Thursday, August 20, 2009

author talk: Jessie Carty & Mel Bosworth

Jessie Carty is the author of the full length poetry collection Paper House (Folded Word, 2010) and two chapbooks The Wait of Atom (Folded Word, 2009) and At the A & P Meridiem (Pudding House, 2009). She is often beset by cats from her home in North Carolina where she continues to write, edit and teach. Recent online publications: Scythe, Drunken Boat, Girls with Insurance and others: link list.

Mel Bosworth is the author Freight (Folded Word, 2011), Grease Stains, Kismet, and Maternal Wisdom (Aqueous Books, 2010), and When the Cats Razzed the Chickens (Folded Word, 2009). He lives, breathes, and laughs in western Massachusetts. Recent online publications: Necessary Fiction, The Northville Review, Dark Sky Magazine and others: link list.

This author talk took place in the virtual daily café in August.

Jessie: You have quite a prolific publication schedule recently! I'm saying this to you as I've heard the same thing. I wonder if your experience was similar to mine in that you sent stuff out for years and then all of a sudden things just started to fall into place. I'd like to hear a bit about your recent books (or other notable publications in journals) and how they came to finally show up on the screen or the page?

Mel: Yeah, Jessie, things have been busy lately, for the both of us. I've got a book coming out and your poetry collection Paper House just dropped in March of this year. And hey- it just occurred to me that this conversation is between a poet and a fiction writer, for the most part. That's kind of cool. But anyway, yes, my novella Grease Stains, Kismet, and Maternal Wisdom is slated to drop sometime in August. Aqueous Books has been very good to me. I'm excited to hold a copy in my hands. And to backtrack a bit to an earlier question, I'd have to say that things really started to pick up for me (publishing-wise) when I stopped being such a scaredy-cat of the internet.

Jessie: I am amazed that you were scared of the internet! I see you publishing online, blogging and even vlogging with the best of them! When I came back to writing after not submitting, or writing much of anything from 2001-2005, I was amazed at what a powerhouse the internet had become. It really does make researching where to send you work and the actual sending of work much easier. I even chose which publishers to submit my chapbook manuscripts to based on internet groups like CRWOPPS (link).

Mel: I was sending out work in hard copy form for a few years with no luck, but once that crazy internet got into my brain- boom. Whole new world. And now I shall backtrack yet again to the idea of holding a copy of your own book in your very own hands. Hot damn. What was that like, Jessie, when you received your first copy of Paper House? We've both had the experience of holding our own chapbooks, but what was it like to hold a true blue BOOK in your hands? And no disrespect to chapbooks, I love them and venerate them, but your standard paperback book is a different beast. What was that like? I'm looking forward to the sensation. Also, what were some of your personal favorites from the Paper House collection? Feel free to throw some quotes out there.

Jessie: I do love my chapbooks but I find it hard to describe what it was like to hold a perfect bound book in my hands which contained my poems, which had my name splashed across the front. Folded Word did such a beautiful job with the design. I was speechless! Every time I pull out a copy to read from or to sign, I find myself caressing the book like it is a pet. Oh how I love it! I can’t wait for you to have that experience. To see the book after so many years of trying to circulate the individual poems for publication while still revising and figuring out which ones go together was truly one of the best days of my life. It is hard for me to pick favorites from the book but there are poems I enjoy reading quite a lot. I’ll give you a full poem because it is short and is a nice transitional piece when I’m reading. It is a bit of a surprise, a twist on the whole idea of fairy tale:

Little Red

I let the wolf
hold me
felt his teeth
against my teeth
because he came
and I wanted
to give

Mel: I absolutely love “Little Red,” Jessie. The whole Paper House collection, in fact. And you’re so right—I can’t wait to have that experience of holding my very own book in my hands. But back to poetry, Paper House reminded me that the kind of poetry I enjoy reading the most is the kind that tells stories. Now, arguably, all forms of writing tell stories, but your collection, to me, blurs that line between fiction and poetry. Some call it “verse fiction” or “prose poetry.”

Jessie: I know you are primarily a fiction writer but you have done a lot to support poets as well with your YouTube site and reviews that you have written. I found quite a few of your short stories in your Folded Word collection When the Cats Razzed the Chickens that were very poetic. Are you influence at all by poetry? I’d love to hear some excerpts from your new book as well.

