B. Diehl Interviewed by Christoph Paul
1) Would you write a poetry book titled Dude, You’re Getting A Diehl. What would it be about?
Sure. But with that title, I think a novel-in-verse would be better than a poetry collection. I’d write this novel-in-verse about a very masculine, talkative, football-playing ex-frat boy named Honcho who hates everything sentimental. Honcho needs a new roommate, who ends up being a poet –– a semi-fictionalized version of me. Honcho gets a Diehl. Honcho hates poetry because “poetry is for pussies,” which makes it super awkward for us to live together. Sometimes Honcho throws “keggers” at the apartment, where him and a bunch of likeminded meatheads basically just engage in crazy orgies while high-fiving each other. Honcho’s lifestyle is distracting for the Diehl. While the Diehl struggles to write poetry, Honcho struggles to maintain his good reputation amongst the meathead clan. (The meathead clan thinks he’s weird for letting a creepy, antisocial poet live with them.) That’s pretty much it.
2) Brandon Walsh vs Brandon Diehl who is a better poet?
I have no idea who Brandon Walsh is. Brandon Walsh is the better poet.
3) Welcome to the Doll House or Napoleon Dynamite?
Napoleon Dynamite. Both films are completely insane in their own ways, but Napoleon Dynamite wins for nostalgic reasons. After I dropped out of high school, I had zero friends for a while. A long while. I finally made some when my cousin recruited me into his garage screamo band. (Seriously. I was the “singer.” LOL.) Anyway…when I met the bandmates, I learned pretty quickly that they were all obsessed with Napoleon Dynamite. Between songs at band practice, there would always be someone going, “Just borrow some from the school nurse! I know she has like five sticks in her drawer!” I thought the movie was fucking stupid. But after they forced me to watch — about a hundred times — the scene in which Uncle Rico throws a steak at Napoleon’s head, I was finally like, “Okay, this is funny. You win.” The band has been dead for a decade, and I barely talk to any of those guys anymore, but Napoleon Dynamite is still one of my favorite movies. It’s something I associate with being an angsty teenager.
4) Philip Levine or Billy Collins who makes better lasagna?
Billy Collins, I think. The first thing that comes to mind is this poem by Collins called “I Chop Onions While Listening to Art Blakey’s Version of ‘Three Blind Mice.’” He talks about having some kind of existential crisis for seemingly no reason while chopping parsley and dicing onions. A guy who gives a shit about chopping and dicing things can probably make good lasagna. I feel like parsley and onions would be part of his lasagna recipe. Something tells me Philip Levine was never really interested in cooking.
5) Follow up question, who is the better poet Blink 182 or Billy Collins?
If we’re talking about Blink-182 as a whole, I will say Billy Collins is the better poet. As for individual members of Blink, let’s start with Travis Barker. I’ve read Travis Barker’s memoir, and it’s well-written, but it was also “co-written” with some random dude, so it’s unclear how much of it Travis actually wrote. Either way, none of it seemed very much like poetry to me, so Billy Collins wins this round. Tom DeLonge cares more about aliens than lyricism. Matt Skiba uses the “broken heart” cliché in his songs too often. Mark Hoppus, though –– Mark Hoppus is my spirit animal. There’s this verse on the latest Blink album where he’s all like, “Two little kids out on the lawn / Once we had love; now it’s gone / Good things haven’t happened yet / I’m empty as a movie set / It’s what I’ve always wanted.” Gives me chills, always. Mark Hoppus is a better poet than Billy Collins.
6) I’ve read on a Twitter that you are starting a movement to dump pickles on your at head at readings. Why do you hate starving children?
Children are always safe from my projected self-hatred. I guess I could probably be doing more to help starving children, though. Maybe I’m no better than the people responsible for those expensive-looking UNICEF commercials. (If I were a starving child, I’d be super pissed if someone shoved a camera in my face instead of helping me directly.)
