Monday, May 3, 2021

Ashley Yang-Thompson and Mikko Harvey : About SkyMall




Mikko: We wrote SkyMall over the course of about two weeks at the Vermont Studio Center, in a small office containing one desk, one comfortable chair, and one uncomfortable chair. The office overlooked the Gihon River. We started writing the poems a few days after the 2016 presidential election.

Ashley: I was obsessed with the aesthetic purity of Amazon product reviews. In the way that Marcel Duchamp coined the term “Readymade” when he put a urinal on the wall in the 1917 New York Armory Show, I felt that I had stumbled upon Readymade poetry with Amazon product reviews. I was particularly impressed by a review for a neon “Party with Sluts” fanny pack that revived a man's marriage after he had noticed his wife going to Red Lobster by herself sans wedding ring.

Mikko: So we started writing our own product reviews, pushing them to their desperate/sad/violent/ecstatic/human extremes. If Ashley laughed when I read a poem out loud to her, I knew the poem had a good chance of surviving, and those poems eventually went into SkyMall. I sat in the uncomfortable chair.

: And I laughed until I cried every day we wrote together. It was great cardiovascular exercise.

Mikko: I think the poem of yours that made me laugh the most when you read it to me was “Heavy Duty White Scissors.” Sometimes I worry that that poem is too graphic and horrible to exist in the world, but then I think back to how it made us laugh that first time, and think that original feeling has to be honored too. There’s something special about that poem and the breezy, almost haiku-like way it seems to capture the mood of your SkyMall persona (generalheartbreak). But when I try to describe that mood, I'm not sure how. Could you?

Ashley: It felt like freedom... I see us as two highly disturbed people with extremely presentable facades and CVs. In your little office we could release all the gross-out-politically-incorrect-triggering-but-in-a-cathartic-way-diarrhea with complete acceptance. You looked like such a boring wallflower wasp when I met you at the toaster station, and I think it’s a bit of a miracle that I got to know you as the true rat fuck you are. I thank the poetry Gods.

Mikko: Yes, thank you, poetry Gods.




Ashley Yang-Thompson aka Miss Expanding Universe produces a weekly zine, WORM HOUSE: the only source of real news in the world / bringing Las Vegas to the Berkshires.

Mikko Harvey wrote the poetry book Unstable Neighbourhood Rabbit (House of Anansi Press, 2018) and co-wrote, with Jake Bauer, the chapbook Idaho Falls (SurVision Books, 2019). He currently lives in Ithaca, New York, and works as a writer for an immigration law firm.



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