Is everything okay?

KS: Not really, but also yes. The entire state of Arizona (population seven million) survives only by diverting water from the Colorado River, though the views from the mountains there are unquestionably spiritual. Portland, Oregon (my home) is now the fastest-gentrifying city in the United States, & while myself & many others are actively being priced out of our neighborhoods, there are more job opportunities in the city now than there have been in years. What I’m saying is, many things on this beautiful earth are completely fucked & vice-versa. Our own personal tragedies are (ugh) so tragic, but from them we learn & grow exponentially into bigger, smarter people. I have to believe we are improving, & that we will continue to improve, because otherwise I’d have to believe that everything just kinda sucks. I’m not sure I could make art in a world that just kinda sucks.

TB: Honestly, I’m feeling pretty nervous about this false (?) spring we’re having. It’s late February in Portland, Oregon, & so uncharacteristically sunny & warm that everything’s blooming. There are crocuses (notoriously hardy, I know, but still: February) & daffodils all over, & the flowering trees whose names I don’t memorize are flowering. It bothers me that I can’t remember the names of more kinds of trees, & it bothers me that the trees have started the show so early. Can it last? Are all of the birds even back? Shouldn’t we be shitty until, like, late March? But even more horrifying than a cold snap is the thought that the plants actually know best, because it’s likely they really do, & this is what seasons are like here in already irreversibly fucked 2015, it’s going to keep getting hotter & hotter until we’re trying to go the river one day & realize we’re all just a pile of cinders. Also I’ve never, ever been happier to be alive. Everything (& everyone) looks devastatingly touchable, & the smells are even softer.


Who were you when you wrote this book?

KS: At the time of writing this book I was some combination of all-powerful eternal woods goddess & a frustrated, terrified, constantly-disappointed barely-ghost. Which is to say it was summer & I was single, & this project was a crucial means of affirming my own body’s borders by drifting & smashing into the bodies of others.

TB: I was single & single-ish & the whole time reeling from other episodes of not-singledom, & so, so curious about the extent to which I was willing & able to mine my emotional life for poems. (Very willing, it turned out; “able” is of course up to the reader.) I listened to Stevie Nicks every single day. I went on a lot of little overnight trips to the coast, to the Gorge, to Seattle. I trust that those trips were necessary, though I couldn’t say why, but I guess if I were the ultimate expert on myself I wouldn’t need poems. I really needed poems then.


Who are you now?

KS: I am still that person, those people, as in I am still bumping into people & places & ideas as a means of discovering who I am & what I believe. By far the greatest part about bumping into a project about relationships, though, was that I met my spiritual counterpart in its aftermath, no big deal. So while these poems are all still incredibly true to & for me, I’m looking forward to transcending interpersonal disappointments & throwing that lens onto much bigger systems.

TB: “By far the greatest part about bumping into a project about relationships, though, was that I met my spiritual counterpart in its aftermath, no big deal.” OMG you’re deader inside than an eventual apocalyptic summer if you think that’s not the most romantic thing you’ve ever read in your damn life. I’m now a person who believes in love. I’m still near enough to that earlier me that we could fist bump, but soon we’ll just wave, & then a new space will open / is opening. All I’m interested in is love. I’m really into some 1960s African psych rock right now. I love needing different poems.


What are you saying?

KS: I’m saying Boyfriends are Parents are Americans are America are Us. There is no other without there being a self, & there is no self-knowledge without being able to take stock of your surroundings, whatever the landscape, whatever its size. I don’t think you can be a poet without making everything into a meaningful goddamn metaphor. Luckily this means that no matter what I’m writing about, I’m always actually writing about everything.

TB: I’m saying that we are all constantly revealing so much of ourselves to each other, all the time. It’s actually painfully sweet how incapable we are of not doing that. I believe in lavishing tons of loving attention on others, self, & world, & I believe in reporting – & receiving all of the reports! – on what’s noticed.


Is anyone safe?

KS: No one but Poetry.

TB: Oh, honey, come here. No.

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KELLY SCHIRMANN is from Northern California. She is the author of Popular Music (Black Ocean, 2016), the co-author of Boyfriend Mountain (Poor Claudia), & the editor of Black Cake, a record label for poetry & other experiments. She lives in Portland, Oregon, & also at TYLER BREWINGTON is from Boise, Idaho, lives in Portland, Oregon, & pursues an MFA in poetry at Vermont College of Fine Arts. He is the author of Dear Stray Volcano (alice blue, 2013) & the co-author of Boyfriend Mountain (Poor Claudia, 2014). Say hello: [email protected]

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