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If You Can't Howl Kill Your Darlings is the name I gave this wine. 


If You Can't Howl Censure Your Darlings is the name that appears on the label. According to the liquor distribution branch of British Columbia  you’re not allowed to use the word ‘kill’ on a wine label. 


A visual representation of creative choices in progress. And the subjugation of art and creative choice. 


That is If You Can't Howl Kill Your Darlings.


The wine takes its name from Allen Ginsburg's prose-poem Howl, and an overused, but oft-misremembered, piece of literary advice. Which itself became the title for a movie that takes (very) generous historical licence in telling the story of David Kammerer’s death from Ginsberg's view point. 


And then, of course, in California in 1957 there was an obscenity trial to censor the poem. A bookstore owner and a book publisher went to jail. Until a judge on the California State Superior Court had determined that the poem was of ‘redeeming social importance’. This also became a (bad) movie… 


To ‘kill your darlings' is a turn of phrase often given to writers to edit, edit, edit. Take out. Make shorter. Make smaller. And so it goes, that to kill your darlings is to get rid of the things that came out of you, things that don't fit, things that aren't necessary. Things you created. That you put to a page. It's a piece of external advice given to you, telling you, to get rid of your most precious and especially self-indulgent passages for the greater good of your work.


It is a phrase meant to encourage more creative work. A particular ethic of creative work. Of course, everyone needs an editor. And I love the phrase—I mean, even the visual of it is amazing—but I've always found it funny that something we say to encourage work gets its source material wrong. And really, gets the advice wrong.


The phrase is often attributed to William Faulkner when he wins his Nobel Prize—1950—but the earliest known use of the phrase actually comes from an Englishman—a professor and author—named Sir Arthur Quiller Couch in 1913. Who in fact says 'murder your darlings'. For Quiller Couch, to murder your darlings is to never act on them at all; to sit on your ideas, your dreams, and to never take them outside of yourself. To him, to put them on paper is to attempt them, and they might not be what they were in your head, you may have to kill them as an active creative choice, but to leave them inside you is surely to murder them dead. Quiller Couch's essay in 1913 becomes the inspiration for 'Rat' in The Wind and The Willows. A man who ignores himself.


The phrase as we attribute it now, and use it, is not at all about giving advice for the greater good of a work, it's about externally informing the marketability of a work, when really it should just be about getting our ideas out of ourselves. 


And Howl seethes with and from this subjugation. 


That is If You Can't Howl Kill Your Darlings.


So, here I am trying to kill my darlings. Chardonnay is my darling. I have wanted to work with it for so long. I want to continue working with it for as long as I can. And I want to learn from working with it. Everything this year is me trying to translate ideas that, so far, have only existed in the lavender-dream folds of my brain, but I'm trying to put them outside of myself. I'm not writing one of the most form-breaking, or widely censored, poems in American literary history—we can't all do that—but at least I'm putting my ideas out. It's really the only way I get new ideas. 

Available Late August

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