The Poetry Brothel Berlin Happens Again This Friday

Photo credit: Rop.

This Friday, 29 September at 18:30, the Poetry Brothel Berlin reconvenes for a second performance as part of the larger Poetry Brothel Europe Tour 2017.

The Berlin performance takes place at Insomnia, since fledgling, avant-garde artists have always taken refuge in bordellos. Seriously though, they begged us to perform at this club. Because poetry sells.

This is the only tour performance I’m in, so come if you love me. Tickets are on sale now via Facebook and Eventbrite. The Poetry Brothel is an immersive cabaret featuring live performances by locally and internationally renowned poets, musicians, dancers, and unicorns. For poets, it’s a unique opportunity to dress up like we’re in demand and perform like we’re getting paid for it. Because we are—by the johns who pay for performances from the Poetry Whores.

Photo credit: Philipp Bögle.

My old friend Felicia will be there. Felicia Faust. You may have read her story or met her at the steampunk Poetry Brothel Berlin launch in May. But this time she’s back—with the best of her second poetry book manuscript and amnesia fit for Mulholland Drivefor a surreal good time…

Felicia Faust remembers nothing except… there was some kind of accident… It’s all a haze, but she found some poetry in her bag. Did she write this? Can anyone help her find out who she is?

People who know me well will appreciate how (like most good fiction) truer than true Felicia’s story really is—and how much fun this event is going to be. Whoever I am, I’m pretty sure I haven’t worn nail polish in at least 25 years. And some of the face goop, ever. It wears off eventually, right? Right???

Photo credit: Rop.

Other frequently asked questions:

Q: Vera, I hear you’ve been working on a second poetry book manuscript, Vagabonding, for a few years now—since publishing your first poetry book, Push Coastsin 2015. Will you perform new or old work at the Poetry Brothel?

A: Most of my performance book for this Brothel is the best of my new work from Vagabonding. There’s more explicit erotica that will work well in the Brothel venue, but also just my developing voice as a writer on display in that manuscript—and this is the perfect way for me to workshop it. In a sex club, too distracted by lots of creative things going on all around me to have (much) performance anxiety. There is something about social dynamics in places where clothing is minimal and women’s boundaries are respected or else immediate ejection that makes me feel powerful and relaxed. It’s also my understanding that workshopping your second book in a sex club is completely normal.

Q: You haven’t returned my text/email/carrier pigeon. Where have you beeeeeeen?

A: Preparing studiously for a night of fun and revelry with friends, like any other dork would do. First, I researched Lynch and my character, because I’m a pop culture idiot. Then, I revised my entire book manuscript, because it needed a first go. Now I’ve done costume, props, and make-up. (Please tell me it comes off. I smell like a doll someone abandoned in a chemical factory.) Next I still need to finish cutting and pasting my best poetry into my new (more Lynchian) performance notebook. And memorize a few poems. And walk the others, so they’re not off-book but more familiar. And AAAAAAAAAAAH…

Q: Vera, I want to buy your book. Will you please, please, please bring some copies to sell?

A: What’s it worth to you? No really, I don’t know what to sell my book for. It’s a whole book of my poetry. That’s worth something, right? But what? Can people just pay what they want? You can buy it on Amazon for what Amazon wants, but you have to buy it from me for what you think it’s worth.

Q: I want to come to the show, but I don’t know what to wear. Heeeeeeeelp?

A: Gnothi seauton, get your noir on. (First one’s free.)


Justice as…

As part of my Nuremberg: 2027 series on future war crimes trials (1, 2, 3, 4,5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16…)… I’m wondering what sort of justice works for the sorts of crimes a functioning international order might prosecute following international torture and rendition, domestic police brutality and killings with impunity, discriminatory drug policy, effectively legalized sexual violence, global mass surveillance, due process-free drone assassinations, and tens of millions of preventable deaths due to climate breakdown and hundreds of millions of displacements (disproportionately of black and brown people).

What’s the point of these future war crimes trials? Are we trying to deter more-future misbehavior—and if so, where’s the evidence for how extant processes or punishments do that? Are we trying to privatize the costs of these crimes on the people who profited from them—e.g., punishing the individual corporate leaders responsible for covering up climate change evidence when we had ample time to act on it as a civilization(and socializing the corporations)? Or is the first priority restoring quality of life to future survivors of international law violations that institutions today are failing to prevent—and if so, where’s the evidence for what works to do that? And are these questions on the right track for a Left version of the Shock Doctrine—or what is? 

“Justice as…”

An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.

“Justice as Retribution,” gouache on 28 x 35.6 cm paper.

“Justice as Retribution,” gouache on 36 x 48 cm paper.

A boot on the face takes care of your kind.

“Justice as Dominance,” gouache on 28 x 35.6 cm paper.

“Justice as Dominance,” gouache on 36 x 48 cm paper.

Same starting gun for people starting from difference places?

“Justice as Fairness,” gouache on 28 x 35.6 cm paper.

“Justice as Fairness,” gouache on 36 x 48 cm paper.

Or a more complex machine for making fair and equal races?

“Justice as Due Process,” gouache on 28 x 35.6 cm paper.

“Justice as Due Process,” gouache on 36 x 48 cm paper.

The death penalty for murder isn’t proven to deter.

“Justice as Deterrence,” gouache on 28 x 35.6 cm paper.

“Justice as Deterrence,” gouache on 36 x 48 cm paper.

And damages for violence can’t repair what you were.

“Justice as Reparation,” gouache on 28 x 35.6 cm paper.

“Justice as Reparation,” gouache on 36 x 48 cm paper.

The angel of history cannot awaken the dead and make whole what’s been smashed.

“Justice as Restoration,” gouache on 28 x 35.6 cm paper.

“Justice as Restoration,” gouache on 36 x 48 cm paper.

The blindest justice of amnesia denies what’s been slashed, has been slashed.

“Justice as Amnesia,” gouache on 28 x 35.6 cm paper.

“Justice as Amnesia,” gouache on 36 x 48 cm paper.

If you find and tell the truth, alone—what good’s a sleuth who speaks to no one?

“Justice as Investigation,” gouache on 28 x 35.6 cm paper.

“Justice as Investigation,” gouache on 36 x 48 cm paper.

Nothing left for justice but going on? Accept justice as injustice—and you’ve “won”?

“Justice as Injustice,” gouache on 28 x 35.6 cm paper.

“Justice as Injustice,” gouache on 36 x 48 cm paper.