Welcome to Terspischore’s Atrium, where the Hermeneutic Chaos editors find delight in the elfin task of confronting their contributing authors with some really tough questions.
Today, Nathan Rupp interviews Kat Dixon, our Best of the Net nominee 2014, who contributed some beautiful poems to our inaugural issue. We urge you to enjoy their brilliance here, and then come back to enjoy the interview.
“The interplay between a writer and the writer’s work is one that many theorists say should not be considered. That being said, I hold with none of that. How can we decode the inner depths of a poem or story if we do not consider the artists life? This could not be more true than in the case of the interview that follows with Kat Dixon. The labyrinths of layered meaning and subtle plays with words, that makes up her work, often require the reader to reevaluate both the poem and the medium in a new light; and nobody could be a better guide for that labyrinth and that revaluation other that the Daedalus of this work Kat Dixon herself.” – Nathan Rupp.
1.Your “Five Poems” in HC are all very visual – there are boxes around which your words are held, the spacing is sporadic – how do your words find meaning?
I always write poems with the assumption that what’s not written is of at least equal importance with what’s written. In the HC poems, for example, I wanted to pay particular attention to the empty spaces I was leaving in each of the poems, and I thought what better way to demand readers take notice of that emptiness than to draw lines around it? I love poetry best for this: how words can find meaning in their interactions with each other (whether that’s linear or other) and also with the page.
2. From a look at your bibliography and a bit of background reading, it seems you have a habit for creating work that asks the readers to hold your hand as you lead them though a maze both of form and of concept. What propels your artistic choice?
I do require a lot of trust from a reader. I know when I work in poetry that I am always and forever at risk of writing the same poem (I think this applies across genres as well), so I take great care to create variation through style and form. But essentially I come into every poem with the same interest in language and languages. I hope that if I can inspire enough trust in a reader, we can sort of construct every poem together in this ongoing dialogue and, in that way, both mimic and interrogate language and its systems, structures.
3.What advise would you give someone who is reading your work for the first time?
I have enough respect for a poem never to ask it to reveal all of its secrets, especially among strangers. The same goes for characters in fiction or for myself in nonfiction. If there are some first-time readers out there somewhere, I’d ask them to be patient; it may take me this whole life to write out all the things you may want to know in this immediate moment.
4.Since you have successfully published in different genera, do you find it easier to convey certain ideas via a particular genera and if so which ideas lend themselves to poetry or prose for you?
Not really – or maybe not yet. I’ve tried out different genres out of curiosity, and I tend to pick up and put down genres to avoid staleness. I’ve never wanted to limit myself to one thing. I do tend to think poetry can hold just about any idea. I have found it very difficult to write about myself or my actual life in poetry though, so maybe there’s an exception to this.
5. How, if at all, has living as an expat influenced your writing style or impacted your work?
Geographical change always seems to affect my writing – and me – tonally. Living within another language has actually helped me to fall back into poetry; I’d been on a long hiatus until moving here. I haven’t seen any significant change in style beyond what’s usual for me, but any new experience has potential to invoke change.
6. Kat, your forwardness and outspokenness in the case of Gregory Sherl is beyond words commendable. What did it take for you to be so honest in a public sphere?
Oh, a great number of things, I imagine. Exhaustion. This feeling I’ve always had that I’ve never had much to lose. More than anything it was out of a need to reconnect that self who had those experience to myself. It’s funny, you know? I never realized how much I rely on other people to make my life real. I was so isolated during that time. There was only ever Gregory and me, and his perception of even the smallest events was so twisted, so far away from my experiences. I began to believe his versions – he was so sure he was right – and that put me at increasing odds with myself. I had – I still have – constant doubts as to what was real and what wasn’t, and that grew and spilled over into every part of my life, even outside of the life that was really just Greg’s. Talking about it and writing about it has helped me to reattach myself to my own realities.
7.What was the last poem that you that really made you see the world anew?
Allison Benis White’s Tiny Porcelain Head. That’s a book of poems, but it’s also one poem.
8.With several chapbooks, numerous journal publication, two collections and one novel – what’s next?
Everything. I’ve got a stack of in-progress projects too high to mention without some embarrassment. I’m gearing up for a new poetry collection, have a novel in works, a memoir. I want to write everything always – for better or worse. Something will come out first, and it will be a surprise to me as much as it is to anyone.