Mel: I’m definitely influenced by poetry. I’m also influenced by the sunshine. And rain. And weather in general. Breathing is a big inspiration. And I think it is fair to say that some of the work in my Folded Word collection (we’re Folded Family!) has a poetic tint to it. Because it’s hard not to blur the lines these days. I credit the internet with that too, and these accelerated times. It’s exciting to be a writer and to be alive, really, because things are evolving so rapidly, and to stay fresh one has to truly yield to that evolution. I think that’s kind of our job as writers, and as humans. We have to yield and absorb. Would you agree with that? And as far as my new book goes, I’ve been having a hard time finding fun quotes because so much of the work is just action and dialogue, but I’ll take a quick shot. The book, in essence, is a love story.

From Grease Stains, Kismet, and Maternal Wisdom:
“I was touching Samantha’s leg. She was touching my hand. We held hands. We were slow. Everything was okay. But the cowbell of reality still clanged around my neck, and Samantha’s too, only it was no longer in the form of her mother’s stern voice from the morning, but of something much more visceral, heavy, something now. It was in the car with us, it was in the music, it was in our hands as we touched, it was in the lights that we moved through, it was in the road, it was in the sun…The sun was in my eyes. I dropped the visor and sighed. I was getting heavy…and sad.”

Jessie: I love the excerpt you chose from Grease Stains.. (full title = awesome) because it flows exactly into what we were talking about: the conjunction of fiction and poetry. I’m around a lot of writers and many of the best prose writers will say they admire poetry but that they cannot write it, but when you read their writing you can point out to them just how poetic they actually are.

If I saw this except by itself, as an editor, I would fall in love with it as a prose poem because the action moves from word to word. You build tension by the power of vocabulary without having to focus on other “effects” of writing. You sentences sound more poetic than some of my poetry does! As you noted, I tend to want to tell stories in my poems. I definitely consider myself primarily a narrative poet and that is also the type of poetry I enjoy although I will never toss away a really awesome reflective haiku either (am I, like a teenage girl, saying awesome too much?) I also find breathing, by the way, as a big inspiration! Too funny.

Mel: You can never say “awesome” too much, Jessie. Never ever. And I’m glad that you revere haiku too! I think haiku get a bad rap sometimes. And you’re working on a series of prose poems? HMMMMM! Tell me more about this project.

Jessie: I tend to have at least one prose poem and one haiku in most of my projects but this group, so far, appears to be leaning towards being just prose poetry and like your excerpt the poem moves by the individual word rather than focusing on where the line ends.

The words of poetry and prose are much closer than maybe most people realize. Historically, they have feed off of each other as poetry came out of the oral traditions once writing was invented. Then the novel started emerging to re-tell these epic legends that were only previously presented in verse and now some of that is circling back as anyone with a computer can become more of a Renaissance man/woman than the Renaissance men could have been during their own time just given the width and breadth of knowledge that is available.

I love your quote that as writer’s we should “yield and absorb.” That is a terrific way to put this almost un-nameable thing we call a muse or inspiration. For those who aren’t writer’s, what writer’s do is take in the world and then try to distill it back for their reader’s in a way that is new. Speaking of readers, do you feel like you write for a specific audience?

Mel: I suppose I just try to create things that are readable. Things people might enjoy. Things I enjoy. I write my best, I think, when I’m having fun. The first task is to get the idea down on paper, then sew all of its moving parts together so it can live outside of my head. Lastly, with the awesome internet at our fingertips, and in particular, it’s easy to locate an audience for most anything these days. So, to answer your question simply, I write for anyone and everyone, but for myself first. If the writing isn’t honest, it’s probably not going to be very good.

And if I can backtrack again for a moment, we’ve touched upon the internet and its many avenues and opportunities. The first time we connected was through the YouTube channel Shape of a Box, an online literary venture that you created. First of all, thank you for accepting my silly little piece "A Matter of Perspective" way back when, and secondly, what do you enjoy most about online literary magazines/projects? More specifically, tell me about Referential Magazine, your new brainchild.

Jessie: I loved working on “Shape of a Box” and was THRILLED when I published your piece even more so when I saw the hilarious drawings that would be put into the video. I was a bit jealous when Jessi (my former assistant editor at Shape and now managing editor of Folded Word Press) was the one to actually put the video together, but I needed more people like her because that project was so time consuming. I had to let it go but I couldn’t let go of the joy that is finding writers and artists for a publication so I started “Referential Magazine” so I could continue to do that. Being around other writers also keeps me grounded and inspires me. That is what I like about working on a literary magazine.

