Sunday Stories: “Pruitt-Igoe”

by Grant Maierhofer

We snuck in I think cos my friends we wanted to die. One of us thought maybe he’d  write something about the place, some poem or something, I don’t know. My friends and I we didn’t think much then, just sort of did what came and went like that, but when we heard they’d decided to destroy this massive space we thought maybe we’d sneak in and let it swallow us. I remember looking through the windows of this like old husked-out building walking home from school without much else to do. I’d stare and my father’d say whatever he’d say about the black families and poor families who lived there but it never stuck much, I didn’t care. My friends the young ones mostly were black kids with sneery faces not unlike my own—I preferred to keep around a crew of unhappy-faced weirdos and we’d hound St. Louis for better guts and it was great. The 70s are piss but I don’t know. My father didn’t work and my mother barely could. The house we lived in wasn’t far from school and school wasn’t far from the buildings and I can remember sometimes going in there to eat dinner at friends’ homes and it wasn’t a big deal at all. We heard adults talk left and right about the politics or something. We’d drown it out like anything and just couldn’t be bothered to care. I love my city, maybe, some days I guess. I don’t know. Sometimes I think about it and still get sick over the noise. We’d almost been caught for so much young bullshit it was odd when it was over, like the city upped and wiped away our sneaky nights in dead sunlight as the community watched confused. I feel tormented that way sometimes. Like the back of my neck might shove through my Adam’s apple and go spattered on the wall. We had endless cans of spraypaint and the city sounded like it might set half itself on fire over “racial tension” or something. Women cried in streets and in front of the buildings. Families and young men screamed out for their fathers like it was all that was left to do. I don’t know. I remember school feeling sort of tense before they came down. I remember that kid who thought he’d write something about it all doing all sorts of research. It was him, he was Jeremy I think; it was Jeremy, Michelle, Mike who we called Igor (a black kid from East St. Louis who didn’t live in the buildings but went to school with Michelle and Mike/Igor loved old horror movies) Enny this girl who always followed Jeremy to sing his praises, and myself, that is Terence, who went to school and set small fires and loved so much to die.

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Occult Influences and Trance States: Janaka Stucky’s Singular Poetry

Janaka Stucky‘s haunting, intense readings are some of the most gripping examples of the form you’re likely to witness. His latest book, Ascend Ascend, is a powerful meditation on death, decay, and rebirth — the result of a composition process that involved trance states. In advance of his New York event with Atlas Obscura on May 11, we chatted with him about the new collection, the ritualistic elements of poetry, and his unique approach to readings.

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