Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Trainwreck Union

Around the corner from the Claremont branch there’s a bakery café where I sometimes take my afternoon break. I’ll sit and read and sip a coffee and break bits off a cookie. The Nabolom Bakery seems always on the verge of going under; it’s one of those extra-healthy (vegan cookies!), hippy-esque, Berkeley places. It’s a collective, which means the workers all get together and make the business decisions. There’s an upright piano which customers occasionally bang on. A couple different weekends I walked in on a folk/jazz band jam. Not quite room for ‘em, but they were fun.

Yesterday I saw a zine/chapbook on the counter beneath a hand-lettered sign. “Support Poets! Support Nabolom! $2” … I asked if they had a copy that didn’t have oil stains on the cover and the counter girl enthused, “Oh! That’s really great poetry!” When I asked if the poets worked at Nabolom she said, “They’re associated with the university.” When I asked if she had work in it she said, “Yes! Oh, not in that issue. In the next issue. It’s monthly. I chose the poetry for this issue.” Charmed, I bought the thing without reading a line.

The cover proclaims: The Trainwreck Union Presents: Switchyard. The Two-handed Engine

14 poets are included. None of the names are familiar. Pablo Lopez: “If I could suture geometry. The days falling from the sky.” … Jesse Brownstein: “Speaking candidly / I am at a loss / and that has made / me, Pangry, / reek tragically” … Sarah Stone: “From the proliferation / of new kinds of love letters, readers // learned that love is superior to / property” …

As there is no contact info on the zine I googled “Trainwreck Union” and found their blog. Cuddly, aren’t they?


Anonymous said...

Depends on what you call cuddly. What is this "war" that they have with BPR, one of the oldest magazines on the Berkeley campus? Seems to me that this is a group of people who like to drink and unleash a whole lot of hate on this world. And from what you quoted, I am hoping that you are being tongue-in-cheek as I cannot call that poetry.

David Lee Ingersoll said...

Cuddly people can't drink and unleash hate on the world? Are we not all multifaceted creatures? Do we not contain multitudes?

Glenn Ingersoll said...

Oh, anon, how sweet of you to drop by and cast aspersions. They may very well be just aspersions; they may just be aspersions, how can I know? As far as "'war' that they have with BPR" ... huh ... I was a BPR editor 15 years ago. Ask me about then.

Hey, I even have a couple extra copies of the BPR I worked on. Give me your address & I'll send you one.

Anonymous said...

What about BPR 15 years ago? Please do tell!

Glenn Ingersoll said...

If you're really curious, anon, you can find my email on either LoveSettlement site.

If you have plenty of patience I'm sure I'll get around to it on DIR. As I'm working through the diary 1987, we have a few years (of diary) to go.

Unknown said...

We have nothing against BPR 15 years ago. They used to be something. They used to have a shred of validity that everyone respects.

Today they are an embarrassment to poetry. They are a disgrace. They make UC Berkeley look like a high school in Yuma. Not that there is anything wrong with those high schools, but I imagine they are rather small, conservative, and insignificant.

Glenn Ingersoll said...

I have nothing against BPR of 15 years ago except all the things I had against them (even when I was one of them!) 15 years ago.

The only thing I know about BPR these days is that they restrict contributors to the campus (& alumni). I think that's too bad. UCB ought to have a poetry magazine with international scope. BPR was never that, really, but making it a campus-only magazine removes a sense of wider possibilities.

Far as a conflict among poets at UCB -- sorry to hear it.

Anonymous said...

I was informed by a very good friend that a member of Trainwreck Union violently raped a girl earlier this year. Plus, according to their blog, there is a police report out against them. I have never met any of these people, but having read some of the threats made on their blog, and since I know that college students don't usually get police reports filed against them every day, I keep getting the idea that some of these "poets" are fucked up people. You can say whatever you want about their poetry, but there is no excuse for any magazine that would publish the work of a rapist.

hank said...

It's convenient for people comfortable in their anonymity to toss stones as if they have a pair themselves, and maybe you and your good friend should do a little background before slandering people with whom you've never spent company, and, judging by your rhetoric, probably never will.

You even mentioning some fictional rape case is irresponsible and stupid. The police report filed against Trainwreck was, likewise, ridiculous and groundless, another obstacle put in the paths of those with aspirations by mean spirited people.

And perhaps you should correct a couple of those fallacies in your post. I feel sorry if you start drawing conclusions from the hearsay of your good friend, or if you believe that a single police report constitutes a series of allegations. In fact, it's the singularity of that allegation that makes it stand out like the sore thumbs of sore losers, which is exactly what it is.

Sigh. Wasn't it Nietzsche that said any argument can be won by overwhelming the opponent with fallacies? Fine. You're wrong because you're ugly. And, for the record, we are quite cuddly people when people aren't harassing us and wasting our and the UCPD's time.

Unknown said...

I will call you who hide Lymoges.

