Issue #4—Self Portrait as Utopian
Write yourself a horoscope for 2019
I mean 2019 will be better, right? Right?
Name a writer you discovered in the past 12 months that you think others should know about
A few months ago I made a trip to Boston and was so lucky to meet and do a reading with the poet Dana Lee Alsamsam. Her poems just destroyed me. She had three published recently in the latest issue of Tinderbox that are bursting. And her chapbook (in)habit recently came out on tenderness lit!
Name a book you read in the past 12 months that surprised you
Just one? More than any particular book, 2018 has me reading Science Fiction again, and that's been a bit of a surprise. It started with rereading Ursula K Le Guin’s The Dispossessed after she passed away. Then that lead to reading Samuel Delany’s Trouble on Triton, which is just so wild. And then two friends from completely different parts of my life recommended The Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu, so I recently picked it up and I’m loving it so far.
If your life philosophy were a slogan for a restaurant, what would it be? (You don't need to use an existing restaurant's slogan for this)
I Was Talking About Lunch—You Were Talking About Geography
What creative outlet is your "if-I-weren't-a-writer (or visual artist)" pipe dream?
Oh, I wish I were handy. I have this weird memory about a friend who had a friend who would go out to the woods and chop down this particular type of tree. I have no idea what kind of tree, but apparently the wood from this particular type of tree was particularly great, and he would handmake tables out of this particularly great wood. And supposedly he was able to get by making and selling just four or five tables a year. I have none of the skills or knowhow to do something like that, and I’m not even sure if the story is true, but I feel like it would be really satisfying.
What is a piece or project you're working on now, that will be released soon, or that was recently released that you'd like to share with our readers?
Oh boy. I’ve been working on utopia poems for over two years now. I spent a large chunk of summer 2016 in the archives and on the silent floor of the Boston Athenaeum researching 19th century American utopian colonies, and I took a few road trips around the north east to the sites of some of these colonies. Somehow I’m trying to turn that research into a manuscript. I’m really interested in the tendency to long for the past and the sort of helplessness I know I so often feel about our contemporary moment, wrestling with an inability to imagine new possibilities. So with that instinct in mind I stumbled into an obsession with this odd moment in American history. These real historical Americans with the imagination and impulse to dream up new ways of living and to give those ideas a try. And of course, in my poems all of this is a sort of a lens for examining my own life, my own feelings of helplessness and my own inability to imagine new possibilities post heartbreak, trying to make sense of it all through these failed utopias. You can read three of those poems over at Longleaf Review.