Friday, November 10, 2017

Bang Ditto - Amber Tamblyn (Manic D Press)

Today's book of poetry:
Bang Ditto.  Amber Tamblyn.  Manic D Press.  San Francisco, California.  2009.

Today's book of poetry didn't know a thing about Amber Tamblyn's acting career.

A couple of days ago Today's book of poetry was out on a poetry hunt.  Of course we thank all of the publishers who send us poetry, but that doesn't completely fuel the fire.  Today's book of poetry continues to scour bookstores, second-hand bookstores and anywhere else we think we might find some good poetry.  Every once in a while Today's book of poetry and various nefarious associates go to all the library Book Shops in town.  The little rooms where libraries sell off unwanted books.  The books have usually been donated to the library but sometimes they come right off the shelves.

Either way there is plenty of flotsam, but with a little diligence Today's book of poetry is usually able to find some poetry gold.  It helps if your companion is only interested in history/economics/philosophy, he finds his gold and you find yours but you don't get in each other's way.  This particular hunt was made all the better by the influence of an associate of ours, Alexander M.  Alexander is a genuine gentleman in a world where that is exceedingly rare, and he is a book monster.  His home an extraordinary library.  Alexander reads more than anyone Today's book of poetry knows.  And he knows book people.  His influence got us behind the scenes to where ALL the best books are hiding.

Over the course of the day Today's book of poetry was able to pick up around fifty nifty poetry titles we didn't think were in our stacks.  And we bought a couple we knew were doubles simply to pass them on.  

This is where we found Amber Tamblyn's utterly beautifully bombastic Bang Ditto.  A curious looking hardcover with a paper jacket and in pristine condition.  Today's book of poetry didn't recognize the poet or the publisher but when we opened it up our face almost caught fire.

Today's book of poetry usually opens poetry books he is looking to buy at a random page just to take a peek.  This is what I found:

Katharine Hepburn Straight to DVD

He's got me by the scruff
like a bad house pig.

The film producer is forcing my head
beneath the water, at the river's equator.

My limbs storming lightning bolt tangos at passing plankton,
hair roping through the water, a drunk octopus at the gallows.

Ten white shovels reaching from my wrist dig into the dirt,
trying to save this little jack-off flesh towel I'm made of.

It's no use -- I'm as useless at saving myself
as a zipper in a hairline.

The bubbles trickle up my face;
tattletales sucking up to his hands.

He's hard at work around my neck.
"She's almost out"   pop, pop, pop

"Hit her face on that rock"    hisssssss
Betrayed by my body.

I am an accessory on an Accessory.
All I can think about is

my underskirt exposed up there
where he is, my death provider.

My sockets are burning matches on the asses of my own eyes.
My tongue's a rabbits's foot dangling from my face.

My uvula, a sour sardine inverting rot into my cranium,
a poisoned seed sprouting final prayers.

Blood cells take off their hats to water's grand entrance.
Arms: cement covered sockets.

I rise above his hands' stark grip on my skull,
back spasm's finale.

I rise above my self.
There I was, there I am, there I'll be.

My soul's on the bottom of a boot
in Hell's barracks.

A goldfish wedges into the body;
which was mine, now its own.

The fish sings.
"You should have lost the extra 10 pounds."

"Kept your mouth shut."
"Kept your nail polish bright."

"Looked more like someone
who could be looked like."

"Should've never fallen asleep and
dreamt of agreeing to a lakeside picnic

with someone who hates that you eat
more than you do." Stop dreaming.


Today's book of poetry knows these poems are almost ten years old but they could have been written to fit in with the nightly news.  These poems are testimony and terrifying.  Splendid and horrid at the same time.  So Today's book of poetry is trying to wrap his small brain around this ghastly story and brilliant poem and we figure it is worth another kick at the can.  We turn the page and this happens:

Crossing the World
for Joan

Crossing the world
she buckles under the metal-hooded mouth
of her maker
didn't see it coming

all the women in her

centuries of emotional alchies
daydreaming in distilleries
deep-throating the sallow tongues of sundials
wanting not the backwards
not to fall upon herself like a dagger

she's been under its tires
since the non-beginning
of the women's de-liberation

been dragged over eras --
Cenozoic speed-bumping her
into the 21st
tugging at her buttons and pearls
digging into the last of her titles

all the women in her

wrapped around exhaust pipes and pit stains
beating her head against pavement
skinning her raw
slow-cooking ribs on rubber rotisserie
tossing out the Tubmans
Di Primas
from her collapsing last impression

its grease
rolling over every feather
all fingers/fading colors
blue eyes
beat black
red thoughts
cocked pink

wouldn't have hit her
        could she be seen
wouldn't have hit her
        had she not been so black
wouldn't have hit her
       had she been he
wouldn't have hit her
       had she not talked back

Oh, if only

she'd let herself be
the vacation spot for prick pit stops
would've pinned her lips
to that politician's dick/a purple heart
for the rash of wrath's backlash

If only!

she stayed by his
strayed not
from her Turner!
Run not for president
when no one detonated her
when no one asked her!

