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July 18, 2016

Book Notes - Josh Fomon "Though We Bled Meticulously"

Though We Bled Meticulously

In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.

Previous contributors include Bret Easton Ellis, Kate Christensen, Lauren Groff, T.C. Boyle, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Jesmyn Ward, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

Josh Fomon's debut poetry collection Though We Bled Meticulously is as impressive as it is startling and poignant.

In his own words, here is Josh Fomon's Book Notes music playlist for his poetry collection Though We Bled Meticulously:

Mixtape for Though We Bled Meticulously:

Robert Francis—"Nightfall"

Though We Bled Meticulously is a book that begins in flux—there is a rupture that happens and leads to a series of what I believe to be expansions and contractions—destructions and recreations of piecing everything together. In making this mix, Robert Francis' crooning refrain of "Honey, I'll be gone before the nightfall" captures the urgency and energy the book latches onto immediately. The speaker plays revenant but knows it's never enough to return because so much changes.

WU LYF—"Spitting Blood"

WU LYF existed briefly yet left a beacon of tremendous, raw energy. Ellery James Roberts' gravelly, breaking voice acts as a conduit that channels a twisted, beautiful landscape of tension and viscera. Spitting blood is a radical image—a presumed act of aggression against the mouth. It speaks or opens, but it drains a corporeal symbol and toil. "Cut me, I won't even bleed/My blood's as lazy as the mums and dads/Whose fantastic mundane can't be all bad."

TWBM was shaped by the energy and explosiveness of WU LYF and in WU LYF this book forms a harbinger: "We are so happy, happy to see/All of our children will run blind and free." There is so much that wants to get out and see what happens when we aim to destroy that reminds me so much of Raphael Montañez Ortiz's "Piano Destruction Piece." Illusory and incantatory—everything is hinged on a moment about to fail.


I oftentimes am obsessed with bands that create landscapes in which a state of tension draws me through the song—I think every single one of the mix reflects this. The breaks and tempo changes of "Elephants" and modulated vocals of this amazing band instantly have me hooked. This song and "Beetles" made me consider pacing in language where "every breath just bites/into the soft/space of calm about you."

LCD Soundsystem—"Home"

Home is a feeling of time and space. I play this song on the jukebox whenever I am home in Iowa City because it allows me to remember how far I've been. "Home" creates a visceral experience of the hot, balmy Iowa summers in badly lit rooms and epic dance parties. In a sense, there is something terrifying in going forth into the world and not looking back. TWBM tries to articulate this wonderment but it doesn't get as much simpler than "You're afraid of what you need."

Everything Everything—"Cough Cough"

"But I'm coming alive/I'm happening now" is such a fascinating couplet—the "But" is a strange reaction that asserts one's aliveness in a way that animates life. There is a certain wonderment in being able to declare this, what it even means. It's caught mid-thought "And that eureka moment hits you like a cop car/And you wake up just head and shoulders in a glass jar."

I've always envisioned TWBM as a post-apocalyptic journey into space and the reconciliation of what that means. This song is the perfect frenetic movement into making sense of chaotic rupture.

The Naked and Famous—"Young Blood"

"Young Blood" is pure nostalgia. From "trying to find the in-betweens" and the vitality of youth, this song is wild fun and joy. There is so much love that retracts and coils its complexity in our everyday lives—we just need to remember to see it. I suffer from my own decadent excess with language and "Young Blood" reminds me to revel in it. And it's so much fun.

Mount Eerie—"Between Two Mysteries"

I don't remember how I came to Mount Eerie, but Wind's Poem is a fully realized world. It's a wilderness grown out of noise and quiet moments captured in the experience of jumping into an abyss. Phil Elverum creates a calming and unnerving architecture, which makes this "Between Two Mysteries" a phenomenal waypoint to talk about creating an influential vision in how TWBM connects its selves to other selves and the dark things they do.

Daníel Bjarnason—"Emergence II. Black Breathing"

In the middle of revising TWBM, my friend and sound artist/composer Burke Jam shared Daníel Bjarnason's Over Light Earth. Bjarnason's preternatural, jarring composition helped the manuscript find its internal l'appel du vide.

