RAVEN MACK is a mystic poet-philosopher-artist of the Greater Appalachian unorthodox tradition. He does have an amazing PATREON, but also *normal* ARTIST WEBSITE too.

Friday, February 22

Philadelphia Hand-to-Hand Haiku Tournament/One Thousand Feathers Reading

Just as a general note of awareness to all potentially interested parties, this next Friday, March 1, there will be a Rojonekku/Fresh Dipped event at the Fresh Dipped Space at 26 South Strawberry Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, as part of the First Fridays thing of artistic things. What will this particular event entail? Great question, bro.

#1: RAILROAD SPIKE DISPLAY - as seen on my Workingman Shop etsy which of course will be for sale or just looking at and shit.
#2: STUDY STYLE CRYPTIC LEARNED ELDER ART - because Fresh Dipped is a screen-printing joint, we will have some dope ass screen-printed wackiness on display. Me and Deric the Fresh Dipped proprietor have been working on this in the cloud, which is not an online storage area but us communicating to each other above the chemtrail clouds, so that our thoughts are pure. If we are going to encourage you to study another person's style, we want it to come from a good place. There was some discussion about whether you "learn" a style or "study" a style, and ultimately we felt that you cannot actually "learn" anything completely, and once you do, it all changes anyways so you yourself become unraveled by your own attachment to your own "knowledge".
#3: ONE THOUSAND FEATHERS READING - I will be reading something I guess, I don't know. There will be some of my One Thousand Feathers pamphlets with me, which I may read from, or I may recite some old rhymes, or I may read some of the haiku from the Beerbox Haiku Project, which I've purged from this website and have been editing like a delirious wino the past few weeks, to be released in March as a gangsta ass book of poetry that doesn't suck. Speaking of which, if you have ever been to a reading of poetry or writing, then you know how much they usually suck. The spirit of this event is to not suck, so whatever I read, I will try to make it as chaotic as possible and encourage you to yell and scream and holler and curse along with me or at me. Which brings me to...
#4: HAND-TO-HAND HAIKU TOURNAMENT - which I will be hosting. Below in quoted form is an in-depth description of how this even takes place, BUT I NEED SOME WILLING PARTICIPANTS to jump up in this thing. The spirit of this event is community and expression and all those other dumbass creative buzzwords. No seriously, I need some vibrant motherfuckers to come vibrate with their natural born word rhythm skills in a friendly-but-competitive environment. We had the first one of these this past weekend at the Bird Tribe Compound in rural Virginia, and it was a blast. I am very excited to bring my backwoods down home folksy anarchistic mystic fuckery to a wonderful clusterfuck of western civilization like Oldtown Philadelphia. I ALREADY HAVE PRE-GROWN MY JAYSON WERTH BEARD (even before he grew his own, which is actually a Raven Mack beard)! If you are interested in taking part as a haiku competitor or judge, hit me up at ravenmack at gmail dot com or on my twitters @SSVa_Raven. Below tells you what the fuck is going to happen, with my reading/hosting haiku kicking off around 19:30 on 01 Mar 2013 aka 7:30 or so in the evening y'all.

