Archive for Michael Arnzen

An Appreciation: “This is How I Murdered the Librarian” by Michael A. Arnzen

Posted in Writing with tags , , , , , on April 13, 2013 by Scott Emerson

As part of The 5-2: Crime Poetry Weekly’s blog tour for April I thought I’d offer a few words in appreciation of Michael Arnzen’s poem “This is How I Murdered the Librarian.” Like most of Arnzen’s verse, it’s a doozy–read it here.

What I love about this piece, aside from the obvious ghoulish glee that permeates each line, is how Arnzen turns the cliched librarian details–like the shushing finger–on themselves in grim parody during the act of murder, while corrupting classic childrens’ characters by making them complicit in the act before eliminating them in fiery death.

In his note after the poem, Arnzen says the piece “may be more about crimes against books than anything else,” and it’s where “This is How” strikes its most brutal chord. Is there a bibliophile capable of reading this poem without experiencing a sickening lurch in the gut while the narrator destroys an entire library along with his victim? (I also suspect we’re supposed to be more aghast at that than the murder.)

Many readers, like I did at first glance, will see this poem as a comment on the print-vs.-ebook debate. Arnzen gives us precious few details about this killer–implying a surly youth so beholden to technology that dusty old books are beneath contempt–without really giving a clear motivation for the murder. But then I re-read the first stanza, which ends with a line about “a private show and tell,” and saw that perhaps this is a much-deserved revenge. And the librarian, who used books to her own sinister means, meets a fitting end.

That, right there, is what makes this poem great.


Arnzstigation Days: “Longing”

Posted in Books, Writing with tags , , , , , on January 24, 2013 by Scott Emerson


In honor of Arnzstigation Days, I’d like to share a flash fiction story, as well as a little bit about the book and its author, Michael Arnzen, who inspired it.

(Speaking of Arnzen, have you contributed to the Fridge of the Damned Kickstarter? It’s a wicked sweet magnetic poetry set coming from Raw Dog Screaming Press. For more info and to donate go here: And may I mention that pledges at the “Audiovillain” level gets you, among other cool items, a CD recording of Arnzen reading at the Morgantown Poets/Raw Dog Screaming party from May 2012. It’s an awesome event; I know, I was there.)

What I wanted to share was a poem inspired by a piece of Arnzen’s digital art, but it appears the piece has been taken down from Arnzen’s site (and Twitter has since eaten the poem as well). So instead I’ll be offering my short-short “Longing.”

“Longing” wasn’t inspired by any one specific Instigation or Twisted Prompt; it’s part of the flash fiction flood unleashed in my brain after reading Arnzen’s excellent flash collection 100 JOLTS. I scribbled a TON of microfiction, much of it bad, after devouring the book. Yet the way Arnzen utilized clever wordplay, vivid and bizarre imagery, and pop culture deconstruction prodded my muse like few books have, and I continued to hone the shorts. Finally I got something I was happy with.

“Longing” was origially published in August 2004 in FLASHSHOT.

by Scott Emerson

I long to sever your vocal chords.
That way, I couldn’t hear you say, Stop. Don’t. I don’t like when we play this game. I hate seeing you bleed.
But I wouldn’t. Like you’ve said, it’s not my style.
The awl slid effortlessly into my eardrums.

In closing, let me add that Michael Arnzen has been more than an inspiration or favorite author. He’s been a valuable mentor and friend, one whose advice and wisdom has greatly benefitted my work in the near-decade I’ve been fortunate to know him. I would not be the writer I am today without his influence.

Whether or not that’s a good thing remains to be seen.

Fuzzy Bunnies: A Horror Poem from The Gorelets Omnibus by Michael A. Arnzen

Posted in Books, Writing with tags , , , , , on July 12, 2012 by Scott Emerson

Book Trailer for THE GORELETS OMNIBUS by horror author Michael A. Arnzen (Raw Dog Screaming Press, 2012). Available now in hardcover, paperback and ebook editions. Visit Arnzen’s website to learn more, or order now from Amazon, B&N, or directly from the publisher.

Review: The Gorelets Omnibus: Collected Poems 2001-2011 by Michael A. Arnzen

Posted in Books with tags , , , , on May 10, 2012 by Scott Emerson

If you have even the slightest interest in horror poetry, this is a highly recommended book. If you have even the slightest interest in writing horror poetry, this is mandatory reading.

Originally conceived as a literary experiment to create short, media-compatible poetry for then-prevalent handheld technology, Michael Arnzen’s Gorelets has mutated and evolved in the decade since their introduction. Yet at their heart they’ve remained unchanged–brief, vivid poems written with skill, verve, and perverse humor. THE GORELETS OMNIBUS collects nearly everything Arnzen’s written under the Gorelets banner, and it’s a must-have for the dark-verse aficianado.

The hardcover edition contains bonus material (including the razor-sharp Martha Stewart parody “Michael Arnznen’s Dying,” one of the author’s lesser-known classics), a handful of critical pieces analyzing Arnzen’s work, and a compact poetry workshop with how-to articles and creative prompts. These nuts-and-bolts articles are a great resource for those looking to hone their craft, and more than justify the hardcover price.

Whichever edition you choose, you’ll be rewarded with a wealth of strange, satirical, and clever poetry that packs an incredible amount of detail and power in their short line counts. A safe bet for the year’s best horror poetry collection.

Review: 100 Jolts: Shockingly Short Stories by Michael A. Arnzen

Posted in Bizarro Brigade, Writing with tags , , , , , on July 23, 2011 by Scott Emerson

(Review for Bizarro Brigade.)

Simply put, the best single-author collection of flash fiction I’ve ever read. (Gee, qualify much?) Michael Arnzen remains one of my favorite genre practitioners and 100 JOLTS is a prime representative of his strengths, a cross-section of surrealism, experimentalism, pitch-black humor, pop culture deconstruction, and wickedly clever wordplay.

More impressive than the volume of stories is the fact that just about every one is a winner; highlights include “Obictionary,” a deceptively playful tribute to Edward Gorey, “Domestic Fowl,” which witnesses a man’s self-induced transformation into a chicken, “The Cow Cafe,” about a most unusual coffeehouse, and the instructional one-two punch of “How to Grow a Man-Eating Plant” and “Stabbing for Dummies” (the latter co-written by Vincent K. Sakowski).

Good flash fiction, especially of the dark variety, can be likened to a snakebite: the encounter may be quick, but the results are lingering. Arnzen displays this repeatedly throughout the collection with a number of brief, resonant stories, some only a few sentences long.

An absolute must for fans of microfiction. Connoisseurs of the strange will find much to enjoy as well.

(Here’s an animated video for one of the stories, the zombie opus “Brain Candy”):