At “Referential” we started out with a few poems and then built from those pieces. By built I mean most new pieces that appear, whether prose, poetry or art, refer in some way to something else on the site. They can refer to the word “the” for all I care, but I like seeing that kind of virtual collaboration.

I have taken on new editors to help me with the work at “Referential” and I was worried that the voice of the project would change but I am amazed at how easily these new editors have fit in. We are looking for good writing and I’ve never seen a piece that we disagreed on and I’ve only actually ever met any of the editors in real life once yet somehow we have this same vision and voice for the project. I never intend to prepare “Referential” or any of my own writing really for a specific audience. I just write what I would like to read and I publish what I like to read but I’ve been hearing a lot of people talk about writing for an audience (and I’m prepping a writing composition class) and I wondered how cognizant most writers were of that issue when they were writing. Um, and why haven’t you submitted anything yet? Hmmmm.

Mel: You’re awesome, Jessie. And Referential is awesome too. Congrats a million times over on all of your projects. You are a writing machine! And I know I know! I haven’t submitted anything to Referential yet. I know I know. I will. I will. I promise. It’s just been a busy, somewhat scattered year for me this 2010. But in a good way. Changes in my “real” life have put a bit of a pinch on the writing time in my “fake” life. Ha. That doesn’t sound right. But I think you know what I mean. The balancing act is tricky.

And a thought just popped into my mind: how important is it to be greedy, from a writer’s standpoint? And I don’t mean “greedy” in a bad way. I mean “greedy” in a virtuous way (ha!). We’ve both had a taste of success in the indie publishing world, and it’s been a great taste, but what grabs me and often scares me the most after finishing a project, or even when I’m working on a current project, is the thought of, “Oh, crap! What am I going to write next?” Is it drive? Paranoia? A fundamental flaw that exists in all creative types? Is it a need to create or a need to be validated for that which we create or both? How does one balance, with any consistency, the confidence needed to focus while writing and the wild insecurity that often flings open the door to raw emotion? Confidence and vulnerability. How do you strike a balance, Jessie? Coffee? Something stronger? A loved one? A comfortable crying pillow? Where was I going with this train of thought?

Jessie: Oh, this greedy discussion is so in the front of my mind right now! I am writing a lot right not but I didn’t write anything from 2000-2005 so I find myself scared that I’ll lose my momentum and I won’t be able to write if I don’t keep doing as much writing as I possibly can. Whenever I go for a day without writing I get worried that I’m done for. That doesn’t mean everything I write is publishable but I like to try and put something down on paper or the computer screen each day just to show I can.
I love to finish a projects but I am always thinking of the next thing. I actually worry about having too many publications at once like when my chapbooks both came out in 2009, but I can’t seem to stop myself from continuing to create. I have a 3rd chapbook that I’m trying to find a home for and I’m working on finalizing a contract for a 2nd full length poetry collection that I’d like to come out in 2012 (although that is hoping my 3rd chapbook would find a home and come out in 2011 which is hoping a lot!) The business end can be daunting. I love blogging about it which really gives me a way to take it all in in a more objective way than I can process. I also like to do videos, like this post-road-trip / writer-conference one:

I think I process everything better when it is put into words and not just floating around in my head! Also being married to a non-writer and rare reader of books helps keep things in perspective. As he puts it this is what I sound like, “Hi, how are you, poetry, blah blah blah, kitties, blah blah blah poetry.” Yeah, that keeps me grounded.

I just realized I forgot to address the prose poem question (did I miss anything else?). I LOVE working on prose poems and I wrote one recently called “Aloha” that I really enjoyed. It was also received well when I posted a draft on my website. I suddenly found myself writing others that all seem to have connections to specific letters so I’m thinking I am going to try one for each letter of the alphabet and maybe other alphabets if I want to make it a full length project versus a chapbook project.

How about you - what else do you have in the works?

Mel: As for other projects, I now have two sizable, unfinished manuscripts lingering around on my desktop. One is something I began work on in…2008/09, and the other is my first stab at the Folded Word project. I’ve come back to it a few times and it’s a lot better than I actually thought it was. It needs work and it needs a solid ending but it’s there, and it’s not going anywhere. Projects have the ability to wait for you. To pester you. To remind you they’re still there.

