Hey-o, Alternaverts! A very special episode for ya this week: Paul K. Tunis spent the afternoon with us, and, boy, was it a blast! We walked through his incredible poetry comic Avenge Me, Eavesdropper and talked about the process of working in multimedia at once. (Oh! And hypnogogic writing. Look it up.) And in case you’d like a closer look at Paul’s comic, peep here or watch our conversation here. Dig it. — This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast. https://anchor.fm/app Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/alternaverse/support
Episode 11: The incomparable Moncho Alvarado joins! – Alternaverse
Hey there, Alternaverts! We have quite the spectacular conversation this week with Eileen Myles. Together, we three wend our way through talks of East River Park advocacy (which, you should check out and support in whatever way you can), an astounding career’s findings, machinations, and fascinations, and, of course, a devotion to dogs. You don’t wanna miss out on this one! Dig it. — Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/anniegooldlindseywarren/support
Alternaverts, welcome welcome! We’ve got a special episode today with a little double trouble: Emma Eisler and Emma Bernstein of Kitsch, the Cornell University undergraduate arts publication. Together, we explore the wilderness of decentralized publishing, thinking about writing’s opportunity for community, girl magic, and further feistiness! Dig it. — This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast. https://anchor.fm/app Support this podcast: Donate!
So much of writing relies on lived experience. It’s really common (and I mean reeeeeeally common) to hear of fictional work being “based on a true story”, but how much do we need to know is “true” or lived? And is lived truth an inherently “better” base for material to be true in reception?
I remember being terribly frightened once (well, millions of times, but this time with particular acuity) that I couldn’t write a poem that wasn’t “true”, wasn’t something that I was either experiencing now or previously. I confided this fear in a peer from the workshop I was in at the time, and she gave me thus:
“Start writing lying poems.” I don’t know why I was so shocked by the directive. Maybe it was something about how simple the equation is in conjunction to how bound up with anxiety I was. Whatever. It gave me permission—command, actually—to stretch out of my sticking.
It’s still a challenge for me to twist out of experienced life within my work. There’s a real fear that I don’t have the imaginative capacities to summon something wholly fictitious, but that’s the trick: all poems have the chance to be considered fictitious or as something outside of poet’s being. Poems’re often better than us, every iota composed with a kind of rationale and intention, things regularly missing from human behavior. Poems can lie to get to the truth of the matter, something that’s fearsome and hard to say in the moment should that moment ever come, and they create the circumstances in which their realities exist, thereby making them true to the matter they’re concerned with, making distance between the poet and the poem. Thankfully, that distance can be antithetical to the literal and the lived. A poet can need that buffer, especially if creating something deeply close to “real life”, not necessarily to excuse behavior (though that is an element that can pursued), but to explore what else is exposed beyond nerves. Check out the peripherals of your truths. Something more interesting may be happening there that needs to be guessed at given the opacity of its inclusion. Or, maybe someone else needs to be heard for a while.
If a poet needs to start somewhere, lived experience is totally acceptable. I’m not negating the approach, as, like I said, I still struggle to make up experiences. Some find lying easier than others, but once you figure out that it’s a tool (and one worth applying!), the reins fall away a bit, even if just momentarily. Hell, why not start by lying small for practice? I mean, we’ve all had that imaginary conversation in the bathroom mirror with someone who isn’t there. Write that shit down! Clearly, you needed to hear something in your own voice.
So, was it you who left the ice cream out on the kitchen table? I thought so.
Welcome back, dear listener! On this week’s episode, we speak with friend and fellow poet-scholar Korey Williams! From pushing for more interdisciplinary scholarship, to examining the waking life’s relationship to reading for more than simply pleasure, Korey invites us all to just take a minute to really appreciate our own personal bookcases and compositional accomplishments, as both are acts of loving. Dig it. — Support this podcast: Donate!
