Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Hemingway story from Jennifer Knox

The following is the text of an email to my friend Kevin; I thought he'd enjoy an account of my experience, since we've shared stories about crazy authors before. And I thought it was good enough to pass on to you secondhand. <3 wz

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So last night I went to Emergent Forms feat. Jennifer Knox, prompted by a last-minute warning from Jess. I'd heard her name before, but if I'd ever read any of her poetry, it had long since blended into the hazy tapestry that was THE FOUR-YEAR CUMULATIVE TEACHINGS OF KASEY MOHAMMAD.

Anyway, she was fucking hilarious. I think she's equally stand-up comedian and poet, if not more so. Her poems were deliciously vulgar, and on several occasions I found tears of mirth welling in my eyes.

She had books for sale, but honestly, I'd much rather have a CD of her stuff so I could hear her deliver the poems herself. Bryan had his digital audio recorder going, so maybe that'll be a possibility in the near future [P.S.: he posted it at his blog].

Anyway, here's my sole reason for telling you about the Knox: after the reading, we went to the Hong Kong and generally bullshat while Fleetwood Mac played in the background.

She mentioned that Ernest Hemingway was famous for physically assaulting a multitude of poets during his lifetime. She gave one concrete example that had the entire table in stitches, as nobody had ever heard the story before:

So Ernest Hemingway's at this intellectual literati party, right? And he, being Hemingway, the most masculine of the masculine, is challenging the namby-pamby poets in attendance to a strength contest: bending a spoon in the crook of the arm, between the bicep and forearm, in a slow, single flexing motion.

His easy-pickin's target for the night, apparently, is Wallace Stevens, who, upon being approached by Hemingway, kind of jabbers and whimpers, his frail, trembling muscles dropping the spoon with each attempt.

Hemingway, disgusted with Stevens's pitiful physical performance, immediately clocks him and sends him sprawling.

Lightly-buzzed hysterical laughter ensued.

[End email, blogpost continues:]

I made a half-assed attempt to find an online voucher for this story: find my results here.

All I could find were passing annotations to a veritable tussle between the two and a story saying that a) Hemingway kicked Wallace's ass in self-defense and b) Wallace busted his knuckles upon Hemingway's ubermasculine chin after Hemingway agreed to remove his spectacles. Some sources seem to think that such accounts only sprang up after Hemingway's suicide (but at least one of those hack sources said Hemingway's works are "seldom read today," and said author needs his/her mouth scrubbed with bleach and a hunk of steel wool).

And then there's this post on the matter by none other than Rodney Koeneke some guy named Will on Rodney Koeneke's blog about the fracas, linking to another site (but read Rodney's comment; it's highly illuminating). So something happened, and I wish someone'd been there and paid attention, regardless of who was the aggressor or victor.

[edit]With a little refinement in search terms, there's this, giving the whole of Hemingway's letter.[/edit]