14 SEPTEMBER 2015 (POSTED 31 OCTOBER)
LUIS NEER: Hi Mallory! Not completely clear on how to do an interview but I guess we can just go with it; it doesn't have to be formal. Unless you want it to be. I can put on a suit.
MALLORY SMART: Oh yeah let’s just wing it! I’ve got my cat and my tea and I’m ready to go =)
LN: Okay, great! I guess we could start by talking about Maudlin House Press. I'm excited to read Exile Me although I haven't ordered it yet. On the press website you call it an important work. Do you want to talk about that?
*actually it's charles bane, jr. that refers to the book as an important work (i just checked the website again). still
MS: Exile Me was one of those projects that came at exactly the right time now with the Iran deal being so highly debated. I had been corresponding with Seyed for some time after he had been published on our literary journal and the fit was just right. He began sending me snippets of his poems in farsi and those became the foundation of the final collection.
The main reason we pursued it was to help Westerners really understand what a day in the life of an Iranian is like. We wanted to explore the micro aggressions and tear them down. What I loved about it was that Seyed was humble from the onset. He didn’t want to be heroized or have war romanticized. He would say, “this world isn’t good enough for us. One day we’ll be at peace”. And I think it’s that spirit that makes what he writes about truly beautiful.
In the end it’s just a book of poetry by a guy who lives in Iran, who deals with things day by day. So I recommend reading it.
And yes we are so lucky to have a friend in Charles. He was the first to offer to read and review the book.
LN: How were you introduced to Charles?
MS: He submitted to our journal and has been a big supporter ever since.
LN: When I listened to the recording on the Maudlin House youtube channel of him reading his poem "In Paris", I assumed he was an older poet, I think because of the romance of the voice. i think Maudlin House holds a certain love for poems like that, with that brand of sentimentality, that blends well with work that's especially relevant to contemporary poetry & particularly the scene that occurs largely through social media and online jounrals.
MS: That’s actually really funny you say that, because I was just discussing with some of the other editors how 'un-maudlin' we’ve become haha.
I definitely meant in a way that meant drippy and sentimental in almost an emo, angst-ridden high-schooler kind of way. We originally started the journal with the intent to really focus on poetry and thus I began considering words that I had overused in my xanga/ livejournal/ virgin poetry days and ‘Maudlin' just echoed in my brain.
As a brand, I think we’re definitely trying to come from that innocence. That pre-pubescent intention to be hard-hitting and deeply emotional, but still not so much grasping at the reality of things. I’d like to think of us as less sentimental, and more confused.
LN: It's rad af. & that kind of seems like a common theme in new poetry (albeit a theme that changes shape a lot): diving into confusion. Analyzing confusion, sometimes. It's usually pretty self-absorbed.
MS: Totally! What’s writing without ego? What’s poetry without the self-obsession? I think a writer has to dig deep and burrow into their own skin before growing beyond themselves.
But the confusion doesn’t just stop there. Then you delve into the social confusion, the sexual confusion, the tweeting-happy-while-drunk-at-midnight confusion.
Poetry isn’t just pretty words, but a breakdown of how we experience the world around us. And I know that it’s that kind of strangeness that Maudlin and myself as a writer am trying to explore.
LN: I'm glad you just said all that. Confusion on all fronts. And the presence and growth of the internet probably adds to that immensely.
MS: I’m totally gonna sound like my dad when I say this, but I think the more the internet grows, the more we forget how to be humans. I mean, we can connect with people instantly these days and tweet them from all over. But when we do finally connect there’s a kind of wall there. We’re all just so antisocial.
LN: It's changed the way we communicate. I'd agree that it's built a wall, and to elaborate further I'd say that we've been split by the wall. The internet occupies so much of our lives that we sorta do live on it, but people on the internet see a different person than they would irl. They only see what you want them to see. It's like having a second self that's only a perceived self, not one that's fully tangible. Kind of science fiction-y.
MS: My mind is so blown. Because like, what is irl, but just another perceived self?
I don’t think someone has to necessarily be online to be projecting a certain image of themselves. I see soccer moms and businessmen do it everyday irl. I guess the real question would be, what makes irl more real than say tumblr or twitter?
I spend so many hours of my day trying to understand that internet/reality split and it’s something I delve more into in my new book, I’m AntiSocial Coffee Never Lies.
LN: That's something else I'm looking forward to. We should talk about your book tomorrow because it's way past my bedtime.
MS: Sounds good. What time?
