In February 2010, Chicago poet and artist Jennifer Karmin talked with snowbound President Barack Obama. The following excerpt* was published in issue 18 of Lungfull! Magazine.
Karmin: What do you miss most about the Chicago literary community? Myopic Books? Danny’s? The Red Rover Series?
Obama: Chicago buildings are fireflies buzzing in a bell jar seven footbridges above the waterfront. The notion of change was something Bill Ayers came up with at our Kenwood mansion during a Marxist orgy. I heard about the Midwest Radical Cultural Corridor a few months before. A wide-spread uprising of artists and activists across the great lakes, it has potential. I look forward to seeing it blossom at the U.S. Social Forum in Detroit this June!
Karmin: How about the idea that we don’t need a poet laureate, we need a league of poets?
Obama: They're playing basketball; love that basketball. It’s true - I’m hot, black and clever. I don’t intend for these attributes to cloud the fact that I’ve let down the people that needed me most. Michelle and the kids have adjusted to their new hot maid. She trapped me like a fly in the web of her argument. I knew she hadn't lived in Seattle for long.
Karmin: Is that like Pop Art?
Obama: Chicago's biggest poetry secret -- an alderman, I can't disclose more -- has refused to read since the Sears Tower was renamed. The public must acknowledge its accountability. I'm more concerned with rehabilitation. I’ve heard the snow battered, wind-torn, puzzled, patterning.
Karmin: Are you satisfied with the way we’re conducting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan?
Obama: Serenity is the array of wildflowers niched in ruin. War is the failure. A preliminary remark on the completely artificial nature of this situation. Archaic - to place trust, rely. Antonyms - despair, disbelieve, fear. Practical applications of hope in the theater of war diminish. It’s difficult to prove they existed. It's a sure thing, like a bat's wing. I love questions that provide an opportunity to talk about people on both sides getting killed.
Karmin: Does love come into this?
Obama: Veritable madness is all derangements of our minds, illusions of self-love, passions carried to the point of blindness. I’m beside myself with myself. When you're cool and president, it's hard to stay focused because I quit smoking. I enjoy a game of Scrabble to take my mind off Fox. When you're standing on a street, you frighten people -- even if you compliment their haircuts, even when you're wearing a hat your sister knitted. Clothing of delight, softest clothing wooly bright. There's something wrong with this suit. Good luck with that game of tax Jenga.
Karmin: Is life serious?
Obama: Butterflies run and play with hummingbirds. Listen…I was told that DC has an impermeable, invisible membrane around it that prevents suffering from entering and empathy from escaping. Everybody's hungry to know the best way, so what to do with this appetite? White wine plus people-watching equals fun time-kill. I don't even drink tea, prefer beer and a Marlboro. Having a Coke with you is more fun than going to Jersey.
Jennifer Karmin is the author of the text-sound epic Aaaaaaaaaaalice (Flim Forum Press, 2010).
*Obama responses based on rumors and myths from Chicago writers: Carrie Olivia Adams, Daniel Borzutzky, Kristy Bowen, Mairead Case, Chris Cuellar, Kath Duffy, Patrick Durgin, David Emanuel, Chris Glomski, Daniel Godston, Judith Goldman, Laura Goldstein, Brandi Homan, A D Jameson, Kevin Kilroy, Quraysh Ali Lansana, Francesco Levato, Lauren Levato, Erika Mikkalo, Anne Elizabeth Moore, Ira S. Murfin, Peter O'Leary, Srikanth Reddy, Matthias Regan, Kenyatta Rogers, Kathleen Rooney, Fred Sasaki, Larry Sawyer, Melissa Severin, Nate Slawson, Marvin Tate, Tony Trigilio, and Lina Ramona Vitkauskas.