Currently, I’m pushing my novella “Grease Stains,” which ships at the end of August, 2010. (Here's one of the youtube promo clips: Grease Beats). And I’m trying to squeeze out flash fiction pieces and the occasional short story to keep myself active. It’s a battleground, Jessie, inside and out. The online writing community, although global, is actually very small when you step back and look at it. The amount of great work out there is stunning. And the number of books available is also stunning. It’s hard to decide which to buy. Although I’d like to buy them all, I just can’t. And I know that most everyone in our community is faced with that same issue. So it’s hard. It’s hard to market. It’s hard to sell. It’s hard to reach a broader market, a place not exclusive to writers and editors and publishers. It’s hard to reach the simple “readers,” especially coming from an independent standpoint. We could have a gigantic discussion on marketing and promotion alone, Jessie. And I know that’s something you’re great at. Remind me to pick your brain sometime.

And I’ll wrap up by saying, “Thank you, Jessie. Thanks for taking the time to have this little chat with me. And thanks to Dorothee Lang for setting us up in this imaginary café. The food was excellent! Don’t you agree? And lastly, I wish you nothing but good things in the coming months and years, Jessie. It’s been a true pleasure to fight by your side, and I hope we can continue to fight (in the best, most non-violent sense possible) for a long time.”

Jessie: I have to second all the thank you’s and to send one right back your way! Finding the readership that is right for you is difficult even as, on the surface, vast as the internet makes things out to be. I still feel like a tiny fish in the middle of the ocean who hasn’t gotten used to salt water. Good luck with all your ventures and I can’t wait to have a few more of them on my shelves when I finally get the wobbling stack of waiting to read, review or skim books to shrink . . . . and then there is that blog reader . . .

[The END]

... and on the note of blogs + books + reading, some further links:

Thursday, August 06, 2009

author talk: Rose Hunter + Dorothee Lang Part II

Dorothee Lang is a writer, editor, web freelancer and traveller. She lives in Germany, and is the author of the story collection in transit.
Rose Hunter is originally from Australia, she lived in Canada for many years, and now is living in Mexico. She is the author of the story collection Another Night at the Circus, and of the poetry collection to the river (forthcoming in November).

In June, the two authors started an e-mail dialogue about their books, and themes connected to the stories included - PART 1 is up here, it's about linked short story collections; the gap between anticipation and reality and the stories coming from there.
In Part II, the dialogue continues with the theme of travelling, and then moves to Dorothee’s collection in transit and Rose’s forthcoming poetry collection to the river.


Rose (6.7.): Recently I took a trip with someone, and I notice that the stories I came away with are very different as a result. In one way I felt like I paid less attention - but then again, I saw things I wouldn't necessarily have seen had I been on my own.

Travelling alone, it seems your expectations become almost like another character. There's this internal dialogue which is increased, during solo travel. “Look at that? What do you think about that, then??” Etc.

Dorothee (8.7.): Usually, I travel with my partner or with a friend, or travel to meet friends, and usually then already have a place to stay booked – but my journeys to Asia were solo journeys, and with that, very different for me, both from region and from the approach: just a backpack, the plane ticket, and a rough plan. In the in transit story “These Laws of Space and Time”, there is a note on this way of travelling included:

"I am the nomad from Madrid," he explains. "I just travel with myself."
"To go alone, it is a good way to travel," she answers.
He is surprised when she tells him how she longs to be there, in Asia. Under the Eastern sun, with the freedom to go where she wants to go, stay where she wants to stay. No compromises, for a while. No one else responsible for things going wrong, for things going right.

Reading this now again, it also might describe the way I worked on this collection.

Rose (30.6.) I like that parallel - and I meant to ask you about this. I think I remember reading something on your blog about the selection process for the stories in in transit, and it sounded interesting.

Dorothee (30.6.): I think the first draft for in transit dates back to 2007. Back then, I focused on the physical transit zones: train stations, airports – but it didn’t really work. It took several approaches and seasons until the right time and concept came together, that was last year, when I went on a road trip through France, and back home, returned to the files. I had the idea to sort the texts in widening circles – starting with the country I live in: Germany. From there, the routes move through Europe, then cross into the USA and into Asia.
I worked with the chapters / circles in phases. In each phase, I started at the computer, threw out texts, added texts. Then I printed it, and took the print-outs to the living room, and laid them out, to spend some time with them. From there, I moved to the next round: shifting texts, working with images, adjusting, revising.

