The forefront member of the online ‘alt lit’ scene, Steve Roggenbuck, is a travelling internet poet, whose work includes videos and his energetic social media streams. He’s gaining followers like mad, recently did a reading in New York with Tao Lin and published his latest poetry book, 'Crunk Juice', earlier this year...
Poetry for me is just the energetic, attentive use of language. Language is very fluid. I put my language into the forms of the Internet mainly because they allow me to connect with people for free on a mass scale
Dazed Digital: How has your work as a poet changed since you started in 2006?
Steve Roggenbuck: At first, all the poetry I wrote looked like poetry and I was influenced by a couple famous poets. Now, my biggest influence is a rapper, Lil B the Based God, and my most popular posts are videos.
DD: What do you consider to be the main format of your work?
Steve Roggenbuck: For me it's important to be holistic and prolific. I've practiced the most as a poet, but my interest in 'poetry' is very basic: poetry for me is just the energetic, attentive use of language. Language is very fluid. I put my language into the forms of the Internet mainly because they allow me to connect with people for free on a mass scale. Connecting with people - making people happy, boosting people - is my goal.
DD: How can I tell when you are being sincere in things like your mentions of the occult, Justin Bieber or Buddhism?
Steve Roggenbuck: I like for you to be confused, and have to accept your confusion. Straight-forward sarcasm is boring to me. Usually I do like what I'm talking about - Justin Bieber and Buddhism are both dear to me - while also finding humor in it. I use the outward trappings of irony - intentional misspellings, goofy voices - and try to express something sincere through it. "Live My Lief" is the perfect example: the motivational statement seems to be undercut by the misspelling but that doesn't mean it's "just a joke". Rather than strictly "ironic" or strictly "sincere," I'm usually going for playful.
DD: Who are your heroes?
Steve Roggenbuck: My heroes are Walt Whitman, the Buddha, and Lil B the Based God. They create(d) culture that I believe in, and they work(ed) hard to spread that culture. Walt Whitman wrote an anonymous, positive review of his own book; the Buddha traveled and taught people about meditation; Lil B uses social media prolifically. For me, the work of my poetry isn't done until people are enjoying it and being affected by it.
Text by Amy Liptrot