Hand-to-hand haiku is an actual thing that has existed as an offshoot of poetry slams for over a decade, but I am bringing it to the here and now because it is a thing I wish was happening so that I could take part, so I guess I will emcee the affair and create its existence locally.
A hand-to-hand haiku battle works as a single-elimination tournament, meaning eight people start out in one-on-one matches, where one winner advances to the next round, and so on. Thus, there will be four first round battles, two semifinal battles between first round winners, then a final showdown between the two semifinal winners. For our purposes, the first round will be a best of 5, semifinals will be a best of 7, and the finals will be a best of 13. What does that “best of” mean, and how does that work? Well, that’s easy.
There will be three judges pre-selected for the evening’s festivities. They will have two flags (different ones obviously, we’ll assume red and blue for ease of explanation). In each match-up, one competitor will have a red flag, and the other a blue flag. Red flag reads a haiku first, then blue, then after a brief moment of thought, the three judges raise the flag of who won that round. Whichever flag a majority of judges raise is considered the winner of that round, meaning if two out of three judges say blue, then blue wins the first round, and is up 1 to 0. Loser of a round reads first the next round, so red would read another haiku, followed by blue, followed by judges’ decision, and so on, until one of the first round competitors wins 3 rounds. At most this would need 5 rounds to decide, thus it is called a best-of-5. The same process is repeated, but with more rounds, for the semifinals and finals.
Thus, for all people reading haiku, you may need up to 25 different haiku, in the off-chance the first round, the semifinals, and finals all go to their maximum amount of rounds. Thus, I say you need a minimum of 25 haiku, although if you are eliminated early or win rounds quickly, most likely very few of you will actually use 25 haiku.
Here is the thing though: you select which haiku you read for each round, rather than reading them in a set order, so to have a large arsenal of haiku, so to speak, gives yourself the freedom to choose ones that might fit your opponent or the moment more easily, to tap into the flow of the evening, which one would assume would strike a favorable mood with the judges. I look at it as each haiku is an arrow, and the more arrows you have in hand, the more likely you are able to find a sharp one. So come equipped as you see fit.
A personal aside, as a man who has literally written several thousand haiku over the past five years, a method I use is writing them one per index card. This seems like a good method for a hand-to-hand haiku battle, as you can have your handful of index cards, mark out ones you use, and shuffle them around and use them accordingly. Just a tip, you can use it or ignore it as you see fit.
Ah yes, the terribly pretentious question us westerners are forced to ask ourselves with regards to a Japanese literary tradition based on a language of characters while we speak syllables. Haiku traditionally was tied to the seasons, and the most common western translation has been a three-line poem of five syllables, seven syllables, and five syllables was the truest replication of the Japanese poem. We are going to go with this. Now somebody may say, “Wait, counting syllables goes against what haiku actually is, Raven!” Well, let me tell you, I know this form deeply, and could tell you that haiku is not even a poetic form on its own, but is part of a larger group form of poetry called renga where the first part was called hokku and became the title of famous renga poems, thus it became its own thing as literary time passed. So haiku is not even technically what the hell it is supposed to be. So for all haiku traditionalists insulted at counting syllables, once you are holding mass parties where groups of people compose poems together with 100 verses per poem, you can hold your complaints to yourself. We cannot accept part of a traditional but pretend the rest doesn’t exist and call ourselves a traditionalist. I mean, we could, and in fact that’s what most people do, but I’m not supporting that.
So for our sake, our haiku will be three-line poems, preferably of 5-syllables, 7-syllables, and 5-syllables. I will not count them though, and if you feel overly confined by this structure (form is good for you though), you can stretch the definition of haiku to mean a short poem of 17-syllables (or less).
Also, traditionally, these have been tied to the seasons, or nature, but I regard the act of haiku as more a meditation or habit of observation, which means all the fucked up parts of the world made by man are as natural as nature, and perfect for haiku. You can go traditional or you can go with observing the world around you or you can go experimental. Whatever’s clever.
And obviously, you should write your own haiku.
A valid question, as none of us wants to be judged, and yet judges will be involved. Honestly, there is no right or wrong way to pick a winner, and this method will always be subjective. Always. But I am going to have three judges, and sort of suggest each of them concentrate on a different vague aspect that pertains to them, such as “artistry” or “spirituality” or “dope ass rhythm” and so on. Judges’ decisions will be final, and also subjective, so never take it personally. This is meant to be fun, and will be fun, so nobody needs to get all, “Damn, why wasn’t my eternal creativity of poetic greatness not properly recognized in this fucking hand-to-hand haiku thing? This is bullshit!”
Judges: You will judge as you feel appropriate. Like I mentioned above, I’ll give you a theme as a suggestion for your focus, but you can toss that aside completely and just go with your heart. In fact, the whole point of haiku is to go with your heart, and this whole nonsense endeavor of a tournament is meant to motivate people to go with what’s in their heart, not worry and become anxious.
Winner of the night’s tournament will receive a railroad spike etched with HAIKU LOUNGER. I carve haiku onto railroad spikes as a thing (as seen here - http://www.etsy.com/shop/WorkingmanBooks). You will not get an actual haiku spike, but you will get the HAIKU LOUNGER trophy spike, and you will be declared the victor in some sort of fashion, and end up with something tangible to hold in your hand and be like, “YES! I have finally arrived!”

That is the plan. This will be the first of these we host in Philadelphia, and we hope to do it once or twice a year at the Fresh Dipped space moving forward. The whole point of this is to spread the joy of quick poetry, and also make a fun battle-game out of it. It will only be as fun and amazing as we all make it though. If you are worried at any point, be assured I am emceeing the whole event, and will make it entertaining on my own if need be. Do not feel any pressure at all. Enjoy the experience.
If you have any questions beyond this, hit me up. ravenmack at gmail.com.

Wednesday, February 20

February the Four

I went to buy a laptop for my kid's birthday at the Best Buy today but then what I had seen for sale yesterday wasn't there today, and I asked the dude about it and he was like, "Yeah. You know, you COULD'VE ordered it online to pick up, and it'd be here now, or we would have saved one for you." I looked at him and said, "Yeah. You know you could raise your own chickens for eggs and hogs for meat, because it ain't hard. But you don't, because that type of life ain't your's. Fuck your online ordering bullshit," and I walked off, but not before perusing their TV show DVDs to see what was new out that was worth pirating from inside the internet. Thing is I knew the laptop wasn't there any more because the internet had told me, but I couldn't believe it so went to go see it in person and be mad at Best Buy and really mad at everything. What the fuck man?
I started two new writing projects today. I kinda hate people giving a fuck about what they do, like writers thinking every fucking thing they think is worth documenting and harvesting like we're feeding humanity with our twitter jokes or some bullshit, so I started adding rambling paragraphs to random listings on my Workingman etsy page. I hope people start buying that shit because I think it's awesome, but I'm also gonna maybe bury nonsense in the listings because what the fuck is the internet for other than to randomly disperse madness (which is actually goodness)? The more things become ordered and curated the more we all need to work to clusterfuck it up more and make it crazier and harder. (Also, I like being difficult I guess. I don't fucking know man. But scope out the hanging tree listing. That's one I remember changing out of the ones I changed.)
I also have decided to do flash fiction, which for me I am pretending there is a guy named Charlie Milwaukee who writes stories for Easyriders magazine in the 1970s, but he only does it on a yellow legal pad with a pen, and each story is one page. Once he gets to the end of the page, he has to wrap that motherfucker up in the margin or he has failed the entire purpose of old Charlie Milwaukee.

