Flush It Friday: A Game You Might Play


Or not!

A few months back—maybe even more than a few—I attended a poetry reading with a slew of friends and acquaintances that was hosted at a house in the neighbourhood. It felt like going to a basement show, except there were hors d’oeuvres and we sat in chairs outside under a beautiful sky swatting away eager mosquitos. All of the readers acquitted themselves well of their task while a few were downright impressive. As the night turned away from the scheduled readings, people shuffled off to other activities, a group of us tucked in for the long haul. Eventually, we all circled ourselves around the bonfire, drinks and smokes in hand. One of the night’s readers, a great writer and someone with whom I overlapped in school, suggested we play a game. The game was simple: one person would pick a poem and then each person in the circle would read that same poem with their own inflection. The point, of course, is to hear a great poem 6-8 times in 6-8 different ways, a little extra sauce on this line, a little spicier here, a longer pause there. Admittedly, this is a game that requires people invested in poetry, people not worried about reading poetry out loud in front of friends and strangers (no small feat), and an ability to both take the game seriously and be willing to make it fun. Of course, by the end, no one wanted to read the poem that someone else had picked so everyone was just reading a favourite, but we got through probably 8 rounds before it devolved.

But mostly, as I sit here on a gross, rainy Friday in Atlanta, I can’t help but think about the first poem that was read and how it was read. The person who introduced us to the game introduced us to it by reading Ilya Kaminsky’s “We Lived Happily during the War,” a poem that opens Kaminsky’s award-winning 2019 collection, Deaf Republic, while also predating that collection’s publication, reading the short poem in Kaminsky’s eminently recognizable Soviet-American accent. It was a performance for the ages.

“We Lived Happily during the War” is a chilling poem, a forlorn poem, a rueful and wistful poem. It also haunts with you, the repetitions of “but not enough” and “invisible” and “of money” returning over and over again, particularly in the final 5 lines. Imagine them, if you will, in the voice of a colleague impersonating Kaminsky for the full effect: “In the sixth month / of a disastrous reign in the house of money / in the street of money in the city of money in the country of money, / our great country of money, we (forgive us) / lived happily during the war.”

How would you read that around a bonfire? Would you speed up, ever quickening from street to city to country, only to pause or falter at the comma and line break before “our great country of mine,” separated as it is by comma and line break? How would you speak the parenthetical? How would you conjure up the survivor’s guilt, the cold realization of the final words?

It’s a fun game. I wonder if it would work with song lyrics. Next time you and the homies find yourself circling a firepit after a lovely evening, maybe try reciting, in your different ways, a few verses of Rwake‘s “War Against Christians” . Who knows what you might uncover!

Anyways, I don’t know what any of this has to do with Toilet ov Hell, except to say I share this treasured memory as a gift to you all.

Just like all the contributors this week shared their hard work and effort and time and commitment with you all!

So, let’s Flush! (And acknowledge that masterful segue.)

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Spear, as always, premiered the goods. This Cognizance track is a noodle knocker.

Premiere: Cognizance – “A Brain Dead Memoir”

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Toilet Radio 475 – Hells Bells: The Dangers of Rock N’ Roll

I’m nuts.

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Minis! Get yer Minis here! Pipin’ hot! Fresh as the day is long!

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Aaron hit on some choice cuts from the hardcore scene in 2023. Take note!

Hardcore Breakdown 2023: The Year In 15 Records

What are some of your favourite bonfire games? What’s a poem you’d have us all read? What did you love most that the Toilet published this week? What album or band or song did you find because of the intrepid work of the contributors that deserves a hearty thanks? Let us know in the comments, and don’t forget those GBUs!

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