Ohmygosh, you’re here! What a gorgeous gift to receive! In equal kind, we have a joyous conversation for y’all to enjoy and give ponderance: Episode 4! Sasha Smith talks alternate universes, Pando trees, the joining of word and dream via film and Lady Gaga, and just oodles more. Should you wish to do the very best thing for you and the world alike, check out her stuff here and here. You will be shaken anew in all the grooviest ways. Dig it. — This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast. https://anchor.fm/app Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/anniegooldlindseywarren/support
(List and prompt created by Sasha Smith)
Ever wonder what inspired a name like ‘Bird-of-Paradise’ for a flower? Below is a list of interesting common names for plants and animals.
Select one of the names. Do not research the name. Decide whether or not to use it as a plant (flower, mushroom, tree, berry, etcetera) or an animal (fish, bird, insect, butterfly, etcetera). Use the name as a title. Write a poem to describe the plant or animal.
Again, don’t google the names until after the poem!
Babblers and relatives
Dapplethroat and allies
Devil’s darning needle
Inaccessible Island rail
Old World buntings
Poor man’s mustard
Maybe’s it’s because of my medication and the heat in the night, but I’ve been dreaming and remembering them in when I wake. I’ve even been waking up surprisingly around 1 am, and the dreams segment themselves, sometimes blending from the former, sometimes finding new scapes to traverse.
It’s been reminding me of a course I took once entirely devoted to dream poetry and keeping a specific journal to capture the material lest it float away in the concrete world. I had to get over truth in the effort, as sometimes the dreams were scant, only seconds worth of sleep. I didn’t exactly embellish things, but it was more like pulling harder at the shapes and sensations of the dreams, making elongations enough for words and potential narrative.
The poems I’ve been writing lately, including the ones that aren’t from my dreams, though, have no trouble with finding narrative language inside their experiences. There’s something more direct about the work, more focused on steps in time accessible to the reader, as if the connective tissue of the scenes and sensory activity have deepened.
It’s been about ten years since I’ve written from my dreams in a real or consistent way, yet the entry is as fresh as then. I also wonder about the effects of my writing and reading practices since then, their potential for influencing what has been happening lately. Am I more collected now, more extensively gathered in my person? How much does my being properly medicated facilitate the making?
Once, I was psychotic.
I wasn’t on drugs, including my antidepressants, and I was found wandering a corner property of my grad school, trying to take off my clothes, enter the sheep pasture, kiss and dance with disturbed passersby, more. It scared so many people, but I had a blast. I thought I’d found a sliver between worlds of being, between the spiritual and magical and the known realm of the Earth. I heard the happy voices of my witch-mothers calling me, and the love of the universe brimming inside my skin, while at the same time, I wept for the losses and wounds of being alive and human. A friend found me, and I spent about 4-5 days on a behavioral health until, buzzing with psychosis/mania’s receding.
I was allowed a composition notebook within the first day on the unit, and wholly intent on writing it, I scrawled down my day of total psychosis before I lost it to memory’s shading: I made an artifact that I knew was going to help me find my way back.
I’ve submitted my transcription as a poem to countless publications; none have bitten yet, but I’ll keep going. Some have construed the work as a piece of fiction, enough so that they think it appropriate to tell me to “heighten the truth” of schizophrenia (not my neurodivergence). It’s okay. How are they to know that the work is nonfiction unless I were to tell them directly? How would that not influence their decisions and interpretations of risk in running my work? I understand the apprehension. Plus, it’s three pages long in prose formatting. Where does that fit?
With all of these questions, I think about the experience of a poem and the kind of results truths. Are they not a kind of psychotic event in themselves, as figurative language and tools borrow the bending of concrete living to invent entry into a poem’s thinking and feeling, which are often a wilderness of sorts seeking the readers’ bodies to do the sense-making.
I believed all that I was doing was the obvious, most rational move, too, and poems invite similar. There is reason and magic in the same stride, just like dream. I recorded my experience as directly and “unbeautified” as possible, but some poems, including dream poems, operate exactly the same in the process of composition.
I’ll keep an eye on my rationality’s nearness to the ground in waking hours, but my dream poems are going to keep rollin’ out their efforts. I hope you’ll walk with them.