LN: Probably after 8, because I'll have homework and I'm researching an essay on John Berryman
MS: chill =) have a good night!
(16 SEPTEMBER 2015)
LN: Hi Mallory, I'm ready to get started whenever you are
MS: I'm ready!
LN: Okay—do you want to talk about your book? You said that it deals with the split between the internet and reality
MS: I’m AntiSocial Coffee Never Lies deals with a lot mental splits. Social vs Antisocial, confident vs awkward, internet vs reality, poet vs non-poet... I started it as a venting/ coping mechanism after a strange encounter at Starbucks and it sort of just morphed into this social analysis.
(SHIFT TO TWITTER (DIRECT MESSAGES))
MS: Hey can we move this interview to Facebook or Twitter? I think the emails are delayed.
LN: sure! we can do it right here [in twitter DM thread].
MS: great! sorry for the delay, had to log into the maudlin twitter and do the 6wordstory... so did you get my last email?
LN: yeah! those splits are really compelling; there hasn't been much writing on the subject yet so i'm eager to see what your book will bring to the conversation. as for the split between social and antisocial, would you say it connects to being a writer? it's been said that most writers are introverts and exhibitionists, simultaneously. do you see truth in that?
MS: I'd say it doesn't connect to writing any more than it does to any other profession. I think everyone is balancing those two attributes to a certain extent these days. Maybe back in the 50s when writers and artist had a sole claim to solitude and exhibitionism that rang true. But now social media does this to us. We're all walking that fine line where we're analyzing and cataloguing our innermost thoughts like a diary and branding it for the world to see.
LN: would you say that through the lens of social media, isolation becomes exhibitionism? that's pretty melodramatic but i can dig it
(i mean what i just said is actually kind of a stretch from what you said but yknow)
MS: yes. it works as almost an instagram filter for our isolation and solitude. because now it's participatory, and we all can join in on the solitude and empathize and read it like a book and make it our own
it's that kind of collective mentality that i was trying to capture in the book. the idea that we're all wired to some extent in the same way, and when triggered you will get very similar responses, and throughout that, trying to sift through it all and find some kind of reason and identity in it.
LN: (sry, i was watching the debate. mike huckabee is trying to compensate for not knowing what the 14th amendment is by listing a bunch of other amendments)
MS: lol that's fine. I'm not even bothering to watch this one. The last one was such a shitshow... what are they talking about that led to that?
LN: i don't know, he just started blurting out numbers of amendments... jeb bush had been talking about the supreme court or something; it was unrelated
MS: oh god
LN: that's an important question (regarding your book, not jeb bush): how we identify ourselves when we spend so much of our lives in this non-place, with all our actual emotions turning into tweets or whatever
MS: haha well I'm sure there are many important questions about jeb bush too. but yes, it's like we become confused as to who we really are. and really, its always been a matter of debate as to how one defines themselves.
LN: thus the internet multiplies existential confusion
MS: i mean not to all sound tyler durden-like, but you are not your job, your tweets, the tie you put on everyday, your Facebook profile. so then as you said, the internet multiplies the problem. because whereas before we were confusing ourselves with the things we bought, now we're confusing ourselves with the identities we mold
LN: i agree with tyler durden. beyond that, there's a widespread issue where people allow aspects of themselves to completely define them, which makes things way more one-side in a lot of cases. do you think we should wrap up soon? i'm worried this might not all fit onto the site
MS: yeah definitely wrap up. maybe one more question and then we say adios?
LN: yes! i'll make it good
MS: (and you can cut it down to whatever)
LN: ok. this is also the last question from my interview [with Maudlin House, abt. This is a Room Where You Wait for New Language] [Editor's note: literally copied/pasted from the webpage for my interview into this dm thread]: Peering into the future, what is in your crosshairs that we should watch out for?
MS: So much! Right now with Maudlin House we're working on expanding in big ways both as a "third place" online and as a press. In October, we'll be releasing our second book, Manic Depressive Dream Girl by Naadeyah Haseeb, so be on the lookout for that! And of course, as a writer I'm always looking for ways to change my dynamic. So right now as I do promotion for my two-part book from Bottlecap, "I'm AntiSocial, Coffee Never Lies", I'm beginning the stages of writing a full-scale fiction novel (title currently unknown). There are definitely many plans for the future, even more than I've just shared with you here. But I guess these days I'm really just trying to take things as they come and be flexible to the new and the exciting. We live in a fast paced and ever-changing world, so who knows what the future will bring (I'm hoping for a maudlin location)!
now we say adios?
LN: perfect! adios.