He was the boyfriend of Courtney Love before Kurt Cobain. He was also a guitarist and co-founder of Hole, with Courtney, and continued to play with her until Hole’s breakup in 2002. He survived Cobain’s life and Courtney’s (ongoing life) and now, almost 20 years after Cobain’s death, Eric Erlandson has released a book of explosive text centered on the suicide of Cobain and the lives of those around him. His words, in 52 prose poems or “letters to Kurt” are not a flood, but a tidal wave: a drowning, and a saving, and a drowning again. Erlandson seems engulfed by life and memory, a solitary figure in a chaotic incendiary landscape. Does he achieve purification in the end? Redemption? Now a practitioner of Nichiren Soshu Buddhism, with a gentle almost pacific demeanour,he said recently that he found writing the book, at the very least, “cathartic.” Influenced by the form of Letters to Yesenin, Jim Harrison’s letters to the suicided poet Sergei Yesenin, and a spiritual descendant of Baudelaire, Rimbaud and Walser, Letters to Kurt is a raw exploration of language and life in extremis.
An example of style: The maple-glazed day you grew sulky. The custardy career of your play. A sprinkled simoniac of sin. Media blackhead holes. Your tried and true twist. The split gnomon in your head casting deep fried shadow… No time to feed the pigeons. Yea, yea, I know. I’m negative but reasonable.
An ending: “I wish our final parting could’ve been more inspiring. Not this plea bargain for payroll, with me as a cop escorting the accused you, reluctantly agreeing to turn yourself in. I saw you to the gate, an almost-dead legend limping onto another plane, your plan moving along like light. A double nod and you were gone. If I could do it again I would.
Coming soon, 5 Questions to Eric.