Interview Daniel Bailey Drunk Sonnets

The Drunk Sonnets are here.


(Aside: The cover appears to be a vat of movie popcorn. I don’t really get that one.)

I keep getting this image of a drunk sonnet, like a poem staggering around, its meter all whack. It starts hitting on a haiku, etc.

I interviewed Daniel Bailey. I knew I needed to get drunk first, but I rarely drink, as we know. So I went and bought a mojito at Chili’s (love Chili’s! Freedom!), drank it, vomited on my Subaru, walked home, brushed my teeth thrice, conducted this interview:

1.) You say that you wrote these sonnets drunk. How drunk? Was there a spectrum? Like from “that song sounds really cool” light buzz to thrown urinals and an ambulance?

Daniel: i was pretty drunk for some of them, a little drunk for others. it depends on how far into the night it was. i would drink maybe three beers and then start writing. i felt like i was at a good place to begin, at that point. i would write at least 12 poems per night, so it was a progression. i think i remember writing every one of the poems though, so it’s not like i was blackout, wake up the next day in the tub with my clothes on drunk. i still had to go to work the next day.

2.) If you could be any poet besides yourself, who would you be? Why?

i would be want to be a poet who’s still alive. i keep thinking of poets that i’d want to be and they’re all dead (frank o’hara, frank stanford [ok, i guess just those two]), so i don’t want to be them. maybe i would want to be them while they were still living. i think i’m going to go with jason bredle because his poems are funny and scary and have a force behind them that is intense enough that i don’t even have to microwave my burritos. all i have to do is hold my burritos up to my copy of pain fantasy and they heat themselves. plus jason’s old facebook photo was of him trying to put his foot in his mouth.

3.) Several students at BSU (where you were recently a student, and I am now a prof) told me you worshiped Satan. It seems to be an English dept rumor among the undergrads. Is that true? If so, how does your Satanism affect your writing, if at all?

That’s about 80% true. i’m not totally into it. my heart’s not completely there. i’m not even a card-carrying member of the church of satan. i’m not a member (and never will be) because you have to pay $200 to join


check out the “affiliation” section.

I think i initially wanted to join the church of satan because it seemed like a fun thing to do. it would be funny to get out my membership card at a party and maybe make people think i was edgy or something. mostly, i don’t care about religion or having specific beliefs.

i associate satan with things that are “metal,” which is, to me, synonymous with fun. i want to write things that are “metal.” i want to write things that are also “fun,” but also “true.” ok, i’m done with the tao lin quotes now.

4.) Do you think your writing glorifies the long-established idea/history of art and alcohol?


probably. it wasn’t my intention to do so. i kind of feel like the connection between art and alcohol is a bit overblown. i bet the percentage of alcholic artists vs. alcoholic any other profession is pretty close. the funny thing is that, outside of THE DRUNK SONNETS and the DRUNK blog, i do most of my writing sober.

5.) Who inspires you, and you cannot name a writer.

i’m having a really hard time answering this question. harmony korine inspires me and makes me want to make something, but he technically “writes” his movies.

for some reason, i can only think about a vacation when i was 12 or 13 when my parents took me to england and we were walking through london and a homeless woman put a curse or something on my dad in a foreign (maybe eastern european) language because my dad didn’t give her any money. i felt afraid for my dad’s life for a couple years, but he’s still doing alright.

that’s not an answer. i don’t feel inspired by that woman. but that’s where your question led me.

6.) In several venues, you have said you edited these pieces sober, not drunk. Why? Why not edit drunk, too?

i’m not sure. i guess it’s because i was sober whenever i opened up the word doc or when mike sent editorial suggestions. it does seem to not be in the spirit of the title, but whatever. i’d rather make the poems as good as i can rather than worry too much about my mental state at the time of writing or editing.

7.) Shaken or stirred?


i was shaken as a baby.

8.) Many of these pieces started on a blog. I read them there. Can you discuss how a blog can help or hinder a writer?

for me, writing into the blogger post window makes my mind work in a different way from when i try to write into a word document. i’d call it a good thing. the font is different. you’re not just staring at white with a little blue to the side. it feels better. the words somehow make images more real to me, which makes it easier to stay interested and continue writing. i think the only way a blog can hinder a writer is when the writer has a lot of people that look at the blog and the writer then feels like they don’t have to write as well or something. a blog can give a writer a persona or something, which is detrimental to honesty in writing. a blog is really only good for getting your name out. it’s like a homebase. i sometimes get frustrated when i read something in an online journal and the bio doesn’t have a link to the writer’s blog. blogs are good, because maybe i wanted to read more of your writing. a blog is a good central location for that. so, i guess, blogs are good for writers and also good for readers.

9.) You live in Colorado now, right? How is the drinking scene?

it’s alright. i miss the heorot. i don’t think i’ll ever find a bar as good as the heorot. fort collins has o’dell’s brewery, which is great. we also have new belgium, which is a shitty excuse for a brewery. i know new belgium and fat tire have infiltrated muncie and the midwest/east coast recently. it seems like fat tire is the new hipster beer. fuck fat tire and fuck new belgium. they make shitty beers. they care more about the environment than they do about making good beer (which they suck at). i miss the muncie drinking scene. people in muncie know their shit because drinking is all there is to do in muncie. the only thing that bars in colorado have that bars in indiana don’t have is shuffleboard, which is fun to play every once in a while.

indiana doesn’t have mountains, though. if i want to look at a mountain, all i have to do is walk out into the parking lot behind my apartment building and turn left. there are the foothills of the rocky mountains. i’ll take geography over good bars any day.

10.) Why sonnets?

because of how short they are. i’ve mentioned before that the sonnet was my escape from long free verse poems (though, the drunk sonnets are technically free verse. the only constraint (for me) is the 14 line limit. i guess my love of the sonnet is like your love of flash faction. it allows for a huge thing to be compressed into a small area, which is why i had to write so many of them. it allows for prolificness. it requires conciseness. and somehow the last two lines always force you into a place where you’re not sure what’s going to happen, but the chance of goodness is favorable, usually. seeing the end of the poem raises the stakes. it causes drama within the heart. it raises the blood pressure. i’m pretty sure it causes fever. recklessness disappears. when you have the end in sight, you know what you have to do. you can’t waste time fucking around with language. all you have is what you have and that’s what will come out if you treat it right and that is a beautiful thing.


He did a good job with that.