with Catholicism is delicious. Nothing feeds desire more than a space. It oxygenates.

There are self-reflective moments about being a poet. A justification, maybe to herself. “The poem was real but the job was not.” She lifts the ambiguity of her poems, and also upholds it: ““…poetry is not hard. In fact, that’s the problem. It’s like going to the beach. You don’t go: a-hem, cough-cough, in other words… you just lie down. People read in bed for a reason. Nobody needs to be so damn awake. Sleep and Poetry.”

New York is the atmosphere.

There are secrets in the alleyways.

“…a thing that was so difficult about feminism was that it didn’t contain a boy. Nobody wanted to deal with that part, so I just always felt dirty and poor, A boy was my secret part, so where should I put that? Even if I was a feminist I would still have a evil secret baby.”

I fantasize about becoming a pious icon. A saintly mother, without all the (detectable) sex. The guts of ordained chosen-ness is a beacon. You have been chosen because you are so good. Resplendent morality is a golden cape.