For a while, I also played with the idea to put hand-made copies of in transit together. In the end, this didn't work out, but creating those test copies was an important part of the process, they brought ideas like the photo pages, and also helped immensely to fine-tune the layout.”

This approach also explains why I published the book under the blueprint label: the base idea really was to create a chapbook that I could print and put together and send out myself, and have it ready in spring. I liked that idea: a self-made transit. It also matched the way I travelled in Asia: alone, on my own, without travel agency or hotel reservations or tour guide. And so that approach remained, even after the collection grew too large for a chapbook, and into a paperback.

Rose (6.7.): So interesting to read about your process. I used to love printing everything out, and especially liked laying it all on the floor to look at it. Then I landed in Mexico without a printer, and I haven't printed any of my work out for over a year and a half. Now I've written a whole (400 page) book this way. I wonder if it's made any difference, in terms of what I ended up with. I'll find out, when I read it again, I guess....

Dorothee (6.7.): For me, the printing of in transit pages for revision lead to a general tendency to print pages. When I received your new poetry collection, to the river, I first browsed it on the monitor. I looked at the index, and tried to figure out how the poems are sorted. Then I printed the first 20 pages, and started to read them. And got all caught up. There is a vibe – it took me right there, into this bus that lurches in Sydney. And then the cars that crunch by headlights in “Snow” in Toronto – for me, this drive went on, past the branch, and through “my neighbourhood” in Milk Crates, and then Past the Falls, and on to the Greyhound that moves out of Detroit. What a ride. It made me think of Kerouac. Then I started to read Olas Atlas, and there it was, a quote from him. So good.

Rose (7.7.): I'm glad you like! I fiddled around with various alternate sortings for to the river, but ended up with what I had originally, the simplest solution - which was basically chronological: the order in which I visited those places, and more or less the order in which the poems were written as well. That's why the locations zigzag around the place - because that's what I did too, over the years.

How the book came about was I sent the last I guess roughly one quarter of it (the Puerto Vallarta section) to Ryan Bradley (of Artistically Declined Press) as a chapbook, and he read it and liked it but asked did I have a bigger book of stuff, so I collected a bunch of other poems together - the ones which had to do with place and travel - and sent that to him and he said, why didn't I put the two books together and I said: OK! Yes!

So the Puerto Vallarta poems went at the end of the book, because they "happened" most recently. That was already of a piece, so most of the work in terms of selection was deciding which poems to keep and which to leave out of the bigger section. I hope I made the right decisions, more or less. I tried to get a flow going. I did some interior shuffling, within place sections, but left the order of the places as they were - the order in which I went to / was in those places. I have a very literal mind in some ways. Also I find that life often creates its own patterns that are much better than what I, at least, can make up. What I like to do is find these patterns and accentuate them. Really, I dislike making things up, and/ or am not very good at it. It's a bit of handicap for a writer, but it's what I've got, so I try to make the best of it!

Dorothee: See: another unexpected parallel - both to the river and in transit expanded from a chapbook. Maybe that isn't unusual, thinking of it.

I really like what you said about patterns, and that it’s worth a try to follow these. I had thought about the approach to go along a timeline, too. Looking through in transit now with this thought, all it would take to get the whole collection almost into timeline would be to switch the last chapter “Asia” with the one before, the “USA” chapter.

I also looked at places included in both our books, and even though there is no direct match, there is this overlap of travelling in the USA: Las Vegas and San Francisco in to the river, and Miami and Florida in in transit.

Also, there is the Spanish vibe, in Tonos Intensas and Pool Sides (from in transit), and in the to the river poems from Mexico: Jesse, or Agave – which was the one included in the BluePrintReview issue '(dis)comfort zones', here's the page: Agave.

It reads different now, in context with the others. In the (dis)comfort issue, it felt like stepping into a foreign country, one that comes with an own set of plants, of customs and rules.

Rose (13.7.): Re "Agave", I was very happy you picked that poem up for BPR - it belongs to the last part of to the river of course; the “Puerto Vallarta” section. It’s interesting what you say about the feeling of that poem. I tried to construct the Vallarta section as a self-contained chapbook with its own register of recurring images and themes, some of which are in Spanish, as well as being part of a private world; that kind of insular vocabulary that develops between lovers and/or people unhealthily obsessed with each other. (!)