As for the pickles thing…I just really like the idea of making poetry readings memorable. Nothing makes me cringe harder than a quiet room full of miserable-looking people who are either staring at their phones or staring at their pockets where their phones are vibrating. Poetry readings suck sometimes. You can read a heartfelt piece about the time a rabid bear ripped off two of your limbs, and there will still be people falling asleep. So I try to wake people up. I like to begin my sets by saying something really weird that makes no sense, like, “This is a poem about when your girlfriend breaks up with you, and you’re really sad, and you don’t know what to do, so you just rub a bunch of crushed potato chips all over your body while crying.” Words are just words, though. I want props. I want to do a reading dressed as the Easter Bunny and maintain a serious facial expression throughout the entire event. I want to be the Andy Kaufman of poetry.
7) How long did it take you to get a black belt in fucking up your life?
I think I got it when I was around 20, so let’s say 20 years. I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety when I was around 12. I was a stereotypical emo kid with a cutting problem, which made me uncomfortable to be around. I didn’t try to kill myself, but I definitely killed every friendship I had. When I was 14, as a way of “acting out,” I did some pretty serious vandalism, got caught, and had to do 100 hours of community service in a food bank filled with mouse feces. I dropped out of school, and instead of getting a job I just hung out with stoners every day who had no problem “smoking me up.” Of course that led to an Adderall and ecstasy problem. I almost died when I crashed my car in the snow on a late-night drug deal. I willingly walked into emotionally damaging relationships and friendships because I was too high to use common sense. Most of my teenage years are a blur, but I’m sober now. Have been for 7 years. I won’t even take a hit of pot. (I know. BORING.)
Don’t get me wrong, though! I’m still a dumbass. 2 years ago I left a full-time job that paid me almost 20 dollars an hour to hang out in an office and do nothing…because I wanted more time to write poetry. I now bust my back in a dusty-ass warehouse –– 20 hours a week –– for slightly above minimum wage.
Also…the other day, while half asleep, I put laundry detergent in the dishwasher and flooded the entire kitchen with suds. Good metaphor for my life, really.
8) Did curiosity really kill the bank account?
Absolutely. Bookstore owners might show up at my window with torches and pitchforks when they read this, but I’m addicted to ordering books from Amazon. I have a Word document on my MacBook called “Writers to Check Out,” which is a list of over 200 names. It’s actually a little creepy that I have it. (Now that I think about it, that title makes it even creepier.) Anyway…lately, instead of reading some work by people online and seeing if I like it, I just order one of their books. Or three. I have a problem. Send help.
9) I have this idea for a short Bizarro film that I got inspired from Facebook post of yours. It’s basically a zombie film but instead of eating brains people start speaking like slam poets. Eventually everyone in the world speaks like a Slam Poet! If I Kickstart it, will you be the lead actor.
It depends. If the lead actor eventually becomes infected, I don’t think I could pull it off. I’m slightly notorious for my tone-deafness at readings…and I can’t picture myself like, being loud or pretending to cry or whatever. If not, I am so down. I want to be filmed hiding in a closet while slam poets try breaking down the door. I’m picturing them yelling things like “MY SOUL IS A SUNSET!” and “MY BONES, MY BONES, MY BONES!” and something about trauma. They’d be yelling about trauma while traumatizing me. By the way, I like slam poetry.
10) Last question, what are you working on now?
I’m finishing up a second poetry collection. It doesn’t have a home yet. I think I might end up putting this one out myself. Not sure yet. But I want to have it out at the end of this year or in January of 2018. I like it a lot more than my first, which is basically the literary equivalent of my toenail clippings. Thanks for the interview!
You can buy B. Diehl’s book right here. Buy that shit because he is a broke ass poet! I bought it and I am am cheap philistine. It’s National Poetry Book if you’re not going to buy Diehl’s book buy another book of poetry.
Christoph Paul is an award-winning humor author. He writes non-fiction, YA, Bizarro, horror, and poetry including: The Passion of the Christoph, Great White House Volume 1 and Volume 2, Slasher Camp for Nerd Dorks, and Horror Film Poems. He is an editor for CLASH Media and CLASH Books and edited the anthologies Walk Hand in Hand Into Extinction: Stories Inspired by True Detective and This Book Ain’t Nuttin to F*%k With: A Wu-Tang Tribute Anthology. Under the pen name Mandy De Sandra, he writes Bizarro Erotica that has been covered in VICE, Huffington Post, Jezebel, and AV Club. He is represented by Veronica Park at Corvisiero Literary Agency.