PAIN: The Board Game

PAIN: The Board Game

by Sampson Starkweather

Illustrated by Jon-Michael Frank

Published by: Third Man Books

160 pages, 5.50 x 8.50 in

  • Paperback
  • 9780991336128
  • Published: October 2015


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"[A] provocative reinterpretation of poetry's function...Here is devastating meta-poetry for the board game–playing, smartphone-scrolling masses, both accessible and enlightened."—Publisher's Weekly

“Starkweather is creating a living poetry.” —C.D. Wright, author of One With Others, winner 2011 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award

I am of my times and you screengrab out of ancient nowhere, is the title of a poem from Starkweather's second collection, PAIN: The Board Game. The title perfectly captures both his contemporariness and his empathetic treatment of our most primal conditions: "dis- / appointment / & misery / & helplessness / & suffering / & pain / & fear."

As he deploys the #trending and vintage lexicons of technology and pop culture with the depth and ease of a true lyricist, Starkweather pushes his poems into the territory of universal affect and risky humanity, to the root of our desire to connect. This is the contemporary poem that, just after it has "Shazamed / your orgasm" resurrects "the rough magic / of bodies / illuminating / the lack / of any / limitation / when one." Starkweather's unyielding, funny, luminous poetry is a brand new classic.

PAIN:The Board Game is the first analog and online interactive book of poetry with 160 pages of poems that are as visual as they are readable and includes 15 color illustrations by artist Jon-Michael Frank.

3 shots to the chest at the arcade

Sadness is my favorite video game
I am its hero
the little man with facial hair
scampering through pixilated cities
looking for clues
and accumulating shit
without knowing why
trying not
to be crushed
or free fall
into the not-world’s dark
as 8-bit clouds
scroll across the pre-
programmed sky
it’s exhausting
but I take it
next level
I am happy here
it feels real
and I can always die