Yes, and I really love “Tonos Intensas.” That kind of “found” poem…. How did this come about?

Dorothee: "Tonos Intensas" - I started to piece this one together in a plane, with found lines from ads, it’s one of the few poems I wrote that include Spanish words:

“The colors of time
Are visions of legends of
cuando el cielo se uno
con el mar
the perfect beach
is transparency..”

- I admire this in your poems, the swift flow from English to Spanish and back, like in "Jesse":

“Jesse’s back, emblazoned
with surenoo, XIII, X3, EME;
kan, kanpol. Jesse’s arm, with
laughing and crying face. Play now..”

And I wanted to say this: a special treat of reading through to the river was the encounter with poems I have read before, in another place. Context is one of the aspects in writing and in layout that keeps fascinating me, the way the environment reflects on a text or an image, and vice versa.

Another poem that felt different when reading was the Vegas one: "Walking into the Wynn, Las Vegas, and You Are Stitched Into" – I knew it from Referential, where it is connected to the wilderness of the gulls poem. In to the river, it’s the next destination after a tough departure, and reading it there feels like revisiting a piece that belongs to the Referential net, but indeed also belongs to the river mosaic.

Rose (9.7.): The two languages slide together wonderfully in "Tonos Intensas". It’s interesting that you picked out "Jesse" to comment on here. The words and symbols in this poem are insignia that you find in gang member tattoos and in their graffiti. Many years ago now, I knew one of these guys, in Guadalajara. It was pretty interesting. As he told it to me, X3, and XIII stand for thirteen; the thirteenth letter of the alphabet, which is “M,” i.e. “EME” in Spanish, which stands for Mexican Mafia (in this case those from/ aligned with southern California….) “Kan” and “kanpol” are the same thing in a third language; a native Mexican one - Nahuatl. So the “text” that I took these things off (Jesse’s tattoos) is literally a trilingual one. Jesse was the person’s real name. He was out of the gangs when I met him, but he still had all the ink. We lost touch and I assume he has no idea I wrote a poem about him! So that’s one type of context.

Re Referential magazine, I really like how it situates pieces in that “net.” Your journal, the BluePrintReview, also does something similar as well, by matching texts with images, and one of the things I appreciate about it (and your blog) are all those far-ranging links. I often have fun with your links on my blog, as you know. Here's the one that leads to your image linked to my poem at Referential, and also your notes on the image. And more... "Some Catch Up".

But, before I get carried away with that, one thing I wanted to say first is I love the mysterious tone in many of your stories, e.g. "Harlequin" and "Pool Sides." "Pool Sides” I think is one of my favourites. It’s the mix between quotidian detail that you have in many of the stories - e.g. here, the black swimsuit, which then contributes to something more intangible - that I find wonderful.

The Judd boxes in “Two Rooms” I found so interesting as well, as objects that are literally “in transit,” from one exhibition to another, and the narrator remembering that she's seen them before, and kind of sleuthing out where - and also imagining the processes they have gone through to get where they are now. This is something I often think about: where objects have been, and what they've "seen," which is in my "Milk Crates" poem [in to the river]; also boxes, of a different type:

Like the staple they are made to contain
they, too, have a basic elegance.

The cube beloved by artists
In my neighbourhood, they are the colour
of Whistler's Peacock Room with
shards of themselves hanging down

I like that the narrator in your story wants to move the boxes too. It got me thinking about art spaces. I suppose this has been done, but wouldn't it be interesting to have an installation where the viewers were able to come in move things around.

Returning again to in transit, I notice you employ different points of view in the stories. I wonder how you chose which POV for which? I find myself writing now almost exclusively in first person (that literal mind again perhaps). I don't know if you want to say something about POV?

Dorothee (8.7.): Point of view - yes, some stories in in transit are third person, some first. I don’t really decide on viewpoint in a structured / rationalizing way before I start, it’s not necessarily the way that the first person travel stories are closer to the actual experience, and the ones in third person are abstractions. It’s rather that I start to write a story, and it’s not unusual that I try both approaches for it, to see which works better for this particular story I want to tell. Connected to that a thought: the stories in the first chapter of in transit (Germany) are both first person, while the stories in the second part (Europe) are all third person. then the third chapter, US, has just 1 story, which is based on a diary entry in first person, but it is moved into third person here. And in the last chapter (Asia), the first story is 3rd person, and the last one is first person again.What to make of this? Not sure. But it’s interesting, I hadn’t looked through the collection from this point before. Maybe it relates to the thought that travelling often induces a different viewpoint, or: changing viewpoints.