Oh, why won't she be

a slant-eyed hut fuck
for a soldier's thrust boar tusk
a Hawaiian delicacy
for the constituencies of Male-Whitey?

Why won't she be
or Hilton?

All the women in her
never get rights
only get what's left over
from every hit 'n' run
from every ass pinch to fat fist
from the violent injustices
of our dead sons:

Lennon singing
"Woman is the Nigger of the World"

Van Gogh for filming
the Koran's hands ripping through
Hirsi Ali's flesh with vengeance

for resurrecting
not with the help
of a deadbeat
invisible father
but that of his Mary
and his Mother

the thousands of Iraqimericans
whose commonality consists
of marinating body parts in blood baths

or any young boy
whose throat's gutted by machete
for protecting a single slit
in his family

All the women
out of her
thrown to the licensed road lions
to the future drivers of divinity's demolition
garter belt conceptionists
high-heel fuckers

Hollywood hogs
with driveways bigger
than God's complex

crashing us
into lipstick destruction
and false feminine

banging us against
scented stationery
the boss's desk
stapled clits
to the drawing board

Water balloon breasts
busting against humanity's door
an ancient snake with a new twist

ripping out our rights to choice
with the wire hangers holding
the sexified dominatrix suit of a Republican "feminist"
the stained cloth commemoration of the 42nd President
the hated dyke-tux of a politician's wife's career flux
after he's caught in bed again with another woman:

Traitors!                       Thieves!
Accomplices!               Witnesses!
Aggravators!                 Lynchers!
Spies!                            Prosecutors!


crossing the world
bailing from her bodies
hating the mother out of Earth
gifting their guts to the sidewalk serpents
sending ghosts to bed hungry
pulling their pieces to the edges of humanity

curbside delivery or revolutionaries


Those two poems punched Today's book of poetry up the side of the head in a classic one-two combination and I was hooked.  Amber Tamblyn can burn.  She take names and kicks ass.  This is fearless poetry.

Now that Today's book of poetry has read Bang Ditto and knows that Amber Tamblyn is an actress of some renown and apparently quite talented we can only conclude that it is a damned shame.  There are plenty of fine actresses out there but damned few poets who can burn like this.  Tamblyn is fierce, brave and relentless.  These poems come out of the fire tempered, these are hammer blows, this oven is turned on high.

Amber Tamblyn will bite the nose off of snake.  

Take this ending from a love poem:

"You put the you
back in fuck you."
     from Hate, A Love Poem

Tamblyn has a sense of humour but Bang Ditto is one dark beast.

My Face

is a trillion dollar industry, annually,
It carries more advertisement guilt than post-9/11.
My neck is a support beam bigger than Madonna's shoulders.
My tongue's gone into hiding
afraid it might be the next thing to get cut out
like chin fat and carbohydrates.

My spiritual deficit has tripled in size.
Stockbrokers would call it alarming.
God could call it the end of a lunch break.
Indian Nation would call it that bitch, Payback.

I have wrinkles at 22 years old
because they were pointed out to me in the first place.

For an unlimited time only
I can make 'em worse
with a lifetime supply of Diet Coke
and no self esteem.

My happiness comes for free with a mail-in rebate
more expensive than a president's dreams.

I've got skin soothers,
blackhead removers,
night vision goggles
for detecting Charlie in the potholes of my pores.
It's a war zone in my t-zone.
Neutrogena's got the nuke.

My face runs its own non-profit organization
to help my cheeks raise awareness
and fight laugh lines.

Your favourite tabloid is my philanthropist.
I subscribe to their eating disorder.
Get on my actress's diet.
I'm trying to get back to my birth weight.
I pass it on to other girls so they can learn how to smile
with their rib cages, too,
how to go on a hunger strike in protest
of celebrity anorexia.

Because I am a giver
I share my trillion-dollar market
with the disheartened.
Bond with them
over falling apart.
It keeps us together like estrogen pills and age 60,
like a starlet and a fading star.

