Wait, No. Yep. Definitely Still Hate Myself.
by Robert Fitterman
Ugly Duckling Presse, 2014; 78 pp
Review by Robert Torres
I read the first half of Wait, No. Yep. Definitely Still Hate Myself. without knowing an important fact about the author's intention. Not knowing this fact led me to think Fitterman has produced 78 pages of self-loathing drivel.
My hobbies include: being sad and lonely
all the time and my interests
Consist of people I can't have. Whenever I feel
sad and lonely I go shopping,
By myself of course. There is something specific about
living in America right now
That makes everyone prone to sadness and loneliness.
So reads page 8. of No, Wait. Yep. Definitely Still Hate Myself. Every line of every page of every section is essentially a paraphrase of this passage. All that changes throughout the book is that the lines slowly get longer. On the surface, it's depression meets Dada. Surely, he can't be serious, I thought. Perhaps this is some lampoon of Sylvia Plath and confessional poetry, or even the very notion that poetry is first and foremost a release for the poet.
Now, about the “intention” I mentioned earlier: to quote the Ugly Duckling Presse website, “Robert Fitterman’s new book-length poem borrows . . . hundreds of found articulations of sadness and loneliness from blogs and online posts.”
Fitterman didn't write this book: the whole internet did. He succeeded, supposedly, in collecting 78 pages composed, presumably, by dozens of different authors that read like a chorus of pathetic voices repeating the all-too-familiar notion that many young Americans feel socially isolated by the same culture and networks that are demanding we all stay connected. Fitterman hasn't written a book of poems about his own isolation (thank god), but instead has composed an anthology of modern sadness.
In No, Wait. Yep. Definitely Still Hate Myself. Fitterman forces the reader to address how—and why—we talk about our private feelings on public forums. A section of page 51 reads:
I feel like there is something wrong with me. Did I do something
wrong? I'm so fucking sick of this. I feel so empty,
Like something is missing, and I want a girlfriend badly. I want
someone to hold me, and make me feel all right,
which sounds more like a bad 90s alternative single than something you'd expect someone to ever say out loud. Fitterman's work begs the questions, why is this okay to share on a public forum? And, how does reading these kind of lines—sometimes from near strangers—effect how seriously we take them?