A Non-Reaction to “Obama in Asheville” by James Franco

Dear James Franco,

I need to tell you why I hate your Obama poem, “Obama in Asheville.” It’s got nothing to do with the poem itself, though. It’s more about your delivery—how it has affected me, personally, at this moment. I just read “Obama in Asheville,” somewhat indifferently. Right now, it’s 1:11 AM. I have to wake up early tomorrow. The problem is I can’t let this one (this “commentary”) pass; I can’t let it wait until tomorrow or the next day. Simply, I want more traffic on this blog. I want to open my browser, click on WordPress, view my daily stats, and say, “Well look at this shit! Google sent 300 people my way, and, in accordance to—or in verification of—statistical likelihoods, one of them happened to click the Burrow Press link and buy my book.”

Is that what this is all about? Me using you in order to fulfill my duties and freedoms as a capitalist? Yes, sort of. Actually, I’m not after the money that I might earn off a book published by an indie press; rather, I’m chasing a different form of capital. The cultural kind. I want people to read my book. I want them to have an experience—whether they hate it or not. I wrote a book, James Franco! A book! How many people get to say that? My exploitations of you provides one of the many channels that might increase my book’s presence and accessibility. I want people to read it.   

So, when you write/read/publish a poem about Obama, I need to approach the event with as much fervor as an emergency respondent. Timing is crucial. But tonight, you’re timing is a pain in my ass.

For one: I need at least six hours of sleep, and I’m pretty OCD about that. The introduction of “Obama in Asheville” into the public sphere has disrupted my pattern. If I don’t get in bed soon, I’ll fall short of six hours, and it’ll fuck my day. I’ll start zoning off in Literary Theory. I teach a Creative Writing class at noon. I’ll be a driveling, semi-catatonic fool and they’ll learn nothing.

For two: Like I said, I’m OCD about sleep. I have a systematic, predictable, and ritualized pattern of sleep preparation. I won’t list everything I do starting 60 minutes before I slip under the covers, but I must mention this. At the 50 minute mark, I take an Ambien and drink a cup of Tension Tamer Tea. If I get in bed exactly ten minutes later, the Ambien will start to take effect about a minute after my head hits the pillow. I’ve been doing this for years, and only a small handful of times had something distracted me during those crucial ten minutes. Getting sidetracked on Ambien, as you might know, can lead to all sorts of disasters, like amnesia and sleepwalking.

I read your poem after I took Ambien. Tomorrow morning, I might not remember that I’d written this blog. I might be in an Ambien blackout right now. I probably won’t remember any of this.  

The same goes for your poem.  I don’t think I’ll remember it.


Don Peteroy


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About Letters to James Franco

My name is Don Peteroy. I'm a PhD. candidate at University of Cincinnati. My major has a long name, so try to say it in one breath: "English and Comparative Literature with a Creative Dissertation." I spent the majority of my adult years as a social worker. I decided it's pointless to help people, so I've devoted the rest of my life to reading and writing. Here's all my publications and works in progress: My novella, "Wally," published by Burrow Press, in the fall of 2012. Novella: "A World Without Owls" Unpublished. Novel: "My Helicopter Heart" Unpublished. A failed playwright stalks Kirsten Dunst during the Christian apocalypse. My short story, "The Circuit Builders" is the winner of the 2012 Playboy College Fiction contest, and will appeared in the October 2012 issue. Here's are more published and forthcoming short stories: "The Trouble With Hello is Goodbye": Arcadia Magazine 7, 2014. "Kurt Vonnegut Didn't Like Me" Online Sundries, 2/14 http://www.arcadiamagazine.org/4/post/2014/02/kurt-vonnegut-didnt-like-me.html "Because I Want to Know You" forthcoming reprint in Short Story America "A Hole Without A Rim," forthcoming in the Florida Review "Keeping it for Good," The Heartland Review. Forthcoming. “A Penny In A Pill Bottle,” Dislocate, Winter 2012. “Because I Want to Know You” Yemessee, 19.2, 2002. “The Sluggers” Santa Carla Review. Spring 2012. “Maps and Legends” Chattahoochee Review. Spring 2012. “Melinda, Listen to Me” Permafrost, vol. 33, 2011. “Rondo” Licking River Review, Fall 2011. “The Ugly Marriage Counselor” Eleven Eleven, vol.11, 2011. “The Healing Frequency” Newport Review, Summer 2011. “His Name Equals His Name” The Ultimate Writer Magazine, Summer 2011. “This Is How I Will Hold You” The Westchester Review, vol. 5, 2011. “In Accordance To The Needs Of A Canadian Literary Magazine” Worcester Review, vol. 31.1, 2011. “Too Much Anthropology” Cream City Review, vol. 34.2, 2011. “There Are No Fragments” Ellipsis, vol. 46, 2010. “Confessions of a Misunderstood Sidekick” Farallon Review, vol.3, 2010 “One Day, God Will Kill Everyone” Oyez Review, vol. 37, 2010. “When Hawks Make Love” The Susquehanna Review, Fall 2009. “Goddess Corpse” The Maynard, Fall 2009. “Misconceptions About the Nature of Blood” CRIT Journal, Summer 2009. “Go Up” The Cynic, Fall 2009. “The Misuse of Old British Words” Two Hawks Quarterly, Spring 2009. “Dead or Unlisted” The Rejected Quarterly, Spring 2003. “Sleep Log” The Timber Creek Review, Spring 2002. There are other stories out there, somewhere, but I've lost track. Awards: “From One Object to Another.” Finalist for the Glimmer Train Short Fiction Award, 2009. “His Name Equals His Name” Finalist for the Gulf Coast Donald Barthelme Award, 2009. “In Accordance To The Needs Of A Canadian Literary Magazine” 2011 Pushcart Prize nominee. "A World Without Owls." Finalist, Gold Line Press Chapbook Contest, 2011. “Confessions of a Misunderstood Sidekick” Sacramento Stories on Stage Series in California, June 2011. "The Circuit Builders" winner of the Playboy College Fiction Award 2012. "The Trouble With Hello is Goodbye" nominated for a Pushcart Award.

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