Born Rivals No. 6: Melissa Broder

Share Button

Miles Klee is a little-known novelist. Recently, he decided his best career move would be to start a feud with another writer. This is his ongoing attempt to find (and destroy) the perfect rival.

It was high time a token poet joined the fray, and Melissa Broder—author of the cryptic collections Meat Heart and When You Say One Thing but Mean Your Motheras well as the forthcoming Scarecronebravely stepped into the breach. The result was a will-they/won’t-they/who even-are-these-people romance for the ages. Or maybe just the Internet.

KLEE:
Melissa Broder, I wonder if you could explain how humiliating it is to be a poet, on average.

BRODER:
It isn’t. It just is.

KLEE: 
Follow-up question: when you think about never writing another poem again, why don’t you? I mean, there are enough poems, be real.

BRODER:
I’m just trying to stay alive, Myles.

KLEE:
That’s not how you spell my name—nice burn. When people ask you where you get your inspiration, where do you most want to punch them?

BRODER:
Somewhere in myself.

MILES:
This is no fair, you’re using your natural poetic sense of compression to make me look verbose and clunky. Stop that right now. There’s not much more to this question, but I’m going to add this sentence so we hit our target word count sooner.

BRODER:
Ok.

KLEE:
Has moving out to California—Venice, Los Angeles, specifically—opened you up to new insights, emotions and forms of creativity, or just better Mexican food? Also, whom or what are you running away from?

BRODER:
My California is pink gloss, sunset, palm trees, desert, ocean, magick, light and I love it. Also darkness, cracks, unknowing. Both speak to my heart and I do not regret moving. The friction between the two makes poetry. I am better than ever but also I am worse than ever. Like I am doing really well and really bad. But I’m pretty tired of me. I have to run from me. Let’s talk about you.

KLEE:
If I die first (and I’m sort of planning on it), would you be willing to desecrate my grave to fully consummate this rivalry? If so, how would you?

BRODER:
This is a fun question. I’m excited. But I think I’d prefer to decorate your grave. First tell me whether you will be buried or cremated, and where you’d like your remains to live.

KLEE:
I’ve always fancied being cremated but then placed in a New England grave with a deliberately aged and crooked tombstone that reads: “He died doing what he loved: being infinitely pleasured.” Also, it’s a great tombstone for crayon rubbings.

BRODER:
Ok, so knowing nothing about you other than internet life, I am going to decorate your grave with 1000000000000 synapses firing to the tune of a universal deep throat that chants your name over and over. Also, some Victorian valentines to thank you for the time you made me feel pretty on the internet.

KLEE:
Ah yes, truly an enchanted evening that was. Your forthcoming book of poetry is called Scarecrone. I assume it’s a collection of musings on Magic: The Gathering? Otherwise, not interested.

BRODER:
Oh damn, you know the Scarecrone. Yes, I thought I invented the word Scarecrone but there is actually a character in Magic: The Gathering named Scarecrone. I think she is a minor character? I hope she is a minor character, so as not to usurp my vision of the Scarecrone.

KLEE:
What word do you most hate yourself for using?

BRODER:
Everything pretty much.

KLEE:
Do you enjoy being so opaque and difficult to parse? Because I’ve found readers really tend to enjoy that.

BRODER:
Hahaha, am I? Ok, let’s try something. Here are some lines from a poem I just wrote last night:

What you get is emptier

What you do is throw it all away

The lamb’s blood on the door

The pestilence summer

Still your fingers smell of darkness

The dark pours rivers and opens new holes

Let there be ditches

Let you die in ditches and never use again the body of another

The bruises you will take with you and heal next life

Last life you were a locust

Last life you were a person

Ok. So, you are probably like, what is even going on in this? Just like, what the fuck is this shit? Ok, so maybe you should make fun of this poem-fragment, Miles. Let’s see what you’ve got.

KLEE:
Thanks for sharing. Hmmm. First impression: your subconscious sounds like a really stinky place. A Koreatown dumpster on a 103º day. But I am also filled with uneasy hope, like, dying in a ditch doesn’t sound so bad. I mean as long as I pick my own ditch and don’t have to share it. Which feels like the point. Have you considered fronting a death-metal band?

BRODER:
The dying is beautiful if you let it be. I can’t do death metal though. I don’t really exist on the physical plane, so can’t sing.

KLEE:
There is one final concern I should mention—do you think we could remain professional nemeses even though I’m kind of in love with you?

BRODER:
Sure. As I said, I don’t really exist on the physical plane enough to fight anyone. However, I encourage you to simultaneously fight and crush on the image I am projecting (or the one you project upon me), and I will utilize both the antagonism and the crushy vibes to fill the empty space where my core self should be—and maybe even construct a temporary one, like a dopamine yurt.

KLEE:
Melissa Broder, I’m so glad we could get together and bore my readers by talking about ourselves. What would you have rather spent this time doing?

BRODER:
This was fun and perfect. Thank you. But now, of course I’ll post this on Facebook and wait to see how many likes/comments come in so I can know how to feel about myself. If a lot of likes and comments come in, then that’s what I want to be doing. If not a lot come in then I’m going to the beach, so the ocean can simulate one big cosmic like and comment—but better.