This particular piece captures the subversive and calculated estrangement of movement in sound and crescendos into a fully inhabited urgency I've always wanted to mimic in my writing. Coupled with Ori Gersht's "Big Bang," I soon realized how I needed to approach the book and its revision—destroying and rebuilding language into moments of exploding wonderment and terror and then trying to piece together what remained.

Iggy Pop—"In The Lobby"

Post Pop Depression is a blistering, powerful masterpiece. "In The Lobby" is a pulsating blur of bellowing baritone menace with Iggy wailing "I followed my shadow and it led me here/What is the problem if I disappear/And I hope I'm not losing my life tonight." This uncertainty is a kind of urgency at the core of the book—what life instills when facing its counterpart.

Colour Revolt—"Blood In Your Mouth"

Colour Revolt reminds me of Arnold Odermatt's Karambolage series of photographs wherein we view the immediate fallout after horrific car crashes, void of any human predicament—we're only allowed the documentation of the crash, which creates an incredibly powerful energy and anxiety of causation and menace. There is this welling up that needs to get out and this song lets it all out. When blood is in the mouth, it's a multisensory, visceral experience. This song is so vengeful and yet, there is a yearning supplicant performing a ritual: "If you bury me, I'll bury you" and "Wait for grace/to set in/you don't/offer love as hope."

Broken Water—"Heal"

To say that listening to Broken Water influenced how TWBM was written is an understatement. The trancelike lure of noise throughout their incredible catalog creates a wall of sound I have never been able to not get swept up in. There is so much tension ready to burst forth at any given point it's like Yoko Ono's "Cut Piece." "Heal" lulls the listener into a sense of calm and then throttles a chainsaw. What strikes me most about this particular song is the steady, assuring bass line that confidently marches all the while being shredded with a cacophony of glorious guitar shrieks. I get lost in Broken Water's music how I get lost in language and cannot imagine a better place to be.

Beach House—"Silver Soul"

Beach House, for me, is not a listening experience so much as navigating into calm unknown. The modulating backing mixed with possessing vocals creates a perfect realm that is not our own. "It's a vision, complete illusion, yeah." What fascinates me about this song is the assertion that "It is happening again." Because it is, and because we need it to happen—it is so wondrous when art becomes this engrossing and meticulous. It's the incantation and the mystic wanderings where we feel immense amongst the stars—the ineffable energy propelling everything forward.

Sharon Van Etten—"We Are Fine"

This song captures the anxieties of creating in such a strange, smart way—Van Etten uses the imperative but doesn't create action—she asserts declarative measures which roll into more directions toward a nameless other. The loss, the love, the awakening, it's heartbreaking, but hopeful. In TWBM the speaker needs to say "Say I'm alright. I'm alright."

Deep Sea Diver—"Ships"

There were too many local Seattle bands that I wanted to include, but the sadness and desperation in Deep Sea Diver's "Ships" is a testament to the acts we take to love and continue to be loved. The ambiguity of hope and loss and determination are all at once admirable and heartbreaking and this is everything amazing in the world—there is so much uncertainty but we must try or else we never go anywhere. Even in the face of utter failure, we persist.

Bosnian Rainbows—"Red"

Red is an elegy for lost love and in lost love "Spring kisses all my thoughts/These strands of memories invading us throughout life" but "All feelings I have for red are dead/Are dead, are dead and lonesome." This isolation, once self-affirmed, is an empowering feeling. It begins a forward trajectory of recovery, of recovering the memories of who we once were and who we have the potential to become. Moments of order dot landscapes and loves and losses but they only mark a journey in how we evolve.

Angel Olsen—"Sweet Dreams"

"Sweet Dreams" bleeds sorrow and hope and all the ambiguities trying to love and live provide. This song destroys me and puts me back together and tells me to "sleep tight." What strikes me most is Olsen's realization of self-love in order to love better: "And I love you most/I love you most/when I first found love in my soul/and I'll give to you/give it up to you/when I first find it in myself." Most of all, this song goes in search of wisdom—it feels so genuinely. I'm jealous of how incredible this song inhabits the world with confidence. Olsen captures life in flux—the ambiguities so important to TWBM.

Josh Fomon and Though We Bled Meticulously links:

excerpt from the book
excerpt from the book
excerpt from the book

also at Largehearted Boy:

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