I am a giver.

I've got a 1.7 trillion dollar face.
It's worth more than the fight against AIDS.
Been tucked more times than a model's spine
between her legs.
Women's rights look to my face for advice
on how to be uptight.

I am your embassy of Product Placement.

Wear me, little girls.


Our morning read was spectacular.  These poems explode off the page like someone is spitting gasoline into the fire.  Today's book of poetry has never seen Tamblyn the actress although I bet she is swell -- but Tamblyn the poet is one hell of a piece of work, she is a new heroine in our offices. These poems bark, snarl and growl where many would whimper and mule.  Our staff chewed through these meaty poems like they were desert island starved and thirsty and Tamblyn was bringing them water and feastables.

Bang Ditto won some awards that are out of our poetry universe and Today's book of poetry is not surprised.  This is rare stuff.  Tamblyn is relentless, smart as fuck, and saying what needs to be said.  She is so on target you think she could be Robin Hood pissing off that stupid sheriff.

Trust Haiku

Never trust a man
whose home area code ends
in an odd number.

Never trust actors
who can't cry on cue. Those are
the suspicious ones.

Never trust mirrors.
Image is antagonist.
A recidivist.

Never trust insects.
Especially ticks. Damn spies,
watching me. Waiting.

Never trust trusting
someone who can never trust.
Give it a minute.

Never trust haiku.
Religious, academic,
spiritual. Ew.

Never trust liars.
Unless you yourself are one.
Always trust yourself.


We here at Today's book of poetry found this book of poetry in the stock room of a library.  We bought it for fifty cents.  It may be the best money we have ever spent.  Today's book of poetry has nothing but admiration for the poetic talents of Amber Tamblyn.  This woman burns with the very best, has an authentic voice and is brave enough to shout with it.

You really can't ask for more.

Amber Tamblyn

Amber Tamblyn was born and raised in Venice, California and is a 3rd generation Californian. She has been a writer and actress since the age of 9. She has been nominated for an Emmy, Golden Globe and Independent Spirit Award for her work in television and film. In 2007 she won the Locarno Film Festival award for Best Actress for her work in the film “Stephanie Daley”, in which she starred opposite Tilda Swinton. She most recently appeared in FOX’s television show “HOUSE” and in Danny Boyle’s critically acclaimed film, “127 Hours” opposite James Franco. She will next appear in Horton Foote’s “Main Street” opposite Colin Firth. Amber is probably most recognized for her work as Joan on the CBS television program “Joan of Arcadia.”

Amber’s first published poem “Kill Me So Much” appeared in The San Francisco Chronicle when she was 12, having been submitted by her writing mentor Jack Hirschman (Poet Laureate of San Francisco 2009). In the years that followed, Amber self published two collections of poetry, art and photography entitled Plenty Of Ships and Of The Dawn. She collaborated with Semina Culture artist George Herms to create a limited edition book of collage and haiku dedicated to Jazz Musician Thelonious Monk entitled, The Lonliest. In 2005 Simon & Schuster published her debut collection of poetry Free Stallion which was written over more than a decade. Lawrence Ferlinghetti called the book, “A fine, fruitful gestation of throbbingly nascent sexuality, awakened in young new language”. The book won the Borders Book Choice Award for Breakout Writing in 2006. Her work has since been published in New York Quarterly, San Francisco Chronicle, Poets & Writers, Pank Magazine, Teen Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Interview and others. She is the Executive Producer of “The Drums Inside Your Chest”, an annual poetry concert that showcases outstanding contemporary poets ( She is the co-founder of the nonprofit Write Now Poetry Society which works to build an audience for unique poetry events ( Her second book of poetry and prose Bang Ditto (Manic D. Press) was published in the Fall of 2009 and was an Independent Best Seller. She currently writes for The Poetry Foundation and is a poetry reviewer for Bust Magazine. Currently, she is working on a collection of persona poems accompanied with paintings by Marilyn Manson about child star actresses who grew up into virtual unknowns and died young. She lives in New York City with her betrothed, comedian David Cross

Punchy, spiky, and flush with a young writer's love of language, Bang Ditto often deglamourizes the acting business. A great find...."
     - Library Journal

Amber Tamblyn's writing is funny, thick, mean, strong, vulnerable, trippy and true.  Every poem is a delicious surprise, like a plate of mac and cheese with a hundred dollar bill inside.
     - Amy Poehler

Amber Tamblyn
"Dark Sparkler"
Video: "Politics and Prose"



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