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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Advice from the Executive Director of the Fallen World

Advice from the Executive Director of the Fallen World

Liam Rector wants inside your head, or at least, he wants you to hear the voices inside his. Those voices are a varied lot, from memories of a suicide, to a lover of disgusting things, to a bright political critic who decries both right and left.

Rector came to the UMass Boston campus on Thursday, April 5, 2007 to read from his latest collection of poetry, The Executive Director of the Fallen World. This volume is his third in twenty years. His poems have appeared in AGNI, The Paris Review, American Poetry Review, The New Republic, The Boston Review, Slate, Ploughshares, and more.

Rector’s poetry is brash and aggressive. Publisher’s Weekly hails it as “confident almost to the point of swaggering.” He spits out sharply-pointed lines that are literary weapons aimed at society and culture, such as this one: “America likes to think that everyone can recover from everything…but America is wrong.” “I’m against political poems, by the way,” he jokes with the audience. That being said, “here’s a political poem” he adds, launching into “Who’s in Charge of the Culture Now.” The poems is a defense of free speech from the religious right and the “nannyesque” left. It’s about censorship and the censorious. “Govern or be governed,” he quips, “I’m very Jeffersonian. Those who don’t participate go to hell. And hopefully have the decency not to whine about it.”

Music, more than politics, brought Rector into poetry. He sang in a band and “memorized a lot of ballads.” His poetry reflects that influence: “Most songs say one thing / my heart aches.”

Many people assume that because he writes in first person narrative, that he is always the speaker, but Rector denies this. “I’m not writing autobiographical poetry, but I am writing personal poetry. I feel free to borrow from my life but I also feel free to lie through my teeth.”

One thing that he loves to do is attend memorial services. “I’m a memorial service slut. I try to get to them whenever I can and I think that they are a legitimate literary form. I love hearing people talk about their friends.” He backs up this statement with a touching elegy for a suicide, “In My Memory, Eddie” in which the main character hangs himself because he “simply could not stand getting older.”

The failed marriages, brush with cancer, and loss of friendships described in The Executive Director of the Fallen World leave readers with a sense of hard-bitten, hard-earned wisdom from a life lived to the fullest. Copies are available from the UMB Campus Bookstore.