Which probably also reflects in my photography – it’s another level to visit a place, and to tell about a certain moment.

You already picked up on the photo that was combined with "Agave" in BluePrintReview. – The photo is from Lanzarote, a volcano island. I had a rent car there, and drove past a lava field, and then stopped at the roadside to take this picture. The whole landscape there is in various shades of black and brown, making every color stand out – every palm tree, even every cactus. It’s an extreme environment, almost like an island-size painting. Later, when working on the issue, I photoshopped the image, to include this thought of a giant painting, and it came out like I hoped for.

Now writing about this, I remember that it was the picture you had in your blog back then, an old agave picture, that made me think of this possible connection. And I really enjoy your street scenes from Mexico with all their vivid colors.

Rose: I’m glad you like them. I enjoy taking them, and often use them as prompts to get me started on a poem or something. But they are really just snapshots. Whereas I look at your photographs and see - ah - now these are really good! I wonder if you could say something about the intersection between these two art forms, for you? Do you see yourself primarily as a writer, or a photographer, or both?

Dorothee: This question really made me ponder. I went back to the first images of mine that were published, they were part of a travelogue about traveling through Laos. And now looking at it, I would say that it was my solo journeys to Asia that brought me to photography. A lot of my friends at home were rather curious about those journeys, and while traveling, I tried to capture the places I visited, or rather: the mood of the journey. And to catch this mood, I took “travel”/ “transit” photos: photos taken through plane windows, on railway platforms, or on the road, like this one, from Laos.

Solo traveling also allows for taking time for a picture, for circling a place, and trying different angles, without feeling pressed for time.

Then later, back home, this way of photography continued: to find the angle / viewpoint that captures the moment, and the photos now often stand for themselves.

Journeys are still a main theme of my photography, though: if you look at my recent publications, there is “Sezession21” from the short trip to Vienna in June, right next to “Coptic Pizzeria”, from London last year. And a bit further down is “Society of Swans” – here, the photo came first, and later, the idea for a poem developed from it.

Rose: I’m lurching from topic to topic again, but I wanted to add that I liked the line from Laurie Sheck that you quote at the end of in transit,
"...when you create a book you create a space that you wander around in."

I liked this analogy when it comes to (writing but also reading I suppose) - books. You look for signs, place markers. Try to find your way. Maybe the map is useful, and maybe it's missing some vital information. Or maybe you don't read it right. Or maybe you haul it out of the backpack and find it's the wrong map.... All kinds of things can go wrong (and right) as you lurch around, in new territory. Then the street ends, and you might have to take a in your last story, "The Buddha...."

One final note, I very much liked how the book feeds back into a website. It immediately called to mind a comment I saw recently, made by Sean Lovelace, in his Dark Sky interview.

"I’m not worried about the book. The book is a technology. It’s not even that old of a technology. The book and the Internet will merge now. The book will spill off the page. That’s OK. But for those who want the book to remain static, those who want to ignore or disdain the online lit world, you are in major denial...."
He goes on to say more stuff I agree with as well. The main thing I wanted to quote was the book spilling off the page. Maybe other people say that too. Most likely. In any case, I like it.

Dorothee: The book spilling off the page – it’s a good image. It also relates to your note on an art installation where the viewers are able to come in and move things around, and to the theme of reading a page online, and then print it – to explore the different options.

I really liked these lines from you: "I liked this analogy when it comes to (writing but also reading I suppose) books. You look for signs, place markers. Try to find your way. Maybe the map is useful, and maybe it's missing some vital information. Or maybe you don't read it right. Or maybe you haul it out of the backpack and find it's the wrong map.... All kinds of things can go wrong (and right) as you lurch around, in new territory."

In a good coincidence, i received a book yesterday that was featured in Daily s-Press recently:
Common Boundary - Stories of Immigration. I read the foreword, it’s written by Jason Dubow, and it includes this passage that relates to point of view:

"And, really, aren’t we all a jumble of perspectives? Aren’t we all living somewhere between our dreams and our reality, between our fears and our desires, between our various identities?"

Rose: That would be a nice organic ending to the interview, this quote. Shall we cut here?

[The END]

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