So that's what I did today. Also I wasted another fat chunk of gristle of my life at a job. Go America! Go straight to hell America.

Monday, February 18

February the Three

Thus wire spoke Zarathustra:
spikes etched with wildman haiku
available at the etsy 
number sixty-nine is my
lucky number, sexual
connotations withstanding
learn from your elders, Raven;
stack art in obscurity,
the hipster assholes will come

Wednesday, February 13

February the Two

wild sunrise over
tattered remnants of freedom
left behind in field
hunted and gathered
wild laughing gymnasiums
bright orange with spirit
I climbed ramshackle
stairways to manmade heavens
man made all his gods

Thursday, February 7


So one of our bank card numbers got hijacked by the Costa Rican mafia or something, and we got frauded of a few hundred dollars. The fraudbot people were like, "It's flagged, and it'll be back in 3 to 10 days." I guess for some people that's chill, it'll work out, but for us here at the Bird Tribe that sort of takes us away from "Hey, pick up some milk on the way home," to "Lolol I hope we have something awesome left in the freezer to eat for dinner." (Which we do, by the way, so we're not starving, but stay out of the freezer on my front porch.)
But here's the deal - next week is my birthday, and now we're broke as fuck. So I'm having a
where you buy some of that totally awesome and spiritually enriching shit, and put in the code 27225 and you'll get 20% off. In case you are wondering, "Why 27225? That's kinda random," it's not random at all. On a phone, 27225 is how you spell Crack, and I told my wife, I've got everything I want, so really all I'd want to do is have like two days alone in a shitty hotel smoking all the crack I could want. It's been two years since I quit drinking, and like seven since I last smoked a rock, so I just want to get fucking high as fuck, to where my toenails have that NYYYYYYYYAAAAHHHHHHH buzzing sound in them from being so wacked out on crudely altered chemical cocaine chunks.
And hey motherfuckers, did you even know I have
too? Them motherfuckers are awesome. I mean, I know you're all on the internet and think that's the way the world is, but let me put some realness back into your mailbox one time right quick. You paypal me $20 (on the sidebar to the right) and I'll stuff a priority box full of zines and ship them to your ass, to share with your friends, win over anarchist viking women, and destroy obedient pavlovbots in Wal-Mart parking lots.
Seriously though, I'm 'bout to be broke on my 40th birthday. With no fucking crack to smoke.

Wednesday, February 6

February the One

Look I could tell you a bunch of shit and do a blogger as the old folks say and entertain you but really this shit gets trifling. There's thirty billion thousand words on this site and I get very little satisfaction from its existence but I hope it plants seeds with the like-minded. Cyber world starting to seem like the barbed wire to me just invisible but poking at my brain.
So instead let me just share with you - random four people who make up the consistent basis of my site traffic - the fact that I'm not writing shit online much at all anymore. I fuck around with the twitters because I can't write at work clearly (due to cyber shit in my brain) so use the twitters to gibber. But I reclaim my humanity through my art, which is available at my Workingman Etsy page and is all some powerful shit when you hold it and stand next to it and feel it in real life. I don't give a fuck about money and don't translate that to success at all as I realize I'm the most successful writer I know but have only made about $639 my entire life from writing. But the fact is, as the Rebel INS once said, cash rules everything around me, so if you tell your friends who buy art shit about my art shit and then they buy art shit from me, it helps me to feel less oppressed by this cruel and broken economic industry system we are all trapped inside of. Just saying.
Also there are the One Thousand Feathers zines which seem to exist in a place unknown by all. These things are real as fuck, and great bedside/toiletside/whateverside... you know what, if you read this site you know what the fuck the deal is. Tell people, because I quit Facebook, I quit self-hype, I don't understand that shit. I just do shit. If you feel like it, tell people; if you don't whatever. But the more this mental compost spreads and fertilizes and gives fruit back to me through others own compost and fertilized craziness, the better we'll all be. For real.
Also, of note, no more beerbox haiku on the site. Took it down, put it in chronological order, added the unpublished ones, writing an intro, putting it out in the next month with some dope ass art too. Looking to do readings. Will be doing one March 1st in Philadelphia, and we'll build from there. Hit me up if you got a spot that can host the controlled chaos. Unfuck the world.