Ultimately I feel like my art form is communication. The way that altering language can interact with different parts of the soul. Sometimes that is poetry, and sometimes that is essays. Often that is just moments with people of communication.
When did you start writing?
As soon as I could. I have poems that I wrote when I was in elementary school. When I was in fourth grade I was working on this novel. It’s called Broadway Bloodbath.
It was such a big deal, and I was very specifically calling it a novel, I thought I was hot shit. So yeah I just always had this interest in writing, I loved reading, I made people read to me all the time when I was younger.
What was it about stories that you wanted?
As a kid I liked the escapism. There was less of a distinction between the stories and my life. I felt as if the characters of the books were with me.
And now I feel so clearly that they’re not, that I need that more.
Because the world sucks. As a kid when somebody’s reading you a picture book you sink into it really easily.
And now I feel like I'm hungry for that space so I have to really intentionally create it around me.
Do you feel uninhibited as an artist?
No I feel greatly inhibited.
Culture. I put this on myself more than anything but the fact that I have to fit in, I have to find a job that makes sense, I have to make money that’s consistent. I feel greatly inhibited.
That in itself is actually a great source for inspiration. It doesn’t shut me down entirely but it depresses me just enough to be like why, why can’t I just make it with this art form and this communication that I think is so important and so valuable, almost to the point of no price tag is enough.
Does writing feel playful to you?
No. It feels like work. Journaling feels playful. Talking to myself on the page. Words that matter to me that I'll just play around with, that’s playful. But when I sit down to create something… I'm a lot more product obsessed than I want to be.
What do you mean?
People ask me all the time have you been writing?And unless I have a finished piece I often say no. Even if I spent the last three days writing for three hours.
But sometimes writing is not actually writing. Sometimes it’s looking at a Wikipedia page for twenty minutes. It’s accessing that same space in my mind that does the work of writing so I consider it that. If I don’t finish something I'm like nope I haven’t been writing. And that’s my own bullshit, I know I need to recondition myself. But that’s our culture isn’t it?
We’re so product driven, you have to produce more. It’s incessant. And I am not prolific. I'm slow and I'm calculated. And I like it that way. But the space around me doesn’t want to make me okay with that.
How’s your imagination?
I think there’s different kinds of imagination. Like people who write fiction, I do not have it, at all. I can come up with a concept and not follow it through to the end. And I think that’s why I write poetry and not fiction.
What is the imagination in your poetry?
Probably has to do with language. I want to know what the root of a word is, what the root of shame is and does that say something about the way that we use it now? I imagine a lot in that way. But I know I have an over-active imagination because I have so much anxiety. And to me anxiety is just my imagination not going the right way.
Say more about that.
Well what is anxiety, it’s imagining a scenario that hasn’t happened, that could happen. I have perpetually “I left the stove on disorder”.
Anxiety serves a purpose in terms of evolution, to imagine the worst case scenario so you can always be prepared. But then it becomes toxic, when you get too good at it and you don’t know how to turn it off. Recently I've been trying to think of my anxiety as a sign for me to write. That doesn’t always work, usually I just go back to my house and make sure the stove is off.
What do you think art does for the world?
I think it does many things. I think art helps us understand our condition, understand ourselves.
Art can also just be something pleasurable. Art is just there to keep us from ourselves, and save us from all these dumb systems we’ve created. I don’t really know but I know I want it, I know I need it.
I think art is the necessary creation that we need.
Do you think that poets are performing a service?
Yes. I would never want to live in a world where there are no poets. I think poetry is there to tell us that what you think of as communication and what you think of the world in front of you is so much deeper and so much more unseen.
We all have this desire for that deep unseen reminder. Whether we know it or not. And that’s the service.
You talk often about occupying grey space, is it difficult for you, that grey?
For a couple of reasons. First I like answers so it’s just difficult for me to be in a place where two things can be true. And two it’s difficult because the external world likes answers and they want things to be definite. And three it’s difficult because it’s isolating.
I feel a deep sense of loneliness in the grey space. I'm hungry for connection, to be seen and to see other people. And sometimes the grey just fogs everything up. And so rarely do you get this small moment of clarity where there’s an opening in the grey and you see another person’s face and they’re there too. And then it goes away and you’re back to where you were, alone.
What does beauty mean to you?
I don’t think very much about beauty.
I like language that is beautiful. I read a lot of poetry that I have no clue what it’s saying. But if it’s beautiful to me, I love it with all of my heart.
It’s almost beauty in its purposelessness.
I call something beautiful and it soothes me, I don’t need to worry about beauty itself that’s too big.