an interview

  1. Have you recently found yourself in conversation with another writer or artist?

    Yes. Always. SO MANY. & in more ways than one. I’m always talking to my good friend Lindsay Watson, who is an artist, about creative things & big feelings & animals. She recently designed the cover of my forthcoming chapbook,
    Tandem, & we really understand the important language of each other’s work. I’m real grateful for her quiet miracles.

    I’m also usually talking to Jeremy Radin, who is a poet. Jeremy mentored me, just took the mountain of me & said, Hey, there’s a sky, too, you know. But recently Jeremy & I were trading poems back & forth & he said he doesn’t see our relationship as a mentored one, but an equal-artist-happening-at-the-same-time one. & then whoa, the mountain of me crumbled to make room for a cloud.

    But I am also having conversations with artists without talking to them, that is the nature of writing & expression, I think: to communicate. Last year I wrote a chapbook of poems inspired by St. Vincent, which was just published this month. That conversation with Annie Clark has been happening for a year now, & will continue to happen every time I listen to her music or see her perform, & feel OK. So any artist whose work I encounter that makes me respond in such a way that makes me feel bigger than my shadow, I’ve already begun talking to.

    With that in mind, here are some of the artists I am always having conversations with, literally or otherwise: my girlfriend Ricky, John Mortara, Beyza Ozer, Sara Woods, Mark Cugini, Kanye West, Shira Erlichman, Michael DeForge, Spike Jonze, Kristen Wiig, Jomny Sun, Beemo, every dog I meet, Gale Marie Thompson, the stinkbug in my room named Basil, Heather Christle, Zachary Schomburg, Emily Kendal Frey, Maurice Sendak, Quvenzhané Wallis. I can’t stop talking.

  2. How does geography or landscape influence your work? Do you need to be in a certain environment to write?

    Oh my gosh, mountains are so important. Whether I am in them, or I can even see them, I am writing from a place of reaching towards sky. Mountains are home. I write myself home. 

I need to be alone to write. But the environment doesn’t matter all that much. Windows, though. I need windows.

  3. What is the poem you have always wanted to write, but have not been able to?

    There’s a scene in Don Hertzfeldt’s film, It’s Such a Beautiful Day, where the main character, Bill, is on the beach & sees that someone has written I Love You into the sand. Whoever wrote it isn’t there anymore, & Bill is just staring at this, & it breaks his heart because it is just there, anonymous & temporary. I wish I would have been the one to write I Love You in the sand.

  4. Describe the value of being a published poet in an increasingly digital literary landscape. What is the future of the published poem?

    Every time I am published, I am introduced to an entire flock of writers I would have not otherwise been introduced to. There are just so many writers. So many poems. & it’s just really nice to have a place (so many places) where you can go to read new work, from new writers. The fact that most of it is digital just means there are that many more places to access important work, & for free! & there are still well-designed, amazing print journals, too! I don’t even want to mention those horrid Poetry is Dead articles, but BEING A GHOST AIN’T THAT BAD APPARENTLY.

  5. What is your biggest pet peeve about your own writing? Other writers’ writing?

    I HATE how difficult I find it to title a poem. It takes me long enough to get a poem done, but then it can take upwards of weeks just to find a title for it. I also hate how impatient I can be with my writing. Sometimes I’ll write a fragment down & then try to force the rest of the poem, instead of listening to it tell me what it wants to be. Writing is not a push & pull thing, I think. Writing is knowing when to shut the hell up. Like most things, really.

  6. How do you know when a poem is done?

    When I’m no longer hearing anything out of it. I write because I need to communicate something, mostly with myself. Things I can’t understand except through translating it into a poem, an image, a crumbling. & in this way the poem speaks itself to me. The poem lets me know how I’m feeling, & when it’s done telling me, it’s done telling me. & I move on to the next one. I say this, but what’s probably true is a poem is never done, & I just need to get it away from me. Poems are honest, but not always the truth.

  7. If you had to give your life a title, what would it be?

    Oh god, Is Any of This Necessary?