Dear Lymoges,

Your recent attacks have not been appreciated. The only rape any Trainwreck Union member has ever committed is that of the mind. We do it every day with cylindrical instruments called pens, writing and riding our own lightning. Perhaps you should try doing the same instead of hanging onto ours like a hideously fat tick on our tail. We are lions, and you are one of the parasites that vie with numberless others to live off our spoils. Our nerves are of the Nemean sort, and our eyes are affixed in our heads and on the future. You may wear the skins that you have pilfered from our fallen, but you should rather hang a lambskin on your recreant limbs.

Your concentration on the history of your publication turns you into an insolent child who fights with his father's sword with a fraction of his skill. You are an embarrassment. A disgrace.

I encourage you to read and write and have fun with poetry and all forms of art. Violently rape it if you want to; wrap yourself in its arms if you'd prefer. But leave us alone, please. Everyone knows who it is that continues this sad game, this blood-sucking. Stop talking about us. Your old, dusty publication makes us sneeze. It makes us look like you make us sick, but it's really just an annoyance.

Yours, with no need to hide my identity,

Jack Morgan

P.S., some poets are "fucked up" as you say. That is true. But we have no secrets about who we are or what we are. We embrace it and celebrate it. We love who we are.

Glenn Ingersoll said...


I keep writing things and getting annoyed with myself and deleting them.

Just this, anon, I don't approve of anonymous accusations, especially of criminal activity.

On my little bloggie!

I'm tempted to delete your comment.

Anonymous said...

So this is our world:
anger or hurt churns—
unheeded it boils
until a soul goes
ballistic and 33
are silenced—

Tread softly, thrust
not into our world
these misguided words of
Be one who says
“Not here, not in my
space within this world
will I allow harm
to germinate.”

stood in a desert bare,
“Look on my Works,
ye Mighty, and despair!”
in friendly competition with
Horace Smith, Shelley wrote.

Shhh! Softly now,
From your acts can come
Heartbeats, each thump
bringing such pain
tears thrust from souls
breath caught in agony—

This is our world:
where anger or hurt can churn—
unheeded it can boil
until a soul goes
ballistic and souls
are silenced—


Anonymous said...

A few responses to the first "anonymous" post:

"What is this 'war' that they have with BPR, one of the oldest magazines on the Berkeley campus? "

- Because everyone knows that wars against old things are always waged by no-good-nick upstarts and degenerates. Also, wars should always be attributed to those to whom fallacious charges and anonymous criminal accusations are brought against.

"Seems to me that this is a group of people who like to drink"

-Like Jesus & the Apostles!

Best regards,
Nick Roth

Connie Rose said...

I do indeed recall having said interaction with you, Glenn, and I am so glad that you enjoyed the publication.

I did not, however, intend for you to be caught up in this westside story of the poetry world mess!

Either way, I hope to see you enjoying our tasty, healhty snacks sometime soon.

Your friendly neighborhood collective baker,

Glenn Ingersoll said...

hi hb, nick, connie,

Thanks for your words. This is probably the most visited post on DIR. Certainly the most commented upon. I decided not to delete anonymous' accusation. I decided not to because anonymous has been vigorously engaged and deleting anon's post would remove the context necessary to understanding those following. Had I noticed such a post before anyone else I expect I would have removed it.

Oh, and, Connie, I had a cookie & coffee at Nabolom this afternoon.

hank said...

Well, now that you have met several Trainwreck members online, Anon, I hope you realize that such assumptions as the ones you listed are a bit absurd, to say the least. I invite you to offer an apology, though I'm reluctant to believe that one is forthcoming.

Also, I'm curious what comments you have construed from the blog as threats, and toward whom you believe they have been directed. Almost everything from our blog focuses specifically on readings we've attended, so I fear that you are misguided, or perhaps you are merely a busy person who lacks the time to read things closely. That's fine.

Yet, the tone of your messages suggests that you personally feel indignant about the TWU, and I cannot imagine why you feel so strongly towards an organization you apparently know almost nothing about. No one deserves to be slandered. It takes away from the seriousness of an allegation and disrespects real victims, especially regarding something deserving such grave seriousness as sexual assault. Please try to be more conscientious about this sort of thing in the future. Thanks.

David Lee Ingersoll said...

Sixteen (now seventeen) comments. See what cuddling and drinking lead to? Give it up!

Unknown said...

This seems like a million years ago. Poetry is still a dangerous place. Even now, Alt lit people like Tao Lin, et al., are being accused of things online akin to this. I remember how scary this all was. I thought we might get kicked out of school, the dean screaming at us, and this all a fabrication of a young woman with a weird vendetta against us.

We kind of exploded after it all, and now I want to talk with Chad and Sara, and I'm so sad I let it all fall apart. It feels like my fault. There was a girl named Pam who wanted to be part of both groups, but the Dean said I had to make sure wasn't and she cried, and I think gave up poetry.

Chad and I got into a weird ego thing somehow, and I still don't understand it, but I'm sure it's my fault. One of my deepest regrets.

Connie is still counted as one of my dearest friends. I wish I saw her more. I miss her all the time and cherish my time with her.

The Trainwreck Union lives on, believe